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Date: February 12th 1917

ramshott Camp, Hants, Eng.,
Feb. 12th, 1917

My dear Joe,

Just a line to let you know I got your welcome letter, and that you haven't forgot to write; anyway, I was awful glad to hear from you at home as it seems ages since I got a letter from Canada. I had one from Aunt Jessie yesterday saying that Ruby is getting on all right and that she is sending him a cake, and one for me at the same time. She must have a good notion that we like 'em. Well Joe, all we worry about here is who will get the extra slice. At meal times we seem to get good appetites since we got to Blighty, but don't get the chance to satisfy it yet (But wait till I get out of this old quarantine.) Well Joe, you will expect me to have lots of news for you this letter, but its got to be manufactured yet. You will probably be thinking we are having one good old time, but I guess they all ended when we left Canada. It's good to think of the good old times we used to have this time last year in Swan, when I could get home week-ends, eh. It seems comical now to think what a queer looking bunch we must have looked, drilling in the snow. Although, that is what we have been doing this last week. We had a fall of about four inches of snow and cold, but it was only ten below for a day or so, but it's nearly as cold as out West. I suppose it's the different atmosphere, but since we had the cold weather we've had less on the sick, lame and lazy list. It's been like Canada this last two weeks. I guess it's exceptional weather for this country. It must be rather bad for the poor fellows in the trenches. I don't think the Germans can hang out too much longer, what with their food problem and the States joining the Allies. I think there'll soon be something doing. They seem to be doing an awful lot of damage with their U-boats lately, but I notice they're mostly boats of a smaller tonnage that they get. The governments are arming all their merchant ships. When we were in Halifax most of the boats have a gun aft. Our ship carried two of them, and the gunner was supposed to be able to blow a barrel out of the water at a mile distance. So it would be all up with Mr. Sub if he showed up. I considered we came off lucky, as we were only escorted by a cruiser a day out of Halifax, and were escorted into Liverpool twenty-four hours before we got there. That was the best thing I saw about the whole trip; they met us just as it was getting near; and 14 of them, most of them destroyers, and they were lit up. We did not get the full enjoyment out of the trip as we were too crowded. I think there were 7000 of us on board, and packed away like herrings. The officers had a deck and staterooms, and I guess they were pretty comfy. There are five decks on her, A, B, C, D and E, and the engine room below. Our bunch were on D, and we were about the best off, as she didn't rock too much. But believe me it was sure warm the way they had us fixed. They have it all tables and seats, no open spaces at all, and right above them the hammocks, and when you turn in, everyone touched the other. It was fun to hear someone go plop on the floor in the middle of the night; and if we didn't turn in before lights-out, 9 o'clock, you'd have some time finding your own bunk. The first day or two we'd get lost anyhow. Some of them didn't get sorted out until we unloaded. There was one thing, they fed us well, but the most of us didn't feel inclined that way. I know I didn't, although I didn't pouk. I'd come awful close to it. If she had been a smaller boat, she would have rocked worse. The motion of her was hardly noticeable, except when she took a zig-zag course. But still, when you walked on deck, it seemed funny to have the deck come up and nearly hit you in the face, and vice versa. I often came up on deck and trod on the step that wasn't there. I think I got a wash twice in the ten days I was on her, and then you'd have to line up and wait your turn; and it used to be the same way with the closets, so you can bet a transport isn't the most comfortable place in the world. Although I think the Olippi is the most wonderful boat I've ever been on. It was a coker. How they got us all fed they have some wonderful kitchens; the way we had to do, every table held 20 men, two mess orderlies to each table to wash the dishes and carry grub. At 11 o'clock they'd line up and go through for the grub, and as it was a case of first there, first served, there be some awful scrambles, and by the time they'd got in line, there'll be a string half way across the ship. I think I'd like to have been on her in peace times. There is sure a difference. There isn't a light to be seen after dark, and we weren't allowed to smoke on deck for fear of the light showing. Well, we were in a hurry to get on, but we were most awfully glad to get off her. We were on her four days in Halifax harbour, four coming across, and two in Liverpool. I thought we would get another week, as we had some dipth cases on board, but we were anchored right in front of the New Brighton Tower, and then moved up-stream to Liverpool. Do you know the tower reminded me of the ornament in our bedroom; we got just the same view of it. Well Joe, I hear them talk about the big reception Canadians get when they land, but we didn't get much of it. I guess we're as common as fleas on a dog by now. Anyway, we loaded right onto the train at 9 AM and we got here at 10 PM, after a two mile walk with all our possessions, through the rain and pitch dark. Quite a few of us took a bath in the ditch, the first one we've had since we got here; so you know what a dear old country we thought it was. But I guess we'll think more of it when we get out of quarantine. Bramshott is the same as Hughes, but we have huts instead; each hut has about 30 men. There are ten huts in isolation. Yet if we don't get another case, we'll be out next week. The fellows that's out of isolation are getting paid today. I'll have 11 pounds coming to me the end of this month, as we have had no pay since we got here. There's one thing about this isolation,.. we get all our meals carried to us, get no fatigues, no guards,. but we get our training just the same. We are getting trench digging, routes marches, physical drill, squad drill, rifle drill, bombing, bayonet fighting, and lots of B.S. (you know what that means). That seems to be the main things. Everything has to be just so. We have our full equipment and rifles, and it's quite a handful to look after. It keeps us busy all the time, as we get longer hours now. Revielle, ½ past 5 in the morning; get up, get dressed, washed, shaved (by the way I've got rid of my football team off my lip again), buttons and harness to shine, kit to pack, blankets to fold, and everything in shape for the orderly officer to inspect. And if everything don't suit him, we get h--for it. If you don't shave in the morn it's seven days pack drill. A very interesting pastime; all it is, you have your full pack on all day and an hour extra, and march a dozen yards, about turn, forward, about turn, and carry on. A full pack feels like a bag of wheat on your back. All the Canadians have leather equipment, but before we get to the front, we get the Webb Equipment made of canvass, which is a lot easier to carry. We don't use the Ross rifle now. It's the Short-Enfield, which is a lot better to handle. We get just about every kind of training here. We even have to get used to the gas.

They have trenches dug and covered and then filled with gas, and we go through with the gas respirators, just to get used to it. To me it smells like iodine, only stronger. Well Joe, I don't think there will be conscription in Canada yet, and the registration is just to know how many men are available. But it would be absolutely foolish for men like you to go, as there are hundreds of slackers that would be called first. And I guess the registration will bring them. They are getting quite a lot of registered men here now.

We haven't seen anything of England yet. The women are working everywhere. The motor busses that sometimes pass here are driven by them, and as we came from Liverpool they were working in the flour mills. The most of them in Canada don't know there's a war on, but you don't have to be here long to realize it. Well, I guess they look forward to seeing me soon, as I wrote as soon as I got here, but we got no leave yet. There is some alk of going to Thorncliff soon, and that will be farther away from Sheff, and I'd sooner go there than anywhere. But I'd go to Starston first anyway, just to see Granny. I had a letter from there, and they were well, except for colds which seem to get everybody. I was feeling dumpy for the first week or two, but I never felt better than I do now, as I guess I'm getting acclimatized. Well Joe, I'll have to close now, hoping this finds you all well (and this will have to do for a family letter). I'll write mother next week, so with love to you all- From you affectionate Bro.

P.S. You ought to be proud. It's the longest one yet.