Gunner Bert Cox
October 3rd, 1918
My dear Carl and Mabel,
Well, I suppose, the N.Y. papers, these days are only printing 4 words to the page. Big war news and good stuff, isn't it? I wrote Herbert all the latest news about a week ago and asked him to pass it on.
The 3rd battle I spoke of, on the 2nd of Sept. was really only a continuation of the second battle, the battle of Arras . Our 3rd big show, opened up at 5:20 AM on Sept. 27th….The battle of Cambrai. We worked hard a few nights before, preparing the position.
The Infantry say the barrage was perfect …at 4:20 AM an aeroplane dropped a flare and every gun on the Front roared together. As the barrage would lift every 4 minutes, the Infantry would advance, and they say every gun seemed to have lifted together.
The Hun retaliated heavily on our position. Shrapnel was flying past in all directions, but we were busily giving him his ration, and had no time to think about it. One piece hit me on the chest, but it was too far spent to go through. I can assure you it has been no picnic from that date to this. Constantly on the move. Digging gun pits, digging funk pits, digging holes in the ground to sleep in. Just get them finished, then another move.
The one redeeming feature about it, is we're on the advance and not the retreat. The weather, on the whole has been fairly good for the offensive, but several days we had to stand out in the open and take the rain all day, and believe me, it's bitterly cold at night and in the day, too, sometimes. He's putting up an awful tough fight for Cambrai, it's one of his biggest railway centers. The old timers say it's the hardest nut the Canadians have ever had to crack, and they always have the biggest nuts, too, as you may have noticed.
It's a recognized fact that the Canadian Corps is the best fighting force in France today, (Americans included ). In fact it has not once retreated since the war began. Some record, eh? Our new Major and another Officer were wounded and 2 Officers killed a few days ago then 2 more men wounded. The Battery's lucky star has evidently left it.
Blighty leave looked so far away that I transferred my name to the Paris leave list, which seems to be making better headway. I expect to get 14 days to Paris in November. She's some live town by all accounts from fellows, who have been.
The YMCA follows up the advance very creditably and the forward ones usually have the best stock. Only trouble is, one has to wait in the line up about 2 hours to get served.
Have enjoyed the best of health right along; never even a cold, ( looking for wood to knock), and I'm sure one week of this life, would kill any civilian. There's nothing like getting used to a thing.
Had letters from Barbadoes a few days ago. Mamma seems to be feeling a little better. The army certainly has a great mail system; no matter how many miles we move in a day, we get our mail that night just the same.
As we follow up the retreating enemy, we pass though these towns, one sees on the map, printed in fairly big letters. They are only there in name and that's all. Not a single wall standing in any of them. The very foundations pounded out of the ground. Even a city the size of Arras, where all the millionaires of France lived in peace times, a beautiful place, is just a wreck. It's not flattened , like the rest, but all the walls are full of holes.
We see lots of scraps in the air every day. Some end in his favour and some in ours. Very often see them come down in flames.
Many thanks for the clippings you sent me. Read the bottom paragraph: It's an awful lie, I was there myself. It was just a walk over. ( clipping , missing).
I was awfully glad to get your letters of Aug.11th and 20th, and am looking forward to the one you are writing about this date. It should be good!!
We get magazines of all sorts from the YMCA and most of the fellows have