July 20, 1918
I really don't think you are deserving of this letter because it is only three days since I last wrote, and you have missed another week. The Canadian Mail came in yesterday, and I was out of luck! Buds! Do you honestly look forward to, and appreciate, my letters as much as you say you do? Yes? Then you are well able to understand my disappointment and feelings when I see all the other boys receiving their letters from home, and I am neglected. It isn't fair treatment Sweetheart, because you know perfectly well how I love and long to receive your letters. So, Nuff said!
Poor old Harry is just on pins and needles these days. Every few days some word comes through with reference to his return to Canada, but with no definite instructions as to his departure. We just kid the life out of him, telling him he will not get back before we do. It's too bad to keep the fellow in such suspense. It would be much more satisfactory to know that they were going on a certain date, or not at all.
I say Cyril Currie a few days ago - he is in a machine gun battalion. I was glad to hear of E.J. Smith's appointment - did you see it in the Optimist? But I'm afraid poor old Mrs. Smith will be very unhappy over the news. He is Government Transport Secretary and will be travelling to and from England continually, so I imagine she will be worried quite a lot while he is on the water. Do you ever hear from her?
Lord! We spent a most enjoyable evening yesterday, I don't think! Fritzy shelled our hospital and vicinity for two hours steady. And with big stuff too - 9 in. shells - a huge explosive with overhead shrapnel. We are in such a rotten place. We have no dugouts at all. There are two little trenches about five feet deep, and these were filled by the patients. The rest of us had to make ourselves as small as possible. After the first hour, the Colonel decided to evacuate all the patients, so we took them all away by ambulance. Where we are camped, we are sheltered and camouflaged by plenty of large trees. But they were just blown out of the ground. Some were cut off in the middle, but one lopped off at the top and it fell on our mess but luckily noone was in there. Some of the trees that were cut through were 6 to 8 inches in diameter, so you can imagine the size and velocity of the shell fragments. And what takes you heart away more than anything else is the condition of the wounded brought in. Stretcher bearers were hurrying in every direction, and fellows were being brought in minus arms and legs. Some had serious body and head wounds. When the first shell came in, I was pouring some boiling water into a basin, and had stripped myself to the waist for a wash. I heard it coming and could tell from the roar of it's approach that it would explode near us, but I knew if I threw down the basin and flopped, I should be badly scalded, so I was uncertain as to what to do when, she went! And the only thing that happened was a few apples fell from the tree above and landed on me. I looked around to see if anyone else was hit, and it was really the most comical thing you ever saw. Crickie was on his knees with his head under a stretcher and the rest of his body exposed. Joe Mott was trying to hide himself behind and apple tree about 4 inches thick, and Stally ran into a tent. We certainly laugh afterwards at the foolish things we do. A man has no chance to make up his mind, but instinct or some protective feeling usually makes a man cover his head and body with his hands, or anything his hands may pick up. After we thought Fritz had quit shelling, I shaved, and Crickie had just started. I was sitting in my bivvy, which is just a ground sheet stretched on some sticks, when another shell came over. Crickie scrambled under the bivvy and took my shirt that was laying on my bed and held it firmly on his head saying to me "cover up your head, cover up your head, it's shrapnel". Lord, I laughed, scared though I was, I could not help it. Shelling doesn't get on my nerved the way it does with some fellows. It's not bravado or anything like that. When I hear a shell coming, I usually take cover and after it has exploded, it does not unnerve me as it does some boys. Some turn white as death, and cannot speak or move a muscle for some seconds after an explosion. Almost every man left the camp last night and slept in the fields or trenches, but I couldn't see the advantage. Perhaps that's because I'm a fatalist. Harry went, and when I laughed at him over it this morning, he couldn't see my argument when I tried to explain that he was just as liable to be hit I the trench, or in the field, as he was in a bivouac, but his argument was this: for instance supposing Meota was being shelled, it would certainly be advisable to get out of Vawn, or Battleford, away from the danger. But I say, because Meota is being shelled, that doesn't necessarily mean you are going to be hit. I have seen it happen so often that a shell has fallen by two men - one was killed, the other was untouched. Why? Because it was the unlucky one's fate. If we are going to get it, we shall get it, and it's no good trying to dodge it. What's your opinion on this subject Buds?
We are painting the car, and my thoughts have continually run back to the days in Meota when we were up against it, and I was painting with Joe and Deeley. Budsie if ever a girl proved herself in the respect that God intended a man's mate to be, YOU did that summer. When I think now of the hardships and misery you experienced, and how your pride must have suffered at the conditions of our living, it makes me feel that I am far beneath you, and that nothing is too good for you. When I think again of some of the life I have subjected you to, I feel I could crawl into a hole in the ground and stay there. I often wonder girlie if at times you are sorry that you did not accept one of the opportunities you had before you met me. I don't want to mention any names (because even the thought of them would make me feel jealous) but when you see the present conditions of the girls whose places you might have filled do you ever feel sorry? If you knew what you know, and still had the opportunities you had before you met me, would you go through it all again Budsie Girl? Tell me honestly from your heart.
Nobody can pay me a greater compliment than to sing your praises, and a few nights ago Harry and I were talking to the Sargeant Major, and Sargeant Dutton - you remember Dutton don't you? He had a sentimental streak running through him that night and he was saying to the Sgt. Major "you wouldn't think that a fellow could keep up a smile like Cis always does, and yet be able to realize that he is spending the best days of his life away from his wife and child. I met his wife in Calgary, and she is a person that will always stay in my memory as one of the nicest girls it has been my pleasure to meet". And he mentioned a few other things about Bobby, and the night he had spent at the Frasers. I was awfully proud to hear him speak of you like that, and I'm glad to know that some fellows can see beyond a man's face. Although I am just as big a tease as ever, and can go about always with a smile, I spend many a miserable hour with my thoughts, and of course some happy ones too.
It's just started to rain, so I must get my blankets in. Please try to write to me more often. There's a Darling. And do hurry up with that photo.
Every bit of my love to you and all my kisses, baby girl. Kiss wee Bubs for me, and remember me to Nine.
P.S. Haven't seen Ross for quite a while. He never looks me up.