February 6, 1915
All is excitement this morning. Our ammunition has been distributed and we are 'lying to' awaiting orders to move.
Your nice breezy letter arrived a few days ago along with one from Hadley. That boy has written me some very interesting letters, and I mean to answer him at length this afternoon.
We had a wonderful review by the King on Thursday - all the troops who are proceeding to France - 25,000 of us - and we had King's weather. The sun was shining and the massed bodies of the troops swung by the reviewing stand with a Canadian swing that evidently pleased Kitchener.
Before marching past, we were reviewed by His Majesty, K of K, Admiral Sturdee and several other notables. A special track to Lark Hill had been laid, and we all marched to the reviewing ground, upon which the Royal Standard was raised, while the massed bands played "God Save the King", and we all presented arms. Then followed the bands played a series of popular airs.
At noon the King got into the stand and the march past started. First the Royal Canadian Dragoons, Strathcona Horse and Alberta Dragoons - a body of cavalry that has no equal anywhere. Each rider seemed a part of his horse, and this not strange when one considers that the larger part of these cavalry are cowboys. Then the Artillery - each battery keeping perfect alignment, their guns splashed with colour - reds, blues, greens, yellows laid on anywhere. The idea is to give concealment, and certainly the cannon are very hard to distinguish at a short distance. Then followed the Infantry - sixteen battalions of 1,200 men each. They were soldiers - every man of them and they looked it.
We wore our great coats over outfits of service capes and after the review we lined the railway tracks, and cheered the King as his train went by. He looked very haggard and worn but Kitchener looked very pleased with our appearance. It was while waiting for the train to come along that I met Derek Droughall. Seton and Jack are here in England, and this morning they are over in the Queen's own lines. I intend going over in half an hour, unless the order is given to move, and see if I can run across them.
A moving picture was taken of us while were were waiting on the tracks, and as the operator was taking our gun section, one of the boys brought his rifle down on my head with an awful crack, so if you happen to see the picture, don't be surprised if I'm wearing an expression of pain!
During the review we were very much entertained by the antics of an aeroplane overhead which kept overturning and doing stunts during the entire review.It was Lieutenant Sharpe, and he was killed about an hour later while attempting a landing.
Three weeks of continual drill on the machine gun has made me quite familiar with all its little intricacies, and I now have charge of one our battery of four. I am No.A! of the crew, and my duties consist of looking after the gun and firing it. I sent a photo to your father last night of the section, and three of our guns. Since that was taken, we have made a few changes, also our caps and all our guns are of the same model as the sharp muzzled one on the left.
We were told last night that our standing is now the same as the British regular, and we are the Canadian Division of the British Expeditionary Force.
My letters henceforth will probably have no address on them. They will be sent from "somewhere in France", and my mail will very probably be scant and uninteresting but remember that we are allowed to receive all that is sent to us.
Ever your sincere friend,
Gordon H. Grahame.