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Lieutenant Otto M. Lund

Lieut. Otto M. Lund, Royal Horse Artillery had an aunt living in Toronto, Ontario. One letter is addressed to her, the other to his mother in England.

Lieutenant Otto M. Lund

25 October 1914

As you can imagine I am pretty busy at present in my double capacity, and have not up to the present had a chance of writing to you since I took over. There is of course a certain amount of office work to be done even in the field. This is done mostly at night: at any rate at present, as we have been fighting all day. The brigade has had a few casualties, but mostly wounded. No officers killed yet, and only a few men. There was a French battery in action near us the other day, and Maj. Lewin and myself walked over to see it. It was very interesting as the French Artillery had a good field gun. However, when chatting (in very bad French) to an officer in the batter a German shrapnel burst right on us, and by a stroke of luck only Maj. Lewin had bit taken out of his ear. Not a good think to be too curious. Major Lewin has got your address, and is often able to get news through to England quickly to Lady Edwina Lewin. He very kindly said he would get Lady Edwina to send you a wire when he heard news of me. His on GHQ staff now.

I got the parcels 4 & 5. I ought to be using some of the notepaper, but I always write in this book and tear them out, as I always have it with me, and write a lot when there is a chance.

The weather is pretty chilly now, but today is simply to-hole. We generally manage to get under a roof at night. Well, we fight today; Sunday morning. Sunday is generally a good day for us. The Colonel told me that Mrs. Lushington had tea with you the other day, or some meal like that.

The Russians seem to have had a great victory – it ought to effect things somewhat. Of course now we have moved further north - everyone knows that now I think.

I see a good deal of Hope in the Irish Guards. Irish knows him and he is a friend of Joyce Fortescue. We had a split bit of chocolate together yesterday, sent by Joyce from Nuthooks. Tell Iris she can tell Joyce it was jolly good in the midst of fighting.

All the drinking chocolate you sent arrived. You might ell Model to let me have bill of what we had had for our mess up to date. Some of which dad of course put down to our mess. I arranged that as they are coming out regularly, the Quaker Oats, cocoa, etc. I like to get the bill with them, so as to settle up.

In or norful hurry to catch post, yours, Otto.

28 October 1914

A hasty line to say that I’m very well. We have been fighting all day. Out Adjutant, Brousson was wounded while talking to me – I hope not badly fortunately. Just at present I’m doing his job till some one comes up, so have heaps to amuse myself with, having to take over temporarily this ‘ere job.

Pretty good weather but fairly chilly (torn away) ... cocoa. I got the mittens the other night, and the ‘Daily Mirrors’. I got two illustrated papers from someone today, I think it must have been Violet – writing was rather good for her. Well goodbye.

Letter to an aunt living in Toronto, Ontario, met during a visit to Canada in 1913.

8 November 1914

It was awfully nice getting your letter. Well I little though when I saw you last winter (that I would be amusing myself this way this winter. As you know we mobilized on Aug. 5th and sailed on 14th for Le Havre. We marched up to Mons and came under fire for the first time on Sunday 23rd. We had evidently bumped up against something rather larger than the French had let us know. And of course the retreat had to start. We did no end of long marching, and countless read guard scraps. Out retreat continued until Sept 5th. Considering their enormous superiority at that time the Germans did not do very well. They of course always outnumber our guns. The Germans always want at least five to our one to down our infantry and cavalry, and as they can’t always have it and do on losing at the rate they are now, there seems no doubt as to the issue.

During the retreat we had only four divisions out and a fifth arrived in the middle. Well, on Sept 6th we turned and chased them to the Aisne, where they had prepared a jolly strong position and ware are rather turned to a siege character. In the middle of the last month we came round here by train, and have just been through some of the fiercest and most desperate efforts of the German. They seem awfully fond of us, don’t they? Things are quiet again now. Sandy got wounded and is now at home. I heard last night the he is going on well. It was a shrapnel in the thigh. It is great work how Canada and the Colonies are coming up to scratch in this show. They tell me the Canadians are an A1 crew. I wrote to … A little while back just to say that I thought the Empire had not absolutely gone to the dogs. Needless to say the country all round here is very desolate. The poor Belgian will have to start rather afresh after this war. I hope now that we have come to a stop in Belgium. Out first visit at the end of August to Mons was very short - one night – and a very unpleasant one too. We get very little news ourselves of how things in general stand. Owing to the Russian successes I think the general view is that the Germans must gradually have to fall back. The French seem to have heaps in hand to follow up. I wish from the word go we had had all the troops we shall be able to muster next spring with Kitchener’s army. We could then walk round these fellows – they are not good soldiers but have excellent staffs and thoroughly well equipped with everything. People are starting I think to wonder if the war will last till next spring. The wastage among our opponents is something enormous. Their generals ignore losses; I imagine because they know time works against them. I hear the Indians are doing well. They have got busy once or twice with the massed Allemandes. One was asked what he thought of the war. He replied ‘I’ve always like war but never has there been such a war as this.’ We at present live in a house; they have not knocked it down yet I’m thankful to say. We have ‘dug outs’ nearby to which we retire when it comes on to shell.

Yes I suppose Adam is very keen about the whole show. I can imagine you hear very little news. They seem to hear nothing much in England. Out letters are very carefully censored as you can imagine so that one can’t tell you much that is going on. I am sending Adam an official post care that might interest him. They are issued by the authorities and one can send them off very easily. I am sure uncle Albert [Lieut. Col. Albert H. Smith] must have some good and interesting theories on the war. I wonder if he is still over your side. I saw him the day we mobilized and heard from him when he sailed back.

It’s a great thing and I hope England realizes it, that war does not take place on her native soil – when one has seen some of the homes of the Belgium and France, one is very thankful that England is untouched herself.

Well we all keep very fit. I always think it rather bucks one up to know that however uncomfortable one may be one’s self, one can make sure the German is worse. From information we get from prisoners they are often very short of food. Their plans were rather laid so that their armies (always victorious) would advance and live on the country: luckily for us they can’t live forever on the same piece.

Well so long and let’s hear sometime again from you how Canada is progressing in these exciting times. It’s very nice getting letters out in these ‘wilds’. How is uncle Earnest? Please remember me to everyone I met in my short visit to London. I think everyone at home is nearly as busy as us out here. Well so long again. Otto.
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