Dennis Joseph Sampson

The sound of machine guns reminded him of “the rattle of mama's sewing machine.”

Dennis Joseph Sampson spent nineteen months in the trenches, and, in a letter to his niece, once tried to explain the sights and sounds of the Western Front.

In the letter, he described the sound of machine guns as “the rattle of mama’s sewing machine” and the size of the guns as so large “that papa could crawl through” and some “down to the size of mama’s tea can.”

As a gunner in the 2nd Canadian Heavy Battery, he was certainly familiar with the sound of gunfire.

“When there is shelling from the big guns it is an awful sight. The high explosive shells strike the earth and throw up huge columns of black smoke and one has to duck his head quickly for the splinters of shell fly with a sound like the hiss of Grandma Sampson's angry old gander when mama and I used to tease him when we were little like you and he would chase us all over the field,” Sampson wrote.

Sampson was wounded on November 10, 1918, possibly from gunfire or shrapnel. After anxiously waiting a few days for more information, Sampson’s wife, Mary Elizabeth Sampson, received a cheerful letter from her husband, who was in a great mood, despite being wounded in his right wrist and left hand.

Dennis survived the war, but unfortunately, his wife Mary died during the Second World War. He eventually moved to Halifax, where he died in hospital in 1950, at age seventy-four.

Do you have an ancestor who served in the Great War? Submit their story and it could be included on this Great War Album website.