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Date: March 22nd 1916

3rd. Battalion,
Toronto Regt. 1st. Can. Div.

March 22nd. 1916.

My Darling:

Both your letters of February 21st. and 28th. arrived within a day of each other, just a day or so after I had written you last.

Now we are in again, but I am living back of the line in a nice comfortable cellar with a little fire in it, so feel that I can write a few lines before turning in, to tell you how glad I was to get them and hear from you again after so long an interval. My job at present is not very strenuous, as there are now two M.G.0.'s - Johnny Anglin and myself. The armament whose functions I am to control and elucidate has not yet arrived, and until it does there are two of us to do the work ordinarily done by one, so I’m having a pretty soft time, and getting plenty of sleep. Only every other night on duty.

We have had a lot of new officers lately, including George Miller, an old 35th. chap, who is quite an acquisition, and things are much more normal. The excessive strain of the last three months seems to have miraculously been lifted.

I was glad to hear that Ken Douglas has joined up, even if it is with the Landsturm. Better that than to wait for the Conscripts anyhow. Its a long long way from the 3rd. Torontos to the 250th. Canadian Infantry isn’t it! At least so say the haughty 1st. Canadian Division in their battle-born pride.

Some of the English trench mortar officers attached to our Division sprung a delightful paraphrase of Eton’s traditional retort to Rugby. Somebody in the Third Division started to tell him how they were doing some certain little job to which he replied – “The First Division we know; the Second we have heard of, but who in Hell are you?” So you see we are a very snobby lot.

So Gerald has arrived at last at the Adams reunion. I had a letter from Stanley a few days ago and hear that he is going into a bank; also that Beryl is still with a Doctor Somebody or other. Mr. Adams seems to hope that she’ll get over the Movie craze. That’s all right for an actress of note, but must be rather unpleasant for the average person. Most of the people whom I have met in any way connected with movie acting are jolly questionable, if not distinctly shady. Gerald’s aunt gave me a very favourable impression of the youngster when I was there and I am sure he is a fine lad.

What kind of trophies do you want, youngster? The only kind I have ever seen are old shell noses, dead grenades and unexploded shells &c. Sometimes an old French or German rifle covered with rust and mud and gore. You can’t send those things through the mail, even if they would let you, which they won’t. I took a chance and sent you that grenade case, but really don't expect it will ever reach you; it will probably be confiscated at the base. The only way to get those things over is to smuggle a sack full when you go on leave and there is the difficulty of carting around a half ton of iron between Armentieres and the sea. If I can happen to locate a few odds and ends just before I go on leave next time, I will bring them along in my pack to England. If I ever get near enough to a Bosche to brain him, I shall bring you his picket to make the porridge in.

These steel helmets are a great thing - all you have to do is to take out the sort of rubber frame which sits inside to fit the head, and lo a dixie to boil a quart of water, make a stew, or a fine brew of tea. Admirable economy of utensils I should say.

There is a fine large healthy unexploded eight inch armour piercing shell out- side this pretty little bungalow, which would make a nice ornament for your dressing table. May I send you that? It is only twenty-six inches long and with the explosive in it weighs two hundred and forty pounds! A priceless bauble.

I am sorry, dearest, but you will remember that I just got the letter you wrote to me in England as I was leaving for the boat, so was unable to send you the gloves. As you say the difference in price is quite considerable. I hope you will soon be able to buy your own gloves in Regent Street if everything goes as we hope.

What prise Everett Smith as an airman? I see that he has joined the Royal Flying Corps with Vernon Castle et al. I wonder if that nimble social gymnast will be as gracefully elusive in the air as on the glazed mahogany floor. I should say that he ought to do to- hole because from all accounts he is a distinctly "flighty" sort of person!

Quotation from Kiss McIntyre’s letter of December 20th. re. receipt of regimental cap badge: "If you only knew all the excitement they cause, and I’m so "proud of them, but mostly proud of you, dear". By Jove y’know that’s perfectly splendid of you - just imagine you being as proud of me as of that extraordinarily fine impression in superfine brass. Absolutely wonderful old girl, absolutely the decentest thing you’ve ever said about me, I should think!

I do not suppose, my dear, that there is any particular blame to be imposed on either you or Mother if you do not care to discuss our affairs together. It does seem to me sometimes an extraordinary thing that Ethel and Olive and the Lord knows who are acquainted with the possibility of our being married in England, and that at the same time I, over here 3000 miles away, have to be a sort of central exchange to connect up your views with Mother and Mother’s views with you. Damn! You women are extraordinary creatures. I am sure whatever Mother’s views are about it she won’t bite your head off, even were she to express strong disapproval. You can't expect to be agreed with by everybody in everything can you? As a matter of fact both Mother and Dad, as you can see from her letter are very sympathetic in their attitude, even if a little doubtful. You are a growed up woman you know, and it ought to be possible to approach the subject somehow - Suggestions for beginners; "I suppose Errol has told you we have been talking of being married soon, do tell me what you think of it" or "Please let me sit here and talk to you about Errol and me". You must learn, child, to feel for confidence of people who are not all on the surface. It is a matter of a certain indefinably subtle refinement of perception and intelligence and confidence in your own opinions. However, I don't want to appear to be too pressing in this regard, I can't change either your nature or Mother's, but do try to be frank, it is an engaging quality always.

I think I will stop here for to-night. I am in my best military mood just now, which is perhaps too remorselessly intellectual and critical to consider and discuss a problem which is for both of us, and for you particularly, oh tender one, essentially a matter of the heart.      Perhaps in the morning the cold logic of facts will be softened by the sweetness of sleep - so Good-night, God bless you.

Friday Night, 11 P.M. Here I am again, dear girl, just for a short chat before I smother myself in blankets for the night. To-night I have a whole session in bed, none of this agonized cheerfulness about two A.M. when somebody kicks you in the back and says "Your watch old chap”, and you say "Right you are, Cheero", desperately heave aside the assortment of garments you have piled over and around you, stow a lot of rum under your belt, limber up your artillery and sally out into the trench.

In the first place I am not in the trench, but in a nice comfortable cellar and only have to stay in the trench every odd night. Its absolutely fine. Then in the daytime Johnny Anglin and I toddle around and look over the guns, then spend the rest of our time looking over Fritz’s lodgings and devising ways and means of making the chimneys smoke and the gas leak. Poor old Fritz. He's having a nasty time nowadays. We’ve slipped a couple of things over on him in the British front lately that have him guessing yet.

Yesterday I had quite a little excitement in a mild way. In the morning some bally sniper got a line on me from about 1000 yards away as I was going across the fields to Bn. Headquarters, and kept slipping them over my head. His range was a bit out so I wasn't worrying very much but was jolly thankful that he didn't decide to lower it a trifle. When there is snow on the ground one has to be careful where to walk as the figure shows up so clearly.

In the afternoon Johnny and I were observing from the front line with a telescope when I spotted a periscope well hidden in a quite unusual place on Fritz's parapet, called J's attention to it. Johnny started to have a look, ’’Yes" he said, "yes that's right, guess there's a sniper there, yes by jove there's his loophole just to the left and yes there's his rifle sticking out of the loophole, and yes I believe he's going to shoot this way", and down came Johnny's head. I reached up to get my precious F. 20 telescope, and the blighter must have spotted my cap, for bingo came the bullet, but just a trifle low. Fritzie was too anxious and hit the parapet just below the telescope, so I picked it up and signalled a miss, like we do on the ranges. Then just to teach him better manners, the trench mortars put half a dozen bombs into his pretty home, and the Hokes hun slipped over five in its best one per second form. Poor old Fritz!

Jack Crawford is a great source of amusement. He gets up in the morning 15 minutes before breakfast and solemnly washes and sweetens the atmosphere with a delicate odour from a mysterious bottoe. Has his bacon and eggs and then says "Well, just a little siesta", calls his batman to pull off his boots and climbs into bed again until noon when he emerges for lunch. Directly after lunch, he says, "Well a little sieata", goes through the same formality, and turns in until about five when all the working parties are in and he goes down to inspect rifles. Its rather a shame but he has to sit up for three or four hours at night, which rather spoils the day y’ know.

Back here there is absolutely nothing for the officers to do, so they just sit around, read and eat and look prepared for any emergency. What would we say in ordinary life if someone told us that we had to sit in a cellar all day for seven days and eat four meals every day. It sounds like a penance for some terrible crime does it not? But it looks like a prety fine place to fight the Bosches in to us.

Your letter of March 3rd. has just arrived. I am sorry you got so excited over the prospect of Captain Platt, for there's absolutely no chance of me going to the 14th. (a bunch of knavish Montrealers) unless they make me Colonel of the bally regiment and let me reform them!

Leave has started again and as nearly as I can judge my turn will come about the middle of May, unless of course that happens - which is quite likely - a big show on in the meantime. That means you would have to be in England about a week earlier I suppose, and leave Canada about the last week in April. Good Lord, I dont see how we can manage it, and my next leave won’t be until August. Of course I might arrange to have my leave set back a little, say until June some time. Let me know what you think about it, dearest, and please talk it over with Mother and at least let her know what we are thinking about. It will look rotten at the last moment to announce that we are going to be married. In fact I can’t decently do it, can I? I don’t give a particular damn what Ethel or Mary or any of the rest of the crowd of them think, or what they know, and I don’t see that its much their affair, but I do want my own family to feel part of the show, you know.

Your nice parcel with the socks and peppermints came to-day and they are splendid. The mints are gone already, but the socks from the look of them will last me many a day. Merci Beaucoup ma petite aimee.

Was quite surprised to get a nice letter from Rona Fraser, enclosing a pair of socks too. She spoke of some person, Kate Percy who knew you, and Melly but I can’t place her. She is at Macdonald Hall. Also had a letter from Stanley with a little medallion of Barbara Joan enclosed.

Its growing late, dearest sweetheart, and the birds must have their rum at dawn, 5.00 a.m. so I must kiss you Good-night. Are your lips as soft and clinging as ever and do your eyes sparkle when your arms steal around my neck as they used to do, my little Fernie. God bless you always.

Yours ever lovingly,

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