c/o Chief Postal Censor
23 June, 1940.
Well here I am back in barracks after a full week's leave. It was pretty nice to get out and around again. I spent two nights and 1 day at Sandiacre with the Smedley's. Bernard is now 78 and his wife, Bertha is over 70 - and they are getting pretty feeble. They are still in their same funny old fashioned little house, only they have moved their beds down stairs into the living room - Cousin Bertha cannot get upstairs anymore, however they had a lovely room all ready for me upstairs - a neighbour woman, one of their tenants had come in and fixed things up for me, and did all the work for me while I was there. This woman is one of those fine kind simple folk who seem to enjoy being helpful to others - I know she does a lot of little kindnesses for the two old Smedley's. I am sure if Cousin Bernard had his own way, he would set off for America tomorrow - Bertha is a bit of a trial to him - and they have little quarrels together - and make up - just like two children - it is usually a sequel to such little spats that Bernard thinks Canada would be a good place to go. They seem to have enough income to live decently but not luxuriously - they own several small houses surrounding the one they occupy - and these all are the last remnants of the old Smedley estate, which at the time of my grandfather was quite flourishing - like the poor old couple, their houses are just about on their last legs - and will probably be condemned soon after the old folks have no more need of them - so it makes rather a happy, if triste end to the Smedley dynasty at Sandiacre. The old Smedley lace mill is still operating, and making money for the present owners, and the old Smedley home near the mill is still quite a fine old place - also in other hands.
Cousin Bernard gave me the flint lock pistol which my grandfather used in is young days in the yeomanry - and I have placed it in the hands of the Canadian National Express Co, at London, to ship to me in your care. Enclosed is the bill of lading. I don't think you should have any difficulty with the customs authorities because it is obviously an antique - and of no practical value - and it is a genuine Smedley heirloom given to me by the last member of the old family in Sandiacre.
They were very interested in the pictures of my wife and baby - and think both are just right - they were really very very pleased that I came up to see them.
It is quite late, and I think I had better turn in - and will finish this tomorrow.
There was a quite a lot to do last night after getting back. Your letter dated 31 May with the pictures and Ruths silhouette of Mary - They are very good, and are much treasured. Two of you are quite good, although you look a little tired and worried in the third - you have probably been working too hard, and worrying - both of which you hadn't ought to do! If you get any more snaps - send them along - ones of you to, because it is just as important to me to have pictures of you from time to time as it is to have ones of Mary.
Plans with regard to me here are rather indefinite at the moment but I think there is a change coming up soon. Up till last night I was labelled and equipped for a long trip and had my tropical kit all bought ready - then at the last minute something else has turned up - and my trip is all off.
I was looking forward to the change and the new adventure greatly - and the latest arrangements are rather disappointing - on the other hand, it looks as though they have found something which they consider more important for me to do here, so I don't mind, because all I want is to be placed where I can do my little bit most effectively.
The expense of getting my extra kit had to be taken out of my advance pay - and as a result I have had to reduce your allowance for this month to Â£10 instead of Â£18. However I think after this month Â£18 can be maintained without further alteration or interruption. My week's leave cost me about Â£3 which was fairly economical I think.
It looks as though Bill and I are finally to part our ways as a result of the latest change in plans - as he & I have been scheduled to the same trip. Now Bill will be going on alone. We have certainly been fortunate to have been together this far - and we will miss each other very much indeed. We all consider Bill is very fortunate indeed - and I think he will do well in his new venture.
Bill spent most of his leave up in northern England with his relative - and from all accounts he had a wonderful time. I enjoyed several days in London, and was able to look up several people whom I had not been able to see before. Didn't do too much sight seeing - as practically all the museums etc are closed for the duration - I did get into see the show of the Royal Academy - and there was quite a bit of interesting stuff to see there. A show of current works by living artists always has the refreshing feature of reflecting the current times & thought which we are living today. There was one small black & white drawing which I thought would be nice for Mary's room - it was called guardian of sleep - showing a group of sleeping children being lead through dreamland by an older sister or - it was very delicately done & sweet child-faces in the utter carefree attitude of sleep. I looked up the price of the sketch and when I discovered it was about Â£100 - decided I couldn't buy it for Mary just now.
The weather continues to be fine - just the occasional shower to freshen things up, and the country is very beautiful. The trip from here to London is through lovely country - wooded hills, and little villages nestling among the folds in the land.
Saw several Canadians in London whom I know, all officers in the C.A.S.F. it is quite refreshing to contact one's countrymen occasionally I have an idea I may be seeing more of them soon.
Well little wife - I hope you are settled down again at home - and happy - and that you had a good trip back from the South. Give my regards to the Garman family - I suppose Malcom is a big fellow now and probably walking all over the place. I wrote Frank Swannell from London, as I had seen an old friend of his there. I shall be glad to hear news of all our friends in Victoria - so far not one of them has written - or rather I haven't received any letters. I will try to get a note written to your mother soon.
All my love to you & Mary -
As ever -