24th December. 1915.
My own darling Wife -
Xmas Eve:- another milepost on the path of life, what a difference between this Xmas & last, what a year to look back on, it makes one shudder to think of all that has passed in that time, comrades & friends gone, some killed, some wounded, Home ties broken, & loved ones left to fight the battles of life alone, one wonders when & how it is all going to end, if it will ever end, or if we will ever have peace, what a mockery it is to think of the people in the homeland going to church to-morrow, Xmas day, & singing Peace on earth, goodwill to all men, & praying that us soldiers may have a happy Xmas &c, &c, when here we are, with nothing but hate in our hearts against a relentless enemy & striving to kill or maim our fellow man, oh, the irony of it all, it is enough to turn a mans brain; what prospects have we, of being happy out here? how can any man be happy, separated from all he holds dear in this world, from all his love, his hopes & ambitions, only yesterday, I lost another chum, without a moments warning he was gone, & only a few minutes before, he was talking about what a good time he was going to have when he got his pass, he had not seen his people for over twelve years, what a melancholy Xmas message this will be for them. No one is happy here, there is a false gaiety in the air, but in our hearts we are miserable, we are lonlely & homesick, out of the thousands & thousands of men out here, I dont believe that there is one who can say from his heart that he is happy, there is that awful dread hanging over us all the time, not for ourselves, but for our dear ones whom we have left behind, what makes me write in this strain, dear? it is because I am so lonely, so homesick, I am sick of it all, it is eight months now & I have never been away from the sound of battle, every day & every night of that time, amid the continual booming of guns, I begin to wonder if there is any other kind of noise in this world, or if I will ever really get used to it I must admit that I have been very fortunate, I have had no sickness to speak of & I have been in all kinds of mix ups & dangers & never had a scratch, when I look back on it all I have to marvel, as it seems to me a miracle that any of us escaped at all to tell the tale, now, I think the worst of it is over & I am looking forward to a speedy termination of it all, what a comfort it will be to get back to civilization again, away from the no mans land, compared to civil life, we are living like beasts, like them we live under & on the ground & like them we very often take our food as we can get it, what will the after effects of it all be, the strong minded will be able to take up their old life again where they left off, but I am afraid the weaker ones will go to the wall, they will have a hard fight on their hands to settle down again to their old line of life; it will certainly be up to those men who stayed at home to help them to hold their own. I had hoped that we would be out in billets for Xmas, & we would have been if everything had worked right, but we are in the reserve trenches, which is not so very bad, the only thing that troubles us is the mud & now on top of that we are having floods, fields & roads are covered with water anywhere from three to six feet deep & even deeper, & going about from one place to another is very difficult. We are going to have a great treat to-morrow, we will have fresh pork for dinner & nuts & candies & I believe we will get beer too, as there will be no working parties I believe there will be some kind of a concert in the evening, it will be a novelty having a concert in the trenches, the poor fellows in the front line wont be able to enjoy themselves at all, they will have to wait & have their celebration when they come out, our officers are a first-rate lot & they try to make things as easy & comfortable for us as they can, but it is pretty hard as they have lots of troubles of their own, they eat practically the same food as we do & they live in the same dug outs & suffer just as much hardship as we do & it is up to them to be cheerful all the time no matter what happens, as all the men look to them for guidance & if the men get in the dumps the officers have to get them out of it. I see by your last letter that Mrs Edwards is sending me a parcel, I have’nt got it yet & I hope it will not be like the others that people promised you they were going to send to me, but if she did send it, I will probably get it when I go out to billets, which wont be for some time yet. I sure enjoyed the Xmas Parcel you sent me, dear, & I was mighty sorry when it was all done, I got the little testament all right that you put in & I read it some times at night, it was very thoughtful of you to put it in. I have used up all the Sabadilla & am looking forward to getting some more soon & you might send me a good sharp pocket knife some time, dear, I think Boyd would put one in the parcel for you & not charge for it, I need one pretty badly as the one I have is nothing but a stump. I will write & let you know after what kind of a time we have at Xmas, it will be an experience to look back on, spending Xmas in the trenches, I will be very busy, as I take on the duties of orderly corporal for a week from to-morrow morning, so there wont be very much rest for me, nor will I have much time to myself. I am sending you a paper under separate cover called the “Listening Post”, it is printed by one of the B.C. Battalions out here, right in the danger zone, it will probably be a curiosity to you for that reason & if anyone in the Hardware would care to, you could let them read it too, we appreciate this class of paper our here very much & we get some good laughs out of it. I suppose you have already received my letter with the enclosure for Mr McKelvie & I have been wondering since I sent it if you would give it to him, perhaps you would not care to have it printed, or to make any trouble for Remnant, but at the same time I think it a duty, something ought to be done in the matter, for it seems to me that there is crooked work going on somewhere & if Remnant is cheating you out of your proper share & gets away with it, he will probably try the same game on others, at any rate, it is time that you should know how you stand & that you know exactly how much you should get, if the Patriotic Fund accounts are at all correct, there should be no reason why every one should’nt have the full amount all the time, as I saw their statement some time ago & at that time they had a big surplus. So Bob Stevenson is still hanging around is he, it is a wonder he has not volunteered for active service before this he talked plenty about it when the war started but I suppose he has a good job & hates to leave it, besides I suppose he wants the first chance back in the Hdw. I guess Mrs Edwards will have her hands full, now that Arthur is away, what will she do if he has to come out here, I guess she wont like it a bit, I suppose there is no chance of him getting out of it now, no matter how much he might wish it, but there is no reason why he shouldnt take his chance just the same as the rest of us. Well, dear Heart, now that the festivities are all over in Vernon, I will be expecting a letter from you soon, telling me all about it & what you did & how you enjoyed yourself, I hope you & the children have had a good time, I wish I could have been with you, I had hoped that perhaps I would have had my pass for Xmas or New Years, but everything has been altered & I dont know now when I will get away, it may not be for a couple of months yet, perhaps longer, I cant tell, however I am glad I got the addresses in good time, as I will know now just where to go, it would have been awkward if I had had to hunt them up so it would have meant a lot of lost time, now I have something to look forward to & the sooner the time comes the better I shall like it, as I have said before I am looking forward to a properly cooked meal & a good nights sleep in a real bed also a good hot bath, I feel that I need them all, there will be only one thing that I will want to complete my happiness, dear, & that is you, oh if you could only be there, it would be so nice, I would just love to see you again & hold you in my arms, wouldnt I just hug you & love you all the time, the worst of it would be the parting again after such a short time, to come out here again, but still it would be a sweet remembrance to carry back with me. Somehow I dont think it will be very long now, dear, when this war will be over, I am pretty sure that it will finish up this spring, we have the upper hand & when the time comes we will force the issue & victory is sure to be with us, then wont there be a glad homecoming, home, I think that is one of the sweetest words in the English languidge, Home once more, never to part again, catch me ever leaving it again once I get back to it again. Now, dear Heart, I must close, forgive me if this letter sounds as if I were in the dumps, I feel homesick to day, I guess it is because of the season & also because I have been thinking of you & home so much of late, well, I cant help it dear one, kiss my little darlings for me & tell them not to forget their daddy, who loves you all so much, God bless you, dear one, & keep you safe & well is the earnest prayer of your loving Husband
Give George & Eileen a big love for me, dear, & accept lots of kisses & all my love for yourself