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Date: April 18th 1916

April 18th. 1916.

My Beloved:-

Your very last letter seems to have mislaid itself, and although I remember at the time thinking to myself, "What a perfectly delightful and refreshing letter", yet I can’t recollect whether there was anything in it which I ought particularly to reply to- I hope you haven’t asked any very pressing questions to which immediate answers are necessary, because in that case, I’am afraid you will be extremely annoyed with little Errol. But these little accidents will happen in the best regulated haversacks, even on a walking tour in peace time.

Dearest, it seems that my mind is becoming constantly more and more cloyed with a sort of residue from the constant stream of purely military matters which passes through it, so much so, that I am afraid it is becoming almost incapable of producing anything which is not tainted with powder and paper message forms. Everything which has no military significance seems to be unable to puncture or permeate, so there you are. Matters of military significance must not be disussed or written about, with or to persons not in His Majesty’s Service, and it is becoming increasingly more difficult to round up the odd bright idea about nothing in particular and everything in general. The great game has got me more or less I imagine. Its like the hunt for gold - cruel and damnable, but terribly fascinating intellectually.

One goes to bed wondering if precautions taken to defend a certain tactically important stretch of trench are sufficient and sound, and probably wakes up a couple of hours later to hear the add bomb go off with a bang, and wonders if the Bosche is after your line, and just what you would do if he were. I suppose it is the fact that the War idea is very much with us since winter broke up. Great things are in the air; rumours of attack and counter-attack; long discussions on the when and where of the "Great Rush” which is still firmly believe in and eagerly looked forward to by nearly all ranks. We are tired of having Belgian refugees of doubtful sympathies laugh when we speak of driving the Hun back to his own kennel, and though it is the height of bad form in this Division of veterans to be "windy" lack of thought and foresight are equally taboo. So to get to the point, I hope you don’t find my letters as dull as I fear they are becoming infrequent. Its not that I don’t think of you and long for you, my bright-eyed, laughing sweetheart, but just that times are strenuous and things to write about are few.

I wonder if I told you in my last letter (I believe I did) that I am now Intelligence Officer of the Battalion - "Attached to Headquarters for Intelligence" the order read, but whether to convey intelligence to Headquarters, or to derive intelligence therefrom was rather uncertain. However, whatever H.Q. gets out of the operation, I have discovered that my benefit from the bargain consists in seven sleepless days and nights on end while in trenches, and then a period of comparative indolence while the Battalion is out. I have twenty stalwart snipers, scouts and observers to keep Fritz in his place, and keep a tab on his doings. Just at present he is doing something most of the twenty-four hours within easy hearing distance.

Last hour the moon was full, so it was almost impossible to do much patrolling in front, but there were any number of improvements to make in the line, so I was up most of the night. Generally I turn in about midnight after going over my jobs in the line, and fixing up my maps to the dugout, got up about two o’clock to have a look around until daylight, then the Intelligence report to make out, then breakfast, then a little wash up and shave and then carry on as before. However, it is a good job and has its compensations, and I live at Battalion H.Q. with the C. C. and S. in C. and Adjutant, have a nice comfortable steel dugout just where the shells drop and get the inside dope on nearly everything.

I suppose you have seen in the papers all about the fighting around St. Eloi, just close to us. I am afraid it is going to be a tremendous blow to the prestige of the Canadian Corps. It is not that the 2nd. Division lost the craters which were taken at considerable cost by the English troops, for that is likely to happen to the best planned show, but it appears that insufficient and false information was sent back to the G.C.C. and that he thought we were where we weren't.

Don’t believe any bluff you see in the Canadian papers. The truth seems to be that the 6th. Brigade made a sorry mess of things. Of course they took over an incompleted job, but nothing can excuse the failure of the Intelligence branch to supply accurate information, so instead of being admitted to the brotherhood of the veterans (us) the 2nd. will probably be sent to Coventry for a while.

Around our own particular section has been fairly quiet, although there is a lot of shelling behind the lines. So don't be anxious - everything is decidedly "bon".

Back here in this old Belgian town, we are associated with the flower of the British Army, the great Guards Corps and the Light Division, and they are some troops. All day long tall Guardsman stray past our windows - their heads jiggle sideways and their hand comes up with a jump to the peculiar semiphore salute of the Corps. They are finer on the whole than anything we can show in appearance and discipline I think. The Light Division is about the same class as cur own troops, so that at least we can rank immediately after the Guards in the list of crack British Corps.

I was particularly interested, dear heart, in what you suggest about a few months leave, but I fear me I am too beastly healthy to even pass the very indulgent medical board which pronounces on the physical condition of "returned heroes”. It would be rather jolly to take a steamboat for Montreal, but I guess there is only one chance - one of thos little swinging fellows that usually pass overhead.

Well, leave is off again and all officers are recalled to duty, so I wont see you until after - God knows what - But I think if Fritz doesn't start something we will. I hope to be able to see my way clear to asking your ladyship very politely and earnestly - "Will you please come over to marry me" about June perhaps or July. I am sending you something which I hope you will like for your trousseau, but don’t put it in your bottom drawer, it will be more useful if used at once. I wonder if you could arrange with Olive to stay with her for a week or two, as you had better be in England at least that far ahead.

I must run to dinner, Sweetheart,
Best love,

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