January 8, 1918
Have not much to do tonight so am going to write some letters home. Since writing you last on New Years Day I have received quite a bit of mail from you, back mail which had been delayed in the Christmas rush, coming along this week. Received three parcels, five letters and some papers in between the fourth and the seventh. Your parcels were dated November 26, Dec. 4 and a Dec. 16 and your letters November 19, November 27, December 2nd, Dec. 4, and Dec. 9. Many thanks for them all. The parcel of November 26, containing Scotch cake, fruit cookies etc. came in splendid condition and believe me they are certainly good. We have a plate of them on the table now and are certainly
enjoying them. Your parcel of pork and beans and butter were very welcome, especially the butter, for as you know we are issued with margarine over here and real butter is almost impossible to get. Then your parcel of Dec. 6 containing the socks and quinine tablets came last night. I am sorry you were worrying the about me being short of socks for I had plenty. In fact I am always well supplied with socks as almost every parcel I receive contains a pair and in addition the battery receives a good many from the Island which are distributed, so would rather you would not knit so many for me as I do not need them. Again I must thank you for all you have sent. You ask about my gloves, if I received them. Yes I wrote thank you for them as soon as I received them. They are fine. Also were issued with a pair of woolen ones and received a pair from Laura Gordon so I am well away. They will more than outlast winter.
In your letter of the nineteenth you say that Earle's case for exemption was to come up the next week but in your other letters did not mention it. Of course I know what would be the outcome. We do not want conscription of the men growing food for us. We don't want to see the only sons, with dependents, brought away from their farms or occupations but we do want to see them get after some of single men holding down easy jobs and having a good time, in our cities and also such rural families as those in which there are several sons of military age and physically fit, still at home. In one of your letters there are some figures referring to the respective number of troops in France, England and
Canada and you ask why so many are kept in England and Canada when they are needed at the front. To understand the necessities of a modern army one must see it working. One of the outstanding necessities is for reserves. Take for instance in Belgium where casualties were fairly heavy. If we had not plenty of reinforcements in England ready to come over here, where would we be. And they need training. On an average I suppose that requires about six months so that will account in part for large number in England. Then there is the commissionariat. Troops must be fed and clothed and this brings out the problem of storing, transportation and distribution of supplies, which takes a small
army in itself. Then there is the medical corps, which requires a very large number of men, the training camp staffs and many other branches all very necessary but all employing a large number of men. But by the conscripting of men at home those reserves in England might be released and form one or possibly two new divisions for duty in France thus adding materially to our fighting strength. I was surprised and somewhat amused to read Mr. Doulls' letters in the Patriot on the subject but no doubt he understands the situation much better than the military authorities with years of experience. He should apply for a position on the high command commission. You also ask how it is that some men have been kept in England for over a year. That is easily answered. Reinforcements are divided into different grades according to their physical fitness and only A-1 men are sent to France. In that way men who are we will say grades B-1 will be kept back while A-1 men will come across as soon as they have finished training. Mr. Doull also stated in one of his letters that his only son, whose coming to
the war he seems to lament, has received a commission in the flying corps without political pull.
Perfectly correct. Political pull is unknown at the front. Politics are forgotten except when forced upon our thoughts by the home papers. Political, racial and religious differences are unknown. Liberal and Conservative, Englishman and French to the man, Roman Catholic and Protestant - all are as brothers and one never hears a word of argument. We have a firm belief in that good old motto - "union is strength" and as we have stood united over here so we had hoped to see the people at home united in the common cause and we welcomed union government as a step to final success. Then our hopes were temporarily shattered by the government being forced to the country for while we realized that it has made its blunders and made its graft, things which are inevitable in any government, yet we feel sure that the change would cause delay, and delay at this stage of the game is not desired.
You asked if I received in the parcel you sent containing quinine capsules. Yes it came OK and I acknowledged it. I think a lot of my letters must have gone astray Started numbering my letters some time ago but neglected to carry out my intentions so will start anew by calling the one I wrote on New Year's Day No. 1 and this one No. 2. In one of your letters you wrote about not having heard for me for three weeks. Some of my letters were certainly delayed or lost for I try to write every week regularly and never go more than ten days at most. As to my not being able to write you need never worry about that for in the event of any thing happening which would make it impossible for me to write you would receive word of it long before a letter would reach you. As to that touch of gas which I got, it was nothing and I was OK again in a couple of days. I understand you have taken a subscription to the Patriot. Many thanks. I used to receive it regularly from Clemmie very well but it will save her the trouble of doing it up and sending it.
Yes the Halifax affair [the Halifax explosion] was certainly an awful business. Was good to hear that Claude and Alberta were OK. We heard of the disaster the day after it occurred and I was a bit anxious about them as there were no details. News is beginning to come through now in letters from home and in the Canadian papers.
Now I must close. This is quite long enough for one letter. Will write you again in a few days. All well as usual. We still are having it frosty and fine.
Love to all from your loving son, Harold