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How it all started

Most passenger cliff railways were built at seaside resorts and the first appeared at Scarborough in 1875. The zenith of cliff railway construction was in the 1890s and 1900s. The pre-eminent of the cliff railway engineers during this period was George Croydon Marks.

In 1890 a public meeting was called to discuss a new means of communication between the High Town and Low Town of Bridgnorth, avoiding the need to scale the 200 or so steps. The meeting was reported in the local press, and the matter came to the attention of Mr. George Croydon Marks. Marks and Mr. George Newnes, M.P. subsequently laid a proposal before the town council for the erection of a Patent Cliff Railway, or inclined lift.

Plans were finally accepted for a route from the bottom of the Stoneway Steps to the end of the Castle Walk and consequently a company entitled The Bridgnorth Castle Hill Railway Company Ltd was registered in 1891.

The actual start of the construction work began on 2nd November 1891. Initial work was much hindered by the discovery of caves set into the cliff-face - one cave was so large it was necessary to support the roof to avoid slippage and subsidence. Another problem facing the construction work were the many houses built into the cliff face around the site - in some cases, the effect of excavating the cutting was to remove supporting walls from the poorly constructed dwellings. At either end of the track station buildings were constructed.

The original patented design of the railway was for a single track with two cars, with a crossing point mid-way between top and bottom, but this was abandoned in favour of a double track. When finished, the track measured 201 ft long, with a vertical rise of 111ft. This gave the railway an incline of 1:81, or 33.52°, the steepest in inland Britain.

The rails were secured to sleepers which were themselves bolted into solid rock. At the upper end of the track, the hauling pulley was built on solid concrete foundations, the supporting buttresses of which carried a considerable distance down the track. Flat bottomed rails were used and the entire line was ballasted with concrete to avoid any slippage. Horizontal rollers were set into the track at regular intervals to support the steel ropes.

Each car was mounted on a triangular frame of steel girders which housed a 2,000 gallon water tank. The method of power was simple - the tank on the car at the top was filled with water from a 30,000 gallon tank mounted on the roof of the top station. When the tank was full, the total weight of the car was more than 9 tons, easily enough to counterbalance the bottom car with its 18 passengers.

As the top car was being filled, the tank on the bottom car was being emptied, and the water pumped directly up to the top station tank by means of a pair of pumps driven by independent Forward Gas Engines.

The cars were linked by a pair of steel ropes, the breaking strain of which was calculated to be 15 times the normal working load of the cars. In addition, the cars were fitted with rapid gripper brakes which automatically engaged should the rate of descent become too great. A second manually operated brake was the responsibility of the brakeman who rode on the bottom platform of each car.

The railway opened on 7th July 1892. The ceremony was performed by the Mayor, John Anderson, a boot and shoe dealer born in Paisley, and in celebration the local townspeople enjoyed a public holiday. Between July and September 1892 over 50,000 passengers used the railway. The railway ran continuously for the next 41 years, until April 1933. In May, 1934 it was re-opened by Frank Myatt, a brewer and hotelier who had been Mayor of Wolverhampton. His family continued to own the cliff railway for another sixty-two years.

The drivers were eventually dispensed with, in favour of a hand operated brake operated from the top station. The brake on the cars were made to operate only in the event of a rope failure. In 1943, the gas engines were reaching the end of their working life, and this prompted a major rebuild of the railway.

The hydraulic system of counterbalanced cars was replaced with an electrically operated mining type motor of 32 hp. The haulage system consists of 2 main ropes - one winds onto the one drum as the other winds off. In addition, a safety rope connects the 2 cars via the original head wheel. The original emergency brake was retained, hence in the event of a rope break the car would grip the rails until they came to a halt. The speed of the cars was regulated by air brakes acting on the haulage drums, and proximity devices which would act to slow the cars as they approached either end of the track. In addition, further safety improvements included interlocked loading doors at top and bottom, and a dead man's pedal speed controller. The conversions were carried out by Messrs. Francis & J.S. Lane, with electrical gear supplied by Metropolitan-Vickers Electrical Co. Ltd. The effect of the conversion was to double the speed of the railway, up to a maximum speed of 250 feet per minute. The railway reopened in December 1944, and showed an immediate increase in traffic. In 1955, the passenger cars were replaced with a more modern type, with improved lighting.

In 1996 the entire share capital of the company was acquired by Jean and Allan Reynolds, who spent the next fifteen years investing vast sums of money in restoring and improving the cliff railway.

By a strange twist of fate, the cliff railway has come full circle and is now owned by cousins of George Croydon Marks. George had been born into engineering at the Woolwich Arsenal, where his father had worked. His parents had moved there from Somerset in their early twenties to escape rural poverty. His father had been the son of a poor farm labourer in the Blackdown Hills adjacent to Exmoor. They had family bonds with the north Devon Jones family. Bridgnorth Cliff Railway was purchased by the Tipping family in 2011. Two years later it was discovered that one of their maternal great-grandfathers, who came from Parracombe, north Devon, had been third cousin to George Croydon Marks. Marks was also a distant cousin of the branch of the Jones family which had founded another cliff railway at Lynton four miles from Parracombe. George Croydon Marks, who was knighted in 1911 and ennobled as Baron Marks of Woolwich in 1929, was Bridgnorth Cliff Railway’s first managing director from 1891 until 1901. His brother, Edward, another engineer, became its second managing director from 1901 until 1924.

The cliff railway remains a constant in the town of Bridgnorth. Its current owners and staff are very aware of that and its proud heritage.

 

Bridgnorth Cliff Railway Personnel Who Participated in the First World War

  • Our Top Station attendant, George Preece, who left the company on 3rd October, 1914 in order to enlist;

  • Solicitor Godfrey Charles Cooper, our first company secretary, who was captain at the local army drill hall in St. Mary's Street;

  • Thomas Wedgwood Whitefoot, who served in the Canadian forces, whose family had owned the wine and spirits merchants in the high street before it was acquired by Tanners and whose father Thomas Whitefoot II had acted as the cliff railway's first deputy chairman; and

  • Our founder and first managing director, Sir George Croydon Marks, M.P., who had been detailed by prime minister David Lloyd George to play a vital role in the Ministry of Munitions.

For the illustrated version see the full storyboard displayed at the Cliff Railway's Bottom Station until the end of Remembrance Sunday.

Our founder and first managing director, Sir George Croydon Marks, MP, played a vital role in the Ministry of Munitions under Lloyd George during the First World War.

Top Station attendant George Preece enlists for King and Country on 3rd October, 1914

The Minutes Book (p.186) records that at the Board Meeting convened on 1st December, 1914, the directors noted that George Preece, who had been an attendant at the Top Station, had left on 3rd October, 1914 to join the Shropshire Territorial Reserve Battalion. He joined F Company.

George had been born in 1885 to Jonathan and Eliza Preece. At the time of the 1911 census, Jonathan was shown as being a carpet weaver aged 66 years. Eliza was shown as being aged 65 years. At that time the couple had been married for forty-six years. In that year they had two adult daughters living at home: Alice, aged 31 a setter; and Jessie, aged 20 also a setter. Setters set the wool in line ready for the patterns before carpets were woven in the factory. The entire family was born in Bridgnorth. Jonathan died aged 73 whilst living at Friars Street, Bridgnorth and was buried on 12th January, 1918.

Jonathan had been a carpet weaver and Agnes' father had been George Sherry who had been a labourer. George Preece was one of nine children, eight of whom survived at the time of the 1911 census. At the time of his marriage in 1909, George Preece was aged 23 years and was shown as a Lift Porter living at Friar’s Street. He married Agnes Sherry aged 21 of Cartway, Bridgnorth and whose father George Sherry was a labourer.

In the 1911 census George Preece is aged 25 and shown as a Lift Station Collector born in Bridgnorth. At that time he and Agnes had one daughter and were living at 4, Bank Steps.

The 'Bridgnorth Journal' issue dated 10th October, 1914 confirms the cliff railway's Board Meeting minute showing that George Preece had left on 3rd October to enlist. The paper shows that George Preece of 4, Bank Steps had joined the Reserve Territorial Battalion of the King's Shropshire Light Infantry. He joined F Company.

Private George Preece survived the First World War and the 2nd August, 1919 edition of the 'Bridgnorth Journal' records that he attended a dinner on 25th July, 1919 hosted by the Celebrations Committee of Bridgnorth Corporation. He is listed in the booklet 'Bridgnorth: An Army Roll of Honour 1914-1918'. His entry reads, 'George Preece - 4, Bank steps. Private. 2366 F Company. 4th K.S.L.I.'

When he died, George Preece was listed as residing at 13, Cartway. He died aged 82 and was shown as a Retired Lift Operator and was buried on 29th December, 1967. His widow, Agnes, died at the grand old age of 98 in 1986.

Acknowledgements: We thank Gwynne and Ann Chadwick of the RAF Bridgnorth Collection for their researches into George Preece and his family.

The army drill hall in St. Mary’s Street had had Godfrey Charles Cooper as its captain (F Company) in the early years of the cliff railway. He was the cliff railway’s first solicitor. Members of the Cooper family were in practice as solicitors in Bridgnorth.

Below are the First World War letters of Sergeant Thomas Wedgwood Whitefoot, the son of Thomas Whitefoot junior, who was the first Deputy Chairman of The Bridgnorth Castle Hill Railway Company Limited (Bridgnorth Cliff Railway) and a Bridgnorth alderman.

Thomas Wedgwood Whitefoot, born in Bridgnorth 1891, was the son of Thomas Whitefoot junior, a wine and spirit merchant trading at 36, High Street, and his wife, Elizabeth Helen neé Wedgwood. The wine and spirits merchants business was sold to Tanners in 1925.

T.W. Whitefoot’s family could trace its roots in Bridgnorth back several generations. His great-grandfather Samuel Whitefoot lived and worked in the town. His grandfather Thomas Whitefoot senior was married to Alice and his funeral was at St. Leonard’s church on 8th March, 1900. His father Thomas Whitefoot junior was baptized at St. Leonard’s on 22nd October, 1856, married Elizabeth Helen Wedgwood at All Saints, Birmingham on 15th May, 1884 and died aged 71 in 1927, having remarried in 1909 after having been widowed.

In 1911, T.W. Whitefoot was living in the parish of St. Leonard’s, but was in Quebec, Canada at the outbreak of war. He served on the Western Front with the Canadian Army Medical Corps. His regimental number was 33487. He served in Flanders, was promoted to Lance Corporal (Bridgnorth Journal, 13th May, 1916) and was mentioned as a sergeant in dispatches on 1st June, 1917.

With the first Canadian Contingent from Western Canada to Northern France, extracts from the letters of Signaller T. W. Whitefoot, No. 33487, 3rd Field Ambulance, 1st. Canadian Division, B. E. F. are reproduced here. These first appeared in the Bridgnorth Grammar School Magazine in July, 1915.

Calgary Alta 21 Aug 1914. We are leaving here at 2 o'clock to-day and are all very much excited at the prospect of getting to the front at an early date. Winnipeg, 24 Aug. Arrived yesterday from Calgary where we had a huge send-off. We are at the Barracks here, being tested before being sent to Valcartier. About 40 of our men have been weeded out and given the chance to join the Infantry regiments or be sent back. None of them went back. The military spirit is awfully keen in Canada. We were all inoculated against typhoid yesterday and today my arm is awfully swollen and I feel slightly feverish, several men fainted on parade this morning as a result of the inoculation.

Valcartier Camp, Quebec. 4th Sept. We arrived here on Tuesday noon after rather a slow journey from Winnipeg which we left Friday night. We brought 70 horses and waggons, etc. with us, so we were treated as a freight train and had to proceed slowly. On Sunday night a shunting engine scraped into our last coaches, coming off a switch, and derailed them, making quite a mess of them, but fortunately nobody was hurt. We did not detrain at Quebec but came right through to the Camp which is 16 miles distance. The Camp is quite a sight, the largest one ever held in Canada, there are now 32,000 men under canvas. The ground is sandy and drains very quickly, which is a good thing as it is raining here half the time and the dews are heavy with frogs. The Camp looks like a lake in the distance, it is two miles long — all tents. About 2,000 men are being medically examined daily. A whole lot of our men have to go on the A.M.C. that is the bunch that stay in the hospitals on the lines of communication while the rest of us go with the Field Ambulance, whose duty it is to render first aid and carry the wounded back to the field hospitals from the firing line. Of course I am going as a signaller and shall have no first aid work to do.

Sep. 19. We are all equipped now and we hear that the transports are ready. We had a huge and very impressive review, before the Duke of Connaught and other big people — on Tuesday last - of the whole 32,000 troops. Four hundred guns were with the Artillery and looked fine as each battery galloped past the saluting base. The Duke was delighted and congratulated everyone on their turn-out. We are getting lots of exercise and lots of fine weather now, so are all feeling pretty good. I tried to get into the Horse Artillery but our O.C. would not give me a transfer, as we are so short of Signallers.

On board S.S. "Tunisian," 13 Oct. I am writing this so that I can mail it as soon as we land, we have passed the south coast of Ireland and have not turned North yet, so we are evidently not going to Liverpool. To-day has been misty, so we are going rather slowly. There is a huge wind and quite a fine sea on; I have been watching the fascinating mountainous waves which are washing over the lower decks. We have had quite a calm voyage and there has been very little sea-sickness, but progress has been painfully slow owing to there being several small vessels amongst the fleet. There are 32 transports, 4 Cruisers and two Battleships, quite an imposing sight I can assure you. After being kept waiting for other transports off Rimouski, we left last Saturday week, 3rd Oct. and have only been doing about nine knots.

S.S. "Tunisian," Devonport, 17th Oct. At last we have struck dear old England as I guess you will have seen by the papers. We reached Plymouth Sound on Wednesday evening and after waiting a short time were escorted up the river to Devonport where we still are anchored. We may not be disembarked for two or three days yet as they are getting the transport and horses off first, also the Artillery. You cannot imagine how good the old country looks to me after being away so long — one has to be away to appreciate it and I shall never forget the sight of the lovely green fields and trees all looking so fresh and neat and artistic. I feel home-sick for

the first time in years. Things are awfully busy here, Cruisers and Gun Boats are continually coming in and out for coal and other supplies. There is a huge Super-Dreadnought in here outfitting, a brand new one, simply magnificent — I don't know her name. The Canadians are awfully impressed. The climate is very mild down here, Saltash is only just across the way, an awfully pretty place. I have been signalling privately with a Worcestershire Territorial on the bank, on a private estate here and we were conversing for about half an hour, he says they have heard that we are going to Salisbury Plain. Some kind boat brought a bundle of the Times on board to-day and there was a regular scrum for them, also a lot of chocolate and toffee came aboard. The man who sold them must have made a terrible profit as we were just crazy for something sweet, the boat had nearly run out of supplies and we have been half starving until some came on board on Thursday — no butter, milk, sugar, oatmeal and very little meat of any kind. We have had boat loads of people passing around us almost continually since we came, all cheering and we are just hoarse with cheering and shouting and singing. It is a lovely sight at night with all the boats and cruisers and docks lit up just like a water carnival. Huge searchlights are sweeping across the Sound all night and there are signalling lamps going continually somewhere or other. We have just had orders to be ready to disembark tomorrow morning and believe me, we shall not half be glad. Lots of the boats have already unloaded and from the cheering we occasionally hear from the shore they are pretty glad to be free from the confinement of the past three weeks.

Salisbury Plain, 20 Oct. We were supposed to go off the boat yesterday at 8 a.m. but did not until 7-30 p.m. as there was no train for us. When they did march us off last evening we were like horses who have had too many oats, but the marching soon took it out of us. We marched two miles to the G.W.R. depot with full kit and kit bags through crowds of cheering people who were pestering us for souvenirs and I shook hands hundreds of times. My word! the English people are enthusiastic and giving us a time. We were standing around the Station until 10-15 p.m. when our train pulled out and we arrived at Lavington at 2-20 a.m. after no sleep, as every station we stopped at, such as Exeter and Taunton, etc. was full of people cheering and giving us candy and cigarettes. We marched then for three hours without a stop for a breather, so you may imagine we were pretty tired when we got here. After getting some tea and bread and cheese and fixing up our camp a little, we lay down for a sleep, so I am writing this letter this afternoon and feel much refreshed. The Contingent appears to be dotted all over the prairie and I don't know where Eric Burton's Regt. is camped yet, but am going to find out and see him as soon as possible, it would be fine if we could get leave together. There are four aeroplanes in sight just now. We are getting some English money paid out to us and it seems awfully funny, the coppers are so clumsy.

25 Oct. Lord Roberts inspected us this morning in the rain which still continues, we are just soaking but happy all the same, getting quite tough now. We are still in tents and it may be weeks before we get huts, but we are all right anyway and much better off than at Valcartier. We saw six Planes in the sky this afternoon and one came over our heads quite low down so that we could see the aviator.

Nov 2. I saw Leslie Smith last night in the Y.M.C.A. and was with him for an hour or so, he looks as thin as ever but is well. We are busy to-day getting ready for the King's inspection tomorrow, the Queen is also coming with him. It has rained every night for a long time and the ground is in an awful state, we have only one pair of boots but are going to have another pair issued soon. It was a splendid and inspiring sight to see the King and Queen, Kitchener, Roberts and a lot more big people and

to hear them speak as they went by and fully worth the three and a half hours wait we had upon arrival at the ground.

Nov. 9. We are now at the hutments about 4 miles from Bulford having marched here from Pond Farm yesterday, about 13 miles! There are hundreds of huts and barrack sheds here, a lot of R.F.A. and Terriers are near us, also part of the New Zealand Contingent.

29 Nov. Arrived back safely at 12-30 a.m. it was rather a contrast coming back here after the good time at home, I had to walk to camp through the rain and it has been raining on and off ever since, the ground is worse than ever and we have literally to wade to the wash tap.

Dec. 16. Sorry it is so long since I have written but I have had the Grip and it seems to take an awful time to get over it, but I hope to be all right again in a few days. The weather keeps rotten and is just playing the dickens with our fellows, who are used to a decent climate. There is a tremendous lot of sickness. This rain seems endless, we have just had a new issue of boots — much stronger than the first, so sickness should decrease now.

29 Dec. I arrived here safely last night, 19 hours late. There were about 16 men late off leave and the O.C. let us all off with a day's pay, as he quite realized that Sunday travelling is very awkward in this country. I enjoyed my Xmas. at home immensely.

9 Jan. 1915. To-day is lovely, the first really fine day for weeks. The floods are very serious here as you will have seen by the papers. A young Officer was accidentally shot at the ranges the other day, I have just seen his funeral go by.

Tidworth, 22 Jan. We moved over here from Bulford yesterday and we are now stationed at Jellalabad Barracks, there are thousands of men here and the place is quite unique consisting of long rows of brick buildings and houses and stables, awfully dreary, quite unlike anything I have seen before. The different parts and streets are named after Indian places such as Delhi, Kandahar, Rangoon, &c. We hear that there have been 300 casualties in Princess Pat's and some of the Battns., here are now making up drafts for the regiment. We are living in one of the houses used as married quarters in times of peace, we have just demolished a most delicious Mulligatawny which we made for dinner. 3 Feb. We are still here but are under orders to move at short notice at any time. We are leaving here a 6 a m. tomorrow for Bustard Camp where we are going to be re- viewed by the King, just the 1st. Division only and as we are the only men going from Tidworth, we feel highly honoured.

4 Feb. The King's Review and inspection today has been a great success. We arrived on the ground at 9 a.m. had a bit of food from our haversacks and matched to our post. The whole Division arrived by Battns. and Batteries and passed us — about 24,000 in all — and we had a good opportunity of comparing them now with what they were at the inspection in Nov. last, they have improved vastly in every way and looked just fine. The King arrived by special train and inspected us all, he must have had about two miles to walk, and it took over an hour. I was in the ranks and had a good view, Lord Kitchener was there and a whole bunch of Generals and just as he was walking towards us with another General he said something which made them both laugh - I should like to know what it was — as I never met anyone who has seen K. laugh or even smile, so it was quite an event. After the march past we lined the track and cheered as the King drove by. He seemed deeply impressed as he watched the men cheering him and seemed almost like breaking down, it must be a terrific strain for him. The latest rumour is that we are going on Sunday. I think that

they were waiting for this farewell review. Friday. I see that there is nothing in the papers this morning about the review, so I guess it has been censored.

Somewhere in France, 16 Feb. At last I am able to let you know how I am getting on these days. We arrived at our destination yesterday after a delightful tour of the "Continong," and are now billeted in a School house, quite comfortable and getting plenty to eat. We slept the first night in France in a Fish market, smelly and cold. The people are awfully nice over here and have given us a very good welcome everywhere. We could hear the big guns last night and see the flare bombs in the sky.

12 March. We had to get out of our last billets in a hurry to make room for a Headquarters which are coming up behind us. This place is just bristling with all kinds of Artillery which has been kicking up an awful din. They are sure to let the Germans have it 'good and hot.' One or two shells fell in the next field this morning. The men in the trenches shoot magnesium bombs into the air at night, they light the whole district up and look very weird from a little way off! Then you hear the machine guns rattling away. We came across France in box cars about ten feet by twenty-five — 16 men to a car and straw on the bottom to lie on, awfully bumpy but might have been worse. We are in a village which has suffered quite a bit, the church being all in ruins and most of the houses looking very dilapidated. As to food, we buy loaves of a rather coarse bread when we have not enough to go round. Sometimes bread does not reach us, evidently goes astray. Then we have biscuits of which there are several kinds, from plain white flour to dark oatmeal ones, but all about 5 x 3 ins. in size and quite hard. Our menu is something after this style — Breakfast 7-30 a.m.: Tea, rasher of bacon and bread and jam; Dinner 12-30: Tea, roast meat, stew or bully beef and bread, sometimes potatoes; Tea 5 p.m.: Tea, bread and cheese and jam, 2 ozs. of butter twice a week, 2 ozs. of rum twice a week, 2 ozs. of tobacco and box of matches per week. Of course if we can get to a fire or a brazier, we can make buttered toast or Welsh rarebit. So you see we do pretty well and most of the boys get fit on it.

18 April. Sorry that it is so long since you heard from me but we have been on the move and no mail has gone. That was an awfully pretty and quaint old place that we were last near, built on the top of a hill and surrounded by a vast area of dead-flat country. We left there and marched 4 miles to another town where we slept the night in a barn and went on again in the morning in motor buses. There must be thousands of these over here, all slate-grey colour, and through the paint in some of them one can recognise such names as Clapham, Oxford street, etc. whilst on others the drivers have chalked up Piccadilly to Berlin and other comical legends. The windows are also painted over, in order not to reflect the sun. We had quite a decent ride in these, along straight paved roads all lined with trees like avenues. Crossing over the frontier we came to a larger town where there were a lot of French and Belgian soldiers. We went through there and on to a large village where we dismounted and had dinner and tea in a convent yard — awaiting orders. Moved off again in the evening and billeted in a large barn a mile away. Had physical drill in the morning and saw some shells fall in the next field. Moved off a mile nearer the trenches yesterday and are now in another hay loft, quite comfortable. There is a village about 700 yards away which we watched being shelled by "coal boxes" last night and this morning, they were making for the church steeple, but hav'nt hit it yet. A tremendous bombardment started up at 7-15 last night by our artillery near here, we watched them until long after dark and sent some of our ambulances, we hear there was a good advance, the shelling was appalling, I shall never forget it.

Belgium. 1 May. Just a line to let you know that I am all right although very tired. We came back from the front yesterday for a few days rest which was much needed after our very strenuous nightmare of the last week or so. Many thanks for your congratulations. Our boys certainly did marvellously well and saved a very drastic situation — Heaven only knows what would have happened had we not stopped the gap made by the poisonous fumes to the left of our flank. Col. Boyle died of wounds I am sorry to say. He was a fine man, used to be in the 15th Light Horse. There was a regular panic among the French native troops, and the civilians on the night of the 22nd, caused by the Germans breaking through — things were awfully exciting for a time. Then the wounded began to come in and we were working day and night for about two days, then we went on in shifts, I suppose I am not allowed to state how many we handled but the figures would astonish you. Our officers have worked like Trojans and I do not know how they have stood it. We have lost 10 men wounded and 5 missing and three ambulances. I was busy tagging the wounded and carrying stretchers too, some of the time. Tuesday evening we were shelled out and had to evacuate our wounded under shell fire, quite exciting I can tell you. A shell burst 20ft. from me when we were carrying a stretcher, wounding a dispatch rider and one of our men but I did not get scratched, only knocked over and smothered with earth. It fell in soft ground luckily. We went back again later on but were shelled out several times after that and the night before last things got too hot altogether — one shell coming into the hospital but we had fortunately got all the wounded out before. Eight people were killed in a house close-by, dead horses were lying about all over the place. I have seen quite enough slaughter. Some of the wounds were simply awful but we soon get hardened to the sights. Ypres has been a veritable hell for over a week, so they say and is in utter ruins.

11 May. We are running sick hospitals now in a small town in France as the Canadians are all back from the trenches being re-organized and equipped. We have all recovered from our exertions and are feeling very fit. One of our men died of wounds received from the same shell that nearly got Pratt and me, he was a very decent fellow. Maj. Gen Jones, the P. M .O. of the Canadian [sic] inspected, us this morning and complimented us on our work up here at Ypres and said that the Government had informed him that the C.A.M.C. did the best work which has been done yet out here making special mention of the Field Ambulance, which is going some, don't you think? The weather is just perfect here and the country looks lovely, altogether too peaceful for the conflict that is going on nearby. This is certainly the most senseless slaughter that civilised nations ever devised.

24 May. I was very sorry to hear about Eric and Leslie. I do hope it is not true about Eric although he has been lucky to escape so far, there were only about 100 of the original Regt, left when we were up at Ypres and a man I enquired from did not know what had become of him. But Leslie Smith has been killed you will he sorry to hear. After endless enquiries I have at last found out from a man who came into our Station this morning suffering from shell shock and who was a friend of Leslie's in the Battalion. This happened on the 24th. Apl. He also said that Leslie was very popular among the boys and fought well.

17 June. I was awfully grieved to hear of Eric's death, it is terrible that so many old friends should killed off like this. I have not been able to get any particulars as to where he was buried as yet, but hope to do so later. I am glad to see that Lloyd George seems to be hustling things up in the old country, quite a bit — not before it is time either.

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