December 10, 1941
Well, here it is December 10th and your second son is another year older. I seem to be getting old in an awful hurry now that I have passed my 25th birthday. It doesn’t seem much different from any other day, however, though it does drive home the fact I have been away for a long time. Things have certainly taken a sudden and rather shocking turn in the Pacific, haven’t they? It annoys me no end to see how stupid the Americans were in allowing the dirty little Jap monkeys to catch them so completely by surprise. Imagine a navy lying at anchor in an open harbour, while the nation is on the brink of war. From all reports, the losses during the first thirty-six hours are staggering. The States have at last been shocked into action, but what a price to pay.
It must really make some Canadians sit up and take notice too, when Jap aircraft carriers are sighted close to San Francisco. I wonder when the Democracies are going to wake up to the fact that we are fighting a total War for our very existence. Perhaps now, Canada’s yellow-livered wartime vacationist will see fit to order conscription. Canada’s war effort, so far as manpower is concerned, is shamefully small, considering the population. This will definitely put Australia in a spot not to be envied. Well, the Americans always did have a taste for big things, so perhaps this War is to her liking, as I feel sure she won’t be able to find a larger scrap to take part in anywhere.
We Canadians over here seem to be allotted the unpleasant task of being home guard for the duration. I read a very interesting article in Maclean’s Magazine yesterday, in which Beverley Baxter interviewed Major McNaughton. On some of his views, I think he missed the mark by a wide margin, particularly when he said the Canadian troops were contented with their soft spot and eager to learn. The truth is actually, for the most part, we have gone stale, just as a boxer who over trains before a fight. I think that at least one Division should be sent into action if for no other purpose than for experience and seasoning. Many of our high-ranking officers still have 1914-1918 ideas on how a War should be fought. A case in point, was an order by our new C.O. in which he laid down that all brass on web and other equipment must be polished. Of course, this is contrary to the lesson learned in Dunkirk, Crete &c, but we still polish our brass. I could mention many other little things equally stupid and annoying to anyone who wants to get on with the business of War. But what’s the use, the censor will be busy enough as it is. What I am trying to say, is that it is very doubtful whether we are actually profiting from the mistakes of the past two years. The Americans showed quite clearly just how much they learned from sitting on the sidelines.