Lieut. GS Andrews, RCE
H.Q. Cdn Corps,
Canadian Army Overseas
England, 24 August 1941.
Well my mail came at last! I now have the complete sequence up to 27 July. Once again, the duplicates filled one or two gaps, so I was able to follow you news right through from 6 July without interruption. In the mean time, the originals arrived. Also the two parcels and everything in them in first class condition. The lemons were a great idea, and I have taken some of them and most of the chocolate up to the Morris', who were thrilled. I am rather hoping there may be a lemon pie in the offing, although I guess eggs are needed as well as lemons for that. I think the Morris have a few eggs preserved though, so there is pretty good prospect of a pie after all. The pepper corns too are most opportune, most shops have none, and twice, they had just a few dregs in the bottom of a spice drawer, all mixed up with dust and corruption. It is quite amusing in the mess, there are a select number of officers who sit around near me, not because of my magnetic personality, but because they like the pepper, and like to be within reach of the pepper mill. So we have kind of a little informal pepper club. Happily, too, they are all congenial souls, and we have at least that bond of sympathy and mutual respect, -- a love of fresh ground black pepper.
I forgot to tell you that the tin of Dixie Plug arrived the week before, so I have been lucky, even if they do hold up your letters longer than seems necessary sometimes. The hankies are OK, and should last me now for a long time, I even hope I shan't need any more supplies of khaki hankies. The coffee and milk I am keep-ing at the office here, for brewing the odd cup when I work late at night. We have a small gas jet, and a sink in one of the offices. I really don't need much now, either in the way of clothes or odds and ends. My size in sox is 1Â½, but its best to buy 11's because they shrink frightfully at the laundries here. I must buy a new trench coat at the end of this month, and think I will get a Burberry, then I can use my present one for all the rough travel, and try to keep the new one nice, because it should last for years, and will be much cheaper to buy here than at home. Glad you turned over my old clothes to the Red cross, Keep my big spiked boots tho if you haven't disposed of them already, they were made to order, and will be good for a long time yet.
My I have enjoyed your letters, and have read and reread them. The pictures of Mary's birthday party are lovely, and I'M afraid I have indulged in just a little bit of showing off. She and Graham are very sweet - he is certainly a lovely child too, and I thought his contemplative gaze at the cake was splendid. I think Mary looks very much like you, and others who have seen your pictures and hers have remarked likewise. So you need'nt be too sure that she gets her TP unraveling tendencies from me alone. One of the last snaps reminds me greatly of her auntie Helen, so I guess there will be a lot of the Bergtholdt in her makeup.
I do hope her birthday present from her "soldier boy" will get there, as well as your own. The picture looked lovely framed in a natural wood frame, something like our Indians. Your news of the house is great to get. As Irene says in her letter, it isn't every man has a wife who can build a home while he is away. Glad you got the second Â£30 OK, and hope that before this arrives you will have received the third, which I hope will clean up most of the odds and ends, and give you some left over to buy some nice things for yourself. One never knows how long he will be on staff-pay, so I have tried to save as much as possible to help us over the hump with the house.
I am very pleased to hear that Dave and Dorothy have a daughter now they will feel that their family is just about perfect, and indeed it is, they are lovely children. I haven't been able to get down again to call on Dave's Aunt, or his sister, but may well do so almost anytime. Am glad you are planning to go out and help Dorothy, it should be an enjoyable change for you, but I hope you won't tire yourself all out. It will be a boon to Dorothy too. I am looking forward to hearing how you get along.
I will try to write FD and Frank, and Dave but it is so hard to get time. I finally got the review finished for the Royal Geog. Journal, and sent it off the other day. Am enclosing a spare copy, which I thought you might be interested to see. I don't know how Mr Hinks will like it, probably not dignified enough for putting in such a learned journal.
The picture of Donny and BettyAnne is a peach, and I'm very glad to have it. Is Anne outgrowing her homesickness, no doubt the new house will keep her from pining too much. I'm sorry to hear of Frank Swannell's illness, and hope by this time he is interested in his favourite indulgences like coffee, roast pig sandwiches (the Dagwood variety), and the odd nip of OBJ again. I was over at the Regient last night to a party, but Lorne, the bounder had pushed off on leave.
Glad you have been having some frneds from home to see you, and Fay's visit was evidently a happy one. Do you think Chris can get up this year? I do hope he can. Haven't written him, or your mother yet, but will try to do it sometime.
Trorey and I had a satisfactory trip up to Wales, were just gone two nights, tho, and didn't have a chance to see much of the country except from the train. I had a nice reunion with all my old friends in the Royal Engineers, including Captain Wild, whom I thought had gone into other work, but he is still there, contributing no small measure of solidity and substance to the staff. He knew Frank Swannell in the last war. All my old classmates, who were 2nd Lieutenants with me at Portsmouth are either Captains or Majors now, so I seem to have lost out as far as promotion goes, with the Canadians. they must have thought I was a bit slow, still only a lieutenant. However, it isn't the first time I have sacrificed promotion in order to carry on with the kind of work I like, and can do best, and what they don't know is that I am being paid at almost the same rate as an English Colonel. Still I cant help think that the Canadian policy of begrudging promotion to a civilian specialist whose knowledge and experience they seem glad to use simply because he didn't study at the RMC when a youth, or because he didn't have time to play soldier in the Militia, or because he didn't choose the army as a career, is very short sighted, and in the case of a fellow my age, and professional standing, quite unfair. It means in my case, that I keep on working as hard as I can, purely because it's the best way I can do my part to help win the war and get back to my real work and to my family as soon as possible, not because there is any inspiration or encouragement from the one-horse small town army clique who seem to be running out Canadian army. In the work I have been trying to do the last eight months, it would have helped a great deal if I had just a little higher rank, because I have had to contact all kinds of people, both in the Cdn army, and Air Force, as well as the British army and RAF, as well as civilian scientists and manufacturers. True, it is personality that really counts, but it would often save a lot of time and considerable effort to have been at least a Captain, especially with the people in uniform. I was recommended for promotion over a month ago, by my present OC and my previous one, and it passed the Senior Engineer staff at HQ, but evidently the "book-keeper" people who finally make it legal are holding it up apparently because I need a couple more years seniority, yet they have been paying me practically at the rate of an ordinary Cdn major for seven months. Its all rather childish, but dear, that's the army, - which "surpasseth all understanding". Heeps of love, and the main thing Is that I am working hard, at the kind of work I should be doing, and that's the main thing.