11th December 1916
My own darling wife -
I am sure you must be near crazy with anxiety about me, not having heard from me for so long, but the truth is dear that I have been very ill, & I am not an awful lot better yet, I have rheumatic fever pretty bad, or I should say was bad, as I am supposed to be nearly convalescent now, it seemed to affect my right side most, my right arm & leg swelled up nearly twice the size of the left & I had absolutely no power in them at all, at times I thought I was going crazy, I know I was delirious several times, the pain was simply awful, & at times was more than I could bear, you ought to see me now, I look like a skeleton, it is only this last few days that I am allowed anything to eat at all & its only a nibble I get at that, a bit of chicken or fish, & jelly & milk & soda, but the sisters are very kind to me & dont let me starve, by the way, this is another hospital I am in, it is at a place called Lyminge, the name of the hospital is Etchinghill, Lyminge is a very pretty little place, it is a little village about 12 or 14 miles from Folkstone, the hospital is in the old workhouse which has been reconstructed for the purpose & is very comfortable, I would much rather have it than Moore Barracks, as it is much quieter here & there is not so much bustling around, some of the sisters are Imperials, the rest are Canadians, I would much rather have the Imperial nurses as they seem to know their work much better & they pay far more attention to their patients, the sister who looks after me is a real motherly old person, she has white hair & is very stout, with a very red face & is always panting for breath, but if I had been her own son, she could not have looke after me better than she has done, I was going to get her to write to you for me several times, but I always lost courage as I thought it would frighten you. Taking it all through, dear, I have had a pretty rough time since I got back to England, while I was with the CCAC I seemed to be out of luck altogether, in the first place they lost all my papers & did not seem to know what to do with me at all, they just kept me hanging around then the whole outfit left Folkstone for Westenhangar & from there went to Shoreham near Brighton, while there I had several jobs conducting men to their base battalions & it was while on a trip to Bramshott Camp with 50 men & a prisoner, that the prisoner escaped I was brought up before the O.C. about it, although the man was caught the next day, the O.C. wanted to punish me for letting him go, but I refused his punishment & demanded a Court Martial, which I got about a week afterwards, & the case was dismissed without prejudice, so I was all right once more, then they found my papers & sent me to the 92nd Battn for Base duty, I have not been long enough with them yet to know much about them, for the very next day I had to take a draft of 250 men over to France I handed them over at Le Havre & then had to stay there a week before I could get back, I got back on a Saturday & on the Sunday I had to take a fatigue party to Ashford for a week to work for the Ordnance people, then when I got back to camp I only had three days & I was sent over to France again with another draft, this time I had two officers with me who were going over for instruction & I had to take them right up to the front line, this was on the Somme, & I can tell you it was a hot time, I saw a little of the fighting but not much I am glad to say, altogether I was up there about two weeks, when I took sick & was sent back here, it was the exposure that did it, we had to sleep just as we were & anywhere, mostly under a hedge or beneath a stump of a tree & it was wet, very wet, & this is the result, although I was marked Permanent Base by the medical board, I was led to believe that I would eventually be sent back to Canada but although I have applied for my discharge or failing that duty in Canada I have had no word of any kind in reply, I dont expect to get out of here for three or four weeks yet, but as soon as I do I am going to parade before the Colonel of the 92nd & ask him to use his influence to get me a permanent base job in Canada, the trouble with me is, that I have no pull, other fellows here seem to know all the big bugs going & can get all they want, when I wrote you last, I had every hope of being with you for Xmas, but I might have known that my luck was not good enough for that, of course I might say that I am lucky not to be in France, well, perhaps I am, but I can tell you that there is no pleasure to be in England just now, everybody is grumbling, prices have gone away up, worse I believe than in Canada, it is nearly impossible to buy sugar, in fact it can only be bought ½ lb at a time & then only if you buy 2/6 worth of other goods, potatoes are so scarce that they are feeding the army roasted chestnuts twice a week instead & everything else is in proportion, at the new year we are to have standard bread, a sort of wholemeal bread, white bread will not be allowed to be sold, worst of all is the lights, everything is in complete darkness at night, no lamps on the streets are lit at all, & every house has to have dark blinds, if a gleam of light shows at the side of a blind, the party is summoned & the fine is usually 30/=, now they are cutting down railway travel & no one can travel without a special permit signed by the military, so you can see, dear, that there is not much pleasure living in England just now. The first thing the sister gave me when I was able to sit up & take notice, was two letters from you, one from Vernon with the proofs of the photos & the other from Vancouver, need I tell you, dear one, how glad I was to get them, especially the photos, which showed me how my sweetheart & little darlings are looking, you all look splendid, our bairns have grown so big that I declare I would hardly have known them, George has sure grown to be a fine sturdy looking lad & I see that Eileen is growing up & taking all her good looks with her, you yourself, dear dont look a day older, in fact I think if anything, you have improved since I went away, at any rate, dear sweetheart, you look good to me & I am longing to get back to you more than ever, to give you that chance to spoon with me, I dont think I’ll get tired of it so soon as you think I will, in fact, you will find me coming back at you & then what, eh. So you have gone to Vancouver to live, I hope you will like it all right, dear, but from what I have heard of it, I am afraid you will find it rather damp, would you not rather have gone to Victoria instead; I think it is a much nicer place & healthier too, how do the children take to living in a city, they will find it strange after living in a quiet place like Vernon, I am glad you did not sell all your furniture as I think I would much rather go back to Vernon than go to a big city, I do hope you will be able to get George’s eye fixed up poor little fellow, it must be an awful drawback to him, I can see the difference in his eyes in the photo.
Now dear one, I dont expect you will get this letter till New Years anyway, but although I have not been able to send you Xmas greetings, believe me, sweetheart, that I am always thinking of you & the longing in my heart for you is getting harder to bear all the time, this is my third Xmas from home, pray God it may be the last, this is my birthday & three more miserable birthdays & Xmas’s I dont think were ever spent by anyone, this time last year I was in the trenches, this year I am in Hospital, God only knows where I will be this time next year, let us hope & pray that I will be with my loved ones again, & that we will never have to part again. Dear love, I am going to close now, as I am feeling pretty tired, I am a little weak yet you know, I hope you & George & Eileen have had a good time this Xmas & New Years, I would have liked to have sent you all something but being in Hospital I cant do anything as I cant get hold of any money & I cant get out anyway, so my darling, tell George & Eileen how it is & give them both a great big love & lots of kisses from their old daddy who loves you so dearly; & with all the love & devotion in my being for you, my own dear loved one I remain
As ever Your loving Husband
XXXXXXXXXXXX Jack XXXXX
P.S. address me
You will notice I have taken down my rank as Sgt Major, It appears I was only acting rank & was not getting the pay, acting rank is no good here & I would rather appear in my confirmed rank, then no one can say anything about me, by addressing my letters to the 92nd Batt I will be sure to get them, no matter where I am.
Now that I am getting stronger, I will write to you again in a few days & let you know how I am coming on