Febr'y 13 1916
My Dear Mother,
This has been a glorious day. Bright and clear and a fine day for an outing. This morning I worked for an hour, and then went to Mass (R.C.) in the convent chapel. They have a lovely little chapel and a fine boys choir. All the sisters attend and sit on one side, while the officers and men sit on other side of church. The service, while a lot of it is in Latin, especially the chanting, yet the sermon which was a good one, was in English. I was one of the three officers to take it in. Even in a small chapel like ours things are fixed up very elaborately, so I wondered what some of the huge cathedrals, like Rheims for instance, must have been like.
After Mass I had to hustle back and work until 1 o'clock, when I had lunch. Then after a little rest, I started out with 3 others for a good walk. You would laugh if you could see the boots I wear for my tramps. Ordinary boots are no good over here. The boots I wore in England are very good boots but over here they just last three weeks. Every three weeks I have to have them half-soled. The roads are terrible on boots as you can imagine. So now I wear the issue army (British) boot. It has heavy steel plates on heels, and are steel studded on sole. Mine weigh just 64 ozs. so if you weigh your own some time, you will get an idea as to what mine are like. They are nice for walking in, when one gets used to them. Over the sharp stones, there is from 3-6 inches of muddy slush and water, so that boots are water-proof and well up over ankles.
About 3 o'clock we started out for our walk. We nearly always hit out toward the trenches, taking a round-about way so as to prolong the pleasure. As the crow flies the trenches are only about 2ï¿½ miles, but as we go it is twice that. On the way up we saw several aeroplane fights. In fact it was such a clear day that the planes (British & German) were swarming about like flies. I could count 21 in sight at one time. We just took our time and stopped and watched every scrap. On our way back we met a couple of the Princess Pats officers who are billeted beside us, and they took us into their mess and gave us tea and toast. I was so hungry that I ate several pieces of toast and I guess they thought I had come for a meal instead of a cup of tea. However, they are good fellows and come in for a meal with us once in a while. By time we got home it was quite dark and we were just in time for a 6:30 p.m. dinner. So now you see I am feeling in good shape only very sleepy.
Yours and Emily's letter arrived on Thursday as usual. Mail is pretty regular and is I think making a little better time if anything. Considering the distance it has to travel I think it does very well indeed. At present time the Brigade is out in rest billets, so I expect our mail will be a little delayed for next two weeks. We are still here at Field Ambulance but do not know when we may have to move. I was very sore yesterday when I heard I was to be moved away back to the base, but by a little diplomacy it has been stalled for a time at least. If I can hold it off until the General gets back from the rest camp I may be O.K. If I do have to move to base, just when the fun is commencing, I will be a pretty sore one. I certainly will tell them what I think of them before I go if I do have to. However I will not worry about in meantime.
Had a letter from Jennie Wood last week, a very nice letter. I will write her soon. I am such a poor correspondent these days. There is so little to write about especially when they will not let us talk about the war at all.
Am so glad you are all on the well list again. From reports, I guess pretty well everyone has had grippe or something wrong with them. Grace Wright says it is popular to break an ankle if you can't get a cold.
I receive great inspiration each week reading the marriage and death accounts in 'Rep'. Last week was especially interesting containing as it did Tom Clarke's opening address to the council. His "talk it up scheme among the farmers" is a very worthy. I have received two weekly 'Mail & Empires' to date. The 'Post' comes each week and both are much appreciated. I hope you hear from me each week as I try to write at least once a week.
I had a letter last week from one of my golf friends. She is driving a truck for the Y.M.C.A. and is having quite a hard time of it. Out at night and all hours in the wet and rain. It is very hard work especially as they have to keep down the lights on account of Zeps. I think those girls are very plucky, don't you? This particular one is the Scotch champion. Another one is running a Y.M.C.A. canteen handing out hot drinks to the soldiers. They will not leave the Canadian boys and I guess the feeling is quite mutual. I do hate to write such miserable letters as there is so much I could tell you, or rather would like to but must be so careful. However I may be able to tell you about it later on. Anyway the first 7 years of the war is always the worst. After that one gets used to it. Ha. I still have some Xmas letters to write so I won't be out of a job for some time to come.
Am always glad when I hear you are all well and I hope Mother you will take good care of yourself so that we can celebrate when I get home.
Lots of love for all the family and a big share for yourself.
P. S. Will you forward to Alf please.
W. H. G.