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Date: February 26th 1916
To
Janet
From
Jack
Letter

Feby 26th 1916

35th Trench Mortar Battery

1st Canadian Division

France

 

My own darling Wife -

 

Here I am back at the old job again & an awful time I had getting here, in the first place they kept us a day at the rest camp in Boulonge as there was no train for us & I did not arrive at my destination till Tuesday morning at 1-30 A.M. I walked about 5 miles to where our headquarters ought to have been but found the place locked up, so went on to our billets & found them locked too, I could’nt make it out, so I went on up to the front line where we keep our guns & found them all gone, on making enquiries, I was told that the Trench Mortars had gone to the rear for a rest but no one could tell me where they had gone to, so I had to walk all the way back, by this time I was feeling pretty tired as I had had nothing to eat since the morning before, & on my way back I got in the zone of fire from a machine gun & I had to throw myself flat on the ground & lie there for about fifteen minutes, I was properly scared as the bullets were flying all around me & one hit my pack which was on my back, I was glad to get out of it, well to make a long story short, I did not find my outfit till the next morning, I was wandering all over the place & no one could tell me where they were till I happened on Divisional Headquarters & they put me right. When I found my lot I was dead beat & they told me that they were to be out for three weeks, but that has since been cancelled & we go back again on Tuesday next. The weather here is awful, it has snowed every day since I came back & every thing is in an awful mess & it is bitterly cold, the coming back again has spoiled any bit of enjoyment I got out of my holiday, I would have enjoyed my holiday a whole lot more if the weather had been better, but they were having pretty much the same kind of weather in Glasgow as we are having here, snow & sleet all the time, I must say that I was awful sorry for poor Etta & Kate, they sure do miss their husbands & they find things very hard, everything has got awful dear in the old country & you know they dont get near as much as you do in Canada, Kate was telling me she only gets 32/= a week & out of that she sends George 5/= & a parcel of stuff that costs about another 5/=, so you see when she pays rent, coal, & feeds six children besides herself she has not much to come & go on, I told her she should not send so much to George, that she ought to think of the children, but I think she was offended at that, at any rate I was very glad that I was able to help them all a little, I only wish I could have done more, as it was I left myself short of money for coming back here, but if I had known I would have taken more with me, I am sorry that I did not see Ettas husband or George, if I had been a week earlier I would have seen them & no doubt we would have had a real good time, I am really sorry for Georgina & I am going to write to her, I forgot to ask her for her address, but I have written to Etta to send it to me, I think it will cheer her up, if I write to her as I think she rather likes me & I am glad I went with her to see her husband, poor fellow, he is not long for this world, that is plain to be see; I have written to Etta & Kate thanking them for giving me such a good time, so if you are writing to them you need not say that I told you how things were, the poor girls did their best to make me happy & comfortable & I am sure I appreciate it very much, when I got back here I found three letters waiting for me from you, also the parcel with the Knife & Sabadilla & Sardines & Chutney &c & a popular & two papers, also wonder of wonders a parcel from Mrs Edwards, it appeared to have been lost for some time as the original wrapping was all torn off & it had been re-addressed, it contained some tobacco & candies & a mirror & shaving soap, I must write & thank her for it, for I really did not expect it. Your parcel was a treat to me, dear, the cigarettes were just what I wanted, you have no idea what a treat it is to get a decent cigarette out here, the ones we get issued to us are just trash, & the chutney was fine, I have made it last for three days, I can eat twice as much with it for it gives the meat such a fine flavour & is nice & hot just as I like it, in fact the whole parcel was a treat & I am enjoying down to the last crumb of the candy. My dear sweetheart, how sorry I am that you are having it so cold & that your house is all frozen up, how I wish that I could be with you to help you to keep the fires going & keep the pipes from freezing, you must be having an awful time of it, dear, & then to think of the chimney going on fire like that & you having to run for help, you must have got an awful fright, it was a good job you were able to get Mr Conn to help you, & poor wee George & Eileen, what a state they must have been in, surely it will be a lesson to them not to play with fire any more, it makes me so homesick when you tell me these things, dear, & about them sleighing down the hill, how I wish I could be there to see them, it must be a great sight, I see that Eileen is not able to stand the cold as well as George yet, well, she always was a great wee girl for the fire, it makes me proud, what you tell me about her being daddys girl, of course she is & George is daddys boy too & they are both of them their Mammies darling too, I am proud to be the father of two such fine bairns, but I am prouder still to have such a splendid little woman as you are dear for my wife oh, if you only knew how I long for you, that this thing was all over, so that I could get back to you, my darling, so that we could live together in peace again. Surely this war will soon be over now, I believe there is going to be something big doing round here very soon, let us hope that we will be successful & that we will be able to finish it this spring, if we dont, we are nearly sure to be here for another year, and noone wants that. I have just heard that we are only going back to the line for a few days & then we are going out altogether with the whole division into reserve, which is very good news indeed, it means that we wont have to take up the brunt of an attack if it does come off, we will be kept in reserve to reinforce if we are wanted, which will be hardly likely as there are so many troops here now who have never been in the trenches & are just dying to have a smack at the Fritzs or Allemen as they call them here, (Allemans is the French for Germans) I like to hear these new men talking of what they will do when they go up against them, it makes me laugh, for I know what it is they are going up against & they dont, so far as I am concerned I dont care if I never seen another German or a trench again, I have had my bellyful of them & I would be quite willing for anyone to come & take my place. So Boyd is leaving the Hardware at last, I wonder what on earth they will do without him, there must be something wrong surely or he would not leave them in the lurch like that, perhaps they have offended him & he is now going to show them what he can do, I guess McEwan will get his job all right, is Dickson staying on too? it is a wonder Boyd would leave with so many Free Masons around.

 

I am glad, dear, that you have got some kind of an understanding at last about the fund & I hope that you will have no more bother with it & that you will get your proper amount regular, still, I am not satisfied that you have enough money, dear, & I want you to stop sending me any more parcels, I would much rather that you would spend the money on yourself & the children in getting yourselves warm things to wear, & I am sure you could do with more blankets this cold weather, at any rate, dear heart, dont send any more till the weather gets warmer & you wont have to spend so much on coal & wood, you know, dear, that I would much rather do without these luxuries than have you wanting for anything, it would just break my heart if I thought you were denying yourself so as to send me things, I want you to have all you want & be comfortable, that is what I joined for, so that you would be able to have a better time than you were having, & I would not be happy if I thought you were no better off than when I went away, so dear old sweetheart, I want you to think of yourself & the children first, I can manage all right & I will be a whole lot happier if I know that you are comfortable & have all you want.

           

So poor old Santa was shot, poor old dog, well it cant be helped of course, but I am sure the children missed him at first, he was a nuisance, all right, but even so, he will be missed, why not try to give the other dog away if you dont want him, he must be a nuisance to you the way he tears the childrens clothes up, I would try & get rid of him if I was you; I am glad to hear that you got the children to take the Emulsion & I would get them some more if I was you, George wants something to fatten him up, I hope you will all escape the influenza, it is a nasty thing to shake off & very often proves serious, keep yourselves warm & keep out of drafts & keep your feet dry is the principal thing, I am sorry about Bill Crydermans child, it is too bad, but perhaps a little care exercised at the right time might have saved her; but who can tell, these things have to be & no one can do anything when the time comes. I have not got my photos yet, but when I do I will send them right on to you, I hope they will be all right, they ought to be, as I went to what is supposed to be the best house in Glasgow & paid a guinea for a dozen, I could have got them cheaper, but I thought that for the sake of a few shillings I might as well get done right, I hope you will be pleased with them. I am still in good health, dear, only for a nasty cough that I dont seem able to shake off, nearly everyone out here has it, we call it the trench cough, I guess I got it through lying so much in damp dug outs & with being in the wet so much, perhaps it will go away when the good weather comes along; otherwise I am in dandy health & I actually think that I am getting fat. I dont think there is anything more I can say now dear, as I have little or no news, there is only one thing that I am really sorry about, I intended when I was in Glasgow to send you & the children some things & I would have done so if I had’nt given my money away, dont be angry with me, dear, I really thought it was my duty to help, but I would not have done so if they had not been your sisters, it was really for your sake that I did it, if I had known, I could have taken Five Pounds more with me & then I could have done what I wanted to, I am sure you will be disappointed, dear, but I did’nt know what else I could do, dont mention to them, dear, that I have said anything about it, as I would’nt like them to think that I begrudged them anything, & then I had figured so much on what I was going to send you that I felt quite mean when I found that I could’nt do it, please forgive me this time, dear, & dont think it was because I did’nt want to because I did. I am going to close now, dear love, as I really dont think there is much more I can say, take good care of yourself & the children, till you get safely out of the bad weather, you did’nt tell me if your head was any better, dear, I hope it is all right again. Kiss my little darlings for me dear, & give them both a great big love from their old daddy. & with all my love to you, my own darling wife & millions of kisses I remain for ever Your loving Husband

Jack

 

P.S. I remember the window you speak of in the old station, I too, used to look out of it very often to see if I could see you around, do you remember the night I went to the hospital & I met you at the back porch & you asked me if I would always love you, ah me, those were the happy days, & I still love you, more now, even than then, & I will always love you, dear, your are my love, my life, my only one, God bless you & keep you & look over you till I come home again is the earnest prayer of your own old sweetheart & husband. Jack.

 

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Kisses for Eileen & George & millions for you, dear.

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