Letters from the Front

Private John Cushnie

Description of the Arras front

Private Collection

Thursday, October 17, 1918

Transcribed by: Anne Hales

Clarence House
Priory Lane
London S.W.

Dear Folks at Home:-
     At last I have got some Canadian mail and this last week I go your two letters of Sept 15th and 22nd .  I have not received any of your letters written between Aug 21st and Sept 15th as they would be addressed to France, perhaps I will never get them but I should get my mail, addressed to England fairly regularly now.  Many thanks for the $2 bill.  As I have plenty of cash just now from your cable I will keep it in reserve for a rainy day.  I will probably not bother you for money any more for a long time because I have quite a bit to my credit now and when I get out of hospital I will be able to draw on this whenever I need any.
     I was very glad to know that you looked on my being wounded in such a sensible way.  As you say I was lucky to escape with my life.  I often wonder how so many come out of it without being hit.
     The last letter you got from me before going into hospital, dated Aug 27th , was written in the city of Arras, two days before going over the top on the Arras front.  As you know we were on the Amiens front from Aug 8th until 26th .  It was then understood that the Canadians would go out on a nice long rest which we really deserved and which is the general thing after going over the top.  To strengthen this idea we got on the train and were told that our destination was the place where we had such a nice long rest last summer.  We arrived there all right, a place called Aubiguy, but instead of going into billets there, we were loaded onto motor lorries and sent up to Arras and we knew that we were in for another scrap.
     We stayed in Arras a day before going into the line and that was when I found a few minutes to write that letter.  Just before moving off that night I spied a familiar face on the corner of the street who turned out to be Percy Ross .  He had been looking for us all day and finally found us. I had not seen him since going to France as I didn’t know what battalion he was with.  He didn’t know what battalion I was with either until a few weeks before when he found where I was by a very funny accident.
     When we were on the Amiens front we went for a bath one day to a place called Quesnol.  Here I lost my identity discs which are 2 discs which we carry around our neck by a string, something like this.

(John draws a circular disc with)

    Pte. Cushnie
     1st BATTN

The next day the 4th C.M.R’s which is Percy’s battalion had a bath in the same place and it happened that Percy found my discs and from them, what battalion I was with so that he could look me up.  We had a good laugh over it together. Percy looked fine and hasn't changed much – only a little fatter.
     That reminds me that we were all weighed the other day and I have gained 8 pounds in the three weeks that I have been here.
     One day last week we journeyed to the famous Stamford Bridge Athletic Grounds and had the pleasure of seeing a Canadian team trim the Yanks in a baseball game for the championship of the British Isles.  Of course it was rather a “come down” for the poor Yanks as they had several big league players on their team and expected to walk away with the game.
      I only expect to be here about two weeks more as my arm is nearly all right again.  I am not just sure where I will be sent from here so I can’t give you my next address yet. I will probably get my sick leave from here.
     Don’t bother sending any parcels until I give you my next address because very often they never reach us when in hospital although I have always been lucky in not losing parcels.  By the way I had a letter from Bill some time ago.  There was a small parcel from mother which Euart , Archie and Bill divided as I left word with Bill to keep any parcels sent to me, as they would probably get them in the front line and I would rather that they should get them than anyone else.
         Well I must close for now.  I hope this finds you all well as it leaves me.
Love to all,

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.