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Ypres, Belgium, April 23, 1915.

To the man who finds my body:

Please kind sir, I write with my waning strength so do forgive my errors. I am dying. But I do not wish to become an unknown. I have breathed too much of that green gas, and the bullet in my belly bleeds too darkly. My time is done on this blasted Hell of an Earth. Tell my parents I love them. Tell them I died with honour, face to face with the raging Huns. Keep the sad facts of my accidental passing to yourself please my unknown friend.

We have only been on the front for 6 days. The Brits dropped us in the meat grinder. What do they care? We are just stinking Colonial wild men, cannon fodder imported for plugging holes in the front. We are stacked up with froggies from Africa. They folded when the gas rolled in the first time.

Over the top! came the call, and hacking and coughing, we tried to sew the hole back up. It was raining shells. You know those screaming ones that chirp just before they hit? They came down like rain. They pound their own trenches as much as ours from what I have seen. Oh, the things I have seen. Horrors.

Barbed wire and men danced in the lead staccato. Fear swallowed the stoutest of souls. I saw a prim and proper officer shoot an Algerian chap square in the back for crawling out the wrong side of the trench. A bullet took the top off his head shortly after. We were getting it from both sides. And the blistering burning gas. Why? What demon dreamed of that fresh hell?

Industry has been turned to killing my friend, and it is the Devil's delight. I don't know what this place looked like before, but it has been wiped away with a brush of iron and blood. The underbelly of the country bleeds its muddy blood. This is the Empire of the Rat, Kingdom of the Corpse Fly. Woe to those who defy them!

I ran and fell, watched men die. I shot at the watery shadows in the coiling gas. I should have saved a bullet for myself. The screams are gone now, taken by the final blast. The pressure swept me up and tossed me like a pebble in a river.

Now I find myself trapped in a shell hole that is filling with water. My legs are useless, and my last call for help earned me a shot in the belly. I imagine I am behind the enemy line. Oh, to die for a line on a map.

Please brother, find this note and tell others of me. Hell has come to earth, and the Angels care not. I feel the guns beating the earth like a drum.

Please let me die in peace.


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