Tag Archives: trenches

“Slight cases of blindness and blisters”

Dirt road cutting through two fields, one plowed, the other grass bordered by trees.

On October 13, 1918, Jack was at battalion headquarters, located at the southwest corner of Montrécourt Wood along a sunken road.  The Queen’s were in France, roughly 12.5 miles east and slightly north of Cambrai.  Their position was in the middle of farm fields crisscrossed with dirt roads.

They had been moving quickly, under heavy shell fire for days.  According to Jack, they had not spent two consecutive nights in the same place for weeks, moving 3-4 km a day in pursuit of the Germans (Letter to Mother, 12 October 1918.)

Early in the morning, their headquarters was heavily bombarded.  A combination of mustard gas and high explosive shells resulted in over 120 casualties.  Many men lasted until the next day before being sent to hospital.  Jack was one of the 120.  He was transported to No. 3 General Hospital in Le Tréport on the northern coast of France to recover.  He was blinded by the gas, unable to see for several days.  He suffered severe blistering.  He undoubtedly suffered from nausea, vomiting, and permanently weakened respiratory system.

In March 2018, Team Peirs visited the location where Jack was gassed.  It was an appropriately gray day.  The dirt road that took us as near as possible to the site was full of mud puddles.  It was a desolate spot.  There were no monuments, markers, or signs on the site.  The fields on either side had been plowed, but the one we faced was fenced in with barbed wire.  There were still shell fragments in the dirt.

Green field with low grass, bordered by trees. Southwest edge of Montrecourt Wood, France

Southwest edge of Montrécourt Wood, France, March 2018
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Photos by Amy Lucadamo