Letters from the Front

Private John Cushnie

The comforts of the Hospital

Private Collection

Saturday, September 07, 1918

Transcribed by: Anne Hales

Norfolk War Hospital

Thorpe, Norwich



Dear Folks at Home:-

     I don’t know whether you will have received my other letter written from France, but in case you haven’t let me say that I am fine and there is no need to worry about my wound.  There is a ____ in the muscle of my left arm (upper) , about the size of a 10 cent piece where a piece of shrapnel went in and I think it is only about a half an inch deep.  My arm is a little stiff and awkward in dressing but not very painful and I do not even carry it in a sling.

     I arrived at this Hospital on the 5th after spending 2 days in the Canadian Hospital at Etaples France.  We had a very calm passage across the Channel – I seem to be lucky in striking calm crossings.

     It is certainly a wonderful experience – after you are once marked for “Blighty”1 by the MO. I could hardly believe my good luck when they told me that I was going back to England because I really didn’t think I was bad enough.  However here I am and here I hope to stay for quite a while.

     There is not much to tell about how I was wounded.  It was on September 2nd when the Canadians went over the top in front of Arras.  Our battalion had reached their objective and with Harold Morrison and a Corporal, I was coming back from a trip to Headquarters when a shell lit about 200 yards away.  I felt a blow in my arm and Lo and Behold I had received my Blighty.  I didn’t lose much time getting out after that and I was lucky enough to get a ride most of the way.

     While going out in a hospital wagon I saw Milton Sein and gave him a yell.  When he found out what was wrong he said “You lucky beggar” and I believed him.  We had to pass through quite a few hands before reaching the Base Hospital but were well treated everywhere and had no complaints.  It was certainly lovely to crawl into a bed and sleep to my heart’s content.  Douglas Gordon of Mount Forest was in the next ward to me at Etaples but the poor chap wasn’t able to make Blighty.  He will have a nice rest out of it at any rate.

     I have been wondering how Bill , Archie and Euart came out of the scrap.  I hope they are all well.

     This is a wonderful big hospital and they certainly use us well here.  There are quite a number of Canadian patients besides the Imperials  so I am not isolated or anything like that.

     This afternoon a Canadian Red Cross lady came around and gave us each a fine kit, including writing paper, soap, brush and comb and in fact nearly everything that we really need.

      I have not been out about yet so can’t tell you much yet about the Hospital and the surroundings.  We are only a short distance from the city of Norwich and it appears to be very quiet around here.  I have been resting up most of the time since coming here and feel like a new man now.

     We don’t get any pay while in Hospital so I will likely be writing for money soon.  Don’t send any yet as I am thinking of making arrangements with Bill Kerr’s cousin in Scotland to have you send it to her if she is willing.  If sending any boxes please omit cocoa, coffee and canned heat but the sugar will be very acceptable as it is even scarcer here than in France.

     Of course I couldn’t stop without mentioning the “eats”.  I am certainly living “higher” than at any time since I joined the army.  We have four meals a day if you please, as follows

Breakfast 7am – Boiled eggs, bread & butter, tea

Dinner 12 noon – Sausages, boiled potatoes, gravy, pudding

Tea 4 pm – Tea, Jam Bread & butter

Supper 7.30 pm – Tea, Bread & butter, sausages.

That as the line up for yesterday so you can see that we are not exactly starving.

      I fact you know, this just seems to me like some wonderful dream which is too good to be true.

     This trip to Blighty will not only be a rest for me but also for you dear people too because the strain will be taken off your minds for a few months at any rate.  There is nothing to worry over on my account because I am in the best of hands and you can rest assured that I will take care of myself.

     Many of the nurses here are Scotch so this place is not entirely English.  Yesterday a Scotch Presbyterian minister was around having a little chat with us Presbyterians and I see by the notices that services are held here every Sunday for Presbyterians and Methodists.

     Well I think this will be all for now but I will be writing again in a few days.

     Please send a writing pad, envelopes and pencil in the next box.  I expect I will have plenty of chance here to catch up with any long lost correspondence.

     Write to address at top of letter.  Best love to all


 1) Blighty is a term used for Englandby the troops

This is part of the John Cushnie Collection. This is a collection of approximatly 98 letters from 1916 to 1918, and a diary with 220 entries from 1918. These letters and diary entries, were very gratiously provided by Anne Hales.