Witness to War: Thursday Oct 4, 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:

Thursday Oct 4, 1917: To Oct 11 Thursday. Went on trip to front line for 3 days and 2 days in supports from Gouy Servins service [?] and on up Had an exciting trip as it rained all the time we were up there. First night up there Broughton and I got lost in no mans land and Manly went in Fritz’s front line – we afterward discovered that we must have been about 25 feet from the line – This sure gave me the scare of my life am not anxious to work for Fritz

Fred and I came down to the line alone and it was some march to Souchez through about 10 miles of trenches Stopped at 2 advanced YMCA’s and had free tea they are certainly a god send to the men here Had a big drink of Rum when we arrived which made us feel good as we got wet. Got lots of letters from the people at home 5 or 6 from my little girl which were a great comfort to me. Poor little girl she has worried very much about me How I would like to see her for just a few minutes only.

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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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