No.2 Military Hospital
All is going joyously along. Christmas has come and gone, and believe [much]- we had some time. I'll give you all the dope on it now.
About 7 oclock on Christmas Eve Mrs. Cunningham, the fine old lady who distributes cigarettes to the Canadians for the Canadian Red Cross brought me my Christmas stocking( direct from Canada) It is a thing of wonder and beauty. The stocking itself is made of white cloth, and has painted on it in colors, a red cross, a sprig of holly with berries and "Wishing you a happy Xmas." The contents are multitudinous and include everything that a Tommy could wish for. The list of contents is printed on the back of the stocking, I will give it to you. A game, pocket knife, book, Candy, chewing gum, Post Cards, Match boy harp (Jews), mirror, pipe, tobacco, writing pad, pencil, envelopes, soap, tooth paste, tooth brush, cigarettes, and hankerchief. Some list. The stocking was the admiration and envy of the whole ward. I have it hanging on the wall beside my bed, and it is examined and commented on several times a day. I would like to thank personally all the Canadian Red Cross Workers who made that stocking a possibility it sure is a peach.
Christmas morning I woke to find myself the recipient of a Christmas parcel from the people of Exeter. Of course this parcel could not come up to the Canadian one, but all the same it was a beauty. It contained a fountain pen, knife, pencil, a pair of hand knitt sox, and several packages of cigarettes. I began to think then that old Santa Claus had just about done his bit for me- but no- when the mail arrived there were two books by O. Henry for me from I think by the postmark, Mrs. Schjelderuk and a copy of the Rubayat by Omar Khayam bound in leather from Cousin Aggy at Liverpool. I am uncertain as to who sent me the tow books by O. Henry as they merely contain inscriptions wishing me a merry Christmas, and a small note stating that the donor was busy but a letter would follow. However the post mark has I think given her away and I will give the little woman a lecture when I write her.
Christmas morning passed without great event, we were all too busy going over our gifts to be interested in much else. At noon came the most important event of the day. Christmas Dinner. A long table, constructed out of numerous small tables, had been laid for the feast in Ward 2, which is nearly 150' long. The table extendid from one end of the ward to the other, patients were seated around it as closely as they could be seated, the seats of honor at the centre of the table being occupied by the O.C of the hospital and his assistant, Dr.Lovely, two splendid gentlemen. The nurses, night and day, acted as carvers, and waitresses, and did wonderful work. The carving of the Turkies (not chicken, geese or seagulls, but real Turkies, beautifully browned) took place near my seat and I watched in amazement the way one nurse, armed with a huge carving knife, converted that Turkies into edible portions with lightining speed. Father would have gone pink with envy.
Soon I found I was facing a dish load with slices of breast, stuffing, potatoes, turnips, cabbage and lot of gravy. I did not hesitate a moment but dug right in and found the dinner more than jake. It was a marvel. While we earnestly intent on the Turkey, nurses carrying huge pitchers full of beer and lemonade rapidly filled our glasses with our choice of Beverage. While the Turkey was being consummed a toast was proposed to the king by Dr. Lovely followed by toasts proposed by various Tommie's to the C.O., Dr. Lovely, the matro, the nurses and the kitchen staff. Everybody was thoroughly enjoying themselves by now, everymans neighbor was his best friend, we sure were having a great old time. First and second helpings of Turky etc. had been consummed, the plates were all cleared away and the nurses began to supply everyone with Plum Pudding had a piece set in front of me which would have choked an ox. I didn't hesitate tho but went right ahead and soon made it vanish. Gee, but it was good, too. Plums as large as acorns, oh, what a joy it was. By the time I got this cleaned up I began to feel somewhat filled up, but to find space for some candy and more lemonade.
One of the boys got up and proposed 3 cheers for the C.O, followed by 3 more for Dr.Lovely, then for the matron then the nursing staff and then the cooking staff. Say, we sure made the old walls shake when we swung into those cheers, all of which were given with a heart.
The dinner broke up then and all who were capable of doing so went out for a stroll in the sunshine which was gloriously bright. After tea that afternoon we all returned to No.2 Ward, where we were to have a moving picture show at 5-00 oclock. The Ward was crowded by then, the centre was occupied by all walking patients and those who could not walk were brought in in wheeled chairs and stretchers and lain on the beds at the side of the ward. It was an odd looking audience, but everyone had their Xmas smile on and were bent on having a good time. The lights went out and we were off. Charlie Chaplin favored us with one of his usual stunts, we took a trip thru the zoo, and saw many queer animals, Bunny appeared in a comical piece, apples, pears, peaches and other fruit performed miraculous tricks, and after several other films we took a trip thru the Riveria, many of the views being familiar to me. The pictures being finished all hands returned to their wards, voting this Christmas a tres bon day. We all turned in as soon we had our supper, which consisted of little meat and potatoe rolls, typical of Devon, and Mince pies. But we had one more surprise in wait for us. As soon as lights were out a chorus of 30 or 40 nurses in the lower hall commenced singing Christmas Carols. It was great ther clear voices took the high notes with the greatest ease and the tones were beautiful thruout. It was my first experience of having Carols sung to me. I remember vividly the time that we sang them in Glencoe years ago. Do you? This carol singing kept up for about ½ an hour, then all was quiet, and I rolled over and slept, figuring that it sure was the end of a perfect day.
Next morning they sprung a new one on me. They said it was boxing day-what the idea is I don't know- It seems to be the usual thing after Christmas day-but I heard of no boxing matches being held. However, we had a very nice convert that evening and I had minced Turkey for dinner so it must be a great day.
Several visitors called on me in the afternoon among them being an old lady I met on the street and her husband. They are a dear old couple, the old lady is sure a peach and the old man is a typical kindly old Englishman.
The old lady is going to guide me around to see all the important buildings etc. in Exster, where she has lived all her life. She is troubled with rheumatics and I tried to persuade her that it would be too much of an effort for her to take me around- but no-she is determined to go. Tomorrow she will call and fix the day we start.
Last night we had Pierrots in the ward 2- they were very good. Mrs. Cunningham, the Canadian Red Cross lady, called on me also We only had a 5 minutes chat as visiting time was nearly over.
Today has been quiet, but I had mince Turkey for dinner, all the same home. I hope it keeps up for a month. Also I received what I have been longing for for weeks, a letter from you dated Nov.13 which I will answer tomorrow and one from Uncle Paddy. The mail service from Canada is rotten. I guess it will improve once the letters come addressed direct to me. However, you letter was sure welcome. I don't know if I ever had a more welcome letter and I sure will answer it tomorrow. I also got one from Mrs. Schjelderup- it was she who sent the books all right. Ill write her and giver her a lecture.
No new news from the boys in France. Aunt Janet is still in hospital and the girls carrying on at home. Nothing new from Greenock. George Keay is in hospital in Blighty now- with concussion & shock- I think. Well, I guess I had better quit.
Regards to all. hope you are feeling in first class health- The season greetings to the Rognas family. I forgot them at Xmas time.
Your loving son,
I am uncertain what georges trouble is. You will probably hear direct