Transcribed by Hazel MacLaren, [email protected]
Private John MacLaren to his sister Katie McLaren Aug 1st 1915 [clippings from an Island Newspaper ]
The following letter was written by Private John MacLaren now at the front in France to his sister Katie MacLaren, Forest Hill
Machine Gun Section
Reg. no. 23163 , 4th Batt.1st brigade
"D" Company, Canadians, France
Aug 1st ,1915
Your welcome letter of July 24th, received today. Was glad to hear from you.
We are out of the trenches for a few days, in huts four miles back of the firing line.
We generally have a bath and clean up every time we come out.
We attended church service today. It is a lovely country around here, fine crops of all kinds, the best I have ever seen both in France and Belgium. The people are busy at the harvest now. They cut it with a kind of scythe .Big fields of heavy grain too.
The season is later here than in southern France.
One day we found a box sticking out side of a trench behind a ruined house, so we dug it out and found all kinds of bedding and blankets, which were buried there before the people fled from the Germans. We use the blankets to lie on in the dug outs .
Some of the people left everything in their houses, when they left.
Not many people knows what war means, and they cannot, unless they can see for themselves,
It's terrible, the destruction in Belgium and France with all the homeless people.
If they could see the wounded men in the trenches and the thousands of graves along the firing line ,the women and old men trying to do the work on the farms, they would have a better idea of what war means to those people.
Some places the Germans are only 40 yards from us and you can see the bodies between the trenches after a charge, and cannot get a chance to bury them in most cases
In our last charge, we lost our machine gun officer and had quite a number of wounded.
If the persons responsible for war had to fight themselves, there would be no more wars.
I met some of the "Island boys' that came over with me .Saw Joe Simons the other day, He is well and looks good. I will close now. hoping you are all well.
Love to all, Write soon,
Note: Some time in the next year ,Johnny was promoted to Corporal
Officers Tributes to an Island soldier
Mr. Nathaniel McLaren of Forest Hill has received the following letter in reference to his son Corp. J. McLaren killed in action
Sept 21st 1916
Dear Mr MacLaren,
It is with the greatest regret and with assurance of my deepest sympathy, that I have to advise you of the death in action of your son no.23163 Corporal J.W. McLaren of our fourth Canadian Battalion. He was killed on the 8th inst. while doing his part nobly and well in front of his battalion I conducted the funeral service at 11;15 on Saturday Sept 9th and have asked our graves registration commission for a cross to mark the grave, which I hope will be here soon ,so that I can put it in position myself
Your loss is a heavy one ,but hope you are trying to appreciate the pride and honor inseparably connected with a death on the field of honor, for a great and noble cause.
This will remain as a permanent posession ,when lapse of time shall have made your fee lings of grief less acute.
Again, assuring you my deepest sympathy .
Yours very Sincerely.
Hqrs 1st ,Can. Infantry
Bldg .Bt, Ex, force France
Ottawa Sept 27th ,1916
Dear Mr.McLaren .
Will you kindly accept my sincere sympathy and condolence, in the decease of that worthy citizen and heroic soldier, your son Corpl John McLaren.
While one cannot too deeply mourn the loss of such a brave comrade, there is a consolation in knowing that he did his duty fearlessly and well, and gave his life for the cause of liberty and the up building of the empire.
again extending to you my heartfelt sympathy.
Faithfully, Sam Hughes
Minister of Militia and Defense of Canada