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Date: January 31st 1916

3rd. Battalion
Canadian Corps,
Jan. 31st. 1916.

My dearest Girl:

Here I am back in France again after about eleven days altogether counting the two I was held up in Boulogne on the way over. So I had quite a good leave although it was rather annoying having it come just when we were back in a comfortable billet enjoying our hard earned three weeks rest and come back in time to go up again to the "War Zone". Another annoying thing about it was that although George and I pulled every wire to get away together we couldn't work it and then the very next week along comes the two warrants, so that George went over with Big Jim Gairdner. Perhaps, however, as Bert alley said, it was better for us to go separately anyway. As it happened George arrived on Tuesday night and I got back from London on Wednesday afternoon, so we toddled off to the Imperial for lunch the next day and there ran into Jack Crawford and Ossie Lennox.

Now such a meeting hadn't taken place for some months and the event clearly indicated a party which began about 11-30 a.m. and wound up about twelve hours later - I think. Lunch ended about 2-30 and I am afraid we were all more or loss squiffed when we started off in a taxi for the 23rd. Bn. where we staged a grand finale at dinner and afterwards in Jack’s room. George was the bright particular little star. He discovered an ink well and promptly pitched it through the window and sometime later he hit on another which followed its duksy brother, and by some strange chance went through the same hole in the glass, which so tickled little G.L.E. that he tried to throw the water jug and basin through as well. I was on the bed underneath and thought an 8 inch shell had burst. They had to dig me out of the debris a little wet and with a few cuts, but otherwise quite safe. Then we staged a pillow fight and generally put poor old Jack's room on the rocks before we got out.

Now perhaps this doesn't look as though I was "living in the way I should" which you so earnestly desire, but of course, dear, these little busts only come once in a long while and you must admit that everything clearly indicated some sort of a celebration, eh!

However, sweetheart, let us return to our own little affairs, which Thank God are pleasant, if not particularly happy just now. And to begin with I am sorry that you gathered from my letter that I was indifferent as to your coming to England. It is not a matter of indifference or enthusiasm; it is a question of what is the right thing for me to do and a question of hard facts and in dealing with either I try never to be sentimental. It would only have made the facts obscure if I had started in to tell you all over again what I explained as clearly, my darling, as I knew how one evening on Dowling Avenue, and what I tried to show you in every way for all the months I was with you. Sometimes as Molly says, I don’t think you understand the Platts very well. What do you think? We don’t deal in words very much you know! But I could show you in five minutes if you were with me again whether I was pleased or not! So there.

I had quite a nice evening at Olive's. She was very kind and jolly and we talked about you a good deal and Ethel and Billy and lots of things. Then Mr. Crittall came in and we had a very interesting chat as he is unusually well posted on the munitions question and altogether quite broad in his views - for a middle class Englishman. Has travelled a great deal and seen many things and is typical of the progressive Englishman of to-day. Olive insists on Sailing me Earl, and is at least consistent because she calls Beryl "Burl”. We had a good old time strafing England a bit for certain things and lauding old Canada to the skies, but ended up by deciding as one does that either looks good when one is in France.

Wednesday I got back to Folkestone, and Thursday I have already described. George beat it off to London on Friday morning and I set off for the boat about eleven. Bid every one on the hotel good-bye, packed up my little bag, heaved a big sigh and beat it. Eleanor was coming to the boat but was dressing and packing to go up to London in the afternoon. I had just gotten about a hundred yards along when someone came running behind me. I turned around and saw a little English girl, Dorothy Earnshaw who has been in Folkestone nursing for about six months stopping at the Lyndhurst. She looked rather fussed for a minute, then said, "Errol, may I go to the boat with you, it makes me absolutely sick to see you going off alone like that". I thought it was the nicest thing, don’t you?

The passage was very quiet but foggy and took a long time. It was ticklish work following that low dim shadow of the destroyer ahead through the mine fields in a thick fog, but we arrived safely and were soon on our way to Bailleul where I got a London motor bus going out to the front at 3 a.m. I tell you we have all the trimmings out here. Just imagine one of those double decked affairs painted as black as ink, flying around the countryside in the dead of night, like the great ghost of the civilization we once knew, filled with armed men - Some war, girls, some war!

I was looking around in London to see if I could see a nice ring for you, one of those engagement rings you may have heard of that they say all the girls are wearing now. I didn’t see anything I was crazy about that I could afford just now so I didn’t get it. Is there anything you would particularly like, dear one, if so please tell me about it. I had such a few hours really in London and had so much to do that I couldn’t do much more than look into some of the shop windows in Regent St. I wish I had you with me although I suppose you would sooner have it a bit of a surprise.

One of your letters addressed c/o Mr. Mackenzie I got in England. I wonder if you sent any more there for you seemed to think that I was to be there for three weeks confusing leave no doubt with the Brigade rest. You do get things mixed sometimes, don’t you, child! Mr. Crittall was immensely amused at the address you sent Olive and wanted to know whether I ever got your letters. Of course I told him that everyone knew it was a Canadian chap you were in love with, and General Haig had given instructions that I was to have all your letters without delay.

I am sure all the lovely things you are making will be perfectly adorable my dear. It is splendid of you to try to do so much top-hole work when you are so busy bless your heart.

I shan’t mind in the least your giving up your lessons with Norma if you find it too much and too expensive. When I start singing again you’ll start at the piano once more eh! By the way how is the piano - I mean how much of it is really ours by now and how much is still outstanding? If we are married in the Spring I shall have to pay it right off because you will need your little twenty per along with the rest to live over here.

I think there is very little doubt that we can get the separation allowance all right, which helps quite a bit - $30. for a sub. and $40. for a captain. The dope is this: My salary is about $105. per month plus separation allowance $135. per month. It costs me including what I have to allow for new kit and clothes &c. about $50. per month to live out here, which leaves $85 per month. That may sound quite a lot but it would cost you about $50. to $60. just to live if you had to board in Folkestone. Do you think you could struggle along?

This is getting to be a regular screed, and I must really stop. Pray for me Fernie, dearest, for the war will probably be on in a month or so, and I do want to see you again, my sweetest. I wonder if I shall say when I see you - "Hold up your head now and take a deep breath" - Would you mind?

Yours adoringly,

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Original Scans