35th Trench Mortar Battery
1st Canadian Division.
My darling Wife -
I have just recd your letter of 9th Jany. also the parcel with the tot of rum & cigarettes & lobster & book &c & did’nt I just enjoy it, I had the rum just before I went to bed, I wish I could have a tot like that every night, it was just about three times as much as much as we get issued to us, it warmed me up fine & I slept like a top after it. I am sorry you are having such cold weather & it is too bad that you are having so much trouble with the taps, I hope that by this time the worst of it is over & that you will have no more trouble; I would dearly love to be at home again, dear, to help you out, it just breaks my heart to know that you are having so much trouble & worry & no one to help you & comfort you & cheer you up. Oh, how I wish I could be with you to cuddle you up & warm your dear little body against mine, my heart goes out to you dear love, in your loneliness & troubles & my constant desire is that this thing will soon be over so that I can get back to you to take care of you & look after you right. The weather out here is not so bad now, the worst of the winter is over now, of course we still have some rain & the roads are still very muddy, but it is not nearly so bad as it was. I am glad that I have got over the winter safely & without any serious illness & if I get the benefit that I expect to from my holiday I will be able to face the coming spring with a new spirit & a better heart. I have been into another scrap with the Germans & I am thankful to say I came out of it all right, it only lasted a couple of hours, but it was mighty hot while it lasted, it is sure an awful sensation to hear the shells & bombs bursting all around & to feel the wind of the pieces as they scream past your ears & when it is all over one wonders how on earth they have escaped being hit, it seems marvellous, we sure gave them the time of their lives & I’ll bet their casualties were a lot heavier than ours, everything is very quiet now, & I dont think we will much more trouble for a while.
I am surprised what you tell me about Dickson working for the Hardware, it looks to me as if he must have been fired from the Hudsons Bay, or why should he be looking for occasional jobs, he must be hard up, perhaps he will get a steady job with the Hardware, you know he is a great mason same as Vallance & Boyd & you know how they help each other out, however, I always liked Dickson & I hope he makes good, if the worst comes to the worst he could join the Home Guards, it would help a little. So Edwards says he does’nt care if he is out of his job to-morrow, does he, perhaps he has been going to strong & is getting afraid & wants to get out but cant, before anything happens; I think a good strong dose of the trenches would do him a world of good, I wonder where Janet gets all her news from, Jimmie Rankin is not a Lieutenant, he is quarter master Sergeant & I dont think he wishes for anything else, he is a lot safer where he is,
While I was writing above, I was warned for my pass & I am writing this from the Shaftsbury Hotel – London. I have sure had an awful time getting here, when I was warned I was told to go down to Brigade Headquarters to get it & when I got there (at 12-30 P.M.) I was told that my pass was cancelled till Saturday, so back I had to walk to my billets, the next day we had to stand to in the front line & we threw over 25 Bombs from our gun & just about when we were finishing the enemy opened up on us with theirs & I had the narrowest escape I have had so far, as luck would have it I was wearing one of our steel hats & a piece of shrapnel hit it & knocked me out for about half an hour, however I was all right, except for a bruise, when I came to, & I was able to finish up the business all right. The next day I left the trenches & got down to Steenwerck where the train starts from, I got there about 1-30 in the morning & had to stand around in the rain till 5.30 before the train came in; I was soaked, however, I was glad to get away - wet or dry, & we got into Boulonge at 11 A.M. & marched right on board the boat, we were supposed to sail right away but it was pretty rough in the channel & there was a report that there were mines floating around, so they put it off till this morning & we sailed at 6.30 A.M. & arrived here in London at 12 O.C. noon. & was’nt I hungry, I had had nothing from the time I left billets till I arrived here, but I have sure made up for it, now, I dont think I’ll eat any more till to morrow, it is 7. P.M. now, & I am writing this in my Bedroom, this bed looks awful good to me, & I am going to turn in right away, I have told them in the office not to waken me in the morning, as I have three nights sleep to make up right away; I will catch the 2. O.C. train to Glasgow to morrow, which will land me there about 9 O.C. I will send a wire to Etta in the morning & let her know that I am coming. When I get to Glasgow I will send you a map to show you what part of Flanders I am in, at present I am at a place called Fynback, it is only a small place consisting of a few ruins & is about midway between Ballieul & Armentieres. hitherto on account of being in France, I could not tell you where I was, but I can tell you now, dear, & you can draw your own conclusions of what I have been through, when I tell you that I have been through Ypres. Festubert. Cuivenchy. La Basse. & Neuve Chapelle; I am not going to dilate on what they were like, they were awful & that is about all there was to it, it was gas & shell & merry hell all mixed up together. however, I am here now to forget all that, I am going back next Saturday & I want to have as good a rest as I can while I am here & I cant help casting longing glances at this bed beside me, it sure looks good although it is small, how I wish you were here to enjoy it with me, dear, I think it would hold us two all right, it just wants you here to complete the enjoyment of this trip, I would be a happy man if I could only see you again so as to give you that great big love that I owe you, how I wish that I could stay in this country for a while, everything seems so peaceful, you would’nt know there was a war on to see the people here, they dont seem to realize what is going on, & I have to be back again in a week, that is the worst of this trip, the going back. however, dear heart, I will write to you again from Glasgow & let you know how every thing is there, I will get there tomorrow night & I am going to take things very easy till I go away again. I know that this letter is only a scribble, dear, but you wont mind that, so long as you know that I am all right, I only want one thing to complete the enjoyment of this trip, & that is you, oh, how happy I would be, dear, to have you here just now, just to see your dear face again & to hold you in my arms & love you. God bless you, dear sweetheart, & take care of you is the earnest wish of your loving husband
Give my little darlings a big love from daddy & lots of kisses & lots of kisses & love to you too, dear.