1st Corps Field Survey Coy
Royal Canadian Engineers
CASF, Base P.O. Canada
England, 30 Sept 1940.
It seems hard to catch up on Sunday. I have just got back from a week-end as a guest of the Dons at Trinity College, Cambridge. Boy! were we given the best in hospitality - They invited 3 officers from our unit to go up and the O.C. was good enough to include me as one of the party. We went up through London, got to Cambridge just too late to have tea with our hosts, so stopped at a little shop in the town, because we knew that dinner would be late. Trinity College is the oldest and biggest of the Cambridge colleges - and it is a huge affair - laid out in the forms of buildings around enclosed lawns or quadrangles. Each quadrangle is about 3 acres, or 3x the size of our lot at 10-mile point. Each of us were put up in separate bed-room suites - I had the "old guest room" and a real covered bed, about the size of our lot at 10-mile too - You can imagine a huge expanse of white sheets - pillows, bolsters, and quilts - with little me just a minute speck over in one corner. I was almost too lovely to go to sleep.
Each bed room has a study - all huge, and filled with wonderful old treasures in furniture, pictures, and knick nacks. For dinner, we all met in the Fellow's Lounge, and introduced to any of the dons whom we had not met, then when everybody was present, the old Vice housemaster, our official host, leads the way into the Great Hall - huge like the inside of a cathedral - vaulted roof - and gloomy but rich. All the dons in black gowns and their master boards - The vice takes his place at the top of the head table, we guests are seated next on his left & right, alternating with the Dons - everybody stands behind their places - then when all are placed, the vice reads the grace in Latin, takes his seat - followed by the rest. As the team had not yet started there were only about a dozen dons and at least a dozen winters - all in fish & soup to look after us - soup - wives wonderful foul en casserole - deep fruit pie with thick cream & fine sugar - Down in the gloom of the hall you could see the odd zone of light - a table of undergraduates having their dinner too - when everyone is finished - a huge silver salver with a silver urn is set in front of the vice - This is the rose water dish - in the old days it was paired down, everybody washing their fingers in rose water. Now it is just set on the table to signify in a traditional way that the meal is over - everybody stops talking - and rises with the vice - who says a benediction in Latin - and leads the procession out - Then they go to a coffee room - and the table is set with nuts, fruit, raisins etc - more wines - finally coffees - and cigarettes - even old fashioned snuff is passed around - You would have glorified in the fine old antique pieces of silver - Finally when everybody has had enough - They go down to the lounge and spend the evening chatting - In all those rooms huge old fire places burning [?] - It was almost too much to take anything in. Breakfast was served in one of our study's and we had lunch with the vice in his own apartment. Sunday after breakfast the vice took us for a walk around the various colleges - and into the chapel at Kings - a beautiful gothic cathedral really - they are busy taking out the stained glass windows to store them away till after the war. Just before lunch he took us to the little bar where we had a [?] of beer - in silver stoops - each with a date and a name inscribed - some 1697-1749 - etc We showed such interest in these that the steward took us down into the vaults & showed us the old college silver - wines, salvers, stupes, canisters - candle sticks - each presented in ages past by historic notables, princes, emperors - etc. It was a feast for anyone who understood old silver.
In the afternoon we went to tea at the House Masters - a Prof. Burnaby - he lives in his own house, outside the college - a nice wife - 2 daughters & a little boy - the children put on a special show of charades for our benefit - they were certainly great kids - and good actors. There word was Potato - I told them about indications, but didn't have time to show them how to play.
This morning just before we left Cambridge, we visited the Concordiat physical research labs - Very interesting but am afraid all over my depth - they have a machine called cyclotron invented by one of your physicists at Berkeley for splitting atoms - . It took us till 4 pm to get home to-day - it was a wonderful break - and expensive. Before breakfast this a.m. I scribbled out a little note on college stationery & posted it there to my old uncle Prof. J.F. Cross who is an M.A. from Cambridge - I thought he would be pleased to get a note from his old college. He used to tell me about reading the Latin grace. The old Dominions who acted as our host officially for the college was a fine old man - a real scholar of course 0 and a real gentleman - he is fairly well along in years - a kind wrinkled - leather like face with a pair of lovely eyes which bespeak a fine sense of [?] and a sly bit of mischief.
[rest of letter is censored].