3 C/1 Trench Mortar Battery
3rd Infantry Brigade
1st Canadian Division
My own darling Wife.
I am sure that you must have been very uneasy about me as it is such a long time since I wrote to you, but for the last month or six weeks I have been so rushed that I have not had a moment to call my own day or night, the way I have been shifted around from one place to another has been a fright, no doubt you have seen in the papers that the Canadians have been doing some heavy fighting, I have been through the most of it & Thank God I have come through unscathed, it has been an awful time, I was under four successive bombardments in 16 days & I can tell you, dear, they sure tried my nerves, I was in action all the time, fortunately my gun crews had very few casualties consider - the amount of work they did & we have been very highly complimented for the way we worked under very adverse conditions, one of my crew has won the Military Medal, he is the fourth Canadian to win this decoration, naturally we all feel very proud of him, he had congratulations sent to him by the King & Lord Kitchener & the Premier of Canada. As you will see by above heading, I have changed my address again, I think this one will be permanent this time, when I wrote you last, I told you I would not have to go into the trenches again, nor would I if they had not changed the batteries around, as it is now, I will probably have to do two or three more trips in, so as to get all the batteries into proper working order, before I can settle down to my proper work at Headquarters, I wont be sorry when we are properly organized, because then I will have more time to myself, I am afraid I have lost a lot of my mail as I have only received two letters from you in six weeks, no papers & no parcels, however I expect to get it all very soon as I have sent to the Postal Headquarters for them to send it to me here. I am happy to say, dear, that I am enjoying the best of health, my cough does not trouble me very much now, in fact I hardly notice it, my worst worry is my eyes, they are not nearly so good as they were & at night it is very difficult to find my way around, during one of the scraps I was in, the enemy threw over some weeping shells, they are called that because they are filled with stuff that affects the eyes & makes them run water, just like strong ammonia, & makes them smart something awful, & since then my eyes seem to have got worse, it was a good job they did not gas us at the same time, it would have been horrible if they had. It is summer here now & the country is looking beautiful behind the firing line, the trees are all out in leaf & the crops are springing up & the birds are singing to beat the band, there is only one thing to spoil it all, & that is the distant rumbling of cannon, it is continuous, it never ceases day or night, but oh, how much better this is than what we had last winter, floods, mud, snow & frost are all gone at last, we are beginning to forget them now & are looking forward to a good summer, I hope this thing will be all over before the summer is gone as I dont believe I could stick another winter out here. I had a letter from Georgina some time ago to tell me that her husband had died. I have not had a chance to reply to her yet, but: I will probably write to-night, I think in one way it must have been a happy release for him, as he must have been a burden to himself, lying in hospital all the time & not able to get around. I dont think from the tone of her letter that she is very much grieved, in fact I think she looks on it as a relief both for her & him, he was probably insured, perhaps not for very much, but enough for her to live on for a while. I have also had a letter from Janet Edwards & Mary Fenton, Janet did not have much to say for a wonder, but she expects Arthur home in Vernon for the Summer, Marys letter was very nice, she tells me that George & Eileen are growing very tall & that they are looking splendid, she enclosed an Easter card from Rita, she did not have much news, I suppose things are so quiet that she really had nothing to write about. During this last tour of the trenches I ran across Bob Lea, I met him quite by accident one evening when I was going through the front line, he was looking well & fit, he had only been a few weeks out here, he said he had got fed up with England & took down his Corporals stripes to get here, now he wishes he was back, he was telling me about Happy Jonge, he has been away down at the base ever since he came to France, he is writing for a camp paper down there & has never even been within sound of the guns since he came out, Bob says he has got cold feet & I believe they had quite a row, it appears Happy was writing to friends in Vernon telling all kinds of stories about the trenches & making believe that he was having an awful time of it, & Bob found out & has written home the truth of the matter, he has told Happy what he has done & of course Happy is sore. I am glad you got the Photos all right, dear, it is too bad I did not get some full length ones, but I thought you would like those best, as for showing the stripes, I never thought about them, at any rate I dont wear them any more now, I wear a brass crown on the cuff of each sleeve instead, to denote the rank of Sgt Major or 2nd class warrant officer, I suppose it was a dissappointment to the children not to see daddys officers stripes, but if I get a chance again I will get taken full length, but I wont have the kilt, I see the Battalion have had theirs issued out to them again, but I dont want one, pants are good enough for me & they are much more comfortable. I got your letter all right with the Yellow Bells in it that the children plucked, I am awfully sorry about Eileens teeth, it is a great pity that something cant be done with them, poor wee girlie, how I wish that I could get home again to help nurse her & comfort her, I was sorry to hear that George had been using naughty words, tell him if he does it again that daddy will be very miserable & cry if he hears that he has been misbehaving himself again. You will have to keep a sharp look out for them, dear, when the jitney busses start, I am very uneasy about them, as I know how daring they are, make them keep off the road, dear, & play on the sidewalk.
Tell Mr Bigland that I very often think of him & the times we used to have fishing up the creek, I suppose he has the creek pretty much to himself these days, as I know that most of the fellows who used to fish there are out at the front now, I have never run across Billy Hall yet, but I have heard of him several times & he is still all right, I will probably run across him one of these days, but it is very uncertain, you know he was engaged to Joe Biglands daughter, the one who teaches school, it is a wonder he did not get married before he left home. I have just received your letter dated April 13th while writing this, also the parcel with the cigarettes & chow, the chow will be a great treat for dinner to-morrow & I will keep the cigarettes for the trenches, the last time I was in I did not have a smoke for over a week, & I dont intend to go short again if I can help it. I am glad to hear that you are all well, dear, I know that you wish I was home again, I wish I was too, I am sick of it out here & sometimes I am wicked enough to wish that I could get wounded so that I might get sent back, but after seeing some of the poor fellows maimed this last time, perhaps for life, it makes me hope that I will be able to get home with a whole skin.
I am glad to hear that you have cut off from Mrs Edwards & Mrs Todd, I dont think they were much good to you as friends, I have not replied to Mrs Edwards letter, nor do I intend to, she makes me sick. I see by your letter that you have been Kalsomining the house, I am sure, dear, that you made a good job of it, you always were a handy little woman & you usually carried through what you started on.
I am afraid I have lost that good bed you speak of, for a time at least, your suggestion that we could lie bread & butter on it is all right, when I get home I will see if I cant get one the same size & we can try it, but I am afraid one of us would get too warm the one underneath for instance, or perhaps we could change round, however, we will see, perhaps we wont have to get another bed, ah dear, how your letters do make me long for home, I am so lonely out here without you, I want to love you & be loved by you all the time, I am longing for the time when I will we able to get home again & to hold you in my arms, so that we can start our little life over again, my earnest prayer is that you & I may be spared for long years to come to love & honour each other & be a guide & a help to our children. I have been trying to get some nice post cards to send to the children, but we are too far away from any town & I am afraid it will be some time yet before I will have a chance to get any, however I got a hold of some & I am sending them on; I hope you will like them all right. Well, dear heart, I think I have written all I had to say, I know you will forgive me for not writing when you know the circumstances, I will write again just as soon as ever I get a chance, dont be uneasy about me, I am still all right & doing fine, rumours are flying around that the war will be over very soon now, Pray God that it will, so that those of us who have wives & families waiting for us may be able to get home to our loved ones. Take care of yourself dear sweetheart for my sake as I am taking care of myself for your sake, I hope that when I get home you will never have any more worries as I will take care of you & do everything for you that it will be in my power to do, kiss my little darlings for me, dear, & give them a big love from their old dad, & with all the love in my being for you my own darling wife, I still remain
Your loving husband