Witness to War: Monday June 25, 1917

Private Raymond Duval, MM, was a soldier of the 14th Battalion (Royal Montreal Regiment) CEF who served overseas during the last two years of the First World War. He participated in some of the fiercest fighting seen by Canadians during the war and was decorated for bravery at Passchendaele. Determined to preserve his memories of the First World War, he maintained a daily record of his experiences. Here is what he wrote precisely 100 years ago today:

Monday June 25, 1917: Drill and inspection by O.C. in forenoon got ready to go up the line tonight. Left about 7 pm to go up Come to Thelus Caves[1] on Vimy then as soon as put kit off went out for rations and water heavy bombardment on 3 shrapnel bursts near us when the porter go lost one burst about 30 yds off behind me we dropped in a hurry. Very cold in caves and did not sleep much as I was soaking wet from rain and sweat. Received letter No 14 from Clare First baptism of fire was a wee bit exciting

[1] Deep caverns constructed for the Battle of Vimy Ridge, used after the battle to house soldiers. Some of the caves were big enough to hold an entire battalion. The RMR hosted an exhibition in April 2016 titled Souterrain Impressions that showcased the art carved into the soft chalk walls by the waiting soldiers.

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The RMR Foundation thanks Natalie Dyck for generously sharing her publication of “The Diary and Memoir of Private Raymond Duval” in order for us to be able to share his story with you 100 years on. You can learn more about Private Duval here.

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