Shoreham Camp, Sussex England
Congratulations my son upon your taking the plunge. You acted with superlative wisdom in joining the O.T.C though I should try hard, if I were you, to get a Canadian commission rather than to come over here and join the British army. Not that there is anything particularly rank about the Imperials, but it seems to me that it is desirable if possible to keep one’s Canadian individuality especially when so many bone-headed Englishmen have got the idea that you’re a colonial whom we own “and that its a great honour to become an officer in an English regiment”.
Before I go any farther I want to express my belated thanks to all the Keiths for that scrumptious box containing the huge slab of maple sugar. It was like a little bit of good old Canadian woods translated into the hot house chicken farm of England. You done have hear much now about the Germans starving to death but upon my bully word you know old thing I really don’t know how we’re going to hang out much longer in this ‘tight’ (note all the meanings, there are a good many) little island. The staple article of diet, beer, will soon be out of reach except for war profiteers, chocolate is getting scarcer and eggs, eggs are 3/6 per doz! If the hens give out as many as will give in because outside of London you can get hardly anything else to eat. (Eggs I mean, not hens) The glorious old cyclists are still wearing brach[?], doing bayonet fighting. They do bayonet fighting because the bayonet so we have been informed is no longer used as a weapon of offence, being replaced entirely by the bomb; and secondly they do bayonet fighting mightily because it is one of the few things which us cyclist ever does at the front. The cyclists in France dig holes in the ground with pick and shovel under a starry sky, retiring when the stars begin to fall close to them, at least so I have heard from one of the fellows who went out with the draft in May.
At present I am on an infantry draft which is great fun because you can get out of a lot of parades. Occasionally we get a little infantry drill by signalling sergeant who isn’t quite sure how to form fours but most of the time we drag around bags or pile boxes for the 2 M.S. I think that this above mentioned infantry draft has been cancelled at any rate I’m not going on it because I have humorous feet; but I’m not in any hurry to get off either since it is a pleasure to read the Memoirs of Bevenent Cullin than to double sound a corporal to have something explained which doesn’t need explanation or which has already been explained a dozen time, each time by a different explanation; or to ride all over the country behind a young jackass who has been resting up all week to and has suddenly taken a notion to see how fast he can go! Dorland and I tried to get on a Machine Gun draft. Dorland made it all right but they turned me down in account of a ragtime heart. The M.G. draft hasn’t gone away yet but there is a possibility that sometime it may.
I was very glad to hear that they have stopped recruiting cyclists in Canada but cannot [?] and it in the least. What they ought to do is to raise about five hundred more intelligent young men for highly specialized work, dispatch into riding, par rolling, and scouting send them over here and put them into the infantry. However I’ve heard that they i.e. Canadian people in general are getting rather peeved over the methods of recruiting in Canada.
Now Haddow I have a whole heap of letters to right so must run this short. I hope that the war will be over long before you are ready to come to England and sometime think it will because there are forces at work underneath the turmoil. On the other hand there are plenty of people everywhere who for very good reasons of their own can’t bear to think of the horrors of peace bursting forth after three years of joyful war. May all such be compounded, bombed, bayoneted, trench mortared, rifle grenade, star shelled, bomb wired, gassed, Jack Johnsoned until they get jolly well fed up with it!
You know this isn’t a bad old life – I mean it isn’t uncomfortable and you can have lots of fun – but it’s disgraceful to be wasting time when theres a war on. It’s hard for a private to do anything though, especially with an O.C. who’s an old woman and an adjuntant who is obsessed with the idea that he’s a military genius and above all if the private in question is constitutionally incapable of ever becoming anything more than a [?] soldier.
Old Bill has had a hard year’s work out in France I guess. Am waiting at present for a letter from him as it’s his turn. Hope he gets leave soon for he certainly deserves it. He ought to come back to England and take out a commission.
Best of luck and love to all the family,