Chisledon Camp, Wilts, England
Tuesday, July 3, 1917
No letters for nearly two weeks except a card from Mother this morning in which she refers to being in Balt. Probably there will be a big mail to morrow. We are going out on night operations to night and to morrow stand in on a ‘refresher’ course in musketry with the Lee Enfield which will be a welcome change after the amount of squad drill which we have had lately. This unspeakable nonsense which is still perpetrated on us after fourteen months is the worst strain on a man’s nerves and the worst trial to which your temper can be put that can possibly be imagined.
Yesterday was that rare thing a holiday. In the afternoon I walked into Swidon with a fellow named Rogers who enlisted in Toronto shortly after I did. He is a very nice fellow and indeed has acted, as Dorland says, in a more consistent gentlemanly fashion since he joined the army than anybody else. (There are these crazy young idiots playing hockey on the floor with a baseball and three canes. I am sitting on my bunch and the C.4. idiots are making such a row and driving the ball within a [?] of my head and my inkbottle, so that I am nearly crazy. Such are some of the difficulties under which letters are written when the writer is at war.) But to return to Rogers, he is a big man abut six feet with breadth in proportion and unusually ugly. He was at Varsity for a year, the year before I entered- but gave up his course and got employment with the city – some kind of inspectorship of cement I think. His most interesting habit is the way in which he [?]tten very silly platitudes with a calm dignified air of absolute finality. But he is a very fine fellow who has not been changed by his surroundings. We walked in to Conte Reservoir, first to Chisledon, then across the north Wilts golf banks, across a lovely luxuriant little valley cut by the railway and then through English fields fringed with woodlands to the little artificial lake about half a mile long which is known as the ‘reservoir’, You know that view you got from the high point on Bathurst street n the way up to Aunt Bessie’s, looking west. Well as you walk towards Swindon or better still east along the ridgeway of the downs there is a view something like that only nearer and more beautiful. There is a broad stretch of meadowland nearly all uncultivated and covered with trees and hedges to such an extent that it looks almost like the partially cleared land around Dalhousie, except that the trees, instead of being coniferous are primarily large spreading [?], bushes, briers, ashes and sycamores. I have never seen an oak tree, in my recollection, since coming to England and feel some that there isn’t one in this ground of Wiltshire. Then five or six miles across the valley, the ground rises again gently and gradually, still more wooded and on the skyline nestling in the trees you can just see the old town of Highworth, ‘Highworth is hale and hour’ as a Wiltshire post describes it. It is a very beautiful walk across the fields onto Conte and one which I frequently take Sunday afternoons. When Rogers and I got to the lake we got onto a boat, as the two Evans brothers, Written and Oral were in possession of a solitary canoe and rowed or floated around for an hour. Then we walked into town and had supper at the Cyclist’s Rest. I had two poached eggs on toast (inevitable, I might almost say compulsory) bread and real butter, sliced tomatoes, strawberries and cream, a big pot of coffee and hot milk and a glass of cold milk. I certainly felt righteous after that meal. Then we walked around the streets looking for a movie which had Charlie Chaplin (I regret to say that I have never yet seen this gentleman) but he was not in town. Sp as we didn’t want to go to the theatre where there was a particularly rotten revue called “Shush’ we went out and lay down in the Eodland meadows on the outskirts of the town which are pleasant and provide the most beautiful combination of meadow and woodland. Then as there was nothing to do, we went home on the early 9:30 train. Speaking of ‘revues’ George B. Shaw, I think it was, said that the effect of revues was to reconcile him to death. When they are cheap and rotten they certainly make you wish to cease upon the midnight without gain but I must confess that when they are costly and really funny I have a weakness for musical comedy in all forms. It’s popularity however has the effect of providing entertainment which has absolutely no intellectual appeal. I was going to say that the effect was unfortunate but of course it is only as if one idealizes the test too much.
I haven’t heard from Bill for ages. He must be very busy I guess. Bert Evans has certainly had a hard time of it but neither Dorland nor I know exactly what was the matter with him as we have never had a letter and only gathered about his illness indirectly. Dorland is going to try and get leave to go and see him.
Do you know Marion, I never thought of social service for you. Now that you mention it I think it would be splendid. I believe that there are excellent facilities for entering the work in connection with the university and you would be sure to find it interesting. I don’t know what I’ll do when the wars over at all. After such a long period of idleness except for forced automatic movements and housemaid’s work, I don’t feel fitted for anything. The Russian offensive is a fine thing I guess, but I can’t see much hope for anyway one looks at it. A peace after victory I am now convinced would not leave Europe in a favourable condition for a durable peace, and yet, the German government seems to bar the way to anything else. However everything is moving towards a conclusion which may come earlier than we expect.
Very much love to you all,