Somewhere in England
March 14th, 1940
Received your very welcome letter of February 17th and I needn't say how glad I was to hear the good news! I am naturally elated but don't you worry about me getting ‘a swelled head' or anything. But the knowledge that someone who ought ‘to know' considers my work good gives me an urge to continue. I don't mind admitting that before your letter came I was pretty discouraged and beginning to ask myself was it worthwhile to continue....everyone criticizing and considering me a traitor. I tell you I was pretty low. But now I have received new hope and impetus and I will continue to send you articles as I write them.
There is not very much doing right now but there is that undercurrent of movement and excitement in the air of the camp which presages big doings, so I don't think it will be long now before we see some action. It seems pretty definite now that we are going to France. But where we will end up is a mystery unfathomable. There was a small notice in the paper this morning stating that there would be a BEF in Finland. All that I can say is "I hope we don't go there". I'd far rather go down to Turkey or Romania or Egypt. I'm afraid we won't go down to Egypt though because the Australians are there already and I hardly think they will put the Aussies and the Canucks together again after all the trouble they had last time. Just the same you had better prepare yourself for a big surprise for we never know where we might go.
Well, I certainly got a lovely surprise yesterday. Mrs. Dan Forster wrote me a long letter. You can imagine how surprised and delighted I was. I haven't heard from her for eleven years now. It was in ‘29 when we left wasn't it? She mentions how she remembers the awful thunderstorm on the morning I was born...do you remember? I also got a lovely long letter from Aunt Minnie in Toronto. She is extremely anxious to see me and wants me to send a photograph. I wonder if you would please write to Meyers Studios in Winnipeg and ask them to send copies of the photographs of Pte. James Baker PPCLI taken December 11th or 12th, 1939 to Aunt Minnie and Mrs. Dan Forster? I expect the two photos will be about two dollars and thirty cents. You can pay for them out of the money which you have for me. I want them in the cardboard frames and the size is 2 ins. by 4 ins. I think that they are the best photographs I have ever had taken and I might as well use them instead of having some more taken over here. When I go on leave I'll try to have some full length picture post cards taken and send them to you.
You know the sergeant who is ‘In Charge of the Officer's Mess' here was the ‘Captain of the Waiters' who traveled with the King and Queen across Canada last summer? He had 37 waiters under him all the time as well as the staff of each hotel they stopped at. He has been on the CPR for years and has served dinner for the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York, the King of Siam, the Queen of Romania, the King and Queen as well as many other notables. He can sure tell lots of interesting stories of his experiences and give you many intimate glimpses into the live of the famous people whom he has met! You know that as head waiter he was treated more or less as a confidant and equal. He traveled always on the Royal Train and has had many delightful chats with their Majesties. He took them riding at Banff as he is a Trail Rider. He was in complete charge of the State Banquets at Winnipeg and Victoria. And now he is a sergeant ‘In Charge of the Officer's Mess'. Quite a contrast - eh?
Regarding the politics of the present coming election I can say right now that I cannot agree with the platforms of any of the parties. Personally I think that they ought to have a Coalition Government and as a matter of fact, I think you will have one pretty soon. They can't go on the way they have been doing, continually bickering and finding fault with each other and never doing anything. But regarding how I will vote, I cannot say as yet. The only news we do get is sporting news and that is of no use to us.
I am enclosing a poem I wrote while sitting in the YMCA over at Aldershot. It is run by the loveliest white-haired old lady I have ever seen. She is just like the good old fairy we used to read about in our fairy tales. And her hair is absolutely pure white: silver best describes it. We can go there at anytime and always find papers and magazines to read or paper and pens to write with. There is always a lovely fire burning on the hearth and soft deep armchairs to relax in. And it is so quiet and peaceful there after the turbulent noise of the streets that it is a pleasure to go there. I wrote this poem one Saturday night while I was just sitting there in one of the chairs toasting my feet before the fire. It just suddenly popped into my head! I wrote it down on a scrap of paper, signed my name and handed it to the old lady. Then I beat it before she could say anything. I haven't been back yet so I don't know what she thought of it.
That certainly was a great honor to you and I hope you seized your chance. Please write and tell me all about it.
I haven't received your parcel or papers yet...but they are always late anyway so I guess I'll have to be patient. That will be three parcels I am expecting. One from "Nursie", one from Aunt Minnie and one from you. If I get them all at once, I'll be a very busy man for a little while. (Pen just spluttered)
Well I guess that's all. Say "hello" to Dad for me. Give my regards and love to everyone
Goodbye for now