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Date: January 25th 1916

Sutherland House,
January 25th. 1916.

My dearest:

How do you like my new address! It doesn’t sound quite as sonorous perhaps as 3rd. Battalion, and so on to the end of the piece, but nevertheless during the hour and a half that I have been here, I have found it a very pleasant address. I just ran down from London this morning intending to stay the afternoon, but Mrs. Crittal insists on my remaining all night, so I suppose I shall, but must be off early in the morning, as I have an appointment at the War Office (’Hem, Ahem’).

I found my hostess in bed suffering from severe muscular rheumatism, but other wise looking very fit and well. She is coming down later on this afternoon to sit by the fire in the sitting room, though I sincerely hope it isn’t just for the sake of hospitality. She tells me that she has had quite a few rheumatic attacks since coming here, and I noticed in coming down from London that the air got very damp and chill. It is quite near the North Sea of course, and one of the lowest parts of the country. Then, of course, English homes are rarely heated as well as ours, although I notice that they have electric radiators in nearly every room.

I have not met Mr. Crittal yet, as he is "on the job" somewhere I suppose, but I presume that the photograph of the strong, good-natured and self-possessed middleclass Englishman on the desk in front of me is his. The first thing I saw when I entered Olive’s room was - well I suppose the first thing was Olive - she blots out quite a lot of the landscape, and you can’t miss her, but the second thing was a picture of you, and one which I had never seen before, Miss - how do you account for that? The third was the most enormous tom cat who sprawled over about a square yard of floor, but arose on my entrance to give me a most effusive welcome. He accompanied me presently to the dining-room, and insisted on a fair division of the viands by perching on the arm of my chair, and forcibly intercepting the transport of nourishment from plate to mouth.

The country around about here is not nearly as pretty as most of England. It is as I have said very low and flat, mostly a manufacturing district although I noticed several very handsome country houses on the journey down. It is only about 30 miles north east of town, and we came through like a shot, although I nearly missed the train. In fact, I am not sure that I didn't miss the train I started to catch and left on the next one. These English suburban lines run about every ten or fifteen minutes anyway as a rule, so it doesn’t matter very much if you do miss one. Started out in plenty of time, but when we got into the City proper the taxi became implicated in one of those marvelous London traffic jams, which are dependent on the subtelty of a bluecoat and usually take about ten minutes to sift out again into a long double stream of vehicles. The London taxi is the greatest discovery of the modem world, and I often wonder how I shall ever get used to riding in tramcars again. They bob you in and out, hither and thither at an appalling speed, which seems to have no particular limit, and all for a shilling perhaps - Right across London almost for half a crown (sixty cents).

Well, my precious, I left Folkestone on Sunday night about eight and slept in the next morning in London until about ten o'clock; as a matter of fact that has been my average since I got back. Then off to the Bank and around to get a few things I need; a new waterproof, some razor blades, and so on. And how they do soak one for anything in the way of military equipment of a first-class order. However, I managed to get a very light weight coat with a light fleece lining, something I shall be able to tote around easily and roll up small when the move begins, only seven pounds if you please. Rather steep, but of course an extra special garment and the reduced weight will compensate for the increased price, eh!

Then I went to the automobile Club to find Jack Harman, but the old boy must have left town for I couldn’t locate him. However as I was standing there, in came Bert James with a perfect priceless peach. You know me! I was right there with the amiable expression, and Buck. Palace manner. Bert invited me to have lunch with them - nice boy, Bert! And the upshot of it was that I found myself at 11-20 P.M. waiting at the stage entrance of Daly’s Theatre. Shades of a frivolous past! What think you of it? Of course the Daly girls are famous, as it is the theatre where all the very artistic English operettas are put on, and ’’Betty” is playing there at present. And I took one of London’s darlings off to the Savoy for supper, and had a regular jolly party! Miss Queenie Young, very dainty and very sweet, and "a perfect lady”. She knows Eleanor Mac. and Lorna Osborne in Folkestone, and a lot of Canadian Officers, and she insists that she is to be invited to our wedding next Spring! What have you to say about it? The Savoy is a great sight after the theatre. All London seems to find its way there in all its beauty and brilliance. But London is a different city to what it was even when I left four months ago; much quiter, almost severely restrained at times with never a young man to be seen unless he hobbles on crutches perhaps, or wears a neat brown uniform. England is not what you could call grimly in earnest now because in spite of the usual characterization of the British bulldog there is very little externally grim about the English that I can see. They are merely quiet and thoughtful, and vey good natured.

I ran in last night to Darrell Hospital to see our old C.Q.M.S. Leonard who got a commission in France and went to the 5th Bn. He was hit about the third day after returning to trenches from the cadet school by a piece of shrapnel which tore the muscles off his shoulder and back. He had rather a nasty time of it for a month but is getting on nicely now I believe. But that damned gangrene gets into everything and delays recovery often for months on end.

To-morrow I am going to the War Office to see a Major Warner of the Royal Flying Corps. I may land up there yet, although it is hard to get a transfer consented to by one's own 0.C. Then in the afternoon I think a few hours in the House of Commons listening to Sir Edward Brey on the Havre Blockade might be instructive; then back to Folkestone, and the leave boat on Thursday, and not so much as one peep at the dearest, most kissable face in all the world. Oh, Fernie darling, I miss you so when I come back to things again.

Best of love dearest, I shall drop you a line when I arrive safely where the guns make music to mine ears.

Yours lovingly,


Original Scans

Original Scans