Captain Curry Describes Life in Trenches in 1915

Saturday, March 20, 1915

In Trenches, Rue Petillon

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day: “Heaviest casualties up to date.  Three men killed and seven wounded.  Troops in German line opposite us had apparently been relieved by others who were much more aggressive.  Relieved at night by 15th Battn.” [1]

THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY: “ROYAL MONTREALS IN THE TRENCHES – Captain Victor Curry Writes of the Experiences of His Company

Mr. F. A. Skelton, director and secretary-treasurer of the Canadian Car & Foundry Company, has received the following letter, dated France, March 8th, from Captain Victor G. Curry,* vice-president of the local company and eldest son of Senator Nathaniel Curry of Montreal.

Captain Curry holds a commission with the Third Brigade, 14th Battalion, Royal Montreal Regiment, and left Valcartier last autumn with the first Canadian Contingent.

Reference is made in the letter to Captain Ernie Hall, who is a Montreal man with the Canadian Heavy Artillery. Before leaving for the front Captain Hall occupied the position of assistant general storekeeper of the C.P.R.

Captain Curry writes: ‘I suppose you have seen by the papers that we have been in the trenches. We were in 48 hours at one place in two spells of 24 each, and have just put in 72 hours straight over here. Came out yesterday at 1 a.m. I had the worst part of the line – very weak parapets in spots and the Germans only 100 yards off. We lost only one man out of 16 in our fort, so didn’t do badly. This poor chap stood up too high and got it in the head.

It was terrible getting out after a day’s rain. The communication trenches were knee deep in mud and walking well stooped over with a heavy load was some work. It took me an hour to make one-half mile to the road with 20 men ahead of me. Germans sending up flares all along and sniping like fun. We are now back a couple of miles resting up. The regiment goes in again tomorrow night for three days, but I think No. 3 Company gets the reserve billet on account of having the dirty end last time. That gives us nine days out, but of course the reserve company does all the fatigues and takes in rations etc., to the men in the trenches. The reserve billets are a mile out and are shelled often. Today they put four shells in one room at battalion headquarters where Col. Currie is today. No one hurt, as shells didn’t explode. They yesterday shelled the town we were in the other day, badly damaging several places where we were billeted. We just got out in time.

I believe Ernie Hall got the German artillery observation tower yesterday with his 60 pounder. He came over on the boat with us from England, and we had a good time and talk together.

The thing we have been lacking here is cigarettes. The issue is always short and the men get preference, as is right. Have received some smokes and clothes from Mrs. G., who is still in Salisbury, and things will now be coming regularly. Will get some grub sent also, as all we get in the trenches is bully beef, sour bread, etc. However, the men are really well fed and don’t complain. The R.M.R. are well thought of on the little work they have done so far. We carried out our relief in good shape, and the regiment relieving us kept us waiting from 7:30 p.m. till after 12.

Have just heard about young Paden’s death in the artillery. Too bad. Shot accidentally, I believe, by one of his own men.

There is some talk of a German attack tonight, so we are preparing to man the reserve forts. A lot of shelling today by both sides. Our batteries are not far from here – about 100 yards or so. Well hidden they are too.

Am getting the ‘Lifes’ right along and they are greatly appreciated by all the officers and then the men. Some of the English officers enjoyed them recently when I slept in a trench dugout next to an earl’s son. Very nice chap, too, who has been here for three months. He is a captain in a crack British regiment with whom we worked for instruction purposes. The English officers and Tommies are corkers. Nothing bothers them. Cool as ice all the time. The dugouts are mostly about 3.6 high, straw on the floor and galvanized iron roofs. Some are bomb proof. Others are not.”

* Note: “Major Victor Garnet Curry :- Merchant, Curry-Cormac Corporation, 55 St. Francois Xavier Street, Montreal . Born Amherst, N.S. , Sept. 8, 1882 , son of Hon. N. Curry and Mary H. Curry. Educated: Rothesay Collegiate School; Royal Military College, Kingston. With Rhodes Curry Co., Amherst, from 1901 to 1908; Vice-President, Canadian Car & Foundry Co., 1912 to 1919: Married Maude I. Chapman, Sept., 1905. Clubs: St. James’; Country, Montreal . Recreations: Motoring, yachting. Church of England. Residence: 612 Sherbrooke Street W., Montreal.”

[1]    War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, March 20, 1915.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa,
[2]   “Royal Montrealers In The Trenches,” The Gazette, Montreal, Quebec,  Tuesday, March 30, 1915, pg. 6, col. 2
[3]    Source: Prominent People of the Province of Quebec, 1923-24, Montreal, Biographical Society of Canada, Limited, undated and unpaginated; as found at

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