Nov 14th 1916
This may be early for Xmas but not so awfully so but that you will overlook it & make all just allowances for me trying to be sure of its getting there in time.
I am with 6th Field Co. Cab Engrs. BEF France c/o Army PO London. That is rather a hint but we'll let it go at that.
I came over towards the end of October after spending a very happy summer in England. The unit I am with has been through it all for some time back and the boys are some of the best. One Capt. Ketterson a chaplain dines at our mess and claims your acquaintance. In spite of his original exit from Do[?] I have no doubt of his being Irish. However we forgave him that on hearing that all were well at The Grove within the past short while - when he was at Lakefield whenever that was. He was rather surprised that Miss Mackenzie was such a little thing when I first knew her as he is convinced that she must be a young lady now of 18 or 19! He came to the outspoken conclusion that I must either be an egregious liar or have preserved my youthful looks remarkably. I told him that innate modesty forbade me claiming to be that particular kind of liar.
Life here, as elsewhere, is good. Our mess is practically a Presbyterian one from Kingston but we all pull together very nicely. Breakfast we straggle into, any time from 7-11, lunch is also a movable feast, taking its inception on the arrival of the mail-man, circ 1pm - And accommodating anyone coming in until about 4pm. Dinner as a rule sees us all present as those who worked all last night have at last come to light & are about to start out again while the day [?] has cut off till the morning. It has seldom been my fortune to sit at a board where laughter is so frequent & spontaneous and [?] so swift, personal & yet kindly. The OC is a perfect prince and the same could well be said of the others. the Padre has tried (& frequently succeeded) to return a Roland for an Oliver And as a result it is not hard for him to draw a barb to his own breast when he tries it. Facilis est de[?] Ave[?]. The other night he was discussing some frothy subject like the various newer rag time gramophone melodies when his left-hand neighbor Alport very seriously asked him if it were not true that the Anglican catechism & the entire fabric of the service creeds etc. were based almost exclusively on the Westminster C[?] of faith. During the pause following the question pending Kitterson getting his mind off the question of gramophone records there was a laugh that showed him he was in for a scrap on his own territory & it were well to pick his reply. The more he picked the more he was teased until he really got angry. Alport has decided that the field is fertile enough to justify him in taking counsel of a Pres. Minister & "getting next to some of this stuff" - He has also been responsible for the serious statement that the Signal Company is trying an experiment i.e. crossing pigeons & parrots - in hopes of getting a bird that will deliver verbal messages.
The atmosphere of the mess is very congenial & the method of carrying on work ditto. Since I came down I have been with the Artillery altogether & this has kept me out of the trenches so far. But it goes turn about & I shall get my share of trudging thro mud before long.
Our mess & quarters are in ruined buildings but we are comfortable and happy. Routine carries on in spots. We do our best.
I understand the Atwoods are still thereabouts. Please give my bestest to any old friends. Tom & Betsy Dohman have doubtless long since passed to the Great Beyond. If by any chance not & Betsy remembers me give her my fond love. There was a heart as big as a house.
To your good wife & yourself and the family, that I probably would feel I had never known were I to meet them grown up as they are, the very best & warmest of good wishes for now & always. If you can spare a line sometime shoot 'er along.