Search The Archive

Search form

Collection Search
Date: July 17th 1916
To
Janet
From
Jack
Letter

Moore Barracks Hospital

Shorncliffe

Eng

17th July. 1916

 

Sweetheart Mine.

 

No doubt you will be surprised to know that I am in England again, & I am sure you will be glad to hear it, The last time I wrote you I was in the Boulonge Convalescent Camp, I was there for 10 days, the doctor there declared me unfit & sent me to the base details camp, also in Boulonge, to be sent from there down to the base, while I was there I had to appear before a board of four doctors & they confirmed the other doctors statement, well, I was sent from there to the Canadian base at Le Havre, where I appeared before another doctor, also another board & they sent me to England, I arrived at Southampton on Sunday & arrived at Folkstone the same night, I had to have another board there & their verdict was to give me a months rest & then give me light duty so they sent me here & I have just had a thorough examination by another doctor & according to him I am in perfect bodily health, my only trouble being nerves, I am awfully nervous, this arises out of the shock I got while in the trenches in the beginning of June, The chances are that I wont go back to France again, but of course I dont know yet, at any rate I will be in England now for some months I am sure, I ought to be here for six months anyway & a lot of things might happen in that time, the war might be over then. Well Dear Heart I had a pretty rough time of it while I was in the trenches, I think I have seen all the service & fighting that I want to, I was fed up with it, for the last three months our lot were up in the Ypres Salient which is considered to be the worst part of the line, this is where the Canadians were last year when the Germans threw over Gas for the first time, up there it is one continual rain of shells both day & night & they use all kinds of them, such as Tear shells, which make your eyes smart & causes partial blindness & Gas shells which suffocate, they also have a shell which does not burst when it lands, but will explode anytime from ½ an hour to 24 hours after, they have killed a lot of men with this kind, they also use liquid fire, which throws a flame about 40 yards long & burns to a cinder everything it touches, add to all these horrors the machine guns & bombs & trench mortars & rifle grenades & is it any wonder that my nerves have gone, I dont think it is, I have seen men go crazy, clean out of their minds, & I have seen men cry, I have cried myself, at the horrible cruelty of it all, there are hundreds of bodies up there not buried, but with the continual going to & fro of the troops they have got trampled down into the mud, here & there you will see a leg or an arm or pieces of what once were men lying all around & the stench is awful, on a wet night & there is no wind it is unbearable. We thought last year that the Festubert fight was pretty awful & the sights we saw there were bad, but it was’nt a patch on this last scrap, although we had a pretty rough time there, after we had fought at Festubert, Givenchy, & La Bassee, they took us to a quiet part of the line to a place called Ploegsteert or Plug street as we call it & we spent the best part of last summer & fall there & then we moved to Messines where we spent the winter, this place was’nt so bad but the trenches were awful, I have already told you about the awful time we had with mud & water, & then this spring they moved us up to that hell hole Ypres (pronounced heaprees), before the war this was one of the finest cities in France, famous for its Historical buildings & beautiful streets & houses, now there is not one house left standing, everything is in desolation. It would break your heart to see all the towns & villages that have been laid in ruins, in some places there is hardly one brick left standing on another; but I guess you are tired of hearing all this rigmarole, I cant write it as well as I could tell it. I guess you have been pretty anxious about me this past while, dear, & I am awfully anxious about you, do you know, I have not heard from you since last May, I wrote up the line for them to send my mail on to me & I have got no reply, perhaps it has been sent back to you, otherwise I cant imagine where it can have got to, I have had trouble with my mail before, but I always got it eventually, I am worried to know how the children are, you know the last I heard from you, they were both sick, I do hope they are all right again, dear, you know, my heart would break if anything was to happen to them or you, the trouble is that I dont know where to tell you to address your letters to me to, for I dont know how long I am going to be here, I may be out of here in a week & it may be months before I get sent somewhere else, however I will drop you a P.C. & let you know where to write to as soon as I know. I saw Johnnie Magee yesterday, he was driving a motor ambulance round here, I just had time to speak to him & no more, he was looking well, he told me that he had heard that you were up in Scotland, I told him that I did not think so, as such news was too good to be true, would’nt it be nice dear, if you were only here now, I think my cup of joy would be filled if you were, if I could only see your dear face again & hold you in my arms for awile, I think I would be the happiest man alive, it makes me positively wild to see other men here with their wives visiting them & walking up & down the sea front arm in arm, it just puts me right down in the dumps. You will be surprised to know that I am wearing the kilt again, I tried to get a pair of pants but they would not give them to me, that was at the Base in France, you see my pants were in rags with barbed wire & I had to throw them away, so there was nothing else for it but to put on a kilt, however the weather is nice & warm so I dont mind, I am allowed to wear my uniform here, although the other patients have to wear the hospital blue, this gives me the privelage of going where I please, but it is not much good to me as I have got no money & I cant get any till I leave this hospital, I think I will get 10 days leave as soon as I leave here & then I will draw what money I want & I think I will spend my leave in Ireland if I can get there, as I hear it is out of bounds, if I cant get there, I think I will just put in the time between London & here, but I am counting my chickens before they are hatched as I may not be able to get out of here for some time yet, at any rate when I do get my leave I will be very glad as I think it will feel fine to be free from the military for a while. I do wish you could be here, dear one, to help me to enjoy it, would’nt it be fine if you were, we would sure have a good time together, My own dear sweetheart I do want you bad, I only wish I could get my discharge & get sent back to Canada so that I could be with you again, I would give anything for that, I am in the prime of manhood now & I feel that I am missing the best part of my life by being away from you for so long, but if things go on as they are now at the front I dont think the war will last much longer, & then I will get home again to you dearest, Oh, how I long for that time, surely it wont be long now. I have just been thinking that you might address your letters to me c/o The Shorncliffe Barracks P.O. Shorncliffe. Eng. & I will leave word with them to post them on to me, so write soon dear one & give me all the news you know I am hungry for news of you. I think this is all I have to say just now dear, I am feeling fine & I am getting quite fat with having nothing to do but lounge about & eat & sleep, it is a great change from the trenches & I am going to make the most of it while I have the chance. So dear Heart, kiss my little darlings for me & give them both a great big love from their old daddy who loves them very dearly & with all the love in my heart & heaps of kisses for you, my own darling Wife, I remain as ever to you

Your own loving Husband

Jack.

 

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

I wish I was with you to give you all these & a big love too - Jack

Original Scans

Original Scans