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Date: November 14th 1915

3rd Battalion, Toronto Regiment.
1st Canadian Division B.E.F.

My dearest Mother:

Your letter came to me in the trenches a few days ago, and in the struggle out I mislaid it, and cannot now remember whether there were any questions I was to answer, and so on. I think you asked about warm clothes and really I think I am as well off in that  respect as possible. Of course the weight we can carry is limited so we have to get the most value out of things. I have with me two suits of heavy underwear and a couple of heavy khaki shirts, also my sweater which I wear almost continuously now. I have with me about half a dozen pair of socks with a half dozen in reserve in my box at Folkestone. Also a sleeping cap and a scarf and a pair of woollen mitts with an extra pair of breeches.

Yesterday I did a little tailoring with a small pair of nail scissors as my only weapons. I reduced both my raincoat and greatcoat to knee length with considerable success. Anything longer than that out here when wading about in mud and water is only an added tribulation. In fact the ideal costume for this game would be a pair of rubber boot breeches and a short peajacket raincoat. That is, of course for the trenches; it would be rather sweaty and inelegant in billets.

The night before last it rained very hard, and a small river here backed up and flooded the whole country for twenty-four hours. One section of trench was in a rather bad state end I had to take a working party from our billets up to the line to help drain it. The communication trenches were pretty muddy, but the front line was hell! We waded about up to our hips sometimes for a couple of hours and finally got the men to work where we thought most needful. Then I went back again without having reduced the waters much except to the extent that I carried them away in my nice little brown rubber boots, which are very nice for muddy roads and puddles but not much use in the ditches. I went over on my way to see our section of trench which isn't so bad except in certain low spots. We go in soon and will have an uncomfortable hour. However, we should worry, Mother mine.

Our blood is getting as thick as molasses and cold is becoming merely an inconvenience. The only thing we have to guard against is trench-feet. Colds don't bother the men much more than in ordinary life but a great many have to give in on account of feet. It isn't a frost bite but a sort of chilblain over the whole foot. Sometimes they get into a terrible state. However this winter special precautions are being taken and we hope to get through fairly well. The men who were out last winter are the ones who have the most trouble. It seems to be a thing which comes back inevitably when damp weather sets in again. There is a preparation of whale oil which is being issued and which I believe is very beneficial.

Every battalion in the Brigade is busy at a time like this strafing every other battalion. You go out of trenches having had a pretty stiff time of it and still leaving things in a bit of a mess, and come back to find it in exactly the same condition you left it in. Then you spend an hour or so in self-commiseration, and damnation of the other fellows for having done nothing while in. You then turn in, prepared for great deeds on the morrow, resolving to clean the whole business up before you go out and show the blighters how a proper battalion works. The next morning you get busy early and work away until late. Things improve. The next day the same. Things begin to be fairly comfortable and you pat yourself on the back for an energetic officer. That night it rains and in the morning there is a lot of new work to be done. That night it rains again and you arise perhaps to find all the three days work a pile of sodden sandbags and muddy chaos. Then comes remembrance that while the other fellows were in, there were a few drops of rain also on two or three nights, and your strafe melts into mutual condolences on the hard lot of the longsuffering infantry. As one of the men rather emotionally said in one of his letters I censored: “It’s enough to break a strong man’s heart." I don't worry much about their hearts but sometimes wonder how their backs are standing the strain.

The Sergeant is here for mail and I must close hurriedly to catch the boat.

Yours ever lovingly

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