No. Military Hospital
Exeter - Devon
Dec 20 - 17
All is traveling along in first class order, I saw the o.c. yesterday and he says that I will soon be ready for a plate. Then I will be able to chew, that will be great stuff, aye wat?
I have not had much chance to do much exploring of the town lately, being too busy getting some Christmas gifts to shipped off. I sent a parcel of fancy work done by wounded soldiers in this hospital to you yesterday for distribution. The names of the people to whom I wish to give them are written on the attached tags, also the name of the soldier who made the article. If you and I sobel see something in the parcel which you like better then what I have marked for you, take it and substitute your own in it's place. I want to suit you two first. The piece marked for Mrs. Russell is a cover for the back of a chair, the others are easily recognized.
I am sending a calendar having a pen sketch (cartoon) of a British officer, to Uncle Jack. (direct) It was made by one of the boys here and is very good. How do we stand with regard to that $50.00 that we owe him? He certainly has been very patient.
I have received no new letters from Tany of the folks here, so I can give you no new names. Also nothing new from Lee or any of the boys with the unit in France. My mail has been slack lately but I hope for a cloud burst soon.
A very nice old lady representing the Canadian Red Cross called on me last night. She visits all of the Canadians in this hospital and gives them, from the Canadian Red Cross, 2 packages of cigarettes weekly. She had missed me somehow or other previously, and gave me 6 packages to make up. I passed them on to the boys who were very glad to get them.
The weather remains very fine, sunny and frosty in the morning. It is great to be outside.
Well, I think that I have about exhausted all my local news, so will give you another chapter on my trek to the wonderful Riveria.
Early on the following morning I started out, guide book in hand, to ascent Mt. Chauve. At first, I traveled through the city, then gradually worked my way into the suburbs, slowly climbing all the while on a gentle grade. At a little town called Le Ray about 5 kilometres from my hotel, the road commenced to ascend steeper, and became winding, with sweeping curves fitting the contours of the lower mountain slopes. Here also the road was wider, well surfaced, and bordered by large private estates. Here and there among the orange, olive and fig trees one could see beautiful private villas surrounded by splendid gardens. Below, in the valley I could catch glimpses of the white walls, and red tiled roofs of Nice, and farther away the wonderful blue of the Mediterranean. It was an ideal place for a home one could live content there for the balance of their live.
Fig trees, bearing numerous, large, ripe figs, grew along the road side, and every little while I would top and help myself to a handful. Say, they tasted good. About 11.00 o'clock, I arrived at a cross road, where there was a quaint old shrine, and a wayside inn, I was getting away from civilization, so the place looked very enticing, I decided to stop and have some lunch. There was a splendid grape arbor in front of the inn, under which were several small tables. A young French girl, of the pleasant type, was standing in the door way, so I walked to her and inquired if I could get lunch. "Ah, oui," so I sat down at the table, under the vines, with them luscious clusters of grapes, and waited for my meal. Soon it arrived, egg omelette, sausage, brown bread, grapes and a bottle of lemonade. I consumed it at ease, and after lunch, by the aide of my guide book, planned my route to the mountain which I could see looming up in the distance. Then I started up a narrow mountain road, well paved, which wound in and out along the mountain slopes. I passed at intervals little stone farmhouses, with then grape arbours, the occupants of whom always gave me a smile and a cherry "bon Jouir. Monsieur,' I seemed to be right out of the rush and bustle of city life, everything was so gloriously quiet and peaceful. I'd like to spend a summer wandering around their country like that.
The lower slopes o the mountain were all terraced and under cultivation, the terrace work was all beautifully done, they seem to take the time to do things right in that country. As the road wound up the mountains slopes, the grade became steeper, the soil rockier and uncultivated, and the timbers was small, stunted pine, similar to the B.C jack pine, intergrown with scruby brushes.
House were few and, away up on the mountain I could see a fine large building, which latter proved to be a barracks, while below in the valleys, of which I gradually commanded a wonderful view, I could see scattered farm houses. On one rocky timbered ridge I could see a collection of houses which , on consulting my map, I formed to be a town called Falicon, which I determined to visit on my return journey. On various other rocky timbered knolls in the distance I could perceive other little towns, probably built there for protection. At the highest point of each of the towns one could see the old watch towers.
The road now commenced a series of zig zags up the face of the mountain. The grade was very regular and the roadway beautifully constructed and surfaced. I must have walked over about ten of these zig zags, each a quarter of a mile or more in length, when I arrived at a little sort of bench on the mountain side, on which was built the barracks which I had seen from below. It was a fine, long, low building, with a large veranda built facing the Mediterranean and was for the use of solders of the fort built on the summit of the mountain. Continuing on past this barracks, after climbing about 500' on the road I arrived at the gat way to the fort, where I was met by two Frenchg Soldiers, who greeted me with a hearty "Bon Jour, Comerade."
I asked them if I could go up on top of the Fort to view the country beyond, they spoke to each other for a moment and I could hear the word "spion" used once or twice. I told them I was no "spion" and produced my paybook to prove it where upon they laughed heartily and invited me in. I followed them into a room, where they had just finished dinner. There was nothing else to do but sit down and drink numerous cups of coffee, and eat bread and a sort of stew. They would accept no excuse, so I dug in and found it good. They then showed me around the inside of the fort and then took me up on top where I got a most wonderful view of the surrounding country, it was well worth the climb, and if father had been there with his telephoto outfit he would not have known where to start. Looking southerly, I could see Nice in detail spread out before me, and the cost line of the Mediterranean for miles to the east and west. Falicon, Coutes and numerous other little hill towns lay plainly viewable between me and Nice. The road which I had ascended, and all other main roads, showed up as wavering lines of white amongst the green trees. To the west, the mountain side fell rapidly to the narrow flat valley of the River Var in those outlines I could trace far up into the foot hills of the Alpes mountains lying to the North. The flat land along the riverside was all under cultivation, the regular lines of orchard tress, or grape trellises showing up plain against the black soil. The scattered little farming towns all built on hilltops, were visible as from an aeroplane. On the far side of the Var River, which is liable to flood, as indicated by the broad gravely bed, their which the current meanders, I could see the railroad, which followed the valley far up into the mountains.
North and Northeast, were mountains, some snow clad, the advanced guards of the French and Italian Alpes, beautiful in the clear sunshine. My guides pointed out to me several other forts on the mountain tops, which stand guard over the France, Italian boarder. I stayed around for an hour or more, drinking in scenery and, then after bidding goodbye to my friendly guides, I started down the mountain road toward Falicon
I think I will call this episode off for the night, as I have to write Christmas greetings to the folks here. I will continue tomorrow, tho. Well, stay happy, don't worry, smile and grow fat. Aunt Eliza (Southhampoton) sent me a short breads today for Christmas. All hands called them tres bon. I am sending a little souvenir of Exeter to Jean Davidson tomorrow I have forgotten her address, so will send it to you to forward.
Your Loving Son.