Witness to War: Tuesday May 29, 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:

Tuesday May 29, 1917: Fell in about 8.30 for Gas Masks and Rifle Core and shrapnel helmets then inspection by M.O. [Medical Officer] passed o.k. Got Rifles seemed pretty good to hear Col McRobie’s voice on the parade ground out here in France Then moved to 14th B[attalion] lines till we go up to the line Finally located in a tent with Church, Charleston, MacDonald, Cooper, Boone, J. Gill[1], Le Francois[2], Thebeaudeau, Driscoll Had discussion on army life generally and what a hell of a hole this is and how little the people at home realize what we are up against but I am glad I came and we all agreed the same But some of us think a lot about the boys at home who might have come but didn’t Etaples is some camp wish I could write Clare but guess I will have to wait Went to canteen and spent several thousand centimes on ginger beer and cigarettes this is some money – Went to bed with a sore bit of a headache but otherwise feeling fine Here’s a good night kiss to my little girl –

[1] Gill, Joseph Nevis. Born 27 March 1881, London, England. Enlisted 31 July 1916, Grand Mere, PQ.

[2] Le Francois, Felix. Born 9 September 1885, New Liverpool County Levis, PQ. Enlisted 17 October 1916, Quebec, PQ.

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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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