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Date: March 16th 1916

3rd. Bn. Toronto Regt.
1st Canadian Div. France,
 March 16th. 1916.

 My dearest:

No Canadian mail has been received here for over three weeks. I think the last letters we had were dated about February tenth or twelfth; naturally we feel rather lost and isolated, especially if our correspondence via. England is more or less limited. I usually write the next day after we come out of trenches, but have been waiting a day or two in a rather vain hope, I fear, that a mail would come in. However, as there doesn’t seem to be anything doing, I’m just going to carry on, hoping that when I do see that dear scrawl of yours there will be plenty of it, whole rambles and picnics of it. One does get an awfully out of it feeling when nothing comes from home for such a long time.

First of all I must do something which I intended to do in my last letter, but forgot until after it had gone - I know it was mean of me, but I suppose the trip to G.H.Q. must have deranged my memory for the time being. Anyway dear heart, your little valentine card and parcel arrived safely, and I very much appreciated it. The humbugs went quickly amongst the hungry strong. The carbolic soap is excellent for the trenches, very cleansing, but lasts a long time - in other words, I have a couple of cakes on hand now, s0 don’t send any more just now. That almond cream soap you sent me once was also perfectly splendid, and I have a small piece left yet.

As you may infer little one, we don’t overdo the sacrament of abluting. Once a day is about all the most fortunate face may expect, and in trenches, even that is not considered absolutely necessary to salvation. We don’t mind partaking thus infrequently, but a change in ritual is distressing, and being accustomed to a simple canvas pail - an elaborate granite basis such as we had down at the school seemed a barbarously luxurious heterodoxy. However, as you will have noticed by the address I managed to survive large quantities of clean water and a bed with a mattress in two pieces, which systematically separated in the night and left me in the morning with queer irregular braceries on certain unmentionable portions of the anatomy - something like the cat who slept on the steam radiator - As I say, all these little things failed to give me battle-shock or any other rest-necessitating ailment, so I had to take the bus for ”home”.

The few days at the school were very pleasant, as well as instructive, although it was practically impossible to get anywhere on account of the fact that to climb a steep hill four miles long on a pitch black night about eleven o’clock, and take all the right turnings is a pretty precarious sort of undertaking. No vehicles of any sort are allowed to leave St. Omer after dark without a special pass, so one had to depend entirely on shank's mare.

We came back by way of Cassell, which is perched high on a frowning hill and overlooks the whole northern theatre of war, then down on to the old familiar roads and into Bailleul, where I found awaiting me a half limber to take me and my kit to the Battalion - back to the grand old sights and sounds that have charmed mine eye and ear for well nigh the half of a twelve month.

But all the beauty of the spring-kissed landscape, all the impressiveness of its trappings of war, were as nought to the sight which met my eyes - the twittering of a thousand birds, and the deep metallic boom of the guns were the veriest discords to the music of the chuckle which met my ears when I alighted from that dinky half-limber and walked into the transport billet, for there in the flesh, as pink- cheeked, stub-nosed and glossy-haired as of yore, as gaily decked in all the artfulness of Saville Row, sat old John Knox Crawford of Edinburgh, late of Toronto, erstwhile musketry officer of the 23rd. Reserve Station of infamous memory. Verily the good old 3rd. Toronto have come into their own at last. Well we had lunch and toddled off together up to the trenches and managed to persuade the C.0. that he should be attached to "A” Coy.

The next day Fritz greeted him with a dozen or so sixty-pound minnenwerfer splattered him from head to foot with mud, and generally succeeded in convincing him that there is a big war on somewhere in the neighbourhood. However, he of the fighting name was not to be frightened, and carried on in excellent form for the remaining two days we were in. Good old 35th. stuff. You know, Fernie, if I say it myself there have been few battalions of our force better officered, and it is too bad that they are now a dusty, dirty old reserve battalion. However, it will help us a great deal if we get them for nearly all are decidedly of the “carry on” type.

Of the five who came with first draft, all are now at the front, except Major Smith of course, George and Jack and myself here, and Arnold with the 10th. Then Jim Gairdner of the 2nd. draft is also with us, and one of the best bombing officers in the Division.

Your old lover is now safely installed with the machine gun section for "instruction'’ rations and discipline, and I suppose will take on the training of men for the rev. guns when they arrive.. Meanwhile I am just looking on and soaking in as much knowledge as possible. Johnnie Anglin is machine gun officer and a jolly fine little chap. Of course its a great thing to be a machine gunner, and in return for the privilege, they keep you in the line about 18 days at a stretch! So Nice!

Dear, oh deary me, I wish that our khaki clad postie would drift along with a sack or two of Canadian mail! I am just dying to hear from you, and know what you are doing. If he comes tomorrow I’ll write again. Meanwhile, Good-night my darling,

Votre ami, qui l’adore bien.


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