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Date: October 31st 1915

3rd Battalion,
1st Canadians, B.E.F.
October 31st, 1915.

Dearest Mother:

I was delighted when your letter and Madeleine’s came in the other evening with the ration party. There is always considerable excitement in the ditches when about nine o’clock the tramp of many feet on the ”bath-mats” down “Blythe Avenue” indicates that the carriers are returning from Battalion Headquarters with their load. Satisfaction over the prospect of food and water for the next day is remote as compared to the positive elation which Tommy displays upon receipt of his mail with perhaps a box of ’’extras” from home to help out his rations. The other occupants of his ’’booty hutch”, mildly interested only in the number of sealed envelopes he receives, or perhaps profanely envious if they themselves have received none, immediately become affable and unusually courteous in their deportment when a package comes bobbing under the curtain. The recipient is held in high favour for the next day or so and congratulated on the number of tremendously fine people he appears to be in strong with. The officers, in defiance of all traditions and precedents of the great British Army, immediately sing out "Any mail, Sergt.Major?", instead of the conventional querie, "Any casualties, Sergt.Major?” intended no doubt to signify their superior interest in the welfare of their troops over mere personal comforts.

However, to return to your letter, I am sure that the Army Postal Authorities must have been amused at the overweening presumption of the address thereupon superscribed. "Third Battalion, British Expeditionary Force" is rather vague considering that it now consists of some millions men, most of them not Canadians. However, it arrived without delay, the Post Office no doubt concluding that as it came from Canada it was going to a Canadian. With the insertion of "1st Canadians" it would be quite clear and sufficient.

I hear that the 35th Bn. is safely in England and am awaiting anxiously for word of my parcel from Dick Harcourt. He will no doubt mail it over to me. As for parcels, Mother dear, they seem to arrive here safely enough and are always acceptable. We take them up with us when we go back to trenches and they help out our meals, which though excellent are sometimes lacking in palatable delicacies. Perhaps too there is a great deal in just getting a parcel from home right under the nose of the German guns, so to speak. Chocolate and candy of any sort, trilbies, shortcake, or anything of that sort once in a while put one in better humour and considerably modify one’s habitual attitude of Hell and damnation to everything on earth for the time being. As for the fur coat, it would be very comfortable but I couldn’t possibly carry it and I feel sure that the transport officer would look askance at the size of my pack if I shoved it in it. Besides, the cold weather here is rainy weather and what is required is a hard waterproof surface with fur inside if you are going to wear fur. I have my great coat and also a fleece-lined waterproof. On mild days I wear the waterproof and if very cold put on the fleece-lining, then my great-coat and if necessary the raincoat over all. That is my sleeping outfit with the addition of a blanket and Fern’s balaclava cap. As a rule, I manage to keep warm that way for about three hours, and as a rule that is all the sleep we get in trenches at one slap.

Buster Reid had his hand shattered by a rifle grenade the other day and has gone back to England. It isn’t serious but may result in the partial loss of the use of his fingers.

Well, Mother dear, I have a job to do on the wire while it is dark, so must run. I will write again soon but want to get this off.

Love and more love to you all.

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