Baker, James

Letter
Date:
July 17, 1940
To:
Mom
From:
Jim
Somewhere in England
July 17th, 1940

Dear Mom,

I am writing this from Bramshott Hospital where I have been transferred for a slight operation on my sinus. As you know my last letter was written from Field Ambulance Number 5 where I had been kept for three days. On Monday night the MO decided to move me back to the Main Dressing Station at Reigate. On Tuesday morning I was taken by ambulance to MDS and the MO there ordered me right into Hospital. But the convoy of trucks didn't leave until late that night so I had to stay at the MDS all day. I never passed a more miserable day in my life. There was mud everywhere you looked, it rained all day and the hospital was non-existent. We were laid out on stretchers on the ground and covered with canvas. The camp was in the centre of a dense wood and whenever it stopped raining - which wasn't very often, the trees would continue to drip till it started to rain again. But late that night I was moved to hospital and everything was fine again. Wednesday morning I went up before Major Mc-----and had my operation. All he did was thrust a long needle-like instrument up my right nostril and pierce the shell-like wall of the upper sinus that was infected. The pus immediately began to drain and my headache was relieved almost at once. I feel quite fit now and am up and around again.

This certainly is a wonderful place. It is a brand new hospital, only opened three weeks but nearly full already. It is used exclusively by Canadian troops and is run and staffed entirely by Canadian personelle; Canadian Doctors and Surgeons, Canadian Orderlies but best of all Canadian Nurses! O, sweet music in my ears, the sound of a Canadian girl's voice again! The three day nurses and the night nurse in my ward are swell. They all come from Toronto but one of them - Sister E---- , has an uncle who lives in (of all places) Cloverdale. I went to school with his daughter. So Sister E---- and I get along very well because we almost feel that we know each other.

Nearly all the boys in here are sick with tonsillitis, sinusitis, running ears or bad adenoids: something that can be blamed on colds caused in the majority of cases by sleeping on damp ground and in damp clothes. I know that that is how I caught mine. For three days I slept in my clothes and they were soaking wet for I had been out in the pouring rain all day with no groundsheet or raincoat. There is absolutely no need for it either because the troops that occupied this area before us were billeted in barns. I guess the reason that we were not similarly billeted is because if we were, the citizen's homes would automatically become military targets open to bomb attacks.

If you saw me now I'm sure you would have a heck of a time recognizing me in my new uniform. I have on a suit of ‘hospital blues' probably in recognition of the effect they have on the wearer. I guess Dad knows all about them for as far as I know they haven't been changed since the last war. They are very comfortable though, the only fault I can find for mine is in the fit. The pants are like tights and the shirt is so long that it reaches to my knees when I stand up. And all the shirts are a standard size so you can imagine what they look like on a short man, the poor man is simply drowned. I guess the idea of them is that you can safely wander around the ward in you shirt without fear of embarrassment if you should meet the Sister.

This is the third time my leave has been canceled. I'll soon be inured to the sacrifice. I was due for seven days this Friday but of course it had been canceled now. But I am going to try for seven days sick leave when I am discharged from here.

Well I guess I've said ‘Good bye' to my company for a while. When I'm discharged from here I will be transferred to Borden Holding Unit and from there I will go to any battalion that requires men, unless my own regiment puts in a claim for me - which is extremely unlikely.

It is raining again today. This is the most heavy summer I have ever seen. The sun has only shone for four weeks and May 1st. It started to rain two weeks ago and it has rained ever since, every day without ceasing. The nurses here are just as fed up as we are and are longing for a good old Canadian summer.

Love as ever,
Jim

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