L/Sgt J. McNeill – 77681
4 Platoon. 1 Coy.
15th Battalion C.E.F.
France - 28/12/1915
My darling Wife.
I have just received your letter dated Decr 5th & I am glad to hear that you are all so well, Xmas is over at last, we did not have much of a time here, in fact it was impossible to enjoy ourselves at all, as we are in the reserve trenches & it rained all day, which meant more mud & misery, we had lots to eat, pork & spuds & apples & nuts, only for that it was just like any other day, the same old gunfire & rain, as for music, except for an occasional mouth organ, there was none, we did not feel like it, most of us went to bed, such as it was, very early, & lay thinking of home & our dear ones, wondering what they were doing & wishing that we were with them. taking it all through I dont wish to spend another Xmas such as this has been, it was much too funreal for my taste. As you will see by the address I put on the heading of this letter, I have been made a Sergeant – or I should say a Lance Sergeant, I am glad for you sake, dear, that I have got this promotion, as it shows that I am not going back but rather, going forward all the time, promotion is hard to get out here, there are so many old veterans looking for it all the time, therefore one appreciates it all the more especially when it was not expected, promotion out here is only given in appreciation of services rendered, if a man is no good his stripes are taken from him & he is put in the ranks. I am thankful to say that since I joined I have never had a crime or a black mark put against my name & with the help of God I intend to keep my name good until the end. Of course this means more responsibility & more work, but I dont mind that so much because I will have slightly better quarters to sleep in & have better grub, you see, the Sergeants all eat together, they have their own mess & dont mix up with the men at all, needless to say, I am proud of my promotion, because I got it on the battle field, I cannot lose my rank now unless I commit a crime or make a bad mistake which is different from N.C.Os coming from England & Canada, they revert to the ranks as soon as they come over here & have to work their way up, the pay is only 10 cents a day more but it is worth it for the prestige one holds, taking it altogether my pay now is $130 a day which is not too bad, I think Mr Vallance & Hawthorne will be glad to hear of my promotion as it will show them that I am doing my best to make good, another thing is I will get a better pension when the war is over & will run a better chance of landing a good job as it will be the men who have the best records who will be picked out first; at any rate, dear, as I said before, I am proud for your sake, as I want to please you more than anything else & I know you will be glad to know that I am doing all right. Although this letter is dated the 28th Dec. it is now the 10th January, & I have’nt had time to write in between, except to send a post card, I have been away to another part of France taking a special course of Trench Mortar instruction, I was attached to the Imperial Artillery headquarters while I was away & had a pretty good time, only that I had to work mighty hard, I had to learn in on week what usually takes months, but the course was very interesting & I passed out of the class with honours, I dont know yet what I will get out of it, but if everything goes right; I should get a good job, the work is much more interesting than the work I am on now & there is no more risk, in fact I think there is less risk as there is less time spent in the trenches & if I land the job that I expect to, I wont have anything to do but superintend, the working of the guns will be done by the NCOs & men under me. I am now back with my battalion, but I expect to be transferred out of it very soon now, & will probably be attached to some Artillery unit: I have not got my leave yet, but it surely wont be long now till I get it, I am pretty sure to get it before the end of February, I wrote to Mr. Clarke & Mrs Wilson & sent each a regimental card & I have had a reply from them, Mr Clarkes letter was very nice & he has invited me to stay at his place while I am in Glasgow, he tells me that his wife had a letter from you telling her about me & he gave me the address of his son Lieut A.M. Clarke who is in the R.A.M.C. in France & would like me to call on him, but I am afraid I wont be able to manage it as he is in another part of the country. Ettas letter was also very kind & I am to let her know when I am coming so that she can meet me, she also has had a letter & Xmas card from you & like you she is wishing that the war was over & her husband back beside her, he is in Hospital in Liverpool with frost bitten feet got in Serbia, he is a Lance Cpl I had a letter from him & he expects to be going home for ten days leave in a very short time & he expressed the wish that I should get my leave at the same time, I only hope I do, as it would be nice to have someone to knock around with, he tells me that your other sisters husband is in hospital & is not expected to get better, he says the doctors have given him up so there is not much hope. I also wrote to George & sent him a card but have received no reply, I am afraid I must have got the wrong address, as Ettas husband says that he is with the Engineers but does not know what corps he belongs to, so I am afraid he has never got my letter, however I will find out his proper address when I get to Glasgow & write to him again.
I got the parcel with the books & Lobster & Sardines & Tobacco & candies, also the popular when I got back from the Gun course & I was very glad to get them I had a dandy meal, dear, & enjoyed the good things very much, I have not had time yet to read the books, but in a day or two I expect to have more time to myself & will read them then, I will be glad if you will send me a book now & again as it is so monotonous sometimes in the trenches & reading helps to take the mind off other things. I have not got the parcel yet from Janet, I wonder if she did send me one, I cant understand how Arthur can be sending such a lot of things home, I am certain that he cant afford it out of his pay even if he does get them cheap from travellers, if he is not getting them honestly I am sorry for him as he is sure to get caught & it will be a serious thing for him. I am glad you are going to get your photos taken & I am looking forward now to getting them soon, I wont forget to get mine taken when I get my leave, I will try & get you a real good one this time & if I have the money I wont forget the presents either. I am glad to hear that you & the children have lots of warm clothes & blankets, as I was rather worried that you would not have enough.
Now, dear love, I think this is all the news I have this time such as it is, I am sorry that I was not able to get this letter written & sent to you before this, but you can see how it was, after this, dear one, I will have more time to myself, so you can rest assured that you wont have so long to wait for your letters after this, as I will be writing every three or four days. Like you, love, I am wishing that the war was over as I am longing to get back to you, you say you wish you could be tucking me in that new blanket & I wish you were, dear, I would like it fine, however, as you say, there is no use wishing, all we can do is to hope that this thing will soon be over, & then, dear one, you & I will have the time of our lives just loving each other all the time. Give my little darlings a kiss & a big love from their daddy & with all the kisses & all the love in my soul for you my darling wife I remain
XXXXX Your loving Husband. Jack XXXXXX