Search The Archive

Search form

Collection Search
Date: February 7th 1916

From: Kingston, Ont.
7 Feb. 1916

Dear Mother -

I was glad to get your letter the other day but sorry to hear that you had been worrying so much about me. Everything is very O.K. with me at present and I feel pretty well. I like it fine so far and have not for a minute regretted joining. I can understand you must have felt worried when my letter didn't come on Tues. but you must try and not worry about me. I am alright.

John Rose went with the Battery after all. A few were sick and a few others dropped out to go later, so some of those that weren't going got going after all. Rose just heard last Sun. that he could go. He went to Toronto on Tues. and had to be back Wed. morning. Last Tues. I was on guard at headquarters and at noon I noticed that my name was posted up with the rest as going overseas. I spoke to the Sergeant Major and he told me someone had dropped out and that as I was next, they had me down as a driver. I gold him I didn't want to go as a driver and asked to have my name taken off again. I had to see Capt. Gill about it. He asked me if it was because I would like to go home first that I didn't want to go. I told him that that was one reason. He asked me where I lived and then said he could let me go for a day. But I told him I thought the notice too short and that I would rather go as a gunner in the next draft. So someone else was got to take my place. It is just about as good going as a driver as it is going as a gunner but I couldn't have got ready in that short time.

I haven't been able to take hardly a single class for the last two weeks. Most of those going overseas were away and then when they came back, they weren't put on any fatigues so that they would be in good health when they left. There is about 35 or 40 that didn't go and some of them were being inoculated or sick or something, so that for the last 2 wks., I have been on something pretty nearly every day. As I was a spare on the 46th till they went, my name was handed in to the University as going overseas at once. A list of those going and the classes they were being given was posted in the barracks. I found I was to get pass standing in Inter Honor Math & Prelim Physics. Nothing was said about Hist. They must have overlooked that. Of course, pass standing would be no good in the Specialist course I am on if I wanted specialist standing or an M.A. It would be alright if I just wanted a pass B.A. They thought I was going away at once when they made that out. As I will be able to take classes for a while longer, it won't make any differences now. The prof. in Physics had my name as likely to go and was going over my work to give me credit for what I had done. I told him I would have to miss classes now and then, but that I would be taking all I could. He will give me credit of all I have done and all I will do. I met a prof. in Math on the afternoon of the day the 46th Battery left. He looked surprised to see me - thought I had gone that forenoon. I believe he told the class the other day that I would be given my Math. so I guess they were surprised when I took a class this morning. In the last Queen's Journal, they give a list of the gunners & drivers that went overseas and they have my name down as going as a driver, mind you. I believe more of them went as drivers than as gunners.

My year, Arts '17 gave a little banquet to those going overseas (in Battery & Medical Unit) the other night in the Frontenac Hotel. I received an invitation but couldn't go as I happened to be on kitchen fatigue that day and wasn't through in time. You mustn't think I am having it hard with all those guards and fatigues for I keep in pretty good health and wouldn't mind them at all if it wasn't for missing classes. They can't single out the students, you know, and not give them any fatigues. That would hardly be fair to the others. I knew when I joined that I would have to miss classes now & then for that. The last 2 wks of course were rather busy ones with the 40th going away and it was pretty hard. I was on guard Wed. night & Fri. night of each week and never slept at all all night. There are 4 men on guard. One of them is in charge of the others and is called the corporal of the guard. He doesn't go out at all but looks after the changing of the sentries, etc. The guard is on for 24 hrs when it is relieved by another 4 men. Each of the other 3 have to walk up & down in front of the barracks with a rifle for 2 hrs at a time. You see they have 2 hrs on and 4 hrs off to rest in. The last 2 hrs are pretty long & tiresome. On Wed., I was the Corporal of the guard and so didn't have to do any of the walking up & down but I had to stay awake all night to see that everything is alright. Since the 46th (Queen's) Battery left, they are getting pretty strict about the Guard. The fires at Ottawa and other places and rumours that are afloat make it necessary to keep careful watch.

I had my second inoculation last Tues. afternoon, just 10 days after the other. I got it in about the same place on the left arm. My arm was a little stiff that night but next day it was about all right. The vaccination didn't work on me this time at all. It hardly left a mark. I guess the other one I got had been a good one. Some of the boys had awful looking arms and a few had to go to the hospital. The inoculation hurt some of them an awful lot. I got along about the best of anyone.

On Thurs. forenoon there was quite a time in Kingston. It was bitterly cold but a very large crowd was out to see the four batteries of the 9th Brigade entrain for overseas. At a quarter to 10, the Queen's Battery was out beside the barracks loaded down with kit bags, bandoleers, mess cans, water bottles & haversacks - just about all they could carry. A large crowd of people lined the sidewalks, nearly all the students were there - walking up & down the ranks bidding their friends good bye. They marched down to the Tete du pont barracks. The other batteries of the 9th Brigade also marched there and after quite a wait, the whole brigade marched over to the train and boarded it. Our Queen's Battery was in the 1st, 2nd & 3rd cars. There was fourteen cars altogether I think. People crowded alongside all the cars bidding friends good bye and giving them things to take with them. I heard someone say that one or two of our fellows were in tears - parting from relatives. I didn't wait to see the train pull out. I think it went about noon. It was rather sad to see the fellows going - I know so many of them real well. A few of them were not very well. Greig's vaccination hit him hard and he had been in hospital for a day or two with a bad cold.

Those that are left are called the 50th Battery. (There is not the slightest danger now of my being drafted into infantry or anything else.) The 50th Depot Battery. Notices are up all over college asking for recruits. The Battery is to train reinforcements for the 46th Battery and finally perhaps send over another complete unit. There are only about 40 in it yet. There are only 7 students in it now I think. Most of the rest are from Vancouver. I know nearly all the fellows in it now and get along pretty well. They are a fine bunch of fellows. Queen's men are not joining it very fast. Most of those that join are outsiders. It seems odd to the Vancouver boys to see all the recruiting bills in the streets of Kingston here. In Vancouver, you don't see one hardly and the recruiting offices are so full they have to turn men away. They say that there are very few men in Vancouver now eligible to join. Now, if more men would join right away, it would make less fatigues for us and we could get to England sooner. I believe that if they had the men they might send over a draft of about 100 men in 6 wks or 2 mos. These would probably see the 46th in England before they went to front. My name is second on the roll call so of course I get going over as a gunner in the 1st draft.

The 46th left St. John, N.B. on Sat. I heard, so are now 2 days out at sea. It will probably take them seven or eight days to cross. They don't travel first class. They left here in colonist cars.

A cab driver told a couple of us last night that the guard down town somewhere had shot a couple of Germans but I heard no more about it. He also said that a German living here had told him that the 9th Brigade would never reach England. There is quite likely nothing to all that, but it almost looks as if German spies were trying to do things in Canada.

I am still keeping my room in Stuart St. The food we get at barracks is real good and I have a good appetite. It is only when men are not in barracks like the Hospital Unit that they are given extra pay and eat elsewhere. I received my cheque for pay till end of Jan. The cheque was for $17.00. $10.00 is deducted from the first cheque we get, for uniforms etc. and is given back to us at the end of 6 mos. I guess it is just to have a hold on a fellow and so that they won't be out the value of the uniform if he deserts shortly after joining. 50¢ was also taken off for a present for Lieutenant Rogers who had got married a little while ago. So my allowance really came to about $27.50. (25 dys at $1.10 per day from Jan. 7 - Jan. 31).

Everybody is given a number when they join. My number is 304638.

I had thought of getting my picture taken before you mentioned it. Douglas Mallory went as a gunner in the 46th & Mills Johnson went as a driver. Capt. Anglin, a graduate of Queen's, is our O.C. now.

Best love to you and the rest.
Yours sincerely,