W-MCP6-1.461 TO THOMAS B.MCQUESTEN from his friend Dr. Norman Leslie
Aug 16 1916
To: Whitehern Hamilton Ontario
My Dear Tom,
Your letter to hand. I had not gotten your letter or tobacco or the [tabac?] itself, but thank you just the same.
Well old dear, this is somewhat different from the base hospital.1 Of course the work in the hospital is far better every way. Here the opportunities for medical work are necessarily limited. You look at a man and send him out. But on the other hand are lots of excitement etc. The life at least so far is not monotonous; one sees all sorts of grim things and hears the most unconsciable [sic] rackets. The roar and bark of our guns is most annoying, and always jolts one considerably. It is so sudden and penetrating. The sound of the enemy shells is even more disconcerting as they have a very tangible bite to their bark [?] to them. As for adventures. Well! A medical officer's life is not a patch on the soldier's who has to be in the [?] all the time but even tho' one [?] has his narrow escapes. I have had two or three narrow ones, that is comparatively narrow where the luck broke my way, but they are really not worth recounting for so many others have had so many really narrow brushes and they say nothing of it. All the same the life is very wearing and men very soon show the strain tho' they stay with it just the same.
Am very glad George has done so well, and in a way am sorry to see him start for he is likely to get it. That is the usual outcome. Still that is what he has gone in for. He will get over I think.
[Baines?] father has certainly got the local touch down cold. His view and little bits of scenery are easily seen all over the place. He knows this life all right. It is a scene of utter desolation all right, wrecked buildings, dug outs [stuck?] everywhere, and nothing seen but soldiers. Grass and weeds grow everywhere. In the trenches you see blue cornflowers and red poppies sprouting up from the bags, a pretty sight in its way. Then the rats. Their name is legion.
You see grass stirring and a slinking form sneak along in the day. Then at night they become very bold. There are several devils that come into my abode every night. There is a sort of window. You cast your eye at this, and there are two or three peering at you, and when it is quiet they slip into the room. I hate them, but have been able to kill none yet. Occasionally you see a wild cat that has remained true to its home, but these cats don't seem able to handle the [question?]. They are very thin poor things. Truly this is a strange place, and it is going to be a great problem after the war. There is such ruin and there will be so many dead to dispose of. They are everywhere.
Well old [top?] write again,
Norman V. Leslie.
1 Following is a list of some of the letters (in our archive) from Dr. Norman Leslie to his friend Thomas Baker McQuesten about his war service in WWI from 1914 to 1918. The letters begin on the ship going over to England and continue through his service there and as surgeon in France in the trenches, which he describes graphically. For the full chronological list see:
See also W-MCP7-1.099 which indicates that McQuesten vouched for Dr. Leslie to be made a member of the Niagara Bridge Commission. Search Kaumeyer for indication that Dr. Leslie was on the Bridge Commission .