c/o Sergeants Mess.
My own Dearest Wife.
It is a month now since I wrote you last, but honestly I have been kept so busy that I had no time for anything, I just got back from Bexhill yesterday & right glad I am to get back, I was down there on a Bombing course, it was very interesting but it was awful hard work, but the weather was bad, it rained nearly all the time which spoiled the interest quite a bit, we slept in tents which were old & leaky & there was lots of mud & what with our blankets getting wet & the mud getting on to them made it quite uncomfortable, we had to get up at 6. O.C. & from 6-30 to 7-30 we had physical training, then breakfast & from 8-45 to 12-15 was bombing & lectures & from 1-30 to 5 O.C. more bombing & lectures, then after supper we had to write out the lectures & make drawings of the different kinds of bombs both British & German, I never got through before 10 O.C. at night & very often it was nearer midnight, so you can see for yourself how busy I was, then the last two days were taken up with examinations which were written & oral, I have not heard the results yet but I expect to get a first class out of it, I worked hard enough for it, I did not see much of Bexhill but from what I did see it is a very pretty place, with a beautiful beach, I would like to have been there during the Summer as they say it is a very fashionable place & besides it would have been easier for me.
I started this letter five days ago & I was interrupted & sent down to the Hythe School of Musketry, it was a hurry up call & I had no idea when I went down there that I would have to stay, so I did not take my writing pad with me, however I had to stay there & only got back here this morning, I fired the general musketry course & made out all right, I made good scores & am now a marksman & entitled to wear the cross guns on my sleeve, I have got the result of my course at Bexhill too, I got a first class at that & I am very well satisfied with myself, so far I have been on three important courses & have made good in them all & now I am detailed to go on another course at Chelsea, London, on the 3rd December, There is only one officer & myself going on this course which is for three weeks & is a very important one, it is held in the Guards barracks & all the instructers are guardsmen, it is a general course & is supposed to be what is called a finishing course, any one who passes through this anyway good is classed A 1 as this is the most advanced school in England, I would not have got this chance if I had not made good in the other subjects I took up, & if I make good in this one I think in fact, I am sure that I will get a job as instructor in the Battalion, it has been promised to me, however we shall see about that later on. All the time I was at Bexhill I never received a letter from you, but I got a parcel & oh my, it was in some shape, it was the one with, one tin crab & 2 tins lobster, & 4 tins sardines, the crab & 1 tin lobster, & 2 tins sardines had been burst & the air got into them & believe me they did stink, however the other tins were all right & I enjoyed them very much, this week I have done all right, I have received two letters & a parcel & a popular & two papers, the parcel was the one with the whiskey in it, it was all right & I had great pleasure in drinking your health, I was very glad to get the razor blades & soap as mine were all done & I was kind of up against it, they arrived just in time & so did the cigarettes & the socks I liked the socks better than the other ones you sent me as they are not so heavy & they seem softer, when I washed the other pair they shrank to about half the size & they hurt me a little when I put them on, however I know this pair wont shrink & I will be able to get along all right. I am sure glad to hear that the children are going to school & that they like it so well, I hope they will continue to like it, it will be better for you too, wont it dear, as it will give you more time to yourself, my how I wish I could get home to see you all & help you with them, I am glad you got the enlargement of them when they were babies, I still carry to one I brought from home with me also the other one that you sent me, you will be interested to know that the chap who took that photo is here in this company, his name is Pte C.J. Bailey & he remembers the day he took the photo perfectly well, he was wound in the head but he is all right now. I see that you have had to send your marriage lines to Ottawa, it is strange that they have only thought about it now, as I know that they are very particular, it is a wonder that they did not want the childrens birth certificate too, I hope you have got your marriage lines back by this time, if not I would most certainly write & get them if I was you, you know what Govt officials are, they might forget about them. As to them having me on their books as a L/Cpl, I don’t think it matters much, but if you like you can contradict them & let them know that I am a L/Sgt at any rate, that we are sure of but as to the other rank of Sgt Mjr I have had no reply from France so I can’t tell you any thing more about that. I think I told you in my last that I had taken up the separation allowance question with the pay-office, they don’t understand why you are not getting $20 from me instead of $17.50 & they tell me that they are writing to Ottowa about it, there should be about $30 coming to you anyway back money. I know perfectly well, dear, that it is not the money you are thinking about, but right is right & you are entitled to all you can get. I am glad to hear that you have taught the children to be so clean, & I am glad that they take such an interest in their teeth & finger nails, don’t let George sit with his eyes too close to his writing as it is very bad & is liable to make him squint, I would speak to his teacher if I were you & perhaps she could teach him to hold his head up, they must both be pretty sturdy for to take such long walks as they do, I am glad to know that you are all so well & I am sure dear that I hope you will all continue so, if you only knew how much I long for you, love, & how much I look forward to coming home to you & seeing you all again & it is the dearest wish of my heart that you should keep in good health & spirits; I see by the Post script to your letter that you have not yet filled in the form, but I am afraid you will have to, as I have been speaking to some of the married men here & they tell me that their wives have had the same thing & that they sent certified copies, the reason the govt is doing this is to prevent fraud & prevent men from living with other women & giving them the allowance, at least that is the way I figure it out. I see that you are thinking of taking a furnished house, is that not going to be pretty expensive dear, I don’t know exactly how much you are getting from the Patriotic fund, but if I remember right it was only $10-50, so that with the other 40 dollars you would only have about $50 a month, & when you would come to pay for a furnished house & pay for coal & wood & gas & food &c, as well as for wear & tear of furniture I am afraid you will not have much left, I don’t want to hinder you, dear, you know I want you to be comfortable, but would it not be cheaper for you to take a small house & furnish a couple of rooms for yourself, you could take that $50 war bond that you put in the P.O. it should be worth more than that, & sell it, or the P.O. would give you the money for it, it would help to furnish a couple of rooms for you, but do as you think best, dear, & whatever you do I will agree with, as I said before I have only one wish & that is to see you happy & comfortable. I got a sore disappointment to day & I don’t know yet what I am going to do about it, I went to the paymaster to see if I could get some money as I wanted to buy some Xmas presents for you & the children, he started to add up my pay book & said that he could not give me anything as my book was in debt, I told him I could not see how that could be as I have always drawn within my pay, but he says it is perfectly right, that my book is about $50 in debt, but he has taken the book & is sending it up to London to be balanced, in the meantime I cant draw a cent & if my book is on the wrong side of the balance I will only be able to draw 10 shillings a month till it is made up, not enough to keep me in tobacco, I need hardly tell you how this has disappointed me, dear, but there are the facts & it hurts me more than I can tell you, that I am not able to send you & the children something, it makes me feel miserable to think of all the good things you are always sending to me & me not able to send you anything at all, try to forgive me dear, & believe that this hurts me more than anything else. Oh if I could only get home to you to spend this Xmas with you, just think love, this will be our fourth Xmas apart, it seems to me like a lifetime, God grant that this may be the last, you & I are both getting older & our children are growing up, & it does not seem right to me that I should be away from you so long, the children will not have the same feeling for me as they would if I was with them all the time, I am sure they don’t remember what I was like & I have missed the best part of their lives & the pleasure of watching them grow up from babies & now they are going to school & I have missed that, it all makes me wonder if I am ever going to have any pleasure out of my bairns, but no matter how much they grow they will always be babies to me, & then there is you dear, you have had the hardest part all through, you have done splendid & God knows I am proud of you & proud to have you for my wife, I am living & have lived a straight life & when I come home to you I think you will find that I am a better man than I was when I left home & if we are both spared we will have other children yet as I remember you always wished for more, so take care of yourself, dear love & teach the children to take care of themselves too, so far you have done nobly, no one could have done better, I am afraid I will have to close now, dear, I feel as if I could write all night, but I am going on guard to-morrow & I must have some sleep to-night, as I wont get any for 24 hours after to-morrow morning, so kiss my darlings for me dear, & give them their daddys blessing & with all my love & lots of kisses for you, my own sweet wife, I remain as always
& for ever Your loving Husband -