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Date: October 5th 1918
Mother and Father

Park House

Parkside Rd.

Reading, Berks.

Oct. 5, 1918


Dearest Mother & Father,

Now just where will I begin. Such an exciting two weeks it has been that I know you will forgive me for not writing before. Mary said she wrote you a long letter and I am glad she did as I really hadn’t a minute. As I wrote you on a letter card two weeks ago to-day I had just had a wire from Sem saying he had unexpectedly got leave. He arrived down here on Sunday afternoon the 22nd. I couldn’t get off duty till 5 but Mary & Marion had the ½ day so met him when he came up here, and looked after him til I arrived on the scene. He got a taxi & went to Sonning about 4 miles away for dinner & had a good long talk and decided to get married. It was the only way I could possibly get any leave and then Sem had been through so much lately that had 3 very narrow escapes & in fact the last time was blown 30 feet & cut on the side of the head. That was the reason he was given leave as the colonel was afraid of his nerves giving out, as he had been under a terrible strain for the last 2 months and Reay’s death had upset him too. Well getting married in England in war time is quite some job & waiting for my leave to come through from the war office was another tedious affair and in the meantime I was working away like a slave in the ward all day long & getting off at 5 & spending the evenings with Sem. We wanted to be married in London, but as neither of us had lived there 15 days it couldn’t be done without a special license so we decided or at least had to have it done in Reading.  Church of England as there isn’t a Presbyterian church within 3 miles.

Mary did all the shopping there was to be done for me. She certainly was a brick as her time off duty is limited too & you hardly have time for such things. I was married in my outdoor uniform and little black cap – probably Mary has written you all this. She took it & had it cleaned & pressed for me. I had my blue georgette dress as you know and wore it every evening for dinner in Town, also had my brown & brown coat. All I bought here was 3 prs. of gloves – white, grey suede & a pretty coral shade. A sweet pale pink georgette blouse, a very good purple velour hat, grey silk petticoat, new corsets – little pale pink ones with satin tops, couple of silk shirts, lovely fawn spats wash cloth & tooth brush.

Crocket lent me her rose corduroy bath robe, a perfect beauty as I hadn’t time to get a new one & couldn’t get one I liked here anyway & Mary lent me a yellow georgette blouse. I had heaps of underclothes as you know and Daphne finished my mauve crepe de chine nightie for me with boudoir cap to match & added a pair of satin ben room slippers the same shade. That was the extent of my trousseau and I was just as happy as though I had had heaps. I took the badge off my uniform suit & wore it with a fur. Semi didn’t buy a new thing either. Came right from the firing line with a haversack  & didn’t bother getting new tunics or anything.  What he had of new course was good enough. The war office would only give me 3 days & the Matron added 3 more. I wanted to be married on Thursday but my leave didn’t come through till 10 o’clock Thursday night so we married on Friday at 12.15. only 8 there & all in uniform. Stan & At. came down on Thursday had dinner with us & then went back to London – came down again Friday morning in plenty of time. It was so informal, but just suited us both. After the service we taxied to the Hotel & had lunch, Stan, At, Mary, Crocket, Sem & myself & then Stan, At, Semi, & I took the 2.30 for London. We spent the 6 days there at the Waldorf beautiful hotel & every comfort.

My engagement ring is lovely solitaire & the whole ring is platinum. My wedding gift is a string of pearls (not real of course but one of those expensive imitations) with a platinum clasp set with little diamonds. The home sister here was perfectly great also the Matron & were so nice about everything. They were all quite taken with Semi.

Sunday. Stan. Atwood & Miss Alexander had lunch with us at our hotel. The latter is a very sweet little thing – pretty of course too.

Monday Atwood treated us to lunch at Prince’s. That afternoon we were walking along by Trafalgar Square when who should I see but Cousin Jim and Elaine, when I introduced him to my husband he nearly collapsed – however he invited us over to the Savoy for tea. We were there for dinner that night too with Daphne & Mae. Mae had just arrived on leave that day. Went to the old Drury Lane theatre that night & saw a very clever comic opera called Shanghai.

On Tuesday Daphne & Mae had lunch with us. Sem’s cousin Forbes Cooper & his wife came down from Liverpool that afternoon to see us. We had dinner together & a box party after at one of the theatres. Wednesday we did some shopping & I had to come back that evening. Sem came down with me but went back that night he came down the next afternoon though as I got off at 5 & yesterday the matron was good enough to give me the half day – so we spent it (word crossed out, “on”) at Sonning – such a quaint English village on the Thames. with an old fashioned Inn. Taxied there and back. Sem took the 10 train back to London last night & left for Folkstone at 7.30 this morning. He is in Boulogne by now. His battery is very near Cambrai, so of course he will be in the thick of it. His majority came through the day we were married so he is now Major Mackay in command of no.12 Siege Battery. It just seemed right that we should get married as both Stan & Atwood were on leave & we would never all be together like that again. Anyway we are both very glad we did. He is certainly the most thoughtful person in the world & couldn’t do enough for me.

Col. Keiller Mackay sent us a beautiful pair of silver filigree bon bon dishes on little pedestals.  Miss Martin my old V.A.D. friend here gave me one of those low broad flower bowl with roses floating on the top. Mrs. Murray MacLaren sent us a book. Pf course we don’t expect wedding presents & are quite happy with them.

I got the letter you sent to me addressed to Stanley & have sent it on to him. Both the boys were looking very well.

I was so glad I had the hospital & the girls to come back to as otherwise I would have been very lonely, but we are so busy here that there is very little time to think.

I must write Mrs. Mackay to-night too. I expect you were all very much surprised, but this war is so uncertain that it didn’t seem worth while to wait any longer. – however I never expected to be married as soon as this – December or January was about the time we had planned for it. In April we will probably each have leave again.

There are heaps of interesting details I wish I had time to give you. I had to get the marriage license as I was the one that had lived in Reading 15 days & then Semi had to make a flying trip to London to get a sworn affadavit from the Canadian pay & record. office that he wasn’t already married as there have been one or two cases of Canadian officers already married doing so again. Oh, we had some funny times & there is certainly a lot of red tape before you can be married in England.  Now if I haven’t told you everything you would like to know just write and ask me all the questions you want to.

Have a lot of letters to write so must say good-bye. Lots of love to you all. The parcels for Attie & me haven’t turned up yet but they will probably be along any day now.

Saw Don, Barker, Maurice Fisher & Jim Humphrey when I was in London.


P.S. Don’t forget I am Mrs. Colin Mackay now.

P.S. Send this on to Hazel. Did you get my cake all right. 

Original Scans

Original Scans