Somewhere in Belgium
Oct 1 1915
Your letter, or rather I should say note, arrived day before yesterday. You must have been in a great hurry or else news was scarce.
So Alf is going to Victoria. Well I'm glad to hear it. No one has said what he is going to take. Is it going to be straight Arts or will he make a stab at a hyphenated course? Anyway he will enjoy it down at Vic, especially now that he is in residence.
It is just two weeks tonight since we arrived in this country. Rather in France. We have just been in Belgium about one week. In that week I have changed my mind and opinion of the Belgians about fourteen times. Now tonight, for instance I think they are very nice people. I had a real good dinner, well cooked and good eats. We had soup, meat and potatoes, carrots, corn on cob, jam and coffee. How is that for a poor soldier at the front? Then after dinner at 7:30 P.M. I went over to the Convent, which is just next door to my room and had a nice hot bath in a real bath tub. The sisters run the place, as is customary in most places. And she was very nice to me and asked me when I would like another. So I am booked again for Sunday evening. You see I have to bath often as I have to wear my underwear a week longer. One of our officers is leaving for the trenches tonight and all he had was some light cotton underwear, so I gave him my heavy woolens, and I have to wear my present ones until I get some new ones over from England. I have lots of friends in England so I will be able to get anything I want. Mrs Andrews and Muriel, Frank's Mother and sister are living in Folkestone and they are very kind indeed. I had dinner with them twice before I left. Frank has just broken his leg and is laid up with plaster casts. His German friends appear to be very good to him and are taking good care.[?]
The war situation looks pretty good just now doesn't it? We are giving them 'hail columbia' all along the line. I haven't heard a gun for over an hour, so things must be quieting down a bit. Generally our windows are rattling in good shape by this time.
Some of the boys think they will be home for Xmas. I do not like to appear pessimistic but personally I will be quite delighted if I am home for Xmas 1916. One cannot be here long until one sees the greatness of the job, and it looks to me that, unless some very unforseen thing happens, we are up against a hard proposition. I haven't the slightest doubt but that we will win in the end, it is just a question as to how long it will take.
Were it not for the slight danger attached I wish you could all be here, just to see the sights. It is really beautiful. For miles around the sky at night is all lit up. It is just like when the heavens open up with lightning. When it is real dark one can see the shells bursting and it is just like fireworks on a large scale. Better than Toronto Ex. Then too the shells and their noises are a study. The small ones whistle, larger ones shriek, while the big ones roar like an express train. The beauty of it is that you can hear them coming and have plenty of time to take shelter. I had to laugh at one of our boys the other day. He was riding his horse along the road when he heard one of these expresses, as they call them, coming. He jumped off his horse, and scrambled into the ditch, and pulled the horse in on top of him. Then he had the pleasure of seeing it burst away out in the field beside the road. He was so badly scared that he galloped his horse at full speed right into town. Some sport isn't it? Got a rugby or baseball game skinned a mile. After much persuasion, the Brigadier has promised to let me go through the trenches. He even looks upon it as a great favor to let me stay near them. He's a nut in some ways, you know, and that is one. Perhaps soon I will be able to tell you a little about them. We can say so little that it is tiresome to have to relate one's personal affairs all the time. However war is war so I guess we have to put up with it.
I have struck some very bum ink and can scarcely make a mark at all. I think I will quit as I can't read my own writing. Anyway the electric lights go out at nine and I have to use a candle after that.
Lots of love for Father, Mother and self and give my kindest regards to friends, Mr and Mrs Giles included.