Saturday Nov 16/1918.
My Dear People:
If I am going to tell you all the details of the last few days I am sure I have a good few hours job ahead of me. for the last week has been about the most interesting I have ever had overseas. For the next few weeks I hope to have just as interesting a time if not more so.
I last wrote from the ‘overseas club' in London. At that time we were all waiting for peace to be announced as the Bosche had only a few more hours left in which to sign up.
On Monday morning I caught the early train for Dover and arrived there to find the quaint old place one mass of flags and bunting. The ships in the harbour were kicking up a terrible row. and the guns of the forts insisted on firing air-bursts over the channel. For a while I thought the war had come to England but learned it was simply that peace had been announced.
Within a couple of hours I was in Calais The town was simply mad with joy. The streets from the docks to the club were impassible because of cheering mobs of civilians. Belgians, French soldiers, Americans and British as well as a few Portugese and Chinese thrown in to add a more cosmopolitan appearance to the whole affair. In the club things were anything but quiet. Thank Goodness I got a room on the top story for the night or I should never have had any sleep Even when I got up to catch the morning train the celebration were still in full swing.
I found the division out on rest in the same area as I had left them. They had not been in the line since and were now very much bucked with life as it was announced we had been chosen as one of the divisions to march to the Rhine.
On Thursday we started off and by evening were again back into our old front line area in which we had had heavy fighting only a couple of weeks before. Things are certainly different now The civilians were about again as large as life. They were working in the fields and every thing had an old time peaceful appearance except for the various shell-holes and a few houses blown in here and there.
By yesterday noon we had arrived again in civilization and oh what a difference. When one remembers the old desolate, shell-riddled swamp of the Ypres salient and then looks out through a complete window from this old chateau. it is hard to believe we are still in the same country called "Belgium". From this old home here on the side of the hill we have a most gorgeous view Immediately beneath us are the wonderful gardens with their artificial lakes, ponds, rustic bridges evergreen groves and flower gardens. From here we look across the little city in the valley on to a continuous chain of smaller hills rolling off in to the distance.
This has evidently been some wealthy mans summer home. It is chiefly built of glass and any room can be called "conservatory" The chief objections to the place is that it is a "summer house" in every sense of the word and consequently has no heating arraingements which would be greatly appreciated just about now.
We are resting here today before resuming our march tomorrow or the next day. I find that with any luck I should have about a week at least in some of the Rhine towns before I leave for England again. They couldnt have arranged the end of the war better for me if they had tried.
This afternoon the colonel and I are going around to have "tea" with the Brigadier-General. The colonel is even finer than ever if possible. I have become to know the brigade people very well lately because the whole officers-staff had a go of "Flu" and I was looking after them.
I could tell yards of details about things that have happened during the return to the batallion. Books could be written alone on statements of the Belgian civilians about how the Bosche treated them and our prisoners nothing seems bad enough for the old Hun and I hope he will have to pay good and proper for every bit of it.
We have seen a few of our returning men from Germany already and from their appearance and accounts of treatment I should think they have had anything but a joyful time. Lets hope poor Syd will soon be sent back.
Censorship regulations are still indefinite with us. I would like to map out for you the route we are taking though Belgium but I am afraid it might not be passed. However I assure you we will not be missing many of the interesting places either large or small and before this reaches you I will have passed and camped on the most historic battle-field of old wars. I hope to have a couple of days in that district to look around. A person almost needs to read nothing but history when doing a march like this.
This morning the mail brought me a letter from mother two from yourself and one from Maryon. You people seem to have had a terrible time at home with the "Flu" and I hope you have all escaped it. The whole world seems to have had a hard time with it.
Am glad to hear Aunt McClain left mother a slight remembrance even it was very small still it was quite good of her to do so. I know we will all miss her very much indeed.
The trips to Maple sound as profitable as ever. It certainly seems well worth while to take an old run out there.
I am sorry to hear Mrs Mooney is taking things so badly and hope she may have become more reconciled by now.
The colonel now wants to move along so I will finish this later.
Well here I am back again after quite a merry little tea party. We found them living in a most excellent chateau over on the other hill and overlooking Renaix from the other side.
Before going around to Brigade the Colonel and I took a walk around the town. The most striking feature about the place is its absolute cleanliness and neatness. It is not hat you would call quaint because it is too modern for that. The only building of particular note was an old church of what should be of about the fourteenth century. It was particularily different from most churches I have seen in France because of its absolute plainess. As a rule the walls of churches in this part of Europe are covered with most hideous paintings looking more like tattooing than anything else.
This is certainly the [?] about the [?]. They have had more than their share of this war.
So you are now doing work down town at the ‘Red Triangle'. I dont know exactly what it means but I suppose it is some kind of a canteen. I am glad to hear you enjoy it as I am sure it must be interesting work and am glad you are doing something like that
Am awfully sorry I couldn't do more about Charlie Mooney but you see I didn't know anything about him until I found the wire waiting for me in England and then he had died of wounds.
I hope that Ernie Crossland has pulled through the "Flu" alright.
This is certainly quite interesting about Harold Yielding.
Am sorry I didn't have a chance of seeing Edmund Jones while on leave Probably I will meet him in December.
Well, I think I have told nearly all the happenings of the last few days. I must get busy now and dress for dinner then I will have a few more letters to write one of which will be to - well, who do you think?