25 Oct. 1918
Dear sender of boxes. I am again indebted to you. One of the loveliest boxes you have ever sent me, such a feast of good things. You lifted me quite out of my “sore headed bear” state tonight into feasting, laughter and song. When I went to the mess for supper on the top of the mail boxes were three parcels for hut ten One was for Wigston, one fore Strader and one for me. Mine was the best of the lot. Quite knocked the spots off Wigston’s and when he gets a box he usually has quite a lot of wind in his sails. He is firmly convinced his wife is the best cook in Canada, this among many other virtues and wonders. He had socks, sugar and canned cocoa, and corm. We are to have a wretched dinner of stew tonight for our midnight meal and I am planning to regal the company on home corn. I that love you, and others who do not know you will on in our hearts sing your praise. I shall surely have paper enough now. And such a feast of candy in this desert land of sugarless things! The biscuits, I mean cookies, the pea nut butter which I have taken such a fancy to for a lunch in; the morning after a hard night and the copious corn. You are a dear. …
There are a thousand things else to write you about dearest girl we shall have a terribly hard night of it so I must away to business.
This is morning. How are you my sweetheart? A lovely morning and I am feeling “powerful” good. All the ‘flu has left me. The prevention for ‘flu are the most pleasant you ever heard. First you ear all you possibly can, then you sleep and rest all you can! Imagine the irony of that at times like these. Such a dinner as we had last night though. It wasn’t stew but cold roast, potatoes, dried corn, French fried bread, army custard, preserved peaches, fancy biscuits, candy and raisins. Such a lot of pull and influence we had to exert to get all that, gathering here and there, from the matron, from Straders and my parcel, some from De guerre’s wards, etc, etc.
At the base yesterday some Canadians were passing through the first trenches in preparation for the line. When marching they roll their great coat into a bandoleer and hang it over their neck and shoulder. The sergeant will give the order “great coats rolled” and this means they are to march some distance. They have numerous parades, pass through gas chamber, etc. This morning was raw and cold and when the sergeant ordered “Medical inspection, parade in boots and great coats only” there was much shivering and gnashing of teeth and much else. One wag yelled and “great coats rolled? Without the great coat they would be naked and at the full mercy of the late October wind.
A very sad thing occurred the other night. A mother arrived to visit here son on the dangerously ill tent. If she had known the ward he was in she would have seen him alive but while she stopped to enquire at our office he died. In this war she had lost her husband and all her three sons. This one was her youngest and last. If only some writer had the power to picture her loss and her sorrow, how much she had loved and how much she had suffered in consequence!
Last night wasn’t so had as I expected. I was all through by four o’clock. Our office is nicely painted and cleaned, lovely little shades of some light material pictured with pink roses on a black frame. The walls are cream coloured and the wainscoting green. Then to the keen discontent which always follows the good times of leave is falling from me and the harness is fitting more lightly on my shoulders.
I heard a typical war joke the other day. “How did you get into the army?” “Pull” was the answer. “And how do you expect to get out?” - “Flu”.
Poor old herb was telling me his agonies on leave. When at his lady’s home in Birmingham he discovered he had lice about his person. Had perhaps got them in the hotel. He was horrified, his flesh itched and was creepy. He felt as those of day when they were possessed by unclean devils. To go home directly would not rectify matters for perhaps some were around his room. In his great despair he made a clean breast of it to the good people! And they answered “Oh forget all about them!!! Imagine such a thing possible! Think though that is about the last word in hospitality. Can you think of entertaining a friend and co? …
My experience on leave, if nothing else would show me how hard it is to get materials for cooking. The women folk of England have quite forgotten all the ills they and their chicks and everyone else s chicks have all their hats and frills talk and it’s rations, eternally rations. Oh yes they talk quite as pleasantly of rations but that is the whole of their conversation except at rare moments of inspiration when they strafe the Kaiser.
Pardon me for being skeptical and even abusive of women. When I am away from them I get this way so you must really keep me close to yourself to keep me in respect and liking with woman kind. I am sure you could and would teach me to sympathize with them even in their effort for votes and husbands.
This is night. Letters from you, Amos, Miss K.B. and my photos from Glasgow. With regard to the latter, sweetheart. I did not think I looked so down and out in all my days on leave. But I was late out the night before and “fed up” for some reason that morning. Not much heart in having my picture taken. Must send you one though, such as it is. Please be assured I look well. Put your finger over my eyes, which look weary and I wont look so bad. Shall send them only to my most intimate friends.
Hope your cold, dear, was not the Influenza. Mine is and I don’t feel so very good tonight but Influenza develops rapidly or not at all so don’t worry about me. There is only one of our fellows seriously ill and he is over the worst of it.
All is well.