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James Allison Ricker Rank: Private Service No: 733236 Regiment/Service: 112th Battalion; Royal Canadian Regiment, "B" Coy. Date of Death: August 27, 1918 Age at Death: 21 Cemetery Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France Grave Reference: XXXI. A. 25.
In the Trenches - World War I Letters of James Allison Ricker
Somewhere in France April 20, 1918 Dear Mother, Your letter of March came last night and I will try to answer your questions as to what we do in the trenches. In the front line of all there is nothing to do but watch the “wily Hun” especially at night. He may be a quarter of a mile away, more or less. We stand two or three together with a box of bombs close at hand, keeping a sharp lookout along our wire in front to see that he does not sneak over and surprise us. We get most of our sleep during the day, the two or three our dates. The front line is generally the quietest place in the trenches because Fritz does not often come near us and his shells go further back. When in the trenches to the rear of the front line we have work to do at night - digging trenches, building wire entanglements, carrying up materials from the rear, carrying rations or any other work that has to be done. You can imagine what it is like on a dark night, especially the barbed wire. During the day we keep out of sight as much as possible because he has his balloons and planes in the sky looking for targets for his gun. When out on the rest we have it easy and can have a very good time – have drill and training the same as in England but shorter hours. I expect the news of the present operation makes you worry for us. We know very little of what is going on and can't tell when we may be in the thick of it, but I am not worrying for myself. I can see nothing very alarming in the news we get and I believe the Germans are nearer their finish than is apparent. You asked if the noise of guns affected my hearing. The noise is not as bad as you might think. When a way back of the line you hear a great volume of noise during a bombardment like steady thunder, but when in the line you hear only the guns that are near. It is the gunners that have their hearing hurt. Somewhere in France May 19, 1918 Dear Sister, You asked if I had ever been "over-the-top." I have not, nor have I ever been through a real heavy bombardment nor been in the line when it was attacked. I have not seen a man killed sense when I was hit a year ago. But I have crawled all over no man's land on patrol, looking for trouble near the enemy lines: have stood on listening post away in front of the front lines; have been in the line on the longest trip ever made by the Canadians and some say the British; and I have seen Germans in the “wild state" when I was not permitted to fire at them for fear of giving our own position away. I have had some experience with German gas and have quite recently had my first experience with aerial bombs though not very near. 733236 Private James A. Ricker B Company Royal Canadian Regiment BEF France