Baker, James

Letter
Date:
April 29, 1940
To:
Mom
From:
Jim
Somewhere in England,
April 29th, 1940

Dear Mom:

Well what a fizzle! The PPCLI have just returned from their glorious adventure, a week spent in mud up to their knees in Dumfermlin, Scotland. I don't suppose we'll ever know exactly what did happen to make the War Office decide not to send them to Norway but now they are back a very disappointed bunch of boys. They evidently had quite a time. They lived in tents pitched on the side of a hill just outside the town and evidently if rained every night they were there but that didn't stop them from enjoying themselves. The Scots got a great kick out of them because they were the first Canadians they had ever seen. Nearly the whole regiment had got an invitation to go back again.

Last Thursday I went up to London for the day and enjoyed myself immensely. In the morning I went through Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's Cathedral, then had dinner at Mr. and Mrs. Green's place and then in the afternoon I saw "Gone With the Wind". I thought it would be practically the last chance I would get to see this "picture of the century" and I'm certainly glad I saw it. No words of mine can possibly describe the beauty, the superb acting, the excitement of the gripping presentation of Margaret Mitchell's story. It is a truly wonderful picture and ad usual the critics are too Conservative in their criticisms of it. Vivian Leigh is perfect as Scarlett and so is Clark Gable as Rhett Butler. The old negro nurse "Mame" steals nearly every scene which she appears. I only had to pay 3/6 but it would have been worth 10 shillings of any man's money. Next week sometime I'll send a description of my trip through St. Paul's. The Abbey was a terrible disappointment to me but the Cathedral surpassed my expectations by far. I got very chummy with the music librarian and he showed me all through the organ loft.

Of course I was immensely pleased and flattered. He showed me the pipes and explained how everything worked. It was immensely interesting. I have to go back there next Saturday to hear an organ recital. Its my weekend this week and I have to stay with Mr. Green at the King Lud. He had promised to show me the sights so I guess I'll be in capable hands.

I've just finished washing my socks, towels, shirts and my hair. I have also straightened and swept my room and everything is spic and span. I'm going to try and get a picture taken of my room to show you. I hope it turns out. I suppose you've see the new tax budget. I don't know whether the extra penny in stamps applies to us or not. If it does, I guess there'll be considerably fewer letters go to Canada every week than there has been.

I've just been watching a thrilling mock battle between two Spitfires and Dornier. It was certainly a sight.

But getting back to the boy's week-long stay in Scotland: they were issued with about seven blankets apiece as well as sheep skin coats and breeches but the only thing that kept them alive, was the issue of rum which they got every night because everything they owned was soaked through.

My pals in particular had a tough time. They slept nine in a tent and because they had so much extra equipment, were very crowded. They decided that to keep warm they would make a communal board on one side of the tent and pile all their equipment on the other. They could do this quite comfortably because a stream of water entered at the back of the tent and after bisecting the tent neatly in half, ran out through the door. All went well the first night but on the second, disaster overtook them. Somehow Jack S---- who is only a tiny fellow, got marooned on one quarter of the tent's flooring (the floors were four boards arranged around the centre pole like four pieces of pie) and the stream of water got under it and floated it outside. About two o'clock in the morning, Jack awoke to find the rain streaming down in his face, his blankets wet through and the tent nowhere in sight. You can imagine the shouts of laughter with which he was greeted when he crawled back in very wet and very angry!

This past week I have been making a daily practice of running a mile every day and I've lost about 3 lbs. If I keep it up I ought to feel much better soon. I've also been playing a lot of badminton and that has helped considerably.

There doesn't seem much else to say. I have been made head waiter but am trying to get back to my company again. I don't want to go through another week like the last.

Write soon and often,

Love as Always

Jim

Original Scans