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Lamb, Colby Cyrus, ?, Class of ?, Military Service: Private, Reg. No. 13392, 5th Bn. (discharged) Attestation Papers. Diary Reference: “Got pass to Poperinghe. Met Allan Bell and C. C. Lamb,” 2:27 Apr ’16.
Additional Biographical Information:
The following letters are from Private Colby Lamb, of the 5th battalion.
France, May 23rd, 1915.
Received your letter dated April 25th. We have been at the fighting again hot as ever. We took a trench two days ago and have been holding on ever since till our relief came last night – just in time as far as I was concerned. I was about all in for want of water and food. We had a swell supper of bread, jam, tea and roast beef last night. My clothes are cut and torn by shrapnel, but I am whole yet. – It is pure luck. It is terrible to think of the boys who are gone. All day yesterday they shelled and sniped us but we held on. We fixed up the wounded as best we could, but the call came for ammunition, so we could not carry them out just then.
Minnedosa boys are most all gone. Out of the 24 men that left Minnedosa that day, only Herb Hicks – who used to work for Mr. Jones, and myself are left. You might mention it to Mr. Jones. I expect the summer sports will just be beginning, I wish I were there to make some more coin. I was wondering if the government would allow us to bring our rifles. I have a Lee Enfield 303 – a fine sporting gun, holds ten rounds. Well, I am anticipating again. The war does not look like a finish yet. Italy may have some effect, and some of the neutrals may take a hand. – About the only way to finish her quick.
May 25. – Well here I am again, to tell you the truth, I never expected to write again so soon. We were relieved as I told you on the 23rd, and had a day’s rest, went to bed as usual, expecting a good night’s rest; but, at 12 o’clock, (24th May), we stood to arms, and then marched off to make an attack. The attack was timed for 2.30 o’clock. The engineers prepared the way by cutting the wire. The Germans must have heard them, as they started rapid fire. We pulled down a section of trench and immediately filed out. They started a murderous fire which cut up the ground and left big shell holes, and it was hard tramping till we reached the shelter of their trench. I was all in, and sat on the bank to get my wind, then piled in. No Germans were there. They had run directly they saw our bayonets. We lined the opposite side and gave them fits as they ran. They took cover in the second line trench about forty yards away, then they started sniping us, but, by jove! They got some more shell. Just at daylight was breaking, our pretty work came in; I hooked about fifteen sandbags and made a snipe hole, which protects the shoulders and forehead; only a direct shot can get you. They never found my snipe hole all day and I certainly made them keep down. My corporal and I were in this tiny place for 33 hours, with nothing to eat. Luckily we had water in our bottles, and heaps of cigarettes. Let me tell you cigarettes are our mainstay. You simply have got to smoke to steady your nerves. The explosion of the shells have a very bad effect on some of them. I am sure of myself and never let anything worry me. I always get with the steady old dogs, who show no sign of nerves; they have as much confidence in me as I in them.
Well, we are relived again, perhaps we will have a rest, we have had 41 days of it now, and have lost nearly all our officers. We have had our initiation on the field and we made good. No matter how hard the Hungarians tried, they broke on our lines. After holding them 72 hours, with enemy 5 to 1 against us, we gave back a short way, but made a great advance the next day. The sky was a mass of flame from the shelling and the noise was awful; the sound of bullets was like a million bees buzzing. One would hiss within a few inches of my head, some one would fall, and we would go charging on. George Holder may loose [sic] a leg; Tuttle was dangerously wounded; Don McQuarrie, W. Burgess and Geo. Sparling were wounded. There is some more work for us soon. There won’t be many of us left in a short time; we have had a severe shaking up, practically on the charge for 4 days; there is nothing romantic about it. Believe me, not many of the Minnedosa contingent are left. We always have the pleasure of seeing the Germans run.
June 1st – Received your letter dated 3rd also parcel which took five weeks to come. We are going in the trenches again tonight, after that I believe we are to have a rest. Jim Lamont was wounded just after he got to the trenches. I met Jim Oscar Kerr and Vincent Colley in a town here, and we had some time, believe me.
Your affectionate son,
Colby C. Lamb
Minnedosa Tribune, 24 June 1915, Correspondence, 2.
Undergraduate, C. C. Lamb, 5th Batt. (Discharged).
University of Manitoba, Archives and Special Collections, Managra, v. XI, No. 1 (Nov 1917), 8.