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Date: April 1st 1916

April 1st, 1916.

Dearest Kae:

Your parcel came some few days ago, but I haven’t had a minute to write even a line. Tell Molly the long socks were splendid and will just see one nicely into the warm weather which is just beginning to emerge in definite form. Mary’s sox are lovely and I shall write her at the first opportunity. Your Havergal beauties are quite original and I shall keep them until the weather gets a little warmer as they are lighter than most woollen socks we get. As a matter of fact, I believe that unribbed socks, although not quite as durable, wash better and don’t bunch up as much as the ribbed ones. Your idea of ribbing them just about the ankles should keep them fitting snugly.

Tell Nennie I hadn’t read Wisher’s little book and was glad to get it. His point of view is one seldom put forth in this day of international exasperation and is very sane. The chocolates also were very acceptable for although we can get any quantity of plain chocolate here, bon bons are quite a luxury and only come from home.

Well, dear sis, there is really little to tell you, that is, little that I may tell you. More than the weather is hot at times now and the officers are very busy as a rule for everything is on the move. All week we have been marching, marching hither and thither until last night when we finally arrived. We had little difficulty in recognizing the battle front again either for the most infernal damnation shrieked and roared about us. Our heavy guns seemed to be lobbing them over like machine guns, and the night air as we swung along to the trenches was thick and biting with the smoke and fumes of explosives. Fritz of course was not easily quelled and great whoppers burst in threes and fours along either side of our road as we went up. The deafening roar, the strange surroundings through which we picked our anxious way by map and shaded glim, and the crumping of the crumps about combined to make it about the most exciting relief I have yet experienced. Old timers reminded each other of the night we marched up to the ghastly orchard at Festubert and of the sequel. However, we threaded our way through the transport laden roads, the men closed up , and thumping along in perfect order mile after mile we finally arrived at our destination with only two slight casualties. It was the first contact with the realities of active operations that our lads have had for many months, and the test was satisfactory. Of course there was an attack on, not on our front but close to it, by a famous British division, and as our old timers listened to the batteries barking, many of them were thinking no doubt, "Ah, if we only had had support like this at Festubert”. All we need to finish the business is enough guns to smash Fritz’s artillery into submission. To Tommy Atkins, bombs and grenades are like stinging nettles, and even machine guns can be stormed, but you can’t do much when your whole organization is being blown to pieces by a rain of heavy shells.

Poor old George got lost last night and had a devil of a time. None of us were particularly happy lying around in the cold, air of early morning waiting till someone found us a place to sleep, but old George with his usual luck managed to "bivywhack" most of the night. His guide met him all right at the appointed place and carted him off. Then in the mist they got lost, so left the troops and went back to try and locate themselves, but unfortunately lost themselves completely. So poor George sat in a ditch forninst[?] a dead horse (there is always a dead horse, y’know) and waited until 'steen minutes to umpty when he sent back a runner with an S.O.S., so the Brigade sent out a gilded staff officer all plastered with red to lead George by the hand to his stronghold, where he has to sit tight with a handful of good men & true for the next days and hurl defiance at the Hun from a reasonably safe distance.

Tell Mother that George is very grateful for her kind thoughts but doesn't think he will be able to accept a pair of those rubber stockings. You see we have had to reduce our kits to the absolute minimum, thirty-five pounds is all we are allowed, and I suppose there are other things he would rather carry. One has to figure pretty closely and every ounce tells. I am just keeping my blankets, one extra shirt, and change of underwear, a few handkerchiefs, pyjamas, and a light extra tunic in case of disasters. If I tear my breeches its good night! Then of course we carry our lined raincoat and shaving kit, and I have a little oiled silk vest which I roll into my raincoat. Its a long way to the Rhine and the transport horses musn't be overburdened.

Jim Gairdner has gone to England with severe water on the knee, and I am temporarily in charge of the Grenadiers. They are a splendid lot, don't give a cuss about bullets and things and are proportionately hard to manage. However, we are getting on very well and are going to make Fritz sit up and notice that there is a war on in these parts.

Best of love to all, little sister. I shall write again this week if things keep quiet.
Yours affectionately,

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