Nov. 25, 1941
Well I was discharged from hospital last Saturday and was I happy that I could say ‘Goodbye' to the place. But was somehow sorry too for I have made a lot of friends there - and in spite of the fact that we didn't have much freedom, I enjoyed it quite a bit. However that is life in the Army. I am getting so that I hate to make friends with anyone because it is so hard to have to go away and leave them as I have to.
I arrived here in the Whitley Camp late Saturday afternoon and the first person I ran into was Burte Harte - Desmond's cousin. He hasn't changed a bit. And then ‘Monte' Keith - my old section corporal. He only got married last week and so I missed his wedding. I can still remember the lectures he used to give us about the wiles of women and can still here him saying "No woman is going to hook me! No sir-ee!!" But someone did.
Quite a few of the boys I know are down here now. In fact, more of my pals are down here than are up with the regiment. I'm going to try and stay here for awhile till I can get straightened around again. You know six months is quite a hole in a man's life and the change from hospital comforts to Army routine is very abrupt: kind of takes you breath away. I couldn't sleep the first night, the bed was so hard and the blankets so rough after six months on a Simmons spring mattress and white linen sheets. However I have got used to it again. But I still can't get used to the dirt. It is so hard to keep clean and decent. I haven't bathed now for three days and in hospital I used to have at least one bath a day!
We are sleeping in brick huts in double deck beds, straw palliasses and four blankets. There are forty men to each hut so we are pretty crowded.
I am going on fourteen days leave starting Friday 28th. I am going to Edinburgh 3 days, Oxford 3 days, Brighton and London. So I am going to do quite a bit of travelling. I must go to see Auntie. I expect she'll bite my head off as she did last time, but I don't mind. I have nearly $68.00 so I should be able to get along. But the cost of living is so high now that it is hard to get along on any less than a pound a day. Seems pretty queer doesn't it? There was a time when I could get along alright and spend maybe $10.00 a year. It seems the more you have, the more you want.
I am enclosing some little souvenirs, my latest poem together with the two letters from the girl who made me write it, and the article which the ‘Daily Mirror' printed on Nov. 18th. Red letter day for me!
Well I guess that's all. Write same address. Merry Christmas!
Love to all,
THE DAILY MIRROR
Private James Baker
No.5 Can. General Hospital
Dear Private Baker,
Thank you for your letter about the extracts from a ‘Canadian Soldier's Letter' which we used in the Mirror on Nov. 18th.
We have been in touch with the Agents who supplied us with this short feature and understand that they received it from the Editor of the Toronto Star. We think - therefore, that your people in Canada must have submitted your letter to the Editor, and he forwarded it to England for publications over here.
Yours very truly,
CANADIAN SOLDIER PRAISES HIS LANDLADY
Daily Mirror Nov 18, 1941
Here are some extracts from a Canadian soldier's letter from this country to his home in White Rock, British Columbia. They will hearten some of our women folk who are playing a fine part in the war. The soldier - Private James Baker, who is here with his Unit (Western Canada Regiment) says:
"I have been in billets since December last. My landlady is a typical English country woman - hospitable to a fault and a true blue Britisher.
She has treated me like a son - nothing is too good for me. Her two sons have been called up. Many times during ack-ack fire, the drone of planes and the terrifying scream of bombs, I have gone downstairs to find that she has made tea and she is quietly writing letters full of hope and cheer to her boys.
She is only one of millions of mothers in the British Isles today, just carrying on.
Whenever I have travelled in the British Isles and especially in London, I have found these grand mothers of England........."