Baker, James

Letter
Date:
December 22, 1941
To:
Mom
From:
Jim
Dec. 22nd 1941

Dear Mom,

The last time I wrote I think I said I was going out on draught to the regiment and I gave as my address "D" Coy. Well, I didn't go out to the regiment after all because the MO. refused to pass me through as A-1. I had to wait around this terrible hole as a general fatigue man. I have been on 3 Battalion Guards since, but am not complaining about them because they enabled me to get a weekend pass this weekend past. But I nearly missed that pass too. It was only through using my head that I got it. You see, I forgot to tell you in my last letter that I had bought myself a pair of oxfords while I was in London and that the Military Police had picked me up wearing them. Of course I was charged by them (the police), and had my name and number taken. Well, I never thought anything more of it. That was on Dec. 9th.... then on Dec. 19th, this charge comes in - Friday morning: so of course, I was brought up before the CO.

"Prisoner and escort fall in, cap off, quick march, march time, halt: right turn - Pte. Baker, sir!" ....that's the sergeant major...then

"Pte. Baker JR K85200, you are charged with ------------"....that's the CO.

"No, sir!" in a firm voice....that's me.

CO. "What do you mean ‘No sir?'"

JB. "That's not me sir!"

CO. "What do you mean that's not you?"...splutter, splutter, red in the face, teeth grinding, eyes a-pop.

JB. "I mean sir, it must be someone else, sir! My number is K85260 and not K85200 as read out in the charge - sir."

CO. "Oh I see. Well I know you are guilty, but there is not much I can do about it. Case dismissed."

"Right turn! Quick March! Cap on! Mark time! Halt! Dismiss!!" That's the sergeant major and I walked away a free man with my week-end pass in my pocket!

I went to London and stayed with the Beverlys at their flat in South Kensington. I have told you about Mary Beverly before I know. They have a beautiful flat like the kind of a place you dream about: two bathrooms, oak floors, fireplace - everything. I had a bedroom fitted up ‘fit for a king' and I slept in green silk pyjamas in a feather bed....Oh - what luxuries! We had sat up talking until nearly two o'clock or at least, I had talked most of the time I am afraid, they had listened. I was telling them about our life with the Messingers of Peers and about us building our house in the midst of the stumps. And they were - well, enthralled (is the only adequate word) by my descriptions of how beautiful BC. and the country where we live is. On Sunday morning, I got up rather late and had breakfast with Mary in the kitchen, just her and myself - together, her mother was not feeling very well so she stayed in bed. Mr. Beverly was away in the Midlands somewhere. It was cozy in the kitchen and Mary is a good cook, so I enjoyed my breakfast. I suppose you want to know what we had...well, corn flakes and milk and sugar, bacon (3 rashers), fried bread and fried tomatoes, toast and honey and then, boiled rhubarb.

Then after we had done the dishes, we sat around and talked till 12 or so, when we went out to lunch at the club with Lance, Mary's cousin. He is a grand fellow about 55, rich as all get out but not pretentious, very intellectual, very intelligent and has had quite a very adventurous life. Mary tells me I have made quite a hit with him and I can tell he likes me by the things he says and does. (You know, you can instinctively tell if a person likes you or not). Anyway he has invited me to come and stay with him whenever I want to and Mary says that that is indeed a compliment as he very seldom invites people to his house. I am to make myself absolutely at home. I will be given a key, can come and go as I like, have the use of the valet, and generally have the run of the place. And from what Mary tells me, he has a very comfortable home too. You know, I'm going to have an awful time trying to come home after the war is over: I will have gotten so used to luxurious living!

Well anyway, on Sunday afternoon after we had excused ourselves early from lunch (there were about four other people as well as ourselves so it wasn't too discourteous to leave early), Mary and I went to the cinema and saw Gary Cooper as "Sergeant York". Oh, it made me so homesick, for after talking the night before about the Messingers and our happy life with them, then to go to a picture and relive in the scenes those three months again was quite overwhelming....I was so homesick in places I quite frankly couldn't see the screen for tears... and on top of that, the picture was magnificent!

Afterwards, Mary and I went home and had tea. I met Mr. Beverly for the first time too...a very nice English succesful business man - slow and stolid, but I should imagine he has quite a temper; as the little hair he has got is fiery red! Mary had to be to work at the Admirality by 7 o'clock and I had to catch the 7.27 train from Waterloo, so I took her down to the Admirality and then came home. The train was terribly slow - 21/2 hours from London to Guildford. There. What do you think of your son? The people treat him very nicely don't they?

I have had so much mail this past week I don't know whether I am on my head or my feet! I have had eleven parcels to date and more coming. Your lovely huge one arrived in splendid shape except that the honey had burst open and a little had leaked. But nothing was permanently injured. I hope you don't mind, I took it down to London and gave most of the food to Sheila, Bessie and Aileen - the three girls in the flat I was telling you about. We are going to have a big party on New Year's Eve and I thought it would help the eats along. Then I had another huge one from Mrs. Arthur Forster and another from Mrs. Slessor. They are living in Transcona now and Anne and I correspond regularly. She sent me her picture and she has grown up into a very beautiful girl. Nellie Stamper has also sent me her picture and she is a fine girl now. She is in the Women's Auxiliary Corps. or something. Then I had a lovely pen-lite from Blake today, a parcel from Aileen Small of Lac du Bonnett - a girl I am corresponding with, a huge parcel from the people in Toronto, and another from Marian Bell in Ottawa, one from the WA. in White Rock, one from Phil Cox, one from Mrs. Hart, one from Sheila (a lovely one from Sheila: two lovely books "The White Cliffs" and "Forsaking All Others" by Alice Duer Miller) Oh, I've had so much I can't think straight! And letters... hundreds of them, literally! The mail clerk is nearly mad trying to sort them all. I've had about 58 letters in the past three weeks. Thank God I don't have to answer them all! I have had several parcels from others of my pen-pals whom I haven't mentioned, so you wouldn't know who I was talking about.

I hope that you don't think that because I have not said anything about the situation in Canada right now, that I am not worried about it... I am, but I have purposely avoided it because whenever I think about it, I nearly go mad from anger and worry. To think that we have been over here two years - waiting, waiting, and then have a war break out practically on our doorstep!

I am afraid you will get the impression from this letter that we are not doing very much over here - and to tell you the truth, we are not. Today I did one hour's PT., fell down playing basketball and burst open the old operation. So that has stopped me from doing PT. It is pretty sore but feels OK., so please don't worry. Then this afternoon, I did a huge washing and wrote letters ‘til I couldn't see straight. Oh yes - I had a fight with the MO. this morning because the silly Medical sergeant was going to put an iodine dressing on my open wound and cover it with adhesive tape, I wouldn't let him as I have seen too many iodine burns from exactly the same cause. I won my point too. It's really terrible, some of the zombies who are holding down responsible positions around here! The MO. is drunk nearly all the time and when he isn't, he's so sick that he's like a bear with a sore head...

Well, I seem to have exhausted the supply of news so I will shut off the tap for this time.

Love as always
Yours,

Jim



Original Scans