October 29 1917
My dear Gertrude,
A glorious day - but mighty cold - very much so last night with our open ventilation huts & no fuel yet. When at last we had courage to get up this morning - the scene was a very pretty one - a heavy white frost everywhere on grass - trees roofs & fences - ice wherever there was water & a bright sun over all. The scene in camp never differs from a typical Ontario scene, there are plenty of first & pines among the deciduous trees, all the huts are wood - stained brown with tarred paper roofing - the few permanent buildings are well out of our way & usually sufficiently screed in trees anyhow, as the gateway of which I sent you a card. The setting of the huts is not badly arranged, although they are too long to be really picturesque themselves - they are arranged two together with doors connecting the pair - but I have not got them nearly long enough in my sketch plan - as the one showing beds gives 12 and there should be 24 the two small squares are stoves - the dotted lines are low rustic fences enclosing garden plots in which are (or have been) vegetables or flowers - the latter used to provide decoration for the Dining Room. I happen to be in Hut No 8 - Camp No 5 where the + is.
The interior effect is not unpleasing - the roof being open - the long line of trusses in perspective is rather good. The window treatment is not bad & looks particularly well from outside. Each window is two sashed - the top one hinged on the bottom to fall in like a fanlight & each with 3 panes. The lower 3 panes are obscured so that the inmates won't be overlooked - the outer two with obscured glass - the middle painted white with the artillery Badge & name of school stencilled on - The effect simple - cheap & good.
It is about 11.30 now - I came here at 10.30 after shaving & doing various odd jobs - must break off now & do a few more before dinner.
Went to the P.O. & got a parcel from you for which many thanks although I have not opened it yet. Then to the Quarter Master's store for some equipment, to the Hut to sew two buttons on - but still having time till dinner decided to return here, about the only warm place & write a few notes - (although it breaks my proposed Sunday rule - however the circumstances were a little out of the ordinary which necessitates it - as I could not get them yesterday when I wanted to - so wrote to Mother instead & used her time for this to day) I have still a little time left to go on with this.
I received three letters from you on Monday last - two from Jordon. Glad you were able to have a good time there with Louise although you seem to have got in for rather hard work wherever you have been this summer & with Spencer & his family joining you it is not likely to be lessened this winter. I wonder what Mr Rowe thinks about Spencer joining the business - he can hardly be too pleased with the idea as it will naturally detract a good deal from his important. I should think it will be not too easy for Spencer & he to work together.
So Tyler has gone back to the Bank again. His third time isn't it. It must be rather difficult for banks to get men at all these days with so many in the army & the usual big supply from over here cut off.
Glad you enjoyed "John Inglesant." It is certainly a book to claim ones attention - if one really likes it or not - & set one thinking a lot.
Yes, whatever reasons I may have in the future for staying out late into the night - Spencer's one of fishing is never likely to be it.
You mention my October premium - I got the account for it by the same mail. As I told you I am passing it by for the time. I am going to apply for a Government grant towards it. I looked in to the possibilities before going to France but for some reason came to the conclusion it was no use. I don't know quite why. At any rate I think it worth while to try, although from what I hear it is not too likely in the case of an unmarried man. However, in the army, there is no good in not attempting such an application. I did not fully understand the army point of view in those early weeks.
You seem to have got quite a lot of sketching in during your time - I will have quite a gallery to view when I return, in spite of the long intervals in which you have not had opportunity to do anything. The cards were very pretty - the road scene might well have been in camp here. So much for your three letters & it is 1.15, so will get ready to parade at 1.25 for 1.30 dinner.
Had another Jordan letter from you given out on the dinner parade - with the first of the new 3c stamps on it. Also a letter from Cousin Geneva. Paul Hayward - Cousin Bella's 2nd boy - who has always been somewhat of a ne'er do well - was burned by a shell on June 28th & has been in hospital in Suffolk ever since with injuries to his back, but is evidently well on his way to recovery. They have not been able to go South this winter as Cousin Fannie has become quite an invalid & are afraid there may be very little coal to be got & trees will have to be felled for fuel.
From what you say of all of your blanket washing etc I think you must have been very much overdoing it at Grimsby, especially with all the help you were giving with the baby. You ought certainly to have a real holiday yourself soon - & that would not mean one at Port Elgin I should say. The latter would apt to be as strenuous as Jordan. Of course a certain amount, & that a good deal - of hard work whether housework or other work, never hurt any normally healthy person, but if the amount is overdone - it has to be paid for with very heavy interest in future years.
We have had a fairly strenuous week - more physical than mental however - but in "G" Company which we entered yesterday - the work becomes more mental. We start with Physical Exercises (always known as "jerks") at 7.15 am to 7.45. Have an hours Sun Drill in the morning & an hours rifle drill in the afternoon & five hours of lectures. Which means a busy time with notes.
On Thursday our regular program was interrupted a little by sudden warning that General Sir W. Robertson the Chief of the Imperial Staff would arrive to inspect us at 2 oclock. We had a rehearsal parade at noon - in a field on the other side of the village. A splendid day - bright sun but a very strong cold wind. The church & the few houses in the village made a splendid background - deeply set in trees as they are & especially with the great variety of foliage colouring these autumn days. Unfortunately - fate treated us as it nearly always treats general inspections, we formed up under a sunless sky - clouds piling up before the still gale like wind, & as we marched on to the field , rain began to fall - or rather it came sideways with great penetrative force before the wind - as the general entered the field & our small band struck up & the present arms was given - it rained heavier still & continued all the time he walked through our ranks.
I went on to thinking it was the back of this sheet.
It stopped however as we formed up in a square - when he made us a short speech - asking us to do our best here, pointing out that ours was the most important arm of the service etc etc. A good direct soldier-like speech - neither eloquent nor fluent. He is a bigly built man - very capable & efficient one would judge. He is a ranker of course - that is, has risen from the ranks, not in the way we of the new armies have - but an ordinary soldier promoted for ability & merit. Then we dismissed & went to our ordinary work which he inspected. By the way not a single cheer greeted him at any point of his visit - not even after his speech. It isn't done in the British Army. You speak of pay - our increases have not come along yet. I unfortunately wont get so 6 - efficiency pay now - unless I have it. That is if you remember I got 3 last January & I was due for another 3 in Aug 16th but there was difficulty in that I was only attached to one depot at the time - however a week before I left the C.S.M. promised to get it through for me but as yet I don't know if I got it. The new scale of pay only made a difference in shortening the time of getting such pay. What I ought to get from it is the 1 a day you mention for 1 years service pens. 6 a day which I at present have deducted from my pay as an allowance to Mother - a condition necessary to get her her allowance - but in the future the government pay this - so it will man no increase pay for those not making allowances. In fact all that the increase really comes to is the 1 per day for each years service.
Yesterday, being Saturday & a lovely day I was tempted to take a walk & explore the country, not finding a companion however - I stayed in & wrote notes to Mother's letter & after tea four of us walked down to Uckfield. Had my hair cut & did some necessary shopping, note book & belt polishes etc. A bright moon light night. We would have been expecting air alarms at Woolwich - but so far the Germans don't seem to have taken advantage of this month's moon. It is a very pretty walk indeed from Uckfield to Maresfield. Rather hilly - up & down - well wooded & some picturesque buildings.
I will enclose you Mother's letter instead of retailing her news, as there is rather a lot of interest - Also Berk's - not much in it but his address which you asked me for & his number.
I must close & try if possible to write to Lan or him.
Hope you are keeping fit in spite of all your exertions.
With very best love.