Baker, James

Letter
Date:
April 20, 1940
To:
Mom
From:
Jim
Somewhere in England
April 20th, 1940

Dear Mom,

I suppose I had better explain what my last letter was all about for I expect you are a bit mystified. As you know by now, Hitler invaded Norway last week. The British Expeditionary Force which was sent over there got into difficulties and we were to be thrown into the breach in a last desperate effort to save them from disaster. It is a desperate gamble but they are determined to go ahead with it anyway. I know they are all wildly excited as a bunch of school kids on their first picnic and on that last morning were rushing around the mess like lost sheep. I tried my hardest to get Major M---- to take me back into the company and along with him but he wouldn't do it because he said I had been away from training for too long; as though I could forget all I had learned in two months. But he was adamant and the best I could get out of him was his promise to send for me as soon as he had a vacancy in his ranks. It is very hard to sit here and do nothing and know that all the boys whom I joined up with are away on a desperate venture. We have been anxiously scanning the newspapers and listening to every news broadcast in the hopes of hearing that Canadian troops are in action but so far we have heard nothing at all.

Didn't I tell you old "Shorty" would expect his boys to uphold the honour of the Pats? Here we are, the first Canadians in battle again - just as in the last war, and as far as I can make out we have been handed the dirtiest, most dangerous job there is; a rearguard action. Not that we mind though. We are used to that sort of thing by now and come to expect it as our daily lot. You'll notice I say "we" just as if I were still with the boys; and indeed I am in spirit if not in body.

The weather is wonderful still, in fact the locals say it is very unusual for it to stay fine so long. Over the weekend, I managed to borrow a bicycle and went for a lovely ride all around here. It was very beautiful, cycling down the shady, winding lanes set on both sides with huge, old oak, beech, and alder trees or through the parks (for parks abound here, there is one about every three miles) I went up to see Minley Manor - a vast Victorian Manor House set in beautiful landscaped grounds. It has been taken over by the WD as an Officer's Training Centre (OTC) but the grounds are still kept in tip top condition.

The only thing I don't like about going back to duty is having to give up my little room down here. I have a lovely little place all to myself. It is about ten ft long by seven ft wide. I have a table and a chair, a bed and a book shelf complete with about twelve good books. Right now I am reading "And Tell of Time" by Laura Krey. Many critics call it the sequel to "Gone With the Wind". I am very interested in it. I have just finished reading Cotherills translation of Ulysses and "The Great Tradition" which I want you to read if you can. I don't remember the author but it is a novel showing the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany up to the Great Blood Purge of 1931-2. I have pasted pictures all over the walls of my room and it lends a very homey atmosphere to the place. I have also a brass reading lamp and a shade over my bed which one of the officers gave me when he went away so you see, I am quite comfortable. Must close now.

Love as always

Jim

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