Letter 8th May: Richebourg St. Vaast
I am writing you a few lines to let you know I am in the best of health and getting on all right.
I have been wondering if you received my last two letters and have come to the conclusion that you have not, so I am writing this, as I think I would have heard from you had you received my letters.
In my first, I was telling you I had a walk through the village of Neuve Chapelle where I picked up two German 13lb shells. These I sent on to you, also some German cartridges and a French dart. Both shells were in separate parcels as we are only allowed to send a parcel weighing 11lbs. I had, therefore, to send them in two lots, I also told you in that letter about receiving your parcel for which I thank you all. I did not send the letter in one of the shells; I sent it home by one of the wounded.
My second letter I sent in answer to your letter asking if I had received your parcel and stating you had received one of the shells. You ought to have received two parcels and two shells. I also mentioned in my second letter that I was sorry the parcels had gone off without my paying postage on them as I did not know they were away until it was too late.
I am now going to tell you something else. We are in the village mentioned at the head of this letter and this is the night before one of the big battles which will drive the Germans back to Germany. It is at the same place as we made the last attack; which was half a success and half a failure. I mean Neuve Chapelle.
We have more guns and ammunition than we had at the last attack. I heard we had about 1000 guns in this position and the number of troops is enormous – mostly Highlanders and Indians.
The bombardment and advance was to have commenced this morning but was canceled last night for 24 hours, so does not come off until tomorrow.
We are expected to make good headway and everything is prepared. My opinion, Tom, is that it will be a much bigger success than anyone here thinks. I believe we will surprise ourselves in the progress we will make and I still think the war will finish by August.
I have not much faith in the Russians. I don’t think they will get much further than where they are at present.
You will know if this advance of ours comes off or not if you get this letter, as I will send it home with one of the first wounded in the Advance.
The Motor Ambulance Car I am on has been made into a Travelling Operating Theatre and we are going close up to the trenches the first thing in the morning, as we know there will be few houses left when we advance and we will be right in the thick of the fighting. The rest of the cars are not allowed as far up as us, as the roads have to be kept clear for guns and ammunition coming up.
Don’t forget, it will be a bloody job and I hope to be able to do my duty, as I think it will be the worst we have been through yet. We will most likely be met with poisonous gasses, but that won’t stop us.
I expect it will be in the papers by the time you get this letter so you will know I am in it, and well to the front of it too. I might not get the chance of writing for a few days now as we will be very busy.
The Germans have most of their troops round Ypres way but I don’t think they have many here. They will get a big shock let us hope and I hope to get some good souvenirs in this affair.
I sent a photo to Bob Wyse which we had taken in Bethune. I thought we would have managed to get half a dozen at the least and we only got one each till he got the paper for them. It was a priest in Bethune who took it and he now says he cannot get any more paper at present so we are stuck for the rest. Ask Bob if he got it to let all the boys see it, then give it to Mrs. McF. I am sorry to ask him to do this but we were so certain of getting more and she is wanting to know how I am looking after nine months of it. If I get any more I will send one on to Bob in place of it.
Hope everybody is keeping well and tell them all I was asking for them. No more at present; will write later.