Source: Gathering Our Heroes
Possibly brother of Private Frank Mowatt. See Sgt. Mowatt’s letter referring to a bother named Frank.
The Tilbury Times, Thursday
18 October, 1917.
Letters From the Front.
Mrs. Frank Mowatt (nee Martha Billings) is in receipt of the following letter from Wm. Mowatt, who went overseas with the 186th Kents, and transferred to the 18th Battalion and was wounded at Lens.
Portsmouth, Hants, England.
I now take the pleasure of writing these few lines hoping you are all well. I suppose you have heard of my mishap by this time, but it was just my luck. Well I did not get very long out of France or the trenches[i], but while I was there it was not too bad. The only time it was bad was when it rained or a scrap started, it is not as bad as some say it is. I liked it alright, got a little soaky [sic] sometimes, but the first time, we got used to it alright. I went up to the big drive on Lens on the 15th of August and got a dandy till we entered a stree[t] [sic] and reached our objective, but it was alright, till we went out with the gun[ii] again and were in full view of the enemy, so he started his snipers and machineguns [sic] after us and made it pretty warm for us but we were in a shell hole waiting for him to appear, but I was moving around with the gun, as we had lost our gunner, as I was next, when a machine gun started and I claim I am lucky, just got one bullet through my foot and they were flying pretty thick. It went in at the joint of my big toe and came out the other side, but it was a nice little blighty[iii]. I went through an operation two weeks ago and it is doing nicely ow but they have taken out 12 or 14 pieces of bone so there is not much left in that joint. I was sorry to hear of Frank[iv] going over, as I was of the idea all the way across that I would see him, as I am not far from camp, and he was on his way to find me there but was just a few days too late. My uncle heard I was in Abbeville hospital and got a special pass to come down the same night as I left for England[v], so I did not see him. I was wounded at 11:30 a.m. and was in a hospital 10 miles from the line by 6 p.m. We did not lose a fraction of what the Germans did, it was awful, the poor Germans run like a lot of mice[vi].
Wm. Mowatt No. 880100
18th Can. Battalion
5th Southern General Hospital,
Unit 3, Ward 14
Portsmouth, Hants, England.
[i] Sergeant Mowatt enlisted at Chatham, Ontario on February 29, 1916. Therefore, his service until the date of his wounding on August 1917 was approximately just over a year and five months. The date of the letter indicated the length of treatment that was required for his wounds.
[ii] This reference is obscure but taken in context with the rest of the sentence it appears that Sergeant Mowatt is referring to a Lewis Gun crew. Usually of 2 men.
[iii] A wound that gets a soldier to England for treatment but is not permanently debilitating.
[v] This is an interesting detail and the first mention found in my research indicating that family members could go on the Continent and visit soldiers in hospitals.
[vi] The action to which Sergeant Mowatt is detailed in some detail in the 18th Battalion’s War Diary.