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Date: October 30th 1916
Betty Mowat - (sister)
Grant Mowat

West Sandling Camp,
Kent, England.
October 30/16.

Dear Betty,

Received your letter some time ago, and was certainly glad to hear from you.

I am up here with the 39th Battalion now, along with the rest of our 93rd Senior officers.

It has been raining and blowing now for 8 days and may apparently continue to do so indefinitely. It is not a steady rain – just extremely heavy showers every few minutes, and with each shower comes a tremendous gale of wind. I’ve seen in rain as heavily only twice before in my life – once one day when Dad and I sailed down to Brockville from Allan’s cottage, and once in Alberta in 1913. But those were only single showers, while this time we’ve had hundreds. And the wind is the worst for tents will turn ordinary rain, but this the wind drives right through. As a matter of fact I haven’t been dry, day or night, since it started.

I have just come from the Mess Room, where we were almost hurting ourselves laughing at a fellow who just arrived here yesterday, telling us of his experience last night. We’ve got rather used to it ourselves and so could appreciate the funny side. He said he came out to his tent through the rain. He used up a whole box of matches before he got his candle lit. He set the candle down and looked around for his bed. “Spt” and a drop of water hit his candle and put it out. After this had happened three times he decided to go to bed in the dark. After crawling in among the wet blankets he tried to go to sleep. First a big drop hit him on the nose. When he turned over the next one hit him in the ear. He reached out to get something to put over his head and a bug ran up his arm, and down into the bed. The tent then started to leak so badly that he decided to quit trying to dodge and go to sleep. In the morning he got up long before daylight, stood for a minute or two in his tent to get a shower bath, dried himself off with a wet towel, put on his wet clothes, went to breakfast, and then set off for a long morning work in the open and in the rain.

For sleeping I have a Wolsey kit, which is a big canvas sleeping bag open at one end and down one side, the opening down the side being fastened with short straps and buckles. It is completely waterproof. In it are my blankets. The first night it rained the rain splashing on my face woke me, but I just reached down and buckled up the bag, and settled myself to sleep, knowing that my head was thick enough to be waterproof. Away on in the middle of the night, and exceptionally heavy shower wakened me again. I notices that the pillow was soaking wet, so turned it over. Then I decided to roll over myself. But the canvas of the bag over my shoulder had run the water down that way, and the water from the pillow had run down the same way, so when I rolled over, I rolled right into a nice little puddle of water. It was fully ten minutes before I had warmed up that water sufficiently to be comfortable to go to sleep in.

But it is the general dampness that has really wet the blankets. Last night I went to bed with two slickers on top of the bag, and when I woke in the morning and threw them off the bag was almost perfectly dry. But when I opened it, it was dripping wet on the inside owing to the steam from the wet blankets in it.

I’m glad that I’m not subject to rheumatism for it is quite cold as well as damp. There are about 10 officers sleeping in tents. The rest, and all the men, are in huts.

I have been given command temporarily of “B” Company here, so am kept fairly busy. Saturday afternoon I went down to Folkestone, and to the theatre in the evening. They have a good theatre there, and the show was fairly good.

On Sunday I was Orderly Officer, and so had to stay in camp all day. Because I was Orderly Officer, I missed church parade. The marched the men to an open field about a mile away, the service lasted about three quarters of an hour, and then they marched them back, and all this time it had been mostly pouring. I’m afraid that most of them derived little benefit from the service. In making my rounds at night I got soaked up to the knees, for they wont allow you to wear rubber boots while on duty. But the sergeant that was with me fell flat on his back in ditch containing about 8 inches of water. It was very slippery.

To-day, on account of being up all last night, I had no work in the morning. In the afternoon we went about 9 miles on a route march. We have route marches three times a week. All the officers are now carrying packs which make some difference, as they can be quite heavy, especially when wet. We all carried our slickers, but they would not let us put them on. As it rained off and on all afternoon we got soaked to the skin.

It is quite a change here from the School. There we had a dry bed, but horrible meals. Here the meals are first class. In fact things here are O.K. and no one can have a brick unless he objects to water. However, in that line, one sometimes wonders if they are training us for the Navy. Anyway, those of us who are sleeping in tents are unofficially known as “The Waterbabies”.

Norm Holton is back from France on a month’s leave on account of rheumatism. He was there a short time, and was lucky. He got a piece of shrapnel through his waterbottle, and another just grazed the point of his chin. It made a cut ¾” long that healed up in 3 days.

I received 3 letters from Mother to-day. Tell her that I’ll send those sox right away. I had them all laid out, and then moved.

You might send me that muffler and a pair of wristlets. I left them behind, in my trunk I think.

I don’t know when I’ll be going to France, but it may be quite soon.

Well, I must close now.

Your loving brother,
Grant Mowat



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