Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Saturday, December 18, 2021

In the Firing Pits at the Somme

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A Canadian 6-inch Howitzer Firing at the Somme

This brief, but intense description of what it was like to be in the artillery firing pits of the Somme, is from the diary of Lieutenant Frederick G. Scott from Toronto, Ontario who served with the 8th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery and was killed in action at Vimy, France, on 20 April 1917. 

7 July - Been firing night & day since June 20th – everyone getting tired. Rotten position. Machine guns on us all night. We even get bullets in the gunpits. 

8 July - The big attack has commenced at last. I hear our Division has already lost about 7000 men & the 29th about 8000. The wounded are continually passing through the Battery. We cannot give them water and we have not time to help them in any way.

9 July - There are rows of dead lying in front of the Battery waiting for burial. The infantry are digging enormous pits to bury them – (the dead) in batches of about 20. And all the time there are ‘sulphur lozenges’ bursting over them.

10 July - I heard we are to leave this part of the line. I am not sorry. We have been here since February. Thiepval and St. Pierre Divion are not yet taken. Elsewhere we are advancing. I wish we could get letters.

Source:  Barrage from the Royal Canadian Artillery Museum


  1. Canadians comported themselves very well, consistently. Perhaps the most reliable troops on the British side.

  2. I can empathise. I was in the field artillery(8 inch0206mm guns). It is hard, unrelenting work.