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Date: December 16th 1915

Canadian Corp,
Dec. 16th, 1915

My dearest Mother:

Well, a certain amount of weight has been taken off my mind and is being rapidly transferred to my stomach. Fortunately, George and Doggie are here to assume some of the burden, while old Hal Gordon is on leave in England. Your splendid Christmas hamper arrived last night all in perfect order, and as Doggie says, "I like the selection your friends have made". A letter from the Express Company, dated Dec. 2nd, arrived saying that the box had arrived there and was being sent on, so it has taken approximately ten days for the packet to struggle over from England. I was very glum over the prospect of Fern's box being lost, but apparently none of the Canadian parcel post which left about that time has as yet arrived, so it will no doubt pop in one of these fine evenings; I hope so.

I started this letter but had to leave it as there were so many things to attend to before returning to trenches. Moving day is always a busy time. Everything has to be inspected from feet to billets in order to make sure that your men are going up in proper shape and that things are left clean and tidy for the people who take over from us. Nothing is more annoying than to come in from trenches tired, and find that the billet has been left dirty. Some battalions aren’t very strict about this, as we have found to our sorrow and discomfort, but ours is. Some of these farm houses where the soldiers live are cleaner now than they ever were in the pleasant days of their odorous prosperity. The only thing we can’t and daren’t tackle is the manure pile in the centre of the courtyard. That is too venerable an institution of Flemish rural life to be tampered with by the profane and somewhat delicately nostriled soldiery of England. These Belgian farm houses and barns, which are mostly new, are built around the same pit that the "old homestead" looked down upon for centuries, I have no doubt whatever. Consequently when a Belgian refugee wishes to describe his wrongs he doesn’t say that he has been driven from the hearth stone of his fathers, but that he has been ousted from the paternal dung heap!!

We had a splendid time in our last billet. A real house to live in, with a tile floor and a great big fire place and a ruined village just at our back door where the wood pile ought to be. The troops had a splendid loft with straw and a couple of huge braziers. So we all just settled down to four days of high living made possible by the sudden inrush of Xmas parcels, and when we were moved up to trenches yesterday did so with a heavy heart and stomach ache. Of course as soon as we get into dug-outs it begins to rain, but fortunately the temperature is very moderate and the men all pretty well cold proof by this time.

It is possible that our Xmas rest may not materialize, in which case our battalion will be in the trenches Xmas day. No reason has been given for the change of plans, but we hear on good authority that our Brigade rest will very probably be deferred. Apparently the C.M.R. who relieved the 2nd Brigade for two weeks allowed the Germans to build some sort of a barricade across a road right under their noses, and then when it was fully built sprung a half-baked attempt to capture it, which resulted disastrously for the stormers. A chap named Galt from Winnipeg was killed and several others. When the 2nd Brigade came back they stormed the barricade one night and captured it alive with two casualties. General Currie is rather displeased with the Corp troops and won’t let them relieve us in turn until he has given them a little instruction in what to do when a German struts around fifty yards in front of you. Very nice for the Corp troops, but it doesn’t help our Christmas dinner much.

By the way, a parcel came for me last night from Selfridges, London, containing four neat little tins of plum pudding, but not a word to say who sent it. I can only surmise that perhaps it was Mrs. Wade, but don’t even know her address. Its rather awkward. We had one of the puddings to-day and it was splendid.

Dearest Mother, my eyes simply won’t stay open. George and I are the only two subs here so I was up half the night and haven’t had any sleep yet. I’ll close now and send this off so that it will catch the next Canadian mail and write again tomorrow.

Yours lovingly, with love to all,

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