For God, For King & For Country
H.M.FORCES ON ACTIVE SERVICE
Reply to me B Company 196 Bat. the Regt.
Stationed at Seaford, Sussex Jan 17th 1917
Gee wake up over there for anysakes. I have stood by with anxious heart & longing eyes & breathlessly heard the list of letters called out while two Can. mails have been distributed but have listened in vain for "MacKay" except for a few copies of the Star which are poor satisfaction as compared with letters. However there will be some one of these days & likely another flood of them when they do come. They seem to make a practice of saving my mail up & sending it in a lump. Gee its great to get so many that you can't get them all read during dinner hour & have to anxiously wait until night. The only trouble is when I have them in my pocket I am apt to pull em out & read em on the sly during lectures or something. Of course to get caught would mean C.B. at least. However this army life is all chance & luck so we all take chances. I haven't been caught on anything as yet & still have a clean sheet to my record. The nearest was overstaying leave that last time I was home. Gee that fowl supper in the kirk was tempting but I managed to get away without yielding to the hungry stomach. I believe if it were now I would stay. It means the coop over here though. Still thats nothing it is all coop over here. Bad enough to be exiled to this miserable Isle without being shut up in the lines as we have been for two months. But hoorah it is all over now. The quarantine was lifted yesterday noon & we can ramble out and get some clothes etc washed. Also a square meal once in a while. Oh no I am to near broke just now for that but payday is coming some of these days. May it be soon for it bad enough here without being broke.
Say they haven't fired me from the O.T.C. yet & I have a half a notion they are going to let me stay if I make good in the exam's next week which I think I can. Of course you never can tell. They may need us in Greece almost any day. I am at present taking a musketry course in connection with the school. They are teaching us for about the 142nd time how to load a rifle, bring it to our shoulder, take aim, pull the trigger, unload & return to the order. It takes just a week to teach us that. If the guy that is teaching us was the fastest & handiest I had to run up against I would tell you right now that I would come back to Canada perfectly sound for while he was getting through the 150 preliminary movements I think I could empty about ten rifles in the old shotgun style. I wouldn't have so many twisted cords in my arms shoulders & neck either. To take up the aiming position & fire you face your target. Then turn half right carry the left foot of 12 inches to the left & balance the body on both feet, raise the rifle up in front of you with the right hand, catch it at the point of balance with the left & move the right down to the small & about a page & a half more. It would make you sick when one can work five times as fast his own way & make a bull nearly every time. However they say thats the way we are going to win the war. Of course if you do anything wrong you just ask Fritz to wait a minute till you get it right & then carry on.
I don't know if Greece will get into this scrap of ours or not but I hardly think so for she would have her whole coast line blown to pieces in a week by the fleet. If she does of course it may lengthen the war a bit but I hardly think so for it would just give the Allies a chance to blockade the Mediterranean (is that right) & thereby make the food blockade complete.
I guess I should be writing this letter to Emmie but It keeps me busy remembering which of you I wrote to last. Of course you all read them so it makes no difference. I am considering strongly just writing a family letter twice a week & saving postage.
The weather is getting colder all the time over here. They have had snow twice or three times in London but here on the coast we had the ground white for the first time this morning.
A few of our Batt left for France yesterday morning. Very few. Five I think to fill up one bunch of whom a few were sent back on account of not being fit. They are getting very particular now. They wont take anyone under 20 or over 40 to the firing line & all buglers etc. under 17 are being sent back to Canada. They figure on the war ending inside of 3 years & the boys will not be needed. Those over 40 & any who are not the very fittest are formed into labor Batt & sent to France right away for keeping up supplies building roads etc. Looks like business in the spring eh! Say what do you know All the Col & Big bugs in camp are to come out tomorrow morning to see us fall in on parade & copy therefrom for their Batt. Some honor eh!
Well I ain't going to write another word until I hear from you so there.
Your same old brother
P.S. No not the same. I weigh 193 lbs but am no fatter so they say