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Letter from the Trenches

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Dear family, The battle of Ypres is finally over! Though it was a bitter- sweet victory, I am glad it is over. Many awful things occurred during this battle which will haunt me for the rest of my life. The trenches that we spent months in were always flooded with rainfall, this was because of the poor drainage system the trenches had. Many men developed a painful infection of the foot that we call trench foot. I suspect I have it. It hurts when I walk, and I can feel my feet swelling every day. I am afraid to take my boots off. Rats the sizes of full grown cats eat my fallen comrades. The rotten corpses probably taste better than the food they serve us. ...read more.


We ran to higher ground to escape the gas, this made the German's job of targeting us much easier. Men were blown into pieces by enemy artillery left and right of me. A constant artillery fire nearly wiped out the French defenses and they were forced to retreat. This caused a large gap in our allied line. I thought we were goners. The Germans could have easily filled in the gap and fished the battle. To my surprise the German troops did not have proper protection from the chlorine gas. They feared invading our trenches because they did not want to suffer the painful death that many of our men did. Even the Germans were surprised by the effectiveness of the gas attack, and did not have enough troops available to take full advantage of the breach in the lines, while we were able to quickly bring up reinforcements. ...read more.


On the 24th, soon after our initial attack launch the Germans launched a second chlorine gas attack, this time directed towards us. We held urine soaked cloths on our mouths and ran for our lives. We lost our forward trench positions, but we did not give up. We drove out the German artillery as they advanced. We were able to withstand their brutal shelling, their chlorine gas and machine guns for ten days straight. We fought against a far more superior force, but were still able to halt them from advancing. On May 3rd allied forces arrived, and we relived from the front line. Our stubborn resistance in the face of the horrible new weapon played a vital role in the Allies' success in holding the Ypres salient. It was at a very high cost though. From what I heard is that 1 in 3, which is about 6000 allied troops suffered casualties. I am a very lucky man to survive the battle of Ypres. ...read more.

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