July 19, 1917
Have just come off duty and want to write home for tonight's mail. Sent you a note on the fifteenth in which I acknowledged, but did not answer your three letters received in that mail and also your welcome parcel and papers. Last night I received your registered letter of June 24 containing the five dollar bill. Many, many thanks. Although I will not now need it for the purpose for which I sent for it, as I have been fortunate enough to draw for regular leave to Paris and will be able to draw on my money in London, yet it may come in for something else and I will keep it as a reserve in case of any further opportunities of a pass to some other part of France later on. They drew for Paris leave while I was down at rest camp, and I was lucky enough to be the fortunate one drawn from the telephonists.
Herb McEwen is also going. The passes have not yet come in but we expect to go any day now. We have our choice of going to Paris now for ten days or waiting our chance for going to England when Blighty leave opens up, but, as that may be sometime yet, and as I have already seen a good share or of England and Scotland while it is the chance of a lifetime to see Paris, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity and go to the fair capital of France. So after all it is better that I did not get away before.
No, the John MacNeill who I spoke of having heard about is not the Rev. Jack from Elmsdale but the famous Baptist preacher from Toronto. I suppose Claude and Joe are gone long before this for their courses. For their own sake I am glad they have signed up, for anyone who can be classed as a slacker after the war will have rather an unpleasant time when the soldiers come home and a fellow would feel pretty mean coming as a con
script. It is too bad that Albert can't pass when he is so anxious to come, but he is doing an important work at home. I suppose that Ethel is all settled in her new home by now.
You ask in one of your letters if I have met Jimmie Millar. No, I saw Dave when I was up at the 8th. Told you about the fellows I had seen in one of my letters.
Received a suit of underwear from Clemmie a couple of nights ago. It is fine and although I will not need it for a couple of months it will come in fine then. You ask about the books I got from Laura. I think I told her I would send her ten dollars for them. She did not want anything, but I would not take them for nothing. Send her ten dollars out of my assigned pay. How many volumes are there? I think it was ten but am not sure.
You ask about the last two cans of apples you sent. I remember acknowledging them in two separate letters but evidently you've never got them. They came in fairly good condition although a few on top had begun to spoil in spots. As for potatoes we've got a very fair share, thanks partly to the battery funding given us by the people of P.E.I. before we came, for out of it, we got many little extras over and above the issue.
Well, we had a splendid time while out on rest. The weather was ideal for tent life and nature was at its very best. The season is at least a month and a half ahead of that at home and before we came back hay was all cut and a few fields of early grains were ready for the binder. The strawberries and cherries and other fruits were at their best and besides, half a dozen eggs with french fried potatoes, or as we call them for short "chips" went good. We did away with, on an average, half a dozen oranges and a pound of cherries or strawberries every day. So you see me were taking full advantage of our opportunity to feed up.
Well Mother it is just sunset and one of the most beautiful I have seen since coming to France. A few clouds, hanging low on the western horizon and transformed by the sinking sun into a picture of magnificent grandeur, which no words can describe, spreading a soft afterglow over the countryside. In imagination as I look out over the panorama I can see those last rays shining across the calm still waters of the bay. I can see the fields green with promising crops and the cattle feeding peacefully in the pastures. And I can see the old home with the big willows silhouetted against the clouds. And in
the western window I can see a light, and around the table three people are sitting reading. How much would I give to be in that little group and how much they would give to have me there. But a voice says, "patience, your place is where it is and you know nothing would make you change it". But alas for dreams. My reverie is broken by the blasphemy of many guns. Our battery has opened up a little "good right strafe" and my thoughts are brought back to the realities of the present. The sun's last rays are fading away and as I look over the scene again I see only are chaotic picture of devastated homes and blasted fields. Such is war.
Now I must say goodnight. Will write in a few days. All well. I am fine.
Love to all from your loving son, Harold