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Thomas Marion's Veteran Story By Malcolm Fraser

1914-1918 73rd Battalion 85th Battalion Cambrai. dogfight front line No Man’s Land Passcendaele shell shock the Black Watch The Great War trench warfare trenches Vimy Ridge western front WWI

The photo is Letter from Thomas Marion to his mother. At the time of writing Thomas was in hospital in Brighton, England and commented on the many from his unit who have been killed, "many a mother's heart is breaking for her boy who will never return."

My name is Malcolm Fraser. As far as my father is concerned, he enlisted when he was seventeen in the 73rd Battalion of the Black Watch, and he served at Lens, (Passchendaele, and Cambrai. He talked very, very little about the war.

Once they were watching a dogfight over the trenches, and the German plane was brought down, and when they got there the pilot was crying.

He was out on patrol one night, and I always asked him if he had seen any Germans. He said, "Yes, this night I saw half a dozen of them and they were ten feet tall!" which was my father's way of letting me know he wasn't going to talk any further.

He did have one memory of the 73rds first attack at Vimy Ridge, which was a March trench raid, and the 73rd got beaten up very badly. Later in the night when they were back at their start point, they could hear soldiers shouting, "Help, 73rd! Help, 73rd!" They were all tied up in the wire and the 73rd couldn't get to them, and I know that bothered my father immensely.

He was at Vimy Ridge when the Canadians took Vimy Ridge, and after that he was transferred to the 85th Battalion, which was a Nova Scotia regiment. I don't think he was too pleased about that, to leave all his friends.

My father came down from one of (?) officers who fought at the Plains of Abraham, and there was a letter in the Star when my father enlisted, saying that they had taken on a recruit of historic connections. My dad figured they did that for publicity to get people to join the army.

My uncle, Thomas Marion, served in the First World War. I know very little about his service and where he was, but he came home shell-shocked and was always a worry to his three sisters through the years. He wandered all over Canada, and I know he broke my mother’s heart because they never knew where he was.

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