Baker, James

Letter
Date:
October 27, 1940
To:
Mom
From:
Jim
Pte. James Baker K85260
Ward 7
Canadian Red Cross Hosp.
Taplow, Bucks
Oct 27th, 1940

Dear Mom,

Well as you can see I am still here. I don't know for how long either, that is the terrible part of it. When I came here I expected to be only a couple of days or a week or two at the most. Here it is nearly 18 days now and I am still in bed. I cannot understand. I was running quite a temperature most of the time but it has left me feeling very weak, and although my temp. is now normal, I suffer from dizzy spells and an intolerable headache which never leaves me. I also seem to have no control over my nerves and find myself trembling at the slightest excitement. For instance about half an hour ago, Major General Odlum of the 2nd Div. came through and he chatted with me for about 5 mins. It seems he knows White Rock very well - having lived in Vancouver until just a few months ago. Well you know how healthy my nerves usually are...I am not affected by anything and can always control myself at all times. Well to my surprise and dismay I found myself trembling so violently that I could hardly speak to him at all. You know how I usually observe closely everyone whom I have met so that I can describe them to you? Well this time I could not even remember the colour of his eyes, whether his hair was black or white: hardly a thing about him could I remember. I was so angry with myself too because he is such a nice fellow. I quite enjoyed my chat with him even though I was so terrified. That is the only word I can think of to describe my feelings. It sounds rather strange when it is written down doesn't it? But there it is and I won't change it now. Lady Astor has been around to see us every day for the past week. She was in here today and cheered us all up by telling us one of her jokes. She had been saying "goodbye" to us in her usual bluff manner and was enjoining us to all get well quickly so we could all go riding with her in the park "Which" she said, "Reminds me of my old plantation days in Virginia. I had been sick and one particularly fierce old Colonel and his wife had come to call upon me. During the whole of the visit the Colonel sat silently fuming and embarrassed at the typical woman's conversation upon which we were engaged. At last the poor man after floundering around managed to blurt out ‘Can you ride, miss?' I was somewhat exasperated both with him and his wife and a particularly impish desire came to me: astound them! So I answered "No suh! but if you'll bring ‘round your carriage, I'll gladly go riding with you. I'm not much in a saddle but I'm hell of a rider in the back!"

After the laughter in the ward had subsided she said "That's not a particularly good remark to pass on Sunday but I'm just warning you what to expect when you get better and go riding with me!" O she is a dear old soul and I don't know what we would do without her. The other day she came in and solemnly presented everyone of us with two (2) grapes which she swore she had grown in her own greenhouse even though the box was marked "Produce d'Espagno". I am rather glad I have met her for she is the only woman of English society that I have met whom I thoroughly like and enjoy talking to. And I have met quite a few too!

I don't know whether I have mentioned the Maple Leaf Club in my letters and the good times I have had while in London. I have particularly enjoyed the company of two Canadian girls up there - Faith and Jane. (Faith was the one who had the big write up in one of ‘Life's' recent issues and though there wasn't a word of truth in the report of her engagement to the fellow in question, still it was good publicity and we three had a hearty laugh at ‘Life's' expense) Well the Maple Leaf Club has been bombed out of existence and the staff had to be evacuated away from the London area. Well the staff was evacuated to - of all places, "Cliveden" Lady Astor's estate where they are billeted in the stables. So now Faith and Jane and all the rest of the staff are only five minutes walk away from the hospital. So Faith and Jane have unofficially adopted me and come to see me every day. And through them I have met Lady Astor and have been invited over to "Cliveden" for tea as soon as I am better. So I'm doing all right for myself.

I have just been talking to my nurse about how I feel and she has recommended that what I need is a long rest and plenty of quiet. I told her that I knew I could get that
up in Edinburgh, Scotland where I made so many friends on my leave up there. So she advised me to ask my doctor to recommend me for sick leave. So at the favourable opportunity I am going to do so.

I have not had any Canadian mail since Oct. 7th but I know there must be some for me with my unit. I wish they would send it on to me: give me something to do. Love as always to you and Dad and Grandpa and Stan and Bert.

Cheerio,

Jim

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