Ex Cadet letter from Vimy; March 1917 to his sister back in Winnipeg

3115 John Nanton [Tony] Clark (Class of 1953), is the grandson of Lillian C. Nanton who married J. D. Clark. Lillian was the sister of Herbert C. Nanton. “I sat on his knee til I was four. My Grandmother talked a lot about him after his death”.

3115 Tony Clark


Dear Dolly:(Sister, Lillian Caroline Nanton of # 78 – HC Nanton – Entered RMC in 1879)

Just a line. In a battle after a man is wounded he walks or crawls or is helped to the first aid post where the regimental medical officer plugs up the hole or ties up the wound so that the man may not bleed to death. The first aid post is right in the fight. The man is then directed on to the advanced dressing station where his wound is gone ever again and he is sometimes given food and some little rest, that is to say, he may be allowed to lie on the ground. The advanced dressing station may be five or six hundred yards behind the battle line and is usually placed on a road or tramway. After that, if it is possible, the Field Ambulance Motor car, carte or trams take the wounded from the advanced dressing station to the casualty clearing station which is situated on railway lines and from which the ambulance trains ply. At the casualty clearing station the wounds are redressed and the bad cases are washed and put to bed for the moment until they can be carried on to the ambulance train. At casualty clearing stations are some specially selected nursing sisters. They are the nurses nearest up to the battle line.

I have written all the above to let you know how I have disposed of the four parcels of pyjamas which have arrived from Winnipeg. I have given two parcels to each of our two casualty clearing stations and the head nurses were delighted to receive them and put them on their very worst cases. I believe these give the men the very greatest possible comfort.

Today a rather strange thing took place in the field near where I live. A somewhat ever-daring German aviator came over us up high. He was caught out by two of our air patrols who managed to hit the observer and also to break one of the German sparking plugs. The German lost speed due to misfire and our machines circled above and around him shooting down and so gradually grounded the German. Almost instantly one of our machines rounded on either side of the German and had him covered by their machine guns so that he did not dare use his automatic machine for destroying his aeroplane. The German machine was taken intact minus a sparking plug. Our airmen then took the German officer over to see him. They then handed him over as a prisoner.

I must stop now. I am not allowed to give any detail of the works we have in hand so it is difficult to write an interesting letter.

Love to Gun, Ethel and Dove and all the kids.

Your loving brother,

H.C. Nanton – RMC College # 78 – Entered RMC 1879

More on Brigadier General Herbert Colborne Nanton – Royal Engineers

HC Nanton was born in 1863 and joined the Royal Engineers in 1885 as a lieutenant. He served in the North Western Territories of Canada before joining the Lushai Expedition of 1888-1889.

He served with the Relief Force in Chitral in 1895 and was Mentioned in Despatches for his services in the Second Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902 as Deputy Assistant Director of Railways.

He then served as Deputy Director of Military Works India from 1910 and was made brigadier general in September 1914. He served in France as Chief Engineer of the Indian Corps and was made Temporary Major General and Chief Engineer of the 3rd Army in 1917.

He was briefly admitted to hospital in 1917 suffering from influenza. He was ordered to proceed to England to report to the Military Secretary, India Office in November 1917 and sailed to India in December 1917. He retired from the Army at the age of 57 and died in British Columbia in 1935 at the age of 71.


Previous e-Veritas article on HC Nanton – Here