Letters from the Great War: “Thank God, I did not get any shell”

Exeter, England – June 25th, 1917 – (Letter #25)

Dear Brother;

Just a few lines to let you know I am in England in hospital in Exeter. Is in the South of England. I was blown up with a high explosive, but thank God, I did get not get any of the shell. It shook me up pretty bad. I did not know how bad it was hurt for a while, but I got a bad knee out of it. I was sent down to the base in France and sent to First American Hospital, so you know I was alright then. To make it better, the major’s name was Darrach. He is from N.Y. and he is a fine man. He and I are great pals. He took me in to his ward and he would not allow any other doctor but himself to look after me and he took the best of care of me. He is the head doctor of the hospital and, if I ever go back, I’ve got to go to N.Y. and see him.

Well, Jack, they have lots of rich man’s sons as orderlies. There is one of the Drapers from Hopedale and Judge? (forgot his name) from N.Y, his son. They are doing their bit, in fact, they are all college men and the sisters are fine. They are out of the Presbyterian Hospital in N.Y. There is a Sister MacDonald from Summerside and a couple more from Canada. It is very quiet where I am now, very strict. I am hoping to get up soon on sticks.

My address is #3949 Private Lee G. Darrach, 1/7 Lancaster F. No. 1 Auxiliary Hospital, Exeter, Devon, England. That will get me for a while. Give my best wishes to all – Ted and Mary, Flo, kids and Sam and the whole bunch.

From, Lee

Editor’s Note:

  • Based on the dates of the letters leading up to and including this one, Lee was likely fighting in the Battle of Arras when he was wounded. The Battle of Vimy Ridge ran from April 9th to 12th and was part of the Battle of Arras which extended from April 9th to May 16th. His letters indicate he was fighting in France from March 10th on up until the time he was wounded.
  • First American Hospital was in Paris, France.
  • The Sister MacDonald that he is referring to is Beatrice MacDonald from North Bedeque. She left PEI for New York to advance her education. When the war began, she joined the effort. Beatrice is the most decorated nurse of WW1, the most prestigious award being a Purple Heart. The Guardian ran a story about her, click here. To learn more about PEI Nurses in WW1, we recommend reading Katherine Dewar’s book, Those Splendid Girls: The Heroic Service of Prince Edward Island Nurses in the Great War.

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