"B" Company, No.2 Cadet Battalion, Pembroke College, Cambridge, England, December 17, 1916 Dear Friend, I was indeed glad to hear from you when your letter of 19th ult. arrived about a week ago which was the first I have heard from anyone in Smithville since leaving home. In mother's last letter she said she was going to send me their Smithville Review every week, which with Smithville letters will keep me in touch with my friends there. It seems almost impossible to realize that Oliver is no longer one of that group so recently given such a training academically by Mr. Tremeer. The war is certainly being brought nearer to all of us continually by such sad news as this. I am spending what is likely to be my last Sunday in Cambridge for some time. On account of ours being a special course, it is taking an unusually long time for the War Office to make arrangements for placing us. We have been told that eight of the ten are likely to go any day. I understand we are to be given our commissions and sent to battalions here for a month or six weeks to get some experience as officers before going to the East where we are to have natives under us. Whether or not the good news arrives this week, we are all going on Christmas leave on Thursday for six days. I am going to the home of an undergraduate of this university, in Derbyshire. Practically all of my friends live in London, but it is quite likely I shall be spending New Year's with them and so am going north for Xmas. A Canadian is very much out of place in Cambridge; they hardly ever have any as students here, and only then in the departments of science or mathematics. There are quite a number among the cadets here, but when I turned up to take Persian, it was something new to have a Toronto man in this department and the others in the class and the professor, I believe, wondered how in the world I ever happened to be sent here. But I just did my best to show them that the War Office had made no mistake in sending me here. I could have done far better according in an ordinary Infantry course, but I have made the grade in this in work which will be possibly more useful in after life and for that reason have not been at all sorry about studying Persian. Lately the class has moved into another part of the college into rooms furnished almost as they were for the students. We have very comfortable sitting rooms with armchairs, rugs on the floor, and suitable wall decorations which we appreciate very much after being in barely furnished rooms along with the rest of the company. We had to move to make room for the new cadets. I have a lovely single room downstairs just off the one sitting room and directly beneath the classroom. 7.00 p.m. The pleasantest part of our course has been learning to ride, for I understand that we are to be mounted when we get to the East. Most of the time we did cavalry exercises of various kinds to make us feel at home in the saddle, but the last few weeks we have been going for rides in the country instead, covering ten or twelve miles in the two hours at our disposal on the afternoons we were riding. There are many pretty villages about, such as are to be found nowhere except in England; the old houses with their thatched or tiled roofs and the parish church and the little graveyard with many of its tombstones green with age have a charm not to be found in the busier villages of the New World. In the windows in nearly every one of these comfortable - looking cottages the passer-by sees one or more small cards suspended from the top of the lower sash on which is a Maltese Cross beneath which are the words "Fighting for King and Country". And so one cannot help but feel how these old homes are connected with the great outer world, not only now when so many have gone from them to the many great battlefields of the Old World, but also that they have been in times past when from one generation to another others have gone to every part of the Globe to make the British Empire what it is to-day. If the sight of these is so pleasing to a stranger, how much pleasanter must be the memory of them to others who, now in distant lands, have bidden their last farewell to the scenes of their childhood? Surely this country, with all those sons and daughters everywhere to so many of whom no other place will ever seem so much of a home, is fittingly called "The Motherland". One of my youthful and energetic friends who, with three of the new cadets, just came from the O. T .C., my old unit in Toronto, proposed cycling to Newmarket, a distance of fourteen miles, just after dinner to see another friend there in another cadet battalion. We left at 1.40 and arrived at three to find that the barracks was two miles farther on - where we immediately proceeded. We did not find him either there or in the town, where he had gone to a hotel earlier for tea. We had tea and then started home at 4.20 after lighting our lamps. For the last half of the distance it was pitch dark, but we had the road very much to ourselves and rode at an easy rate back to Cambridge where we arrived just before six. It was one of the very foggy afternoons the like of which you never have in Canada. Coming into Cambridge it was so very dark and foggy that even with the bright light I had, it was impossible to see more than fifteen feet ahead, so I rode slowly in, nearly to the shop where we hired the bicycles and when I reached the narrower and more crowded streets, I walked the short remaining distance. The roads here are so smooth, and the main ones all metalled so that it is very easy and pleasant cycling. This morning at the Wesleyan church I attend, I heard an American chaplain who came over with the 34th Battalion C.E.F. and who is stationed here to look after the Canadians in the hospitals. His voice really sounded quite natural and quite unlike those who speak any of the dialects of England. He was preaching on "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" and among other things spoke of the doom of the liquor traffic in the U.S. and Canada and what we all feel will be the case in England. He said, "If many of the Canadian mothers who have urged their sons to enlist had known what a drunken country England is, they would never have done so. I meet many cases where young men had never tasted liquor before they came to England. We may not be as polished as you are, in Canada, but there is not a training camp there where any soldier can get even a glass of beer, and when the Canadians come to England, the first thing they are up against is your wet canteens." This country can learn several things profitably from Canada and the U.S. as well. No, I did not know Miss MacKay is taking a deaconess' training course. I wonder why she has left teaching for that line of work; it must be for the same reason that we theological students have for going into the ministry. She will make an ideal deaconess, I am sure. Perhaps she only intends to be mistress of a manse, for which purpose many take the course. I am glad to hear you like your school still after having such a successful entrance class last year and hope that your work this year may be crowned with the same success, or is entrance material scarce this year? But in either case, your efforts would be all the same. This slightly simplified address is the result of our moving alongside battalion headquarters. Tomorrow afternoon we are to have revolver practice. I cannot guess what will be the next thing on the programme. If I leave, this address will find me. I shall always be very glad to hear from you. Yours sincerely, Cadet D.A.Lane.