c/o 12th Reserve Bn
8th March 1917
My own Darling Wife.
It seems an awful long time since I heard from you last, but I received a letter yesterday, also two populars & three Vernon News’, this is the first news since I received the letter with the 5 dollars, I have not received a parcel for months, & here I might say, dear, do not send me any more parcels or money, as it is only money thrown away when they don’t reach me & besides now that the children are growing up so, it is far more important that you should have the money at home, don’t think, dear, that I do not appreciate them & the self sacrifice they entail, but I hate to think that so many are being lost & neither of us deriving any benefit. I think I told you in my last that we were liable to move from Sandling soon, but I did not think that it would take place so soon, we have been in this camp now for a week & I cant say that I like it so well as Sandling, you will notice quite a change in the address, the 12th Reserve absorbed the 5th (there is no more 5th now) also two other battalions, so you can see that we are quite a big outfit now, we have also got quite a crowd of conscripts & when we are all on parade we look more like a brigade than a battalion, I am on the drill staff, & it is my work to drill the conscripts, it is awful hard work as we are kept going all day & they are hard to teach as they know absolutely nothing & they don’t want to learn, but it is my job to make them & believe me I keep them hopping, you ought to hear my voice, after shouting so much it has cracked & I am as hoarse as a frog, there are only a few instructors which makes it so hard, but I hear that they are going to increase the staff so that it should be easier in future, it is an army order now that all instructors must be casualties, this has thrown quite a few out of good jobs, & there is a lot of hard feeling over it, but we don’t mind that, we are just getting our rights. The country round here is very pretty so far as I can see from the camp, we are well inland away from the sea & this part of the country has never been visited by enemy aircraft so that it is much safer here on that account, this camp is about the largest in this country, it stretches as far as the eye can reach & it would be just as easy to get lost here as in a city, there are lots of YMCAs & other clubs, also a camp theatre & several cinema shows, so that there is no need to go to a town for amusement, the nearest town is Godalming & it is about five miles away, London can also be reached by Bus in about two hours, but of course we are not allowed to go there, I have no wish to go there anyway as I have not much use for London. Yes dear, it is over three years now since I left Canada & very weary years they have been, I am sure that when I left home I had no idea that this war was going to last the way it has done, it seems to me that the best part of my life has gone, it hurts, dear, when I think what I have missed, the comforts of home & the pleasure of watching our
children grow up & lots of other things, what a fool I was to exchange these for the hardships & chances of death & sickness that I have went through since I joined up, of course I would probably have had to join up anyway, but I could have chanced that. It is quite evident that you & I are both missing quite a lot of letters & I cant understand where they are going to unless they are at the bottom of the sea. I am sorry dear that the children are so troublesome, I know it is quite a responsibility to have to bring two youngsters like them up in a proper manner, but I am sure dear that for my sake you will do the best you can, be firm with them & don’t be afraid to punish them if they do wrong, but at the same time don’t be too harsh with them, of course they will get into all kinds of mischief at school, but all children do & they must let themselves go some time & as long as they don’t do anything really bad they will be all right.
I have been in fairly good health of late only for a slight stomach trouble, the Dr says it is Catarrh of the stomach but it is nothing serious. I would like to apply for my discharge all right, but I know it would be no good, perhaps I will get a leave one of these days, the first contingent men who are married are getting three months leave to Canada & quite a few of them have left here & should soon be back again as soon as they have all got theirs, our turn will come next & an officer was telling me the other day that I would probably get my leave this summer of course I am not going to bank on it but I sure hope it will come through. You have said quite a lot about this Frank Connolly & I must frankly admit dear that I wish you have never met him, don’t for a moment think, dear, that I am jealous or that I don’t trust you, I don’t trust him & if I was home I would get rid of him, I have heard & read too much of returned soldiers working on the sympathies of other soldiers wives & then taking advantage of them, in this country, not to know what returned soldiers are, God only knows how many homes have been broken up through them, every newspaper that one picks up has some such case in it, it seems to me that this man has been trying to work his way into your sympathies & why should he, a complete stranger, buy my children clothes & as for the statement he made that he would willingly take my place so that I could get home, that in my mind is only talk to get on the soft side of you, as I said before I do not trust him & the sooner you get him out of the house the better I will like it, you know I trust you dear & I know that you are still true to me, but for Gods sake don’t give people a chance to think evil things of you, you know that it takes very little now a days to blacken anyones character or to start a story, so for your own sake & the sake of our children get rid of this man, for I honestly believe he is not going to do you any good, if you are badly in need of money take my 50 dollar war loan out of the P.O. & use that, or let me know & I will assign more of my pay to you, I would rather starve than think that another man was keeping my family from penury. Now don’t think, dear, from all this that I am angry with you, for I’m not, but I am mad with this man, for I know his game just as surely that I know I am alive & I would not be surprised if you had found it out for yourself by this time, I will always trust you, my own darling wife no matter what any one else may say & if this man does you any harm as sure as there is a God in Heaven I will kill him, no matter what happens to me, I have faced death too often during the last three years to be afraid of it now, so dear one for both our sakes try to live it out for a while longer with the children, I will surely get home some time & we will be able to start again together in a nice little home of our own. This war can not last for ever & don’t forget that the darkest clouds have a silver lining, forgive me dear, if I have said anything to hurt your feelings, you know I would not hurt you for the world, but if you only knew how much I loved you you would know that I am only writing this for your own good. I am glad to hear that the children are doing so well at school, it is very creditable to them, I only wish I could get home to supervise their lessons & help them out, as for them getting vaccinated, I believe in it all right, but they have already been done once & I don’t see why they should get it done again, you have had enough trouble with them nursing them while sick, & I think if I was you I would refuse to have them done again, at any rate for a while yet, there are always a clot of cranks who can think of nothing else but causing people trouble & I only wish they would mind their own business & let people alone. There is a strong rumour going around that we are going to move again, we may go back to where we came from, but I don’t know yet, so when you are writing address your letters c/o the 12th Can Reserve Bn c/o The Army Post Office, London, & they will send it on to me don’t send me any more parcels dear, as I know you need the money at home, besides I don’t get them anyway, when I opened one of the Vernon News, one of the leaves out of Eileens copy book was in it covered with her writing, it was really very good & I was surprised that she could write so well. I hope dear, that you are not having as much difficulty getting food as the people in this country have, everyone is rationed now & every family has to have meat, sugar, & margarine cards, just imagine, a working man can only buy 15 ozs meat in a week & everything else is the same, it is just as bad in the army, we are rationed down to the last ounce & cannot get a meal outside at any price, in the canteens or YMCAs we can buy a cup of tea for 1d but they wont sell more than one bun to anyone & you cant go twice, & if a soldier goes on leave he has to get a sugar card & a meat card from the quartermaster or he would be out of luck for either, our rations are so small that most of us are hungry all the time. I don’t know that I have much more to say, dear, as news is mighty scarce, the weather is beginning to get warmer now but the nights are cold, however the summer will soon be here now & we will be able to do without fires again. Forgive me, dear if I have said anything in this letter that has hurt your feelings, but I am so anxious about you & so afraid that someone will try to do you harm that I had to say what was in my mind, I have kept myself for you dear all this time & I know you have done the same for me, but I was afraid for your fair name, God knows I have had lots of temptation since I came to this country, but I have always turned it aside, it has never appealed to me at all as it has done to other fellows & I don’t intend to give way to any passions while I am away from you, So my own dear love try to believe in me & realise that I love you more to day than I have ever done before & I am looking forward anxiously to the time when you & I will be together again & as long as I live my sole object will be to make you as happy as it is in my power to do, so trusting that this will find you & the children all well I remain as ever & always will be to the end Your loving & devoted Husband
don’t forget to give my little darlings a great big love & lots of kisses from their old dad & with all the love in my being for you my own darling wife I am your own Jack.