Oregon Boys In The War

Letters from Oregon Boys in France
Compiled by Mrs. Frank Wilmot 1918

Pvt. Wilson

The following letter was received by Mrs. W.A. McKay, of 150 Mirimar Place, Portland, from a Canadian friend who is now held a prisoner in Germany. The regiment to which he belonged was the Winnipeg 90th Rifles. During the North West Rebellion of 1885, the Indians named them the "Little Black Devils", and this regiment is still known by that name. Pvt. Wilson refers to the "Little Black Devils" in the following letter:

Sept. 9th
Mrs. W.A. McKay,
Portland, Oregon

Dear Lady:

Thanks ever so much for your kind letter, which reached me yesterday. What a long time it takes for a brief to come. My heart gave one big jump when I read that you were going to continue sending my packets. I say "my" because I am the only Canadian on this working party. You don't know how much we appreciate a packet. Will you please add a box or a bottle of Sacharine Tablets; they would last longer and be more economic than sugar. I might tell you tea and milk are now a decidedly scarce article with me and I can only rely on my good Canadian friends to pull me through this awful term as a prisoner of war. I have been a prisoner over two years, seven [7] mos. of which I spent in the hospital. I was severley torn up with schrapnel, a piece one inch long going through my right theigh, striking the bone, which stopped its travel, taking off a slight sliver of bone, the wound just missed the groin. I have a bullet wound in my head and was slightly gassed, but still the "Little Black Devils" held on like grim death until absolutely surrounded. Oh! what a sight our trenches were after the almost four days bombardment, the poor lads torn and blown to pieces, dead all around. The dugouts were full of badly wounded and dead men. The gas was very deadly. If our beloved Col. O'Grady could only have seen us, he would, I am sure, have been satisfied with his old regiment. I have never read an account of the fight "papers being forbidden the prisoners" so really I never knew what happened on our right and left flanks, but as far as I could ascertain, we were sticking it all alone, with no reinforcements. Well, I suppose this is my luck, so must keep on sticking it out. I nearly went "west" on three occasions in the hospital, but the German doctors pulled me through. I can not speak too highly in their praise; they are very skillful and I have only them to thank for being alive at all, but we are looking forward to the end of this great terror, then when we do return we will eat everything there is to eat. Am pleased to tell you Red Cross Society is doing their best for us. I would like to write you a longer letter, but I am sorry I can not spare the time just now. Please tell them all I am as well as can be expected. I will be so glad to hear from you. Please write me a long letter. Remember me to Capt. Morley and tell him to write. I am,

Most Sincerely
Private Thos. Wilson.