Sept. 19, 1917
General Secretary, Y.MC.A.,
I am taking the liberty of writing to you because I know of in Belleville as the Y.M.C.A. Secretary, and I thought of how much you would appreciate and be encouraged by a word "from one of the boys" that find a home in the Y.M.C.A.
Since I have been on this side now for 15 months, I have been moved around considerably both here and in France. Now I have once more got back to Blighty, but wherever I have been I have found invariably a welcome beneath the Sign of the "Red Triangle".
My object in writing is to tell you (and not only you but the people in the locality) how much we, "The Boys". appreciate the efforts of the Staffs in the Huts to accommodate us in the little necessities that bring home to us while away from home. I might mention a thousand and one things that are done and secured for us, to make our lives brighter and more cheerful.
You know, Sir, we are just civilians in khaki, and the routine and discipline of Army and Camp Life sometimes get monotonous, but in the Y. we can feel free again for a while, for we feel at home once more, and a pleasant hour and a half or two hours at the Y. in the evening helps to take away the "rough edge" of Army life.
And then, Sir, the little Good-Night service that we have is a source of blessing and spiritual help day by day. The service is conducted in an unorthodox and free and easy style, and one being free to choose his own favorite hymns or say a word or two (but no sermons). In this way we become acquainted with lots of the other boys and sometimes meet one from the old home. The singing of the hymns takes one's mind back to the old church again, keeping the memory green, also the desire for spiritual things. I feel that the boys appreciate the Y. far more than some people at home think we do. This is my object in writing this letter.
I usually spend my evenings at the Sandgate Y.M.C.A. now as I am nearest to it, where I am now stationed. Capt. Duncan and his staff are just splendid. Always a cheery word and a smile are coming from them, and I have found this invariably everywhere I have gone. Trusting that you will excuse the liberty I have taken of writing you, I am,
(SGD.) Cpl. A. Pattenden,
Home Address: Tweed P.O., Ont.