Same Place Belgium
Your long interesting letter arrived some three days ago. I was sure glad to hear from you and to know that you are getting along so well. Your excellent account of the scrap takes me back about 8 years ago. Doesn't that sound fierce but it was in '07 that I went down to college and now it is '15. I would like to slip around and call on you some evening when you are studying in your room. I hope that your quarters are comfortable, but they are sure to be, in that fine residence. I think I know where it is. They were just building Burwash Hall the last year I was in Toronto so I will have to guess just where Gate House is located.
How did Mother's letter of 19 Sept. happen to fall into your hands, my boy? It arrived the same mail as yours dated Oct 8. Something wrong there, especially after my having received one from Mother, of a later date the previous week. At any rate our pockets must be quite clean as the envelope looked quite clean and sanitary.
I say a fine sight today. Something to make the heart glad. One of the big German war planes, as they call the new type of aircraft, came floating over our lines. It succeeded in getting thru the shrapnel of our anti-aircraft guns and was hovering around directly over our heads, while all the time the shells were bursting around it in great shape. Soon however one of our biplanes took flight and went after it. In the midst of all the shell fire it beat it straight up after the German. The German then beat it for their own lines, some two miles away. Our man, however, took after him and making a detour, cut him off and made him return right into our shrapnel fire. Then our airman opened fire with his machine gun, which he always has ready, and peppered our old friend. Well, between the machine gun and the shrapnel, we got the brute and he dropped right into our lines. When the plane came down the observer was dead and the pilot badly wounded. How is that for a good day's work? I saw the whole show and it was the sight of a life-time. The whole thing took place about 6000 feet up in the air, but we could see everything and hear the old machine gun spitting.
We are getting along fine out here. I expect it will be a winter campaign alright and then some, but we are here to finish it, no matter how long it takes.
I had my hair clipped today. I told the regimental barber that I wanted to make a clean job of it and he sure did! A billiard ball has nothing on me. Yesterday it rained all day and today it is cold and raw. I guess we are in for some weather. The trenches are up to knees in mud already so I guess there will be fine swimming before Xmas.
Speaking of Xmas, only two months from yesterday, until the festive season is on. I'm afraid I shall have to send my regrets this time, but will try to be present at the next celebration of the occasion. I have not decided whether I will go to London for my Xmas dinner or not. I have several invitations to England and one to Ireland, also one to Scotland, but I may eat it in Flanders after all. I would much prefer Berlin if I had my choice.
Oh, say Alf, you did not tell me what course you are taking. I presume, of course, it is Arts, but is it Political Science? I envy you the next four years, my boy. Have a good time, go in for sports as much as you can, take part in everything you can, and use the gym as much as possible. I wish I had it to do all over again. It is the best four years of your life, so make the most of it. Don't think I am an old man talking like this, but I would like you to come through developed on all sides, and you can do it. And I think it a good plan to attach yourself to some good bible class, under a good live man, and attend it regularly. You will have plenty of opportunity to look around and see who the good ones are. I know I tried to attend the Adult Bible Class at Broadway while I was in Toronto, and I never regretted the time I spent doing it. Some sermon eh, but cheer up, you may get more later on.
Tonight they are carrying on quite a bombardment. We can hear even the rifle[s] and machine guns from where we sit in our room. But they very seldom hit near us. We are very safe here. Just like as though we were in Canada, only we get the benefit of the noise.
I am too sleepy to write any more tonight, but write often and tell me how you are getting along and I will do same.
P. S. If you have not already written to Aunt Jean, she would be delighted to hear how you are getting along. She is much interested in you. WHG