16th Can Inf Res Batt
My own darling Wife.
I don’t know what to think about our letters, I have just received a letter from the 5th Reserve at Sandling enclosing your letter of enquiry to them & they state that they have advised you where I am, I have written to the Army P.O. London enclosing your letter, also to the record office in London & I hope that after this we will get each others letters more regular, We are not the only ones, dear, whose mails have miscarried, there are two other chaps in this hut who have exactly the same complaint, & they are writing to the Army P.O. about it to-day. I received your parcel all right, the other day but no letter, the parcel was splendid, dear, I got just exactly what I needed most, Razor Blades, Socks & Cigarettes, just as it happened I had no money & I was dying for a smoke & I was waiting for pay day so as to buy some more blades & socks as I was run out of both, so you may guess how glad I was to get it, I also enjoyed the eatables very much, they were quite a change from the Army rations, but I was very much disappointed at not getting a letter from you dear, it is such a long time now since I heard from you, & I am always wondering how you are & what you are doing. I don’t think that I will be here very much longer, in fact I would’nt be surprised if I got sent back to Sandling before the end of the week, they have found out here that they can not send us back to France, so I guess they figure that there is not much use keeping us here any longer, so now we are all confined to camp in case our transfers come through which are expected every day, I am sure I wont be sorry to get back to Sandling as I am sick of this place, the place itself is all right, there is a lovely coast & cliffs & the country itself is beautiful, but it is the people I don’t like, I would much rather be with my own crowd, I havent made a friend since I came here & I don’t care if I never do, I only go into the mess for my meals & to see if there is any mail for me, there is no use going there for sociability or pleasure, that seems to be reserved for just a few of the older hands who are holding down good jobs here & don’t want to make it too comfortable for new comers for fear they lose their jobs. I took a holiday last week-end, I got a week end pass & went to Brighton which is only about ¾ hours run from here, I had never been there before & I must say that I was very agreeably surprised, it is a beautiful place, but talk about crowds, I haven’t seen so many people together since I came to England, all promenading up & down the sea front, there were all sorts & conditions of men women & children.
I think all the Jews from London must have been there, nearly every other one I met was a Jew or a jewess, it appears they all got out of London for fear of the Air raids & talk about the ladies dresses, they were a fair treat to see, they were of all colours & sizes, it was pretty hard to realise that there was a war on, bands were playing on the piers, & picture palaces were open & all kinds of amusements going on, although it was Sunday, the only places that did not seem to be doing much business were the Churches & Salvation Army, in fact it was more like what one would expect to see on the Continent, instead of sedate old England, talk about the Ladies dresses, I never saw anything like them, they all wear them short, just to the knees, with fancy stockings & shoes, in fact, Brighton in my estimation is just a glorified leg show, even the old dames like to show off their legs, I know this much, that it is not very long ago that the whole country would have been crying out about such an exhibition, but the war seems to have put a stop to anything like modesty & all the femenine folk seem to vie with each other as to which one can look the boldest & create the best impression, that is all to that side of it, you can call it the bright side if you like, there is a much darker side, there are several military hospitals in Brighton & the most of them are for amputation cases, I think it was the most pitiful sight I ever saw in my life to see the crippled soldiers among that gay crowd, fine looking fellows from all corners of the empire, some with one leg or one arm, & some with no legs or no arms & some blind, there are thousands of them, it makes ones heart bleed to think of what those poor chaps have come through & have yet to come through, so that all those fancy dressed people may have their enjoyment & liberty & good times, the poor maimed soldier gets little thanks for what he has done & he does not want any, but he cant help wondering as I have done myself, if these people really realise the awful horrors of war, in fact, if they know there is a war on.
There is only one thing about this camp that I like & that is the Y.M.C.A. they have social evenings there every night & I am taking them all in, the Rev. J. Pringle, who was our Chaplain in France is here & takes a leading part in everything, he & I are good friends, he is an older brother of the Rev Pringle who used to preach in Vernon, he is a fine old fellow, he had a son killed in France some time ago, he is great on telling stories, especially ones about his experiences in the Klondyke, where he was at the time of the big gold rush, then some nights there are concert parties from London, which are pretty good, then the other night we had a namesake of mine, the Rev John McNeill, the famous Scotch preacher, I guess you have heard of him, he is a very earnest man, I was speaking to him & I reminded him of the time he was in Belfast with D.L. Moody, he remembered it all right although that is twenty five years ago.
Up till to-day we have been having lovely weather, bright & hot, but it has rained all day to-day & has turned quite cold, it was too wet to go on parade, so we have had to stay in our huts all day, which makes it pretty miserable, Now, dear love, I think I have told you pretty near everything except to tell you how much I am longing to hear from you, it makes me feel so lonely & miserable when I don’t hear from you & I start thinking all kinds of wild things, So dear heart, write to me & let me know how you all are & what you are doing & tell me all about my little darlings & what they are doing, they should soon be going to school now, should’nt they dear, but if you think it is too soon yet, just let them enjoy themselves awhile longer, this is probably the happiest times they will ever have & it would be a pity to spoil them yet.
I don’t suppose you have done anything more about Georges eye, what do you think about it, dear, do you think it will have to be taken out or will they be able to cure it, I wish I knew, it must be an awful worry to the poor little chap. I wish he was as sturdy as Eileen. Well dear love if I keep on like this you will wonder what is the matter with me, so I will close now. Kiss George & Eileen for me sweetheart & give them a great big love, one of daddy sort, you know. & with all my love to you my own sweet wife
I remain as ever Your own
XXXXXXXXX Loving Husband XXXX
XXXXXXXXXXX Jack XXXXX