Pte. Ernest Wakelyn, 31st Battalion, writes about the battle of the Somme
Sunday, September 17, 1916
Transcribed by: Marika I. Pirie
Pte. Ernest March Wakelyn served with the 31st Battalion, Alberta Regiment. This letter was published in the Calgary Daily Herald with an introduction which has been transcribed below.
His brother, mentioned in this letter, was Pte. Stanley York Wakelyn, also of the 31st Battalion. Another brother was Trooper Harold Yorke Wakelyn, with the R.N.W.M.P., who also enlisted.
According to a report in the Calgary Herald on October 30th, 1916, announcing that Sgt. Arthur Wakelyn, 31st Battalion, had been awarded the Military Medal, it was noted that he was one of six sons of Mr. and Mrs. W. Wakelyn, Gladstone Av., Hillhurst, Calgary, who were serving.
The other brothers not yet mentioned were likely Corp. Herbert Charles Wakelyn, and Edwin Douglas Wakelyn, who enlisted at Valcartier with the first Canadian Contingent. They may also be related to George James Wakelyn who enlisted in Calgary.
WRITES HOME ON STATIONERY TAKEN FROM HUN CAPTIVE
Private Ernest Wakelyn Tells His People All About Last Big Fight
Germans in Great Hurry to Surrender
His Brother Had a Bullet Go Through Sole of His Shoe
Using German stationery, which he took from the breast pocket of a Hun captive, Pte. Ernest Wakelyn, one of the six sons of W. T. Wakelyn, 1417 First avenue, Hillhurst, at present serving the colors, writes a short but interesting letter to his parents here, about the recent fighting at the Somme. Under the date of Sept. 17 he says:
I have just been through what they claim was the greatest British success since the commencement of the war. It was certainly 'some' fight.
During the night we had to dig holes like gophers to protect ourselves against the incessant shell fire of the enemy, and in the morning we prepared to go over the parapet. As soon as we showed ourselves we were met with a perfect hail of machine gun bullets. The pellets were flying in every direction and it was then that our casualties were the heaviest.
The Germans kept firing right up until we were quite close and then they dropped their rifles and threw up their hands. We didn't get a good chance to stick them at all. They are a bunch of cowardly dogs and when captured they are willing to do almost anything. We took all kinds of prisoners on that rush.
Stan had a bullet go right through the sole of his boot without injuring him at all. A shrapnel splinter tore a hole in my sleeve, but outside of that we all came out O.K.
After that great success we marched for three days back of the lines so as to get a good rest. At present we are billeted in a fair-sized French village, and we make ourselves quite at home around a cosy fire, as it is raining heavily. In fact the rain has not let up for over three days now.
We have seen some very thrilling air fights, in which our aviators are always the victors. One enemy machine was brought down in flames, quite near where we were stationed, and we had a good inspection of the remains. Both the airmen were burned to cinders.
By the way, this paper I am using was at one time the property of a German officer, so be sure and keep it as a souvenir.
Stan mentioned in one of the foregoing paragraphs is another son of W. T. Wakelyn, and is well known to the "soccer" enthusiasts in Calgary.