Behan Letter 4 March 1915

This is the only letter we have that Felton Pickering Behan sent from the trenches.

Although there is no year on the letter, we know it was 1915 as that is the only year during the war when March 4th was a Thursday.

The cards he mentions in the first line were pre-printed post cards distributed by the Army which had lines that could be checked off such as “I am quite well” or “I have been admitted into the hospital sick/wounded” or I have received your letter/telegram/parcel”.  Soldiers could only sign their names and add nothing else to the cards. This was an easy way for soldiers to let those at home get some simple information in between letters.

Amusingly, he tells his mother he is not really in any danger but then goes on to describe in some detail how he hears the mortars and shells falling nearby.

First page of a 4 Mar 15 letter from Lt Felton Pickering Behan from the trenches

First page of a 4 Mar 15 letter from Lt Felton Pickering Behan from the trenches
Second page of a 4 Mar 15 letter from Lt Felton Pickering Behan from the trenches
Second page of a 4 Mar 15 letter from Lt Felton Pickering Behan from the trenches

_______________________________________________________________

In the Trenches
Thursday March 4th [1915]

Dear Mom:

I hope you got the cards I sent you alright so you may now that I am all to the good yet. We have been moving around so much lately that I never got settled down enough to write any letters. It seems funny but I haven’t felt so much “at home” and at my ease as I do right here with the bullets flying round and now and again the deep boom of a mortar not more than a few hundred years away, dropping occasional shells on the German trenches. I came in last night to relieve another signaller on the telephone and found a nice little dugout, corrugated iron roof and bags of mud with the natural wall making up the sides, straw with coats and blankets for a bed. there are three of us at present making it a little crowded, but only two will be here when we get onto our jobs. It isn’t so very dangerous at our work and fully expect to see you again in a few months.

The Germans shelled a town about a mile behind us this morning and we watched the shells bursting round the old church town. Three days ago we marched into a town that was being shelled but came thro. it OK. they don’t do an awful lot of danter as the big guns are not in evidence tho. The towns are full of men, we, we are holding our own line backed by Canadian artillery. We are doing our little part. The British O.C.s [Officers Commanding] were very pleased with our work on our trench so here we are. Must say au revoir, love to all and I hope you are all well.
Budger[?]

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  • 19 September 1914 (Valcartier, Quebec)
  • 14 October 1914 (Aboard the Tunisia enroute to England)
  • Undated (Bustard Camp, Salisbury Plains, England)
  • 4 March 1915 (“in the trenches”)

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