Search The Archive

Search form

Collection Search
Date: February 2nd 1918

February 2nd, 1918

Dear Mother:

Back again in our little home on the line. We came up yesterday morning. Arrived here about 11:30 and took over from the battery we were relieving at noon. We found our dugout in a rather untidy condition, much more so than we left it, but we soon got it cleaned up and in shape and are all comfy again.

Wrote to you I think on the 30th. and then I have received three letters from you, December 23, 25, and 30. All came in the same mail. The last few days at camp were fine and passed pleasantly. We had a couple of games of football with another Canadian battery, the first of which was a draw, the second ended with the score 3 - 0 in our favor. As in other things so in sport No. 2 is never behind. We also saw a number of concert parties when we were out. As you know much of our best talent is in khaki and each division and some brigades have a concert party which does nothing else. During the three weeks we were out I saw three variety concerts, free or for half a franc (ten cents), for which one would willingly pay from five to ten shillings for a ticket in London. Some of the more enterprising of the parties are now staging plays instead of variety shows and we saw three exceptionally good attempts while we were out. In staging a play they are up against difficulties which they don't meet in the variety concert for to be a success the costumes must be suited to the part and the actors must be able to adapt themselves easily to their respective roles and give a sense of reality to the play. It is in the latter that the greatest difficulty is encountered, for in the absence of actresses
some of the more adaptable males have to take the female numbers under the camouflage of a skirt. And so perfect have been some impersonations that I have seen that if one did not know the difference one would not believe that those who took the female numbers so well were not really, truly actresses.

Was sorry to hear that Fenner Stewart was so sick but hope that by now he may be much better again. You speak of your prisoner (???) being changed and in speaking of the one you had before you say that he has probably succumbed to the hardships. Personally I don't think that is very likely. I think that most of us are inclined to give Fritz a worse name than he deserves. Of course I suppose it is only natural. But after all he is human the same as we are. He has his weak points but he also has his strong ones and I think we are too much inclined to look at the weak ones. Let me illustrate. We will suppose a certain unit goes into a new town for training. In such a body of men made up from all classes of citizens you are sure to find a few hard nuts. But you will also find that the big majority are men, real men, with high ideals and strong characters. The first night we will say a couple of those hard nuts imbibe too freely and kick up a bit of a row. The next day that unit has a bad name in the town. Those two men out of perhaps a thousand are taken as an example of all because they have made themselves conspicuous while the quiet law-abiding fellow, because he has not made himself heard, has to suffer. So it is I think with our friend, the enemy. A. few unscrupulous leaders have perpetuated crimes which have shocked the world and we are only too ready to criticize and censure and have judged them all by one standard. Probably we have men too with no higher sense of national or personal honour but in justifying ourselves we have tried to overlook them but the Boche no doubt in them finds, as we have found among his international criminals a standard by which he judges us all. And so while using every effort to crush their militarism and their present form of government let us be fair and just with the individual. To give the devil his due they are highly scientific, highly organized and good fighters. No one who has been up against them will deny that and I think given a republican form of government and proper ideals they would make a splendid race. However that remains to be seen.

In speaking of books you mention Maud's last one. Have you seen The Alpine Path, the story of her own life? And old college acquaintance sent it to me some time ago and I enjoyed it in very much. She tells of her upward struggle right from the days of her childhood, through her college life and on to the time when she achieved success and became a world famous as the writer. Finished reading Harold Belle Wright's "When a Man's a Man" yesterday. It is splendid, easily up to his exceptionally high standards.

Now I think I must close for this time. We'll write to you in a few days. All well.

Love to all from your soldier boy, Harold