487386 Pte. S. Bainbridge
"Somewhere, on farm in Flanders"
27th August 1916
Dear Miss Philbrick,
I received your two welcome letters with much pleasure a few days ago, dated 26th July and 9th August. It is Sunday afternoon and I'm just writing this squatting down on the green [?], sorry it isn't a lawn, in front of our "barn" residence. It is rather showering and I may have to seek shelter before I finish this, but at any rate I'll make letters while the sun shines.
I'm glad to know you are having such a "whale of a time" on your holidays, and I hope the best was left till the last. I guess you will be back in Montreal when this reaches you but I'm sending it to your home address as I don't know where you will be in the city.
You will very much appreciate having your sister as near you this winter, and seeing you are not going to the "Y", won't you have a swell time. I wonder if I'll have the pleasure of a skate with you on the Victoria Rink? I do hope so! It will be much nicer for Miss Marsh to have her home in town, won't it? I hope you succeeded in going with the camping party and had a real [?] time. Yes, exercise in the kitchen is fine for a school teacher, and much more practical than tennis, though a little of both would be O.K. I guess you would have "some" times in the tent eh, especially when armed with croquet mallets, almost as dangerous as experimenting in cooking for three days eh what! You ask if we are fed well in the trenches. I wish you could just see us cooking such "hashes" as follows: fried bacon, beans and onions. We cook these ourselves "mid shot and shell" in our "mess" tins over an amateur stove in an old tin can with string and shredded candles. Of course were it not for boxes and parcels of goods which we receive three or four times often in a week from home and various other friends, we wouldn't have the luxuries which we enjoy. But the two Bainbridges usually manage a parcel about every two or three days, and our mail has been so big of late that our boys declare we will need a Mail Corporal all to ourselves soon. But I don't think I could exist our here if it were not for the continual kind remembrances from friends as far separated as Alberta and the North and South of England. "Mail up" is one of the most welcome sounds we hear, and creates even more excitement than "Tea up".
Well, once more we are back to the farm, far away from harm but no "milkpail on the arm" as the song puts it, though we drink our share of the milk taken from the pail.
Our battalion is out of the trenches for a while and we are taking a few weeks training in preparation for some new move. The boys have parades from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
My brother and I are now working as Stretcher Bearers in our company along with two other boys. We have exchanged our rifle, bayonet, and ammunition for a stretcher and first aid requirements. It is our duty while in the trenches to attend to the dressing of all the wounded and superintend their removal to the nearest dressing station. This is in my line much more than in the fighting ranks and so far I like it fine.
Of course it is just as dangerous or even more than the ordinary duties with the rifle, as not only have we to be in the trenches along with the boys, but we must go out and dress the wounded while all the bombardment is in full swing. But of course it is much more in keeping with a "minister" to give comfort to the sick than to destroy life even in a just cause.
At present, while the battalion are having special training in rifle and other drill, we stretcher bearers are taking a course of lectures from the Medical Officer and also practice in bandaging wounds and minor injuries likely to be met with in our experiences in the trenches. We wear my initials S.B. on our arms in red letters on a white band just similar to the Red Cross.
This morning we had to walk several kilometres on our Church Parade, and got the benefit of several showers. By the way it is quite fine now. We had a service which would have suited Miss M. A1 but unfortunately we were not near enough to hear the short sermon, and didn't have books to follow the chants, prayers, Psalms, etc. and felt rather disappointed, especially as I hadn't been to a service of any kind for about five or six weeks. But we hope to attend a sing-song in town tonight at the Y.M.C.A. hut and cheer the way a little. Pinder is training as a Signaller now and Allen is with the tunnelling Co. so I only see them occasionally. It is about time for "Tea up" so I must quit. Trusting you are feeling in the best of trim after a tip top holiday and wishing you a real happy and successful term at school.