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Date: January 28th 1917
To
Miss Lola
From
Arthur Turner
Letter

France Jan 28th/17 Dear Miss Lola, We have moved again since I last wrote you. We left our huts a week ago last Wednesday and marched seven miles to this place which is the biggest we have stayed in yet. On our way here we joined our battalion which is out of the trenches for a few weeks rest. Until now we had been training as a draft. I have been put into B Company so you can insert that in my address the next time you write. It was a great pleasure to join the battalion for of course we are reunited with the first draft that left the 148th. What pleased me most was that I was able to meet Tom Clarke (Jamaica) again. He is now a Platoon Sergt in D Company. You probably remember Georgie Clarke, Tom's younger brother. He was rooming with the Mitchells and I believe you met him there. He also went over the DB Co Works that night with H.M. White. Georgie and I were at Liverpool University together so we are quite old friends. Tom was before our time but also graduated at Liverpool with Professor Brown of McGill. Tom Clarke was contracting down in Hayti when we first went to Canada but came up to Montreal to join his brother as soon as he heard of his arrival so the three of us were together a good deal. Georgie was within 3 or 4 miles of me about two weeks ago. If I had known I might have been able to get a pass to see him. He is in the artillery and in the same division as us. Tom saw him all night. That is the third time the brothers have met out here. I am writing this letter in the school almost opposite our billets. We have permission to use two rooms for writing letters during certain hours. Unfortunately there is no heat on today and it is freezing outside. Also, it looks as if one were not supposed to attend school after the age of ten years as the desks are very diminutive, and the seats being attached to the table, it is somewhat difficult to sit down. Our company is billeted in an empty shop. I am in a small room with fourteen others which is just a nice number. Our training here consists largely of route marches which I rather enjoy. It snowed the day we came and has snowed slightly at intervals since. The snow has done quite a bit in the way of covering up the mud and the country looks quite pretty in places. The ground is also frozen pretty hard now which is a great improvement on the pudding-like texture of a week ago. It has frozen steadily since we came here. The weather is considerably colder that in England and you feel the cold more than in Canada as it is generally windy and inclined to be damp. Last Tuesday we had a route march of ten miles in full marching order and in the afternoon went to some ranges, three miles away. I was detailed for one of the butt parties and it was very good fun. The trench was so shallow that we had to lie down full length to be perfectly safe during the firing. When a low shot hit the bank in front of the trench we did not half get a shower of dirt down our necks. On Thursday we had another route march of twelve miles (circiter[?]) in full marching order, arriving back at 1-30pm after which, we were free for the rest of the day. We passed an old mill wheel on this hike. The wheel was turning but the sides of the stream were frozen and there were icicles hanging all around the wheel. They glittered like crystal in the sunlight. On our way to the Ranges about three weeks ago we passed some old mills driven by horses treading a wheel. Did you ever see one? It seems rather a cruel way to use an animal though. There are quite a number of dog carts in this town. They carry quite a load too. I saw a dog drawing a man and a woman in a cart the other day and another dog drawing quite a load of earth. There are three picture shows here I believe and also a place dignified by the name of the Grand Theatre. I went to one of the picture shows last night and enjoyed it very much. All the words were in French but I had no difficulty reading them. The Grand Theatre is quite a nice little building. It has one gallery with a single row of seats down the sides. When these are full the occupants of the upper deck have to stand. We held our official church parades there last Sunday and this, and the services were thoroughly enjoyable. Last Sunday afternoon I went to a sacred concert at the theatre. There was an excellent band and Capt Edmund Burke, who you may have heard at His Majestys in Montreal, sang. The Band played exceedingly well but of course Capt Burke's singing was the feature of the afternoon. He sang amongst other things the "Devil Serenade" from Faust in French and in English. - "I'll sing the songs of Araby" , Tosti's "Good Bye", and "Roll down to Rio". I do not know who wrote the music of the last mentioned song but the words are in Kipling's "Just So Stories". It is very pleasant being in a town again. I have discovered a private house where you can get excellent fried eggs, chipped potatoes, coffee, bread and butter and pretty well anything else if you like to wait while they send out for it. I am afraid I have very plebean tastes for I consider this house quite a find. I am sorry that your big brother did not get home for Christmas and I can quite sympathise with poor Percy having to peel Spuds at New Year. I was very interested to hear about Grace & Frank: Ethel & Eddie - and although I often hear from the Mitchells, you were the first with the news. The latter engagement probably surprised me less than it did you. You see there is a kind of "brotherly-sisterly" attachment between Grace and me, and Grace is a close friend of Ethel's. I only met Mrs Jim Robertson for a few minutes at George Hillard's wedding but she seemed exceedingly nice. I met Jim in the morning and he wanted me to call on him. I do wish I had time to do so. It is very kind of you to knit me a pair of socks. Eva told me that you did quite a bit on one of the socks she sent me. You should feel quite proud of your first effort for the socks are perfect in every way. Love to all Yours very sincerely Arthur Turner. P.S. We have just got the stove going and it is a great improvement. A.L.T.

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