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Date: October 30th 1916
James Bennett

October 30 1916 Witley Camp

Dear Jen

As we have at last got to a stopping place I thought I would scratch you a few lines this evening to let you know that we have got here safe.

I suppose you have heard that our ship was sunk. We heard it three times. We heard it once when we were in mid ocean and twice since we came into camp here. We had some pretty rough weather when we were crossing. The captain of the ship said it was the worst storm he had been in, in eighteen years. One night there was a big wave came over the deck of the ship and a lot of it came down the stairs into the part where we were sleeping. It was nearly a foot deep for a while. Some of the fellows stuff was lying on the floor and it just floated like a raft but it wasn't very long running out again. Some of the fellows were pretty badly scart (sic), but it didn't bother me any as one of the sailors told me in the afternoon that it would be very apt to happen that night. We were nearly eleven days sailing, landing last Saturdy about noon. We had about six hours on the train and about two miles to walk to reach camp getting in here about 1 a.m. Sunday.

This is a pretty good camp here we have huts to live instedd (sic) of tents. Each hut will accommodate about thirty. They are clab board and plaster up on the inside. There is a little heater in each one. We have boards raised about a foot of the floor with straw tick on it for beds, and each man has four blankets so we don't have to (sic) bad a bed when we double up. They say we are going to get a six day pass in about two weeks so I am trying to study out the lay of the country to see how I can spend my holidays to the best advantage. They have the camp grounds well fixed up here they are all graded and drained so that the water can't lay on the ground at all. It is well that they are that way for it has been raining nearly all the time since we came Sunday morning when we got here the stars were shinning (sic) bright, but when we got up about eight o'clock it was pouring rain and it did so nearly all day. It seems to cloud up quick and then when it gets through clear up just as quick. They have good amusments here for the soldiers. There are Y.M.C.A. buildings all through the camp were they can go to read and write. They also have concerts at night. I have at last got a pen that will write. When I first sat down at the table here there were about half a dozen pens lying here but the points of them all were no good so I had to write with a lead pencil, and it was so hard that I nearly had to stand on it to make a scratch at all.

I suppose you will be wondering wether we got over safe or not. I was going to send a cablegram but they ordered us not to send any cablegrams for four days after we landed, and I won't have a chance to send one now for sometime so you will likely get this letter as quick as you would a cablegram. We are not supposed to tell where we landed so I don't think I had better put it in this letter. One night while we were on the ocean the ship got a wireless from another ship that it had been torpedoed and was sinking, but the ship couldn't go to its aid on account of us being a troop ship. We were within fifty miles of it at the time, and with out any escort as our ship had drifted away from the escort and the other two troop ships in the storm the night before and had been able to get back again, as the troops ships weren't allowed to send wireless messsages for fear that the enemy would get their location. However we landed safe and everyone was pleased with the trip seemingly. There weren't a......many of the fellows that....sick. I wasn't sick at all...of days I was a little light headed. I guess the grub that we had to eat kept us from throwing up. It tasted pretty good most of it but it was sticky and heavy so that it would stay down. They gave us plum pudding about every other day for dinner and sometimes it had ice cream on it. We had different kind of meat every day. One day we had chicken and one day rabbit, I think I enjoyed the rabbit about as much as any of them, it tasted real good anyway. I think I eat about a quarter of a rabbit.

They used to talk about people being able to live so much cheaper in England than they could in Canada but I guess that has changed quite a lot since the war started although things have raised in price in Canada. Sugar here is six pennies a pound and potatoes well our money would be ......dollars a bushel. There .......a potato famine here......year. I was on kitchen fatigue to-day and they sent me in to peel potatoes, I went in and poured a bag out on the floor and I don't think there was a peck out of the two bushels any bigger than a silver dollar and most of them not any bigger than a five or ten cent piece. I went and showed them to the cook and he said just to wash them off and cook them with the skin on. We get pretty nearly the same rations here as we got in Barriefield only they don't give quite as much to each one but I think they are cooked better, and the butter and cheese that we have got so far have been better than we usually got at Barriefield.

I don't think that they have got local option in England yet but I think it would be a good thing for the soldiers if they did have it from the way they have been acting since we got here. They have been making up for what they lost since the middle of Sept. I guess. I don't know what will be done with our battalion yet but I don't imagine it will be left as a unit very long. We expect to be moved to another camp the last of this week. They started a medical examination on us to-day. They first examined A Co. They didn't turn down very many men out of it. It seems strange to me why they didn't have the final examine before we left Canda as I believe the ones that we turned down are going to be sent back to Canada again.

Went (sic) you write to me will you send me Ernest McLean & Willis Connell's address if you know what they are. I intended to get them before I left but I forgot, also send Herb's if you know it so if I ever get a chance I can look them up.

Well, I think I will have to close for this time hoping to hear from you soon,
I remain your loving Bro.

My address is; 139517 Pte J.H. Bennett, "16" Platoon, "D" Co, 15198 Bttn, Witley Camp, Surrey, Eng.