February 7th, 1917
I received your letters of January 11 and 15 last week and was certainly very glad to know that you were sufficiently better to be able to write again even if they were only notes, and I trust that by now you are very much better. Sent you a letter about a week ago, also sent one to Clemmie a day or two later. Had a letter from Joe Clark which I think I mentioned in my last letter and last week had one from Joe Fleming Sent Joe Clark a few lines last night. He is in the second division and they are out on rest now but as soon as a comes back on the line again I want to hunt up Joe and Heber. I told to about being down to the building of a new headquarters. We have most of the huts done but still have a good deal of work to do in fixing them up, and will probably be here for a couple of weeks yet anyway. We have good quarters, are well fed and taken all round are having a pretty good time. About a quarter of a mile from here there are a lot of the Island boys and I have seen quite a number I know, - P.W.C. fellows mostly. Major Stanley's battery, or at least half the battery, has moved into a position about 200 yards behind us. That is the bunch Fred Donald is in, also Harry McDougall, Prof. Davison and those fellows. Haven't seen them yet as they moved up since we came down here but some of the boys were telling us about seeing them.
We are having quite a taste of winter, cold at nights and softening a little in the daytime, but not sufficient to melt the snow. Naturally the cold weather brought a round of colds and I had a light one for a couple of days the last of the week but am feeling fine again now. It is going on nine months now since we came to France and I have never been sick a day, in fact the only time I have been sick since coming up was when I had the measles in England and it was really of holiday for me. The open air life certainly agrees with me.
I took a walk up to the battery the night before last. It was a beautiful moonlight night and we wanted to go out for a change of clothes. Did not expect to be away so long when we left and did not take our field kit, so Ben Conrad, a chap from Georgetown with whom I bunk and chum around, and I beat it up after the stuff we had left behind. The boys were all 0K with the exception of slight colds, and seemed to be getting along quite well without the eight experienced carpenters down the line. By the way that is the first time I knew that I was a carpenter at all let alone an experienced one.
We had a bit of a treat on Friday night in the line of moving pictures. There is a cinema in the village below us in connection with the Chaplain Service. The pictures change three times a week and are mostly humorous, Charlie Chaplin, etc. But on Friday and Saturday nights of last week they showed the Battle of the Somme. The building was packed and a lot were turned away and of those present I suppose there were a dozen that had not taken some part in that great offensive. The picture was certainly good and we could recognize almost everything. There was nothing in it that was not a familiar sight. But after it all it was only a poor substitute for the original, and the worst scenes that it featured were more or less mild compared with the everyday events of the summer.
The Witness comes regularly and it is certainly a welcome guest. You did not mention if you had received it or not but I judged that you did and want to thank you for it. If you have the issue of January 9 you will find the something opposite "Smiles" on a top of Page 1 that will interest you, particularly the last of the description. It portrays far better than I could the kinds of homes in which we live.
I don't think I told you that our address has been changed or rather our number since being attached to our own Canadian headquarters and we are now No. 2 Canadian Siege Battery P.E.I. instead of 98. Be sure to put No. 2 Siege to distinguish us from No. 2 Heavy Battery. Have been to church every Sunday night since coming up. There are services every Sunday at Chaplain Service and on Sunday evening there is band concert followed by a short service. Last Sunday night we had a Major, a D.S.O., speak on service and the Sunday before we had as fine an address from another man on swearing, and I am glad to be able to say that one of the chaps in our hut who had acquired of the habit, has, as a result of his address, cut it out. On the night before we came up here Ben and I along with another chap out of our dugout went to a service in the YMCA in the village behind our battery. The speaker, a Toronto Chaplain, was one all the best men I have ever heard. His subject was about the Good Shepherd leading and the ninety and nine and going out after the lost sheep. After the service he asked anyone who cared to to stay for a short while after the meeting. About half the fellows stayed, ourselves among them. He spoke for a few minutes and then passed around cards for any who wished to sign them. They were a statement of one's belief in the Saviour and of the determination to serve Him more faithfully in future, and it was a splendid thing to see that body of the men almost to a man pledging themselves to lead a better life. The three of us signed them and on the way home the chap with us also pledged himself to cut out swearing. Ben is the chap I told you about who is thinking of the ministry when he goes back. He is about my size, a little older and one of the finest fellows I have ever met. Of course this is between ourselves and I am telling it merely to show you that there is a chance for serving the King of Kings out here as well as at home, perhaps even a better chance
Now I think I must say goodnight for this time. I hope you will take the best care of yourself and don't worry about me. I am enjoying the life and that I don't worry about myself is evident from the fact that I weigh almost 190. I wonder what Uncle Sam will do. Looks as if he were coming in. If he does it will shorten things a bit. But Fritz has not long to live. It is only a matter of a few months now.
Love to all and a very large share for yourself from your loving son, Harold