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Date: May 2nd 1917
Annie Mowat - (mother)
Grant Mowat

May 2, 1917.

Dear Mother,

Well at last I am in France. Though, of course, I am not yet at the front. I am still within sound of the guns.

Widdifield and I are together and hope some time to get to the 21st. I tried to cable to you from both Southampton and Le Havre, but could not. I’m Sorry, for I said that I would cable.

Last Thursday we went up to London and stayed there till Friday noon, when we proceeded to Southampton. The trip across was uneventful and not very comfortable for there was no sleeping accommodation of any kind, and our boat, which was very small and fast, was crowded.

We had Saturday afternoon and most of Sunday in Le Havre. We saw much of the city. Sunday morning we marched about 4 miles out to the Gas school. Here we had a lecture on gas and were put through the gas chambers. Also we were issued with tin hats, gas helmets and goggles.

In the afternoon we entrained and ran up to Rouen. You have no doubt heard often enough of the pleasures of travelling in France, so I’ll pass over that night and the next in the tiny crowded carriages.

We had most of the day in Rouen. I’ll try to tell you something of both Le Havre and Rouen in my next letter. In the afternoon we again entrained. In the morning we were at Etaples, and during the forenoon ran up to our railhead. After dinner we started out to walk to our battalion. The afternoon was very hot, the roads dusty, I was heavily dressed and carrying nearly a hundred pounds of kit. As a result it was a pretty tough march. However we arrived here about 8 P.M. and found supper awaiting us.

We are billetted in houses in the town. I have a very nice room and a magnificent bed. The bed is one of those that you need a step-ladder to get into, and then not nearly to the floor. It felt fine last night.

To-day I have spent very pleasantly doing nothing. However I managed to have a bath – a fine one too. It was welcome after the last few days, since leaving England. The sweat from your feet and the strain from your boots put your socks in fearful shape. My feet came through the walk yesterday in good shape.

We are now about 8 miles behind the line with a Reinforcing Battalion, but should soon go on to the 21st. My address will be Lieut. G.D. Mowat, 21st Bn. Canadians, B.E.F. France, – and no more.

Well, I must close now. I’ll write agan to-morrow.

Your loving son.
Grant D Mowat.

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Original Scans