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Letters From the Front  Charles Stingel  (February 3, 1916)
The Trenches Feb 3, 1916 Dear Mother Yours   dated   Jan   17   received   tonight.      We   have   just   got   back   to   the   trenches   after   a   three   weeks’   rest.     As   far   as   the   rest   went   it   did   not amount to much as they kept us going pretty steadily but one was not dodging shells and rifle grenades all the time. We   moved   our   billets   twice   and   I   could   not   seem   to   get   settled   in   any   of   them.      Of   course   we   did   not   have   beds   or   anything   like   that;   just barns, but they were not so bad.  We had straw to lie on and with our blankets and great coat we slept pretty well. Not very good chances for writing and I never wrote a letter while we were out.  Have a lot of writing to do now to catch up. The   trenches   have   dried   up   wonderfully   since   we   went   out   and   the   brigade   that   relieved   us   did   a   lot   of   work   and   fixed   up   the   trenches   in pretty   fair   shape.      It   was   a   brigade   of   the   3rd   Canadian   Division   and   their   first   time   in   the   line.      Their   battalions   were   all   up      to   strength   and they had lots of men for working parties. Don’t   worry   about   that   shooting   on   Christmas   Day;   they   have   the   range   of   our   trenches   all   right,   and   we   have   of   theirs,   too.      There   is shooting going on all the time.  From where I am now we can look down on the German front line about 65 yards away. The   bullets   are   clipping   the   sand   bags   on   the   roof   of   our   dugout.     About   every   30   seconds   a   sniper   seems   to   have   a   line   on   this   corner   but one   is   perfectly   safe   as   long   as   he   keeps   his   head   below   the   parapet.      It   is   high   enough   so   that   a   man   has   to   get   up   on   the   firing   steps   to   look over. I never see the boys in the 8th Battalion now. We are on the left of the Division and they are on the right. Charlie Flanders June 25, 1916 Dear Mother Well,   I   must   try   and   write   a   few   lines.      Suppose   you   have   been   wondering   why   I’ve   been   sending   nothing   but   cards,   but   we   have   been   up against   real   war   for   the   last   few   weeks   and   we   haven’t   had   time   or   the   opportunity   for   writing   letters.      We   have   been   out   of   the   trenches   the last five days but I have been doing nothing but resting and sleeping trying to get back to normal. Believe   me,   we   have   seen   some   pretty   rough   times   the   last   two   weeks   and   a   week   ago   today   and   for   48   hours   previous   it   was   simply   Hell, but   I   came   through   without   a   scratch.      I   can’’t   make   out   yet   how   any   of   us   escaped   getting   hit;   it’s   marvellous   to   see   how   many   men   will   come through a fight like that uninjured. I   would   like   to   able   to   tell   you   all   about   it   but   you   will   get   it   all   in   the   Canadian   newspapers.      But   I’ll   say   one   thing   -   I   never   felt   better ibn   my   life   that   I   did   after   we   once   got   started   and   it   was   glorious   to   see   the   way   our   boys   went   after   the   Huns.      But   90   percent   of   them wouldn’t   fight.     As   soon   as   our   boys   got   close   to   them   they   would   throw   up   their   hands   and   say   “Mercy,   comrade!” And   of   course   a   fellow   cannot put out even a German when he has his hands up. We   took   quite   a   bunch   of   prisoners.   They   were   a   pretty   poor   class   of   fighting   men,   new   troops,   too   -   the   first   time   in   eh   trenches   for some of them, so they said. They were probably second or third class reserves. Our   battalion   received   congratulations   from   nearly   half   the   British   army   in   Flanders   and   it   is   nice   to   know   that   we   did   well   what   we   had to   do.      Our   guns   established   a   record   last   night;   they   were   into   action   in   13   seconds   from   the   time   the   SOS   call   was   sent   for   artillery   support.     It’s a grand sight to see them in action at night, but it’s awful to think that men are trying to live under such fire. We   were   billeted   in   a   farm-sized   town   the   last   time   we   were   out.     There   was   a   picture   house   and   theatre   and   places   were   one   could   get   a good   square   meal.      There   were   three   or   four   regiments   of   the   Guards   Division   there   and   the   Coldstream’s   band   used   to   play   in   the   theatre.      It has   the   record   of   being   the   finest   British   Military   band   and   I   can   quite   believe   it.      They   played   one   Russian   selection   describing   the   advance   and retreat   of   the   French   from   Moscow   in   1812.      You   could   almost   see   the   burning   town.      It   is   one   of   the   greatest   pieces   of   descriptive   music   ever written. We   also   saw   a   nice   military   display   in   a   French   city   not   far   from   our   reserve   billets.   One   of   Joffre’s   right   hand   men,   General   Foch, decorated   a   bunch   of   Canadians   with   French   honours   won   during   the   war.      There   were   about   seven   officers   and   25   men.   Our   signal   sergeant   was one   of   these.   He   got   the   Medaille   Militaire   for   work   done   at Ypres   and   Festubert.   It   is   one   of   the   highest   honours   the   French   can   bestow.      It   was founded in 1870 in the Franco-Prussian War.  It is a silver medal with a gold center inscribed “Valour et Discipline” engraved on it. There   were   two   companies   of   Canadians   and   two   companies   of   French   troops   formed   for   the   guard   of   honour.      They   formed   a   square   in front   of   the   city   hall.      The   presentation   of   decorations   took   place   inside   the   square.      There   were   a   lot   of   Canadian   and   French   staff   officers present   and   they   looked   fine   with   red   bands   and   gilt   caps.      The   officer   in   command   of   the   French   companies   was   the   smartest   looking   soldier   I ever   saw.     You   should   have   seen   him   salute   with   the   sword.     There   were   two   Canadian   and   two   French   bands.     The   Canadians   were   on   the   ground first   and   when   the   French   marched   in   our   band   played   “The   Marseillaise”   and   the   French   answered   with   “O   Canada”.     A   moving   picture   machine took pictures of the whole thing and I suppose they will be showing them in Canada before long. Charlie Corporal   Charles   C   Stingel   (Service   Number:   438072)   was   born   on   August   15th   1889   the   eldest son   of   Mr.   and   Mrs   Ronald   Stingel   of   Carleton,   Yarmouth   Co.   Nova   Scotia.      He   was   enlisted   into   the   52 Battalion   at   Fort   William   Ontario   on   December   19,   1914.   He   was   then   drafted   into   the   3rd   Battalion   as a   reinforcement.      Before   enlisting   Charles   was   employed   by   the   Canadian   Pacific   Railway   in   Fort William Once   deployed   overseas   he   was   in   the   trenches   of   the   western   front   since   September   1,   1915.     During   the   last   offensive   at   Vimy   Ridge   near   the   Farbus   Wood   on April   9,   1917,   Charlie   moved   forward, although   he   had   been   affected   by   a   German   gas   shell   and   advised   to   drop   out,   and   was   killed   instantly by an exploding shell from enemy fire. Charles   Stingel   is   buried   at   Bois-Carre   British   Cemetery   near Thelus,   a   village   7   kilometres   north of Arras,   France.   Thélus   was   captured   by   the   Canadian   Corps   on   the   9th April   1917,   and   it   remained   in Commonwealth hands until the end of the War. The   commune   contains   Battle   Memorials   of   the   1st   Canadian   Division   and   (at   Les   Tilleuls)   the Canadian Artillery.   Bois-Carré   British   Cemetery   was   begun   by   units   of   the   1st   Canadian   Division   in April 1917 and used until the following June, and the 61 graves thus made are in Plot I. It   was   greatly   enlarged   after   the Armistice   by   the   concentration   of   graves   from   the   surrounding battlefields. Charles Stingel is listed on the Carleton War Memorial, Carleton, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia. Carleton War Memorial