Liévin/Boyeffles, March 8, 1918

Friday          This a.m. broke warm and bright[.] about 7:30 Fritz simply rained in gas and H.E.[High Explosive] at St Pierre and corruption flew for about 10 minutes, lots of intermittent shelling on both sides thru’out the day I left the guns about 4 pm, & arrived at the W[agon] L[ines] about 6[.] throat a little better

“A considerable amount of Trench Mortar activity in the vicinity of Hill 70,” reports the Divisional War Diary, phlegmatically. (1) After all, the shelling of Cité St Pierre and Loos with gas has become “almost a nightly occurrence.” (2)

Though just as brief, Percy’s version — because his language is metaphor — brings the attack to life: “simply rained in gas and H.E. … corruption flew.”

Paul Nash Mule Train.jpg

We referred two days ago to the “kidding” and “lying rumours” to which the 55th was subjected. The whole Fifth Divisional Artillery, coming so late to France after spending so long in Britain, was met with “curiosity … mixed with much chaff.” The 60th Battery is reported to have held “their own in this game of give-and-take, especially as their opponents were no longer able to use their formidable old reproach about the motto of the 5th Division being ‘England for ever’; nor could they quote the imaginary notice on the docks at Boulogne, ‘This country is out of bounds to the 5th Canadian Division.'” (3)

Paul Nash’s 1918 painting is called “The Mule Track.” You have to look hard to find the mules in a panic on their zig-zag of duckboards across a landscape of flood and firestorm. © IWM ART 1153

(1) War Diary of the Fifth Canadian Divisional Artillery. Vol. 14: 7. March 8, 1918. Library and Archives of Canada.
(2) War Diary of the Fifth Canadian Divisional Artillery. Vol. 14: 7. March 7, 1918.
(3) 60th C.F.A. Battery Book, 1916-1919. [1919]. 36.

Copyright 2018. See “More about this project.”

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