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Date: September 8th 1940

1st Corps Field Survey Co. R.C.E.

C.A.S.F. Base P.O.


England, 8-9-40.

Dear Axel:

Both your letters of 11 July and 11 August were very welcome, the latter arriving a couple of days ago. So you are in the army at last - you have had quite a bit of bother - and I can sympathize - and know just how you must have felt - waiting and wondering - However that is one of the ways of the army -

No doubt you are feeling a bit strange about all the differences between army life - and that which you and I have lived so long - A lot of things about the army are hard to understand, and seem unreasonable, especially to us who have had comparatively active and independent lives previously - however you will find in most cases that there is a reason - sometimes not a very reasonable reason, but a reason nonetheless.

I can picture your reactions to army formality and discipline - as a Gunner - I felt the same thing myself at first as a lowly 2nd Lieutenant - among senior officers many of which, in experience and back ground and responsibility had half what I had - some of them pink faced young lads barely out of college - However that doesn't bother me a bit now - its just part of the systems - and you get used to it later - and less sensitive to it - also a man's a man - and in the long run that is what counts - Those qualities of stability - leadership responsibility and experience will show themselves - even before you get your extra stripe a pip - and make you stand out among the others - you eventually learn to regard the marks on a seniors shoulders or his sleeve - as quite impersonal, Much better to have only one stripe or one pip and have those about you realize "Theres a man who is better than his rank" than have them think the other way - Excuse this sermon Axel old man - I write this way because I realize you look at things much the way I do - and just now, at first your pride has to take a bit of a band, just as mine did. Also I think it really did me a lot of good to undergo a dose of temporary humility - I think it gets a fellow out of the rut, and in my case made me realize that before I entered the "bloody old army" I had been getting just a bit stiff and set - This experience has knocked 10 years off my age, and broadened my philosophy greatly.

We may be meeting up one of those days - and we can look forward to a good old exchange of notes. I congratulate you on selecting wonderful Colonel - Col. Carrie is a rare prize - you are very fortunate e- and glad you managed to dodge G.G. Aitken!

As you see I am attached to a Canadian Unit - and in fact am just about transferred to the Canadian Sappers - They did it without consulting me but it was rather a compliment - and I think eventually it will turn out best - because I know a greater percentage of the Canadian people - and eventually may have a little more influence with them in getting the kind of work I want. Our G.O.C. is none other than Gen. McNaughton - and that is a lucky break.

I went to school at Toronto with 2 of the officers in this unit - and knew one of the others in air survey circles - They are a fine bunch of chaps - and one O.C. Major Baird - MC [?] is a great old lad. I still cant help envying Bill Hall going off to the near East - I should have really prepared that even on Imperial pay - and slower promotion characteristic of the R.E.

A letter from Doug MacDougall came along with yours - one of his characteristic accounts of his doings & thoughts - I'll bet you he would like to be into us. Jack Benton seems to be making a good effort at the photography - and I hope he will be able to finish his jobs lined up for this year - Am glad to see the work kept alive - because I think there will be great stimulus to it after the war - and it is important to keep the identity of our Air Survey Section in the eye of the powers that be in the meantime.

Lorne Swannell is with the Survey Battery, R.C.A. just up the road from our location, so we have been able to see quite a bit of each other. Haven't heard anything about Mickey Trew - but no doubt he is working away at SS8 - probably envying you and me.

Things have been quite interesting over here lately, as you can imagine - the worst features for us is not being able to hit back - the act of war seems to have taken on entirely new aspects due to mechanization, both on the ground and in the air. The present phase is a bit tough on the army, because we just have to sit and take it - of course no tougher or not as tough as on the civil population - They are splendid - It seems a bit hard to swallow - the fact that unarmed civilians - woman, kids - older men & young fellows are in the front line - There are about 40 million heroes living in Britain just now!
Well Axel - I must get to bed - Here's hoping you are getting a kick out of your training and that you are have made some agreeable acquaintances. Petawawa must be O.K. just now - the classic Ontario Fall also will be just getting into full swing. If you get down to Ottawa [?] & see Cyp Seely at the Dom. Forest Service - George Sonley and Stan Lossee are friends of mine too.

Yours to a crisp -


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