Lance Corporal John William Sutton

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John WilliamSutton with family and friends visiting him at training camp in Brantford, 1915. John William is second from left with his hand on daughter Eva's shoulder. Seated is wife Elizabeth May and son Charles William. Standing to the right is sister Eva Sutton who married William Peter Hopkins, far right, after the war.

July 19, 1916

Dear Liz and children,

Well kido I am out of hospital and doing fine. I am writing this letter on your mother's table in Nuneaton. I was sent down to London from Liverpool hospital to report at Canadian Headquarters and I managed to get a few days sick leave but poor old Percy cannot get any Leave yet. He is at Longmoor Camp Bramshot. I went down to see him and he looks fine. But he says they are not getting very good food, so I thought I had better take my leave while I had the chance as I am doubtful whether he will get any leave as they are rushing all the troops to France without giving them any leave at all.

July 31, 1916

Dear Wife and Children,

Just a few lines to tell you that I am feeling fine. I never felt better in my life. I am just come back from 10 days sick leave after coming out of Liverpool Hospital. I am at Bordon Camp and am just been examined by the doctor and he passed me as fit for Active Service. So I guess I will be sent to the 75th where Percy and Peter is. I am asked to be sent there. So I guess by the time you get this letter I will be in France with Percy. On my sick leave I saw all the great sights. I saw a German Submarine that our Navy captured. It was on exhibition on the Thames and I went up in an aeroplane at London and it cost me half a quid and we went up to the heavens. My God I don't want another trip upwards anymore. I was all through the tower of London and I was in the House of Commons listening to a debate on all aliens in England. They don't give us much money here I have only drawn $7.50 since I arrived in England. Everything is so dear. Just twice as dear as in Canada. They charge 8 cents for a packet of fags and we could get the same in Canada for 5 cents. So you see what we are up against. Dear Liz, I wish I was with you as I feel miserable. All the Machine Guns have gone to Bramshot and left me here with the rejects, but I passed the doctor this morning so I will be with them soon.

John William Sutton and members of the 84th battalion Machine Gun Corps posing with guns during Ontario training, Spring, 1916. John William is lying to the left looking down the barrel of a machine gun.

September 3 1916

Well kid, we come out of the trenches last night after being in there for 9 days straight. We are out to get cleaned up a bit and rest 48 hours, then back in again. I never had my boots off for 9 days and it rained for 3 days and the trenches are all under water. Its fierce nobody can imagine how dirty we are and we are fighting nearly all the time. Its great fun dodging the German explosives we can see them coming in the daytime. We have lost quite a few from our battalions now but we have lost any of the machine gun up to now. By God, we do pepper the bullets into their trenches from our little guns. I got struck on the wrist by shrapnel yesterday morning. Just a little cut lots of blood. I am still fit for duty. They just bandage you up and say alright go to it. Several of our fellows have got shell shock and are resting up. Some of the men get scared to death but I should worry. I just think its fine excitement as long as I don't get hit. Well Liz, we got two gas attacks from the Germans last night one at 11 pm and one at 2 am but we were all ready for them, we are only about 70 yards from them. We can often see them but I don't give them a chance to see me. Well kid, remember me to all the people. I am in a barn about a mile back from the front line for 48 hours. Me and Percy is together we are as tough as hell we can eat concrete. Write me quick and don't forget a parcel with a bit of gum or fags or cake or things of that kind in it. Goodbye and God bless you all.

From Bill

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