Letter from Second Lieutenant Douglas McKie to his mother describing his first experience of shellfire, 8 April 1917
McKie was serving with the 27th (Tyneside Irish) Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers. His letter states:
'My dearest Mother,
There isn't much time before things begin to rip. I have had my first baptism of fire, a six inch landed a few hundred yards from us yesterday. Our own guns are creating a tremendous row, but placed just beside our billet is rapidly shaking our slate off the roof. My hair oil jumped about a foot from the table when it was firing this morning.
We are quite near the line now, this afternoon I am going up with another man to reconnoitre some of our trenches. The village we are in has suffered a great deal from Boche shells. One we marched through on the firing line has every other cottage knocked out. Well I am beginning to get wise to the first part of it - it all makes one wonderfully excited. I have just been detailed to go up to the trenches this morning instead of this afternoon so goodbye.
Fondest love to everyone.
Your affect. Son,
McKie was killed by shell fire three days later during the Battle of Arras.
From a bound scrapbook containing letters and photographs relating to the life of Douglas Hamlin McKie, Artists' Rifles and Northumberland Fusiliers.
NAM Accession Number
National Army Museum Copyright
National Army Museum, Study collection