Sunday Nov 24/1918.
My Dear Mother:
It is one hundred and three years since British troops last entered Waterloo The Royal Scots were with them too Yesterday we marched practically along the same route from near "Hal" as Wellington is supposed to have taken So we consider the honour grace this division is one of which we can be justly proud.
Waterloo is just like all other old battle-fields in that there is nothing much to be seen. The town itself is rather small being scattered along one long street. The house which Wellington had as his headquarters still stands, almost in the centre of the town Across in the field behind is a huge artificial mound about two or three hundred feet high on top is placed a large lion This is supposed to mark the battlefield of Waterloo.
We are resting here today before carrying on our grand march and I am now anxiously waiting orders to be allowed to take the day off to go into Brussels Brussels is about 10 miles straight North and they say is one of the most interesting cities in Europe There is a steam car-line running past the door here into the city - a train every hour. So I am going to see Brussels somehow or know the reason why.
This has been a rather strenuous week indeed. We have not marched every day but we have had a good many long marches. I wrote last Sunday from Renaix. We moved from there next-morning and stopped in the evening at a place called Everberg about 15 miles further along. Our billet was most wonderful being a millionaire bankers home. We stayed there all next day and were certainly most comfortable as we had everything one could possibly wish for. Unfortunately I had more that I wished for as I developed a very nasty "cold" and had to stay in bed. The huge home with its marble Halls and the wonderful gardens about the house were most interesting.
Next day (Wednesday) we moved along to Grammont on the Dendre. My "cold" wasn't a great deal better so I went straight ahead to our next billet by horse and crawled into bed again. We were very comfortable here too. The town was not a particularily interesting place but there were quite sufficient good homes to satisfy us.
On Thursday we moved another fifteen miles to a small place called "Haute-Croix". This place was nothing more or less than a huge catholic establishment - An immense church, still larger convent and various priests homes, with a couple of estaminets (saloons) thrown in My idea of a convent used to be a place where no person was allowed either to go in or come out of. - that the ‘Nuns' were creatures who never smiled or spoke to any one in their lives. But our days stay there certainly changed that impression. of course I must admit the whole circumstances of the care were most exceptional but still we were sufficiently proven that the ‘Nuns' are really human after all.
The convent was thrown open to the troops. In fact the whole batallion was billeted in the building Each man had a nun to look after him They insisted on their socks being taken off while they washed and dried them The men were waited on hand and foot even in the literal sense of the term. In the evenings concerts were held in the concert-hall to which the sisters turned out as well The whole time spent there was simply one continuous picnic to the men.
Yesterday we did the historic march into here and tomorrow we shall carry on again probably as far as "Wavre"
This division is certainly proud of the exceptional honour given it in being allowed to march to the Rhine I cannot very well say who is and who is not being allowed to go but the representatives of the British forces allowed to take part in the march are necessarily quite few divisions and this the first volunteer division of the British army and the first Kitchener division to come to France is given the most important part of it. From what I can make out Stewarts division is not being allowed to come. I hope he will be able to make the trip some how.
On Wednesday evening I received another letter from you written on Oct 20th you people seem to be having a busy time of it trying to console Mrs Mooney If there is any thing I could do for them on this end of the line I would gladly do so. you see Camier is a long way from here and very hard to get at - (Just here I had to leave for the day in Brussels. I have just come in. It is now about 630 P.M.) - As I was saying Camier is very hard to get at and if I did there I would only be able to find his grave which no doubt is in a military Cemetery attached to the hospital. However even so much might be some consolation at present of course I am going further in the other direction. Should I have an opportunity though before I go home I will certainly go to Camier and find out every-thing I possibly can.
I have just had a most wonderful afternoon in Brussels. This morning the Colonel asked me to go in with him and have lunch there Then we were to look around the town. We caught the 1030 train which was packed and in about half an hour arrived at a changing junction where we were dumped into electric cars. The steam trains had consisted of about four cars but the electric consisted of one and a trailer. So the question was how we were all going to get on the street-car We didn't stop long to think about it but simply rushed. The colonel got on the step; I got my toes on and hung on to the rail. "Jocks" piled on any where They sat on window-sills and finally climbed on top until there wasn't a square-foot of space left any where. and then we started off down into the centre of the city. Our crowd made quite sufficient noise to attract all the people in the homes along the streets and soon the streets were full of people yelling and cheering. So we consider we had quite a "Royal reception."
Brussels is certainly a lovely city. The streets are all so wide and clean The buildings are mostly of white stone It was a real Peace-time place. Even the town has been in Bosche possession for over four years we couldnt see where they had any signs of shortage in any marked way In fact a good many things were to be had which one cant get even in England such as "fansy bakers cakes." The people seemed quite stylishly clothed and well clothed. Things were expensive but then not unobtainable. The dinner the colonel treated me to was quite a good Peace-time meal of four courses and not at all more expensive than in the better restaurants in London. So as far as Brussels is Concerned the Belgians dont seem to have done too badly under Bosche rule However we can hardly judge from such limited outward appearances.
There are certainly some fine buildings in the city and during the couple of hours remaining after lunch the Colonel kindly took me around to see the main places. He had of course been in Brussels before and knew pretty well what to see
The "Palais De Justice" is a most remarkable structure situated on the crest of the small hill overlooking the town - It is a most immense and imposing looking place with rows and rows of Roman pillars while on tip is a large circular tower somewhat like the pictures one sees of the ‘Capitol' at Washington This building is the law-courts.
The "Hotel de ville" (town hall) is one of the most extremely decorative style of buildings I have seen. The whole exterior is one mass of exceptionally delicate decoration while on top is a corresponding excellent slender tower.
The "cathedral" is one of the finest I have ever seen. From its architecture I should say it is about a thirteenth or fourteenth century building. It is of most tremenduous size Wonderfully proportioned and excellently decorated. Inside we did not have much of an opportunity to look around because a service was on and the majority of the building was locked up.
Well, I think I have made this a rather lengthy letter but there is so much to be told one can never tell it all in a letter.