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Date: September 26th 1915

Lyndhurst, Clifton Gardens,
Sunday, Sept. 26th, 1915.

My dear Mother:

This morning I went out to Hythe and had a game of golf with Jack, Percy Band, and young Lennox, lost four balls in the most absurd fashion, used a lot of frightful language for Sunday, got very hot and quit in disgust. If a ball rolled into the long grass the earth seemed to swallow it up and throw a protecting tuft of vegetation over it in such a manner that it managed to elude recapture quite successfully. However, a little luncheon and a draught of ale restored our good spirits and then the rest went back to camp while I returned to the School for tea and to write a letter or two. The tea came along quite as per schedule but the letter writing got behind by reason of the clever escape of all my writing paper during the time I had been away. So I took a bus to Folkestone to look up George and get some Hotel paper. "Some” is what I got, but a very diminutive “some”, three sheets being the entire stock of about twenty drawers which I have ransacked in the writing room. George and his family are now at dinner (7,30 - very fashionable) and I am improving the opportunity. Old Don Peplar is here having dinner with them. He enlisted in the artillery in June and is now in the Howitzer Battery, which expects to go out to the Canadian army within a couple of months; so he may get there before us who have been in the game since January. The only people I have a sincerer pity for than for myself are the Mounted Rifles, who as you remember were mobilized in Toronto in September last and are still waiting. They are going out shortly as Army Corp troops, a sort of general reserve and base detachment, and will have their horses in readiness in the great English remount depot at Boulogne in case a hole is made in the line anywhere. Then the mounted lads have their chance and go through pell mell, hell for leather, to secure the gap.

You will notice that the Canadians are getting on. It used to be the Canadian Division, now it will probably be the Canadian Army, although there will no doubt be a British Division thrown in with them as they are using more than two Divisions in the British Army Corps in France at present, although two is the normal establishment, However, if the blokes are pretty good we shan’t mind them coming along with us, y’know, on that great picnic to Berlin which our friend Sam Hughes described to us so glowingly on a memorable and not long gone occasion, "when the trenches which we now hold shall be obliterated (very wide flourish of the arms) and the victorious British march on invincibly to Berlin", the French no doubt falling in gracefully behind us and kindly loaning us their great air fleet to effect the passage of the Rhine.

Speaking of air fleets, there is a persistent rumour in the English papers that a vast number, some say 10,000, airships are in course of construction here, in Canada and the States, great air dragons with tremendous speed and mounting a couple of machine guns and a great bomb projection, also innumerable little scouts with a speed of 100 miles an hour, which will hover over Germany at a height of 10,000 feet and skip back with every atom of intelligence they can glean of what is going on beneath. Something doing if true! Kitchener seems to be feeling out just at present, and in spite of assertions to the contrary I shouldn’t be surprised if there is quite a “shave” before Winter. The fleet under our friend Commander Miller has been occupied during the last few days in pounding the German base at Zeebrugge and Ostend to powder, and there are rumours of a great sweep along the coast toward Antwerp. Mrs. Miller went to the "show" with George and last night and says that her husband is unusually silent about his future moves, which she seems to think is a sign of activity rather than not.

Poor old Jack Crawford nearly lost his life yesterday, fell from 300 feet up in an aeroplane with your Strachan Ince of Toronto, who is now at Dover and only escaped by reason of the fact that the machine landed on a steep hill which broke the fall. He only got his nose bumped and his face cut, but the machine was absolutely smashed to kindling wood. A gust or something caught the tail as they were going up on a spiral and tipped her right up on her nose. Being so close to ground they hit it before Ince could right her and take the impetus off their tremendous downward shoot. Homer Smith has made a record for a 400 miles continuous non-stop flight, I hear. He also is at Dover, but I haven’t seen him. Everyone says he is a very fine pilot.

I wonder if I told you that about two weeks ago I ran into Bobby and Hugh Sinclair in Hythe; just before the Division left for France. He seemed to think he was to be left behind and said he intended to take out a commission, either in the Artillery or in the Flying Corps if possible. I haven’t been able to locate him since. How is Don? Tell him I really intend to write him some time soon. The trouble is, I tell you people and Fern nearly everything of interest and unless I feel in a communicative and literary mood it rather bores me to repeat it again, so I don’t write many letters besides!

This bomb course is getting to be very realistic. They make us lie down close to the ground about fifteen yards behind a line of trenches; then the instructor gets off in front of us and lobs a live bomb into the trench or onto the parapet, where it explodes and the shrapnel sometimes goes singing over our heads. Even at 15 yards the shock is terrific, just as though someone had struck you a violent blow on the shoulders. The instructor says he wants to get us used to them!! But they are one of those things that the more a normal person associates with them, the less he likes them! Then the field where we throw is just behind the garrison church and church-yard, and they seem to stage an average of two funerals a day. The bell tolls, a band in the distance plays the Dead March, a firing party lines up on one side of an open grave, the bugler at the head. Down comes a surpliced priest, a burden wrapped in a Union Jack borne by several sturdy khaki figures, three volleys ring out, the last post sounds, and the little band disperses. One more poor Canadian lad has gone to sleep in a faraway land. There is a long line of those simple wooden crosses now. Some of them have done their bit and found it too hard; but others have died before their usefulness began, which is the hardest fate to contemplate, I think.

Well dear ones, the paper is petering out, so I must say goodbye. Best love to all the dear ones. I am quite well as I hope you all are.

Yours lovingly,