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Date: August 5th 1915

35th Bn.,
Dibgate, Shorncliffe.
Aug. 5th. 1915.

Dear Mally:

Your letter of July 21st has just reached me and one from Fernie of July 22nd, and I had one from Kae not so long ago.

I was sorry to hear that my cable to Fern had reached, as I tried to cancel it by a following wire. I sent one home as well, but was able to catch it at London, but the other had been “wirelessed” and so had to be chased. I must have had too big a lead. However, you will have received the one saying I had returned, and here we are still.

I had three letters from the front this morning, one from Sergt. Ellis, one from King Nash who is now a Lance Corporal, and a fine strapping soldier, and one from another of the lads. Apparently they had a fairly easy time for the week they were in the game as the company only had one casualty and that not serious. They have been split up pretty much since coming back to billets and sifted into the other companies, but they are still very anxious to see their old officers out. The Colonel told them that Major Smith would probably be back quite soon as the order had gone through for him, and the boys let out a yell that made the Germans nervous. The third lad who wrote me thanked me “for taking such good care of us all”! You’d think I was some bally nurse. Well, if I am a nurse its beyond doubt I’m a very profane one upon occasions, but the men don’t mind a little “langwidge” so long as it isn’t personal. They rather regard it as a sign of virility. Just at present I am attached to the French Canadian company, which is rather hopeless. The boys are bright and fairly keen but lacking in self discipline. One chief trouble is that they haven’t been handled properly. As one of the officers here said, they have been “reviled into apathy” by officers who had no discipline themselves and did more talking than enforcing. Last night they were paid and this morning 18 were absent without leave. Well you would have probably hurt yourself with amusement to see their O.C., Major ------, haranguing them this morning like a French Canadian politician on the stump, slapping his bosom, wringing his hands, and absolutely hacking the atmosphere to pieces. Not that he lacks forcefulness, but it seems to be diffuse and misdirected. About ten minutes later I was taking a roll and had occasion to ask one chap to repeat what he had said, which he did by turning around and bawling it at me at the top of his voice. For a minute I was knocked absolutely lollypopskidalewise. Never had anything like that happen before. The sergeant told me the fellow was in the habit of being insulting and insubordinate, so I called an N.C.O., detailed an escort, and in two minutes had him jugged without saying a word. The men who were of course expecting a tremendous rhetorical effort simply gasped with surprise. The chap will probably get seven days in military prison hauling bricks, but I think it will prevent any more trouble of that kind.

Major Smith is now in command of “C” Co’y; Geroge is platoon commander in the same, while Arnold is assisting in organizing a new company arriving to take the place of ours. So we are all helping out. Not bad for the 35th, eh?
Well dear, I’m not going to tell you all about my trip to London and on to Weston last week end. It was great fun and we were on the go the whole time, but it was rather expensive. I’m afraid to examine my bank account to see how much I have to end the month on. I gave Fernie a full account of all my comings and goings and so you can have another of those little literary circles and have some discussion afterward. I didn’t get drunk, but at one stage I was very nearly helpless with fine food. However, we are back to the simple and fairly strenuous life again, although not anything like what we had with our old company. We don’t work these fellows quite so hard. They are not up to it yet, although the men themselves are good stuff and George says the chaps he has now are great diggers. The more I see of this game the more clearly it appears that given ordinary good stuff the whole thing depends on good officers and N.C.O’s. If you study men a little and treat them accordingly they will nearly always respond, that is, speaking generally.

We went down last night to hear Mr. Bonar Law speak. All the Canadian officers here were present, and it was a very interesting evening. Mr. Law is not brilliant but has a quiet convincing manner. He based the Allied cause entirely on moral issues and the question of which ideal of national and international development is to prevail. He showed the immense value of material forces and resources as instanced by German success so far, and then went on to show also the greater value of moral froces and resources such as those which alone afforded a foundation for the Empire. He then went on to show how what Canada and Australia and India had hone was an astounding proof of the strength and value of these moral forces, in other works, the strength of freedom in spite of its weaknesses. He then went on to deal with some particular points of interest; where we had succeeded and where failed; our achievements and shortcomings. English people are most remarkable in the way they castigate themselves, although they are at the same time the proudest race on earth.

Afterward Sam Hughes got up to say “a few word” and delivered about ten pages of closely written piffle. Absolutely impossible self-advertisement! The man may be, certainly is, resourceful and energetic, but his mind is low. In plain English, he is an infernal bounder! Nothing but brag about what the Canadians had done and the British as a whole had done, absolutely ignoring the existence of France and Russia apparently. He ought to hear some of our officers from the front on some achievements of the French. Thank the Lord he didn’t mention the Ross rifle, which at present is being used for posts at the front. I always hated bluster. I detest it in its many forms in the army and I cannot pardon it even in the august person of Kitchener’s military mentor. These infernal amateurs who are overcome by the strange appearance of themselves in khaki give me a pain.

I was so glad to see all the Toronto papers. They are so personal compared to the English journals, which are bare chronicles of the facts of the situation. What they print may not always be so, but it is at least interesting. Their main fault is that they are all more of less suffering from the incurable Canadian, of perhaps American, propensity to brag. I don’t think Canadians really have a better opinion of themselves than the average Englishman, but the Englishman keeps it to himself at least.

I am sorry that I have been unable to see Bobby Sinclair yet, but I intend to make a point of looking him up this week. Tell Mrs. Sinclair that I a m almost positive he is still here as his brigade is part of the second division artillery at Westenhanger. I was delighted to see a couple of the Frat. boys the other day; old Tom Gordon of the golden tongue of “Colonel” Anderson. They are N.C.O.’s in the Varsity Company now here to join the Princess Pat’s.

No my dear, I haven’t seen Ray yet, although I had a letter from him from Grimsby. I shall try to make arrangement to meet him later on. What I should like to do is to run up to Scotland, but it would require a week’s leave and about $75. The latter I might raise, but the former is almost impossible to get at present. We are expecting a call at any time as we know that the Third is short of officers. It is just possible that they are holding the places for officers retuning from hospital. They might at least give us a few weeks of it. Probably we shouldn’t be so bored with the peaceful life here if we had been through the mill for awhile.

I was glad to hear that you and Fern had such a good time together in Bowmanville. Dear little Fernie, she was so glad to have you with her, Dear. She also said that you all were looking very well just now. I am so glad dear Mother is better. Tell Dad not to work too strenuously. It really doesn’t pay.

Dearest love to you all, dear ones. I miss you all very much. Don’t think I am uncomfortable though, for life here is really fairly pleasant in a primitive way.

Your loving brother,

Aren’t they doing great things in recruiting in Canada. I am glad to see it. Bonar Law says, “Don’t talk to me about business. The best business for us is to end the war”.     E.B.P.

Tell Mrs. Sharpe I got the socks, with thanks.     E.B.P.

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