Jan 23 1916
My Dear Mother,
This has been one dandy day, just a glorious day. And I certainly have taken full advantage of it. I didn't make a very good start but I finished up quite well.
This morning I had an attack of my old failing, sleep, and did not wake up 'till 9:50. That was terrible wasn't it? But it did not worry me much. Both of the others were up and Sunday is generally fairly light now.
So I got over about 10 o'clock. After about an hours work I felt rather hungry so went to the convent kitchen and Sister Raphael, who is one of my good and faithful friends, gave me coffee, biscuits and jam. While eating I heard music which sounded like church, so I wandered around until I came across a little clump of men having a service. There were just three officers including myself, but I did enjoy hearing the old hymns again. They had a piano too and it was a fine service, quite modern & up to date, in fact. Then I had to hurry back to work, and by [the] time I got back to the office I found the men had accumulated and I had rather a busy time for [the] next hour or two.
Then in the afternoon one of the Parsons came over from another brigade and held a short service in the rest ward. Our office is at the end of the ward & is just screened of by a horse blanket, so I had full benefit of it. You see I have had quite a busy day of it.
After I finished up at the office, Cameron & myself went off for a ride in the ambulance, up to the Advanced Dressing Station, which is just behind the trenches. Everything up there is in ruins, ruins. Even the house they are in is all shot to pieces and only one room is left, in which they have their dressing room. Then we walked up into the trenches, but did not go as far as the front line. The afternoon was so bright and we had to go some 50 yards overland in clear view of the Germans, and as we had no duty there, it did not require much persuasion on either side to decide that we would not chance it. But at that we saw a lot of artillery fire results, saw lots of big guns and once or twice we were nearly deafened when they went off unexpectedly right beside us. We spent the whole afternoon wandering about behind the trenches and then walked home. We landed in about 6 p.m. Mud to the knees, wet but hungry and feeling in good shape. For dinner we had soup, a big juicy stake [sic], french fried potatoes, green peas, custard pudding, fruit, (pound)cake and coffee. So you see we still feed fairly well. No you certainly do not need to pity us on that score. Our messing comes rather high but we would rather pay a little extra and get the goods. The sisters do all our cooking now, and they are most excellent cooks.
Roy White is back from England again. You knew he was over there for an operation on his finger. When he got there they decided not to operate, so he had a nice trip to Liverpool for nothing. He went into the trenches again tonight, feeling fine and looking better than ever.
Oh yes, I must tell you that I am all better of my cold now. I am eating well now and enjoying my meals, and sleeping like a log. I ride a lot in the afternoons and I do enjoy it. I think when I get home I shall have to try to make the price of a horse. It is excellent exercise too, I think I stand a pretty good show with an ordinary horse now. Since coming over here I have had a few lessons in riding, which were much needed I assure you.
And I have not heard from home this week yet either. What is wrong? Are you all too busy and tired after the Xmas festivities? We still have a lot of Xmas grub on hand. A couple of plum puddings are awaiting the slaughter as well as two or three cakes. One of these days we will have a few of the boys down and make a killing. The home-made stuff is certainly fine. Em's candies were favorites as long as they lasted.
Had a letter from Ede last week. She said she and Ern had had a nice little visit in Toronto. I am glad they had a nice time together. It will be a nice change for Ern to get away from the papers for a few days.
And many thanks to Ern for the little booklet nicely gotten up and very original. I enjoyed reading it, and noted some little articles by Mrs G. R. G., also Miss Gilroy. I presume it was gotten up by Mrs Alice Roger Collins or Mrs Avis Phyllips.
Last week I rec'd my photo of Ruth and Alfred. I had to laugh at the impression on little Alfred's face. He certainly looks fine in his new "glad rags". And Ruth is getting such a fine big girl.
Lot said last week in her letter that they all had colds. Poor Alfred has had his turn again. I suppose Auntie will have to either go South or spend the winter in bed. It is a fierce proposition isn't it? She certainly had a hard time of it.
Mother I hope you are all better long before this. You did too much at Xmas as usual and so of course had to pay up for it. I hope you will take it easy now until spring house cleaning comes up. Then I suppose there will be eruptions. Take it easy mother, you should see our house.
Have not heard from father for some time? I guess business is pretty quiet just now, but it will be better in the spring.
Lots of love for all the family and write often. I will write Alf soon but will you send him this too. Kindest regards to Elizabeth too. Love,