Witness to War: Saturday July 7, 1917

Witness to War: Saturday July 7, 1917

Private Raymond Duval, MM, was a soldier of the 14th Battalion (Royal Montreal Regiment) CEF who served overseas during the last two years of the First World War. He participated in some of the fiercest fighting seen by Canadians during the war and was decorated for bravery at Passchendaele. Determined to preserve his memories of the First World War, he maintained a daily record of his experiences. Here is what he wrote precisely 100 years ago today:

Saturday July 7, 1917: Went on Ration party to Front line last night and sure got an awful strafing at the end of NB trench Fritz put over every kind of shell for about 20 mts [minutes] and behind me I was good and scared gee but it was an awful shrapnel raining all over. As I crunched under the parapet wondering if my last moment had come I though a lot and thoughts came into my mind of my little girl and the folks back there in Canada and strange to say as I thought two hymns come to my mind or at least a line from each they were this: – “Faint not nor fear his arms are near” and “Trusting Jesus that is all” and after that I seemed to feel easier, but it was a trying ordeal. Went to bed about 4.30 and woke up about 10am Fine sunny day again, but ever without ceasing are hear the roar of the big guns, and the intermittent rattle of the machine guns. Le Francois got wounded night before last on No 7 machine guns, don’t think it is bad tho. MacDonald (shoemaker) and McCloud bros got napooed first night in about a week ago wish I had some paper so I could write but can’t seem to find any.

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The RMR Foundation thanks Natalie Dyck for generously sharing her publication of “The Diary and Memoir of Private Raymond Duval” in order for us to be able to share his story with you 100 years on. You can learn more about Private Duval here.

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