Capt. Thrush Writes
From the Dunnville Chronicle, June 29, 1917
Kitchener Hospital, Brighton.
June 3, 1917.
To Messrs. Burns, Griffith, Appleyard, Parkes, Wismer, Braund, Cleary, Haun, Fry, McGuire, Hyde and any other Member of the Dunnville Club who might care to hear from me:
Dear Friends, -- I would like to write to every one of you personally, but I am a mighty poor correspondent and I am going to write to you collectively just to let you know I have not forgotten you, and that my thoughts often take me back to the old Dunnville Club and the pool-table where I have vanquished so many of you in hard fought games. (Eh, what?).
Since coming to England I have been rather fortunate. You know of course that we were sent to West Sandling and our Battalion "busted" almost as soon as we got there. We were together there for some weeks and then began to scatter. Some of the boys went in drafts to France, the youngsters (under age) and those over age were sent to different training depots, and the others kept in Sandling for training for overseas. We are proud of the record of having brought over the largest percentage of fit men that had come to West Sandling. We are also proud of the excellent report given by General Lessard as to efficiency, which followed us from Camp Borden some time after we arrived here. It seems a shame that we had to be broken up.
However, I was only at Sandling one month when I was sent to Napier Barracks as Medical Officer to the A.S.C. While there I kept in touch with the other chaps at Sandling and used to meet Jack Munro, Mink Bennett, Doug. Sheppard, Carmichael, Major Cowles, Major Davies, Barlow, Hutchinson and the rest quite often in Folkestone. On March 11th I was sent to Kitchener Military Hospital with a new staff which was formed by Col. A. T. Shillington. The Australians had charge before us and we took over from them. As this is one of the best hospital appointments in England I was very fortunate to be selected. We receive only wounded from the front and do not take local casualties. One of my duties is to meet all ambulance trains, inspect unloading, placing in ambulance and sending to hospital. It is very interesting. I get in very close touch with affairs in various parts of the front. I always keep a keen look out for some of our 114th battalion boys, but have not yet run across any. I am on the surgical side in the hospital and am getting great experience. At present I am on a two months' tour of duty giving anaesthetics. Brighton is a wonderful place. It is the chief summer resort for London, often called London-by-the-Sea. Every week-end the place is packed with visitors. The air is great and there is good bathing and boating - and chorus girls by the hundreds. It would be no place for Bill Appleyard, Fred Braund or R.S. Wismer.
Like everyone else who lives here any time I have developed the tea-habit. Everything stops here between 4 and 5 p.m. for people to have tea. Bars are open from 12 to 2:30 and from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at night. All bars are equipped with barmaids - some fairly good looking, but all neat and nicely dressed. All are well patronized by the fair sex, which strikes Canadians as being very funny at first. In fact there are many things here which appear funny to us at first, but you gradually realize that they all tend to comfort, pleasure, and ease. No one ever hurries, at least they don't appear to, yet they get there. On the street the pedestrian has the right of way, and neither automobiles not street cars can make him hurry in the slightest. One thing in which they do best us as regards speed is the R.R. system. Engines and trains are much different from ours, but they make great time.
I have not had a chance to go to France yet, although my name has been in for months. The work we do here is the sane as in France and the surroundings are much more pleasant, so I suppose I should not kick. You have all no doubt read of the air raid in Folkestone. My former abode I believe was wrecked. We can hear the bombardment here every night, and often hear guns firing out in the channel, so we seem to be on pretty close touch with the seat of war. I had a horrible experience not long ago. Was watching three planes manoeuvering over the channel along the front, when two of them collided and both went down from a height of about 4000 feet - rather sickening. This was published in London papers so I am not offending against Defence Realm Act in mentioning it.
I suppose Dunnville is prospering as usual. I am very anxious to get back and get to practice again, and yet it would be hard to leave as things are now. When you se train-loads of the poor devils coming in continually with legs and arms shot off, some shot through the spine, some with ghastly head wounds, others covered with shrapnel wounds, you can't help feeling glad you are where you can do something for them. I was very surprised and shocked to read in The Chronicle of the death of Arthur Smith, Fla. Vanderburgh and Peter Brown. Knew nothing about it before. I suppose there are many others I have not heard of.
Well I think I will rest up. This is more of a history than a letter, but I hope any of you who have any spare time will drop me a line. Have been going to write for a long time but kept putting it off. Hope everyone is fine and the club prospering. How is prohibition working in Dunnville?
There is one thing I wish some one would send me and that is a small box of Mogul cigarettes. I have not been able to get them here any place, and have a sort of hankering for one. With best of wishes.