Sept. 19th 1916
Pte. H. F. Ball
38th Base Detail Provisional Battn.
Army P.O. London, Eng.
Dear Aunt Becca,-
I received you last letter some time ago and have been intending to answer it for a long time, but kept putting it off. I hope you are well and getting along all right.
Well Aunt Becca we did not get away when we were expecting to. The 12th Brigade Machine Gun Coy. went over to France with the 4th Division about a month ago, and when they got ready to go they found that they were a little over strength so they left the 51st men. We didn't like it very well not being able to go away with the other boys. When they went away we were transferred into the 38th Base Detail. When the 4th Division left there was about twenty Battalion left this camp for France so that made this place pretty quiet for a time, but it is pretty well filled up again with new battalions from Canada.
There is a small bunch of men left behind from each regiment and now they have all joined together into one battalion and have all been medically examined by the doctors and all the fit men are being drilled and equipped ready to be sent over as a draft to reinforce the others when we are wanted. Sam and I are in with the fit ones and I think likely we will get away this time, but I don't think it will be for a couple of weeks yet, and perhaps not then. I am getting tired fooling around so long and I either want to get over to the front or back to Canada. The boys will give a mighty cheer when we are free to go back home.
We are living in huts now and it is a lot better than tents as the weather is getting wet and cold. The 138th arrived over about three weeks ago and they are at another camp about six miles from here. Sam and I went down to see Earl and I saw quite a number of men that I knew in Edmonton. They all looked pretty good after their trip over here. Sam and I were in London on a week-end pass last Sunday and we found Albert's Father pretty bad. He has a big lump on the side of his neck and they don't seem to be able to do much for him. He was going to the hospital the next day and I haven't heard since how he is getting on. I hear from Albert once in a while and is all right yet.
I guess Uncle Henry had quite a nice time going around seeing all the folks while he was there.
The news from the front has been pretty good for some time now and I hope it keeps up. Some seem to think that the war will not last much longer, but it is pretty hard to say. There is a hospital here in camp, and about once a week they bring in a train load of wounded men from the front, but of course they don't bring the serious cases here. I have been in there two or three times to see some of the boys and they told me some interesting stories of their experiences at the front. They are looked after pretty well and they all are quite cheerful, and of course they are not all confined to the bed, and they gave great fun cutting up amoung themselves and with the nurses. Sam is having a game of cards with the boys and they seem to be having lots of fun.
We were out on a route march today in full marching order, that is with all our harness and pack. We started out about 9.30 this morning and had the field kitchen arranged to be at a certain place at dinner time. They had beef stew boiled potatoes, bread & butter & tea. We had our dinner out in the field in front of a few houses and a little store. It was a nice day for marching as it was rather dull and cool so we did not suffer with the heat. We got back to camp about 4.30 and had a good bath as soon as we came in, which makes one feel fresher and keeps you from getting a cold. I guess we done about fifteen miles today.
When we went down to see Earl, I also see Ern Chappell and he was looking fine, then I saw Mr. Moore who lives out around Salisbury. He said he was at George's place a year or two ago when George was laid up. He was in there just before they came over here and heard my letter which I wrote to Hazel about this country. He is a sergeant now.
Sept. 23rd This is Friday afternoon, but I started this letter three or four days ago. We just heard last night that we would be off to France sometime the first part of next week, so I expect we will be pretty busy getting fixed up. I will try and write the first chance I get after we get over there. We only get half pay over here so we don't have so much money to handle. The other half goes to pay insurance which is $6.25 a month and I have been sending home $10.00 a month. It costs quite a bit for little odds and ends etc. to keep shined up, and also going to London, so I haven't got very much laid up. If I can, I will try and send you $5 or $10 before we go. When we get to France we only get $6.00 a month. We are hoping to get back into the machine Gun Coy. when we get over there. I guess some of the mail must go astray as I have only received one parcel of papers since we have been here. I hear from home quite often and get most of the news out that way, but I haven't had much news from Edmonton.
Well Aunt Becca I haven't time for any more just now, but will try and send a few lines before we go. I expect we will be in France long before you get this. Try and look on the bright side and do not worry any more than you can help, as it may be some time before we get into the firing line. I quite often think of you and your kindness to me and hope to see you all again. If anything happens that I don't come back I hope to meet you all in the next world. Well I must close for this time, so good bye and best love and wishes,
Your Loving Nephew,
P.S. Don't forget my new address.