22/11 1916 Witley Camp [by J. Bennett Co. B Bat. 109]
Received your letter of the 30th inst. last Sunday night and was very pleased to hear from home. There were five letters here for me when I came back from London Sunday night so I had enough reading to keep me for awhile as they were all good long ones mostly about eight pages.
We had a very pleasant week in London and were very fortunate in having fine weather as it has been very wet since we came, it only rained a little one day while we were in the city. We also had a little flurry of snow but not enough to whiten the ground, it melted almost as fast as it fell. We stopped at a Y.M.C.A. all the time. They had guides to take the fellows around the city. We were all through Westminster Abbey, London tower, St. Pauls Cathedral, the Zoological gardens, Madame Tussads Wax Works, and three or four museum. The British Museum has been kept closed since the war started so of course we didn't get a chance to go through it. We went to Church in St. Pauls on Sunday morning. It is certainly some building, and it was pretty well filled on Sunday morning too. I don't think I will write much about the trip just now as I haven't got much time for writing letters just now as we are taking a course in musketry and they have us going pretty well from morning till night. All the time that we have to ourselves is after supper and two nights a week of that is taken away with night manouvers and a good good deal of the rest is cleaning our rifles and equipment, as our new Col. is very strict about keeping the outfits clean. They have got a new Col. in this battalion since we came to it. His name is Ballantine, he has been to France twice, and this is his third battalion to command so he has had a little experience anyway. He seems to take a great interest in the work of the men. He says he don't care what kind of officers he has as long as he has good N.C.O.'s and men, all that the officers are good for is figure heads in his mind. The N.C.O.'s that came to this battalion from the 156th have nearly all been reduced, some of them don't like it any too well but I guess they will have to get used to it, as there don't seem to be much chance of the 156th going back together again although there is still some talk of it.
I seen Charlie Kelso while I was in London he has been in a hospital at Tooting, one of the Sub of the city. I went out to see him one day. He certainly got pretty well scratched up, he has seven different wounds six of them as sharpnel (sic) and one bullet. The bullet went through his left hand and broke the bones just back of his first finger. The doctors think it will get alright again though. He has three sharpnel wounds in his leg, two in his side, and one in the eye, he had to get a glass eye, but one could scarcely tell it if he didn't know about it, he has three ribs broken. He expects to be in the hospital about a month yet, he is able to walk out around a little now. Lyn Bissell got a letter from Lloyd just after we came back off pass saying that he expected to leave for Canada in a few days, on a month's furlough, he won't have much time at home. Lyn had been in London all week and didn't know that Lloyd was in the city so when he got the letter from him he went to see if he could get a pass to go back again. I don't know how he made out as I haven't seen him since, he is in a different battalion now so I don't see as much of him as I used too. All the time that I was in London I was within five minutes walk of where Lloyd was staying and was past the place nearly every day, but I never dreamt of him being there. It made me rather provoked when I heard that I had been so close to him.
This afternoon when we were taking musketry, there was a live cartridge got in among the dummies and when it got into the rifle why of course it went off. It was almost a miracle that some one didn't get hit as it was right at the rear of the class that it went off and went right over the whole line. Everybody was lying down at the time, but the fellow that fired the shot was lying too, the course of the bullet would only be about a foot above the ground it went right through an old stump.
I don't know wether this battalion will get as good grub now as it has been lately seeing that Sir Sam has resigned his position. It is not likely that we will be pitted up as much, however we are getting lots to eat yet. You needn't be surprised if you hear tell of me being in France about the first of the new year as it will come our turn for a draft about that time.
I think I will sign over some of my pay to you now and you can keep it for me and if I ever want any more than what they give me I can send for it. Here they only give us fifteen dollars a month anyway. If you don't sign it over it is held to your credit until you are discharged, and if you get wounded you only get five shillings every two weeks while you are in the hospital so one don't have much to spend when they get able to get out around, of course it is just as well for some of them.
Well I think that I will have to close for this time as I have got some work to to yet to-night. Hoping you are all well and getting along alright, I remain
Your loving Bro