Hughes, Lieut. J.W.

From: Hughes, Lieut. J.W.
To: Mrs. Levi Hebb, Bridgewater, N.S.

Oct. 14, 1916 France

My Dear Madam:

It is with extreme and deep regret that I write to give you a few particulars of the death of your son, Lieut. G.M. Hebb, who fell while doing his duty under very difficult circumstances.

Gordon and I were close chums and transferred together from the 112th Battalion into the 78th just before we left Bramshot for France. We were engaged in recruiting work together last winter in Chester and district, and afterwards worked together under canvas in Windsor, N.S.

To me, his passing is a matter of deep grief as we held a feeling of mutual affection for each other that was born of a close and happy acquaintance in the days of our friendship. A comrade is but an approach to that of a mother and a home circle, and it is with the hope that your heart ache may be somewhat alleviated that I offer you the few particulars that remain to be told of the circumstances under which your brave boy gave his life in the defence of his home and our dear Canada.

Last evening (Friday 13th inst) our battalion went into the trenches, which had recently captured from the enemy, in order to secure our front line by erecting a new communication trench. Our party was shelled incessantly as we approached the trench across open country and we had several casualties on the way. The last I saw of Gordon was just before he and his party entered the trench. I passed him on the road and we remarked upon the difficulty of the situation. We wished each other “Good Night and Good Luck” and I passed on. Shortly afterwards he led his party into the trench and commenced work with his men. When the task was finished and the party was retiring down the trench the enemy shell fire was very thick. Gordon was in the Trench, helping his men over the parapet when a shell fell beside him and killed him and four of his men. He must have died instantly, which is a merciful thing with shell wounds. Later in the day a search party went out and found him and his comrades, and they were reverently given a soldier’s burial at the spot where they fell and a white wooden cross with the inscription “Lieut. G.M. Hebb, 78th Canadians, Killed in Action, October 14th, 1916″ has been prepared and will be erected by his brother officers today. The time at which Gordon fell would be about 3 a.m. today.

In conclusion, Dear Madam, I would beg to offer you the deep and very real sympathy of the Officers and Men of the 78th Battalion, with the hope that your grief and that of your family and friends in dear Nova Scotia may receive some comfort in the knowledge that Gordon fell whilst doing his duty, and in looking after the safety of his men, which was always a first consideration with him. We miss him from our circle, I miss him in particular. I have lost one of the truest friends a man can have. We knew him as a good soldier and a real gentleman, and in our hearts we pay a very real tribute to the memory of your boy and trust that his sacrifice will mingle your sorrow with pride. Again wishing you every comfort on behalf of Gordon’s brother officers and men of the 78th Batt.

I have the honor to be, Dear Madam

Yours very sincerely, Lieut. J.W. Hughes, 78th Batt., Can. Inf.

Bridgewater Bulletin, Nov. 6, 1963

Contributor: Rosemary Rafuse

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