REV. MR. BEATTIE WRITES HOME (FROM ENGLAND).
Salisbury Plains, February 7th, 1915
Dear Mr. Horne and Friends of the Congregation:
I see by a Toronto Globe that we are all in France. As history it is a bit previous, but as prophesy pretty good guessing. We are still packed up and sitting in waiting till darkness can cover our outgoing. It is the Sabbath day too. No church parade to-day, all busy and bustling, so I thought that just now when you are preparing for your morning service I would let my thoughts and prayers go out to you all, and have a little talk with you (on paper).
1 received your ever welcome letter yesterday, and very glad I was to get all the news, especially about the new members joining the church. I know you will make them welcome. 1 also received a very interesting letter from Mr. Cameron about the junior C.E., I am glad to know that they are branching out and having a monthly week- night meeting. I see in that great possibilities for the future, and I hope every attention will be paid to it. We rejoice in the persistent reports of the good work going on among you. All the letters we receive from Cobourg tell the same tale. It leaves us without a worry in that direction. We deeply regret to learn of the recent deaths in the congregation, and pray that God in His great mercy may comfort those that mourn.
Since I last wrote things have moved on apace with us. The King and Kitchener reviewed us on Thursday, February 4th. As yet no one line has appeared in any paper about it, and none will appear until we are safely over in France the review was well worth seeing, and I am glad to say that Mrs. Beattie, who was with me for ten days, was able to be present and see it. The King seemed much pleased with the Canadians, and asked interesting questions about each Battalion. He shook hands with each of the commanding colonels. I see a hand-shake coming to Lt. Col. Odell when the King reviews the second contingent.
Our work among the boys at the Y.M.C.A. tent has been very gratifying of late. We have had splendid help from two Bristol preachers week nights and a more serious tone is observed as the time of our going to France draws near. At our Communion service recently we had the largest number in attendance at any time since we left the boat. One fine young officer of my Brigade said to me to-day 'Major, if anything happens to me I want you to tell my mother that it is all right. You know what I mean, don't you? I have tried to play the game. 'His eyes filled up as he referred to his mother. I assured him that I would certainly tell her how he had tried to play the game well, and urged him to keep the upward look. It does not require much speaking to give a fellow a big lift at a time like this.
I saw Charlie Swaddling to-day and had a few words with him. You have no doubt heard how close a call his father had when a bomb burst in the kitchen where he happened to go for a cup of tea, and killed six of the nine men there. He was badly shaken up but is back to work at the arsenal near London.
I was talking to the Globe reporter to-day and he tells me that he cabled the news that only eleven Chaplains go with the first contingent of 20,000 men. I have been given the whole first Brigade, about 5,000 and am known as Brigade Chaplain. I will live with the Brigade in France and minister to them. When an action occurs with numerous casualties, I will be called over to one of the hospitals, and when there is not much doing there, I can call for the help of one of the hospital chaplains on a Sunday at the Brigade headquarters.
Mrs. Beattie went to her home yesterday. These farewells are trying. God bless the dear wives and mothers and others at home. They have a trying part to perform in this war. Their anxieties are continual. We know when we are well or ill, but their forebodings are constant.
I am very grateful to you for all your prayers and of repeated assurances of sympathy. It helps more than any one can express. I know of no other explanation of the universal good will towards me here than that it is an answer to your prayers. Will you let me ask, now that our boys are soon to go to the danger zone, that you can make daily prayer on our behalf.
I must close now. My letters in future will have to pass to censors, so cannot give you details of places or events. God be with you till we meet again, if it be His will to spare me.
Your affectionate pastor,
(Signed) WM. BEATTIE