Letter from the Front: 1915

Sunday, June 27, 1915

Billets – Neuf Berquin

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day: “Left here at 7:00 p.m. for Outtersteene, arriving there about 10:45 p.m.  Billeted.” [1]


THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY: “Rain fell that [this] day, but the men were comfortably billeted and not inconvenienced, except at night when the Battalion marched from Neuf Berquin to Outtersteene.  At Outtersteene the first passes for leave to England were granted.  After nearly five months of active service these were welcomed by the recipients and hardly less by those others who felt that their turn would come soon.”

RMR history“Private Charles Cooper of the 14th Battalion, formerly of the 12th, has written two letters to his brother here in Quebec from the field of strife in France.
As Private Cooper is well-known in Quebec, his native city, his letters which are published herewith will doubtless be of interest: –

‘11th June 1915.
Dear Brother: – Just a few lines hoping to find you and all at home in the best of health. I would have written before but time is not available in all cases in the trenches. Well, I have been at the front now a couple of weeks and been in the trenches a few times and came out of it all right up to the present. We are having lovely weather for fighting lately, hoping you are having good weather in Quebec. How is Fred Procter and all the Quebec boys, if you see Fred ask him to drop me a few lines when he has time. I received Mr. Hawkin’s letter and hope he is quite well. I suppose Quebec is very dead now, all the boys are out of it. Well Tom, I am out of the trenches just now and am billeted in a barn here ‘somewhere in France,’ on the banks of a canal and am here for a few days rest as it is uncomfortable to have a good sleep in the trenches with the bullets going ‘Ping’ over your head and the noise of the shells is enough to waken the dead almost. Was speaking to Canon Scott before going in the trenches last time, he is going on well over here and seems to be enjoying the fighting. How is the Mrs., Florrie, Muriel, Dott, George and the youngsters getting on?

Well Tom I suppose you have seen by the papers the good work the Canadians have been doing lately. Having it rather hot but we take no notice of it only up and out over the trench and charge them with the bayonet, then one of us to 6 of them proves victory for our side, they won’t meet us with the bayonet, only sling them big Jackson shells, shrapnel and coal boxes at us and that is how our losses are caused at times. I supposed you heard about the way they ‘gassed’ us at Ypres. I happened not to be there but the Collins’ was. That was where the 1st Canadian Contingent suffered and many the peaceful Canadian is underneath the clay now for his bravery for the Motherland, but such things have to happen. After the battle we got a good name for Canada and also were congratulated by General French and Lord Kitchener for the way we faced the foe and saved the situation. And also showed them what we mean, and have had two more goes at them since and made successful charge and gained ground. They don’t like Colonial troops at all but we Canadian boys are up and doing it and are certainly out for blood, and will soon, I hope, earn our long looked victory. I suppose you saw how they crucified our fellows with bayonets, that is something dirty to do. Well dear brother, I will bring this letter to a close hoping to find you and the family well, also the Quebec boys, as duty calls me again I will now say goodbye dear brother and all fond and best love.

Ever yours, Charlie’”

[1]  War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, June 27, 1915.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa
[2]  R.C. Featherstonhaugh, The Royal Montreal Regiment 14th Battalion C.E.F. 1914-1925, Montreal, The Gazette Printing Co.,  Ltd., 1927, pg. 63.
[3]  “Charlie Cooper Writes From Front,” The Quebec Chronicle, Quebec City, Wednesday, July 21, 1915, pg. 5, col. 5
[4]   Ibid

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