My father, Archibald Watt, volunteered in August 1914 and went overseas with the 1st Contingent, CEF, as a member of the 50th Gordon Highlanders (16th Battalion, Canadian Scottish). He was severely wounded at the Battle of Festubert in May, 1915, and was unable to return to active duty.
Writing home a month earlier, he said: "We went into the trenches last Tuesday night, coming out again Friday night. It was more or less of a quiet time and our company had no mishaps. . .the Gordons are the only company in our battalion which has so far not lost a man nor had anyone wounded. . .We had a beautiful morning the first day in, but it turned cold later on. I was detailed off for 'listening post', from 10 to 12 midnight. One has to go out some 20 or 30 yards in front of the trenches, according to the closeness of the German lines, which in this case were quite near. . . You sit or lie down and keep your eyes and ears open for any 'stunts' the Germans might pull off in the course of the night. We are generally told off in two's for this duty, but this night I was by myself, and it certainly felt a bit lonely. One is apt to imagine objects, the outlines of which one can hardly discern in the inky blackness, as being Germans who are about to advance. The last night we were in the trenches nine of us were hauled out of dugouts at midnight to shovel dirt against hurdles the engineers had just put up to connect the fort on our right, and we had to get them covered by daylight. It was cold and very dark and we shoveled like good fellows to keep warm. About 3:30 am a blinding snowstorm enveloped us, and by the time we were finished we all looked like living snowmen."