My Dearest Elizabeth, I write to you from my first mission in Somme, France. After enlisting in the army I thought I would never witness anything more dreadful than leaving you and the kids behind. I believed that this war would be an easy war, and wouldn’t last long, but after what I have witnessed and saw with my bare eyes in the battle of Ypres, I was getting ready to accept my fate. There is very little hope of survival in this war. We arrived in Somme, France on the 16th of September, as it was probably the bloodiest and deadliest of all the battles. When we arrived we were walking on dead soldiers ... I saw poor fellows trying to bandage their wounds, bombs, and heavy shells were falling all over them. It was the worst sight that I had ever seen. The trenches were full of rats that were feasting on dead bodies, the smell was devastatingly awful. We received orders to capture Courcelette, a village in the Somme Valley occupied by Germans, and at that point we recognized we were entering into a hell hole. It was worse than hell here, most of my friends were either killed or badly wounded. I was surrounded with corpses that stretched miles around me. They covered up the ground just as a bed sheet would cover a bed. My friend Jeremy Hammond was wounded badly as he was shot in his chest. He told me: “If you make it out of here alive please tell my kids and wife that I love them so much.” As he struggled for his last breath he handed me his locket and told me to give it to his wife. I recognized at that very moment that he was far dead. It was terrifying, bullets were flying in each direction, shells falling from above. It was a massacre. We were butchered, but we fought to our last breath and captured the objective. The Battle of the Somme finally ended in late November, when rain, snow and sleet made operations impossible. However, it was with great cost. We were planning our next attack on Lens-Vimy Sector. We reached the Carency and the Souchez on November 2nd, we moved into the trenches two days later. My battalion and I were to be in Corps Reserve when Christmas Day came. We were ordered to seize Vimy Ridge in April 1917. Situated in northern France, it was a heavily-fortified seven-kilometre ridge which held a commanding view. We would be assaulting over an open graveyard since many French and British attacks have failed. We have planned this scenery and recreated it before the battle, I was amazed by the plan but never knew if it would succeed as our commander Sir Julian Byng warned us: “Chaps, you shall go over exactly like a railroad train, on time, or you shall be annihilated," it was terrifying, as the artillery fire would be so heavy on the front to be able to force the Germans into their dug outs. All of our divisions joined and I met my old friend James, we met in high school at the age of 14 and then he moved to another school. It was a great reunion but it was soon to be lost since we were about to apply the plan that we have rehearsed and planned carefully for months. We attacked at 5:30 am on April the 9th, 1917. Here I am sitting in my dug out back of the line and have found a minute to write to you about what has been going on lately, as I know how you'll be worrying & wondering how I'm keeping. I am grateful that the Almighty has spared me this far & I only trust that GOD will bring me safely through & back to my loved ones. Our Company were lucky & we were a "carrying party", we had to bring up ammunition & supplies for the attacking party. We were sent up to hold the front line for a while after the advance was over. We had a few killed & wounded. I had several narrow escapes but thank God I'm yet safe, and well other than getting shot in the thigh from a machine gun nest. I do hope and pray it will soon be all over as I don't want to see anything like it again. Things certainly look better every day & I hope they'll continue to.