Wednesday, March 17, 1915

In billets, Rue du Quesne

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day: “Relieved 15th Battn. In same sub-sector at night.  Nos. 3, 4, and 1 Cos. in front line, beginning from right, No. 2 Coy. in support..” [1]

Again the Battalion history mentions that “At night on the 17th the Battalion moved up once more and took over the now familiar Petillon trenches from the 15th Battalion.  Previous to the move forward, Canon Scott held a Communion Service at a wayside shrine on the Rue du Bois, the communicants kneeling on the road at the feet of the silent figure on the Cross.  This shrine, still standing at the end of the War, was the one which inspired Canon Scott’s well known verses, beginning:- ‘O pallid Christ within this broken shrine’”.  [2]

17 Mar 15THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY:  “CANADIAN WITH THE ARTILLERY TELLS OF LIFE ON FIRING LINE” London, March 17.  A long account of the work of the Canadian Artillery was received at this office today from one serving with them.  The correspondent writes, ‘We are now right in Business.  Our guns have been busy for nearly a fortnight.  You will be pleased to hear they are performing splendidly.  Firing is continuous and heavy night and day.

The Infantry Boys I do not see much of the infantry boys, they are being busy holding trenches, but I do know they have been there nearly a fortnight, and have not given an inch yet, and are not likely to.  I do not know what is likely to happen nor if I did would I be allowed to mention it, but if I may be permitted to hazard an opinion I would say when the boys do move it will be forward.

Restrictions on Letters Except for the restrictions upon our letters I could write an interesting account of the life out here.  As it is I must not mention the names of places we passed through, not describe them even in the vaguest possible way.  I can, however, tell you I find life very exhilarating.  No doubt, should I come through all right, the experience of today may in the future years be of much service to me.  At any rate, nothing in the world could induce me to return so long as I am able to keep going.  What we are going through now is probably but a feeble experience of that which will come.

Taking a Bath I had a bath yesterday for the first time since in London, over two months ago, and can assure you it is the biggest luxury I had for many a long day.  It is an odd picture to see about sixty of us standing naked round shallow tubs, being timed by the clock, while we remove the accumulation of many weeks’ dirt.  Ten minutes was the time allowed.  As soon as we were out, another bunch of grimy soldiers took our places.  The relief wrought by that ten minutes soap and water was inestimable.  We hope we shall not have to wait two months for the next.”  [3]

[1]    War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, March 17, 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. 32.
[3]    “ Canadian With The Artillery Tells of Life on Firing Line,” The Montreal Daily Mail, Montreal, Quebec, Thursday, March 18, 1915, pg. 3,  col.3.


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