Arthur PENTZ was born on 4 Nov 1895 in Hantsport, Nova Scotia. He
died on 4 Jul 1916 in Boulouge, France, Private with the 25th
Battalion. This is a letter I have which Arthur wrote to his father
and which was always kept in a folder behind a portrait of him:
Got your letter with much appreciated enclosure last Thursday. Got it cashed A.K. Now look, you write Mother and get her to deduct that amount from my next cheque and pay you because that is the way I instructed it should be. Thanks for sending it tho.
Was to Canterbury a week ago Saturday for a weekend. Saw the Cathedral, city wall, Stephenson's first steam engines and everything worth seeing. It was awfully interesting on account of my knowledge of English History. It would be hard to describe all I saw, so am sending a booklet of postcards which shows practically everything.
Was to London this week and with Carl Camestock. Gee: we had a peach of a time. Was all over the deuce and saw "Buckingham Palace", "Westminster Abbey", "British Museum", "Wax Works" and was all thru Hyde Park etc. The people there treat a Canadian fine and the hardest job is to shake the girls, and a lot of them real decent girls too. But one can't see anything if he had a "bunch of skirts" with him, besides resting a lot more, so we used to lie like the devil and promise most anything to get rid of them. The darn things invite you in to supper, "pubs" and everything else, but "nothing doing".
Never got lost but went as far as a radius of seven miles away from "Charing Cross" station. Just ask a "Bobbie", he's the travelling dictionary in these parts.
Got our bayonets resharpened today with a razor edge. Gee: they feel good. Expect an inspection on Monday by Lord Kitchener and the King, then it's a darn short time for us here if it takes place when we expect. Sleep out almost every night and march all day.
So you think you know a little bit of army life, do you? Well, believe me: you know absolutely nothing of active service conditions. We were nearly starved to death, but today the General raised the devil about the graft and we got one addition to our supper instead of having tea and dry bread. Why look: I've marched all day on three pints of tea and two slices of bread with rotten margarine instead of butter.
We've mutined more than once just on account of the grub, so don't think I was slinging the "bull" and you can just take it from me. I wouldn't want anybody related to me to join the damn thing. There's more graft than at Ottawa, and us poor buggers suffer. What do you think of marching twenty miles on 1 smoked herring and rotten too crud about four miles long. 2 slices of dry bread and a pint of tea, with full kit, rifle and bayonet, besides carrying the remainder of the 1 lb. of dough for your meal at night, and sleeping out in the pouring rain for an hour about. First dig trenches 1 hour and its raining like merry old hell all the time. The other night I dug from 10 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. and was wet continually during the two days we were out, but never had rhumatism anything to speak of. Then get arrested if you curse things blue in general, but they've quit that a good deal as the fellows sing first, then curse the staff officers alternately, and dig at the same time.
I smashed two pick handles on purpose and got an extra hour rest by it. Just remembered a joke Walter told me, and worked it there O.K.
So you see it's all true. Just wait till you talk to some of the fellows when they come back.
You needn't show this to Mother, but it's the solid truth. Everybody's "fed up" but we'll stick it to the end in spite of all, rather than be accused of having cold feet, but just wait, and if I'm ever lucky enough to meet some of the officers, NCO's etc in civie life, I'll square off a few accounts.
May not get a chance to write for a while if what we hear is true, but will do what I can. Have to scribble this any old way as I have to hustle.
Met a fellow in A. Co. who knew Rick Pentz in Boston , said he was driving a team and doing fairly well. This was quite a long while ago. Should think by the way he spoke that it was at least two years ago
Aerial duel of Folkestone and Dover last night. We witnessed it from the hill way back in the country. Could see shells burst and hear the guns. It got away in a damaged condition and did no damage while here. It is rumoured that it was captured in France.
A Submarine was captured yesterday off Hythe. Driven ashore by destroyers after first being caught in the net. The guns interrupted our lecture in the medical room. This was between 2 and 4 in the afternoon and we left camp last night on a march and also to sleep out.
I went about ten miles each way and maneouvered all night. Charging up a hill, full kit. Some fun. I guess not.
Get after that Phar. Society and give them hell. Inquire about me, will you? and see what's wrong.
This long enough for once?
The following is from a newspaper clipping found in the family bible:
PENTZ - In loving memory of Private Arthur Pentz, youngest son of F.E. Pentz, Hantsport, Nova Scotia, who died in hospital at Boulogne, France July 4, 1916 aged 21 years. His death was the result of shrapnel wounds received while fighting for Canada's honor. Deceased was a general favourite: He died the death of a hero. Inserted by a friend.
The family's own printed Memoriam card is also in the bible.
His sister Lottie told her daughters that the night that Arthur must have died, his mother Emily woke up screaming in the middle of the night. She ran in to see what was the matter, and Emily said she'd had a terrible dream about a boy in a bed, and one side of the bed was flat.
It was not until years later, when the boys who survived came back from the war, that the full story of Arthur's death came out. He had been shot twice in the leg as he had tried to get to an injured comrade, and then hadn't properly taken care of his leg and gangrene had set in. In the hospital they had first amputated the leg at the knee, and then were forced to try two more amputations at the thigh and the hip to try to save him, but to no avail. Indeed, one side of his bed would have been flat.
My grandfather and Arthur's brother, Frank William Pentz, also passed down a story about his brother. He told his sons that one night after his brother died, he heard a knock on the door. When he opened the door, he saw his brother standing there. He slammed the door in a panic, got hold of himself, and then opened the door again. There was, of course, no-one there, but he always felt it had been a true apparition.
Lottie, had always wanted to go to France and try to find Arthur's grave, and she finally went with one of her grandchildren, Guy, when he had finished school on a trip to Europe, including Boulonge. She was not to find it, however. She always kept a piece of paper he had given her before he went away saying who should get what if he never returned. He had told her that she could use his gun, but to grease it well first! Parents: Frederick Edwin PENTZ and Emily Isabella MYERS.