Search The Archive

Search form

Collection Search
Date: January 23rd 1916

Lyndhurst, Clifton Gardens,
January 23rd, 1916.

My dearest Kae:

Here is your old brother back again in “Blighty” all by hisself for seven days leave, and the old place looks just as same and as solid and inexorable as ever. It is strange the look of England. France and Belgium are beautiful in their way with their long sloping hills and wide sweeping valleys every inch under close cultivation, but the long straight rows of trees, the natty red tiled farm houses set in absolutely similar squares over the smooth countryside give the impression that one could take a long stick, sweep it around in a great circle and tumble it all over like a bunch of nine pins. England looks just the opposite, there is no such thing as regularity anywhere, not even in the roads on the fields. Everything looks as though it had just been heaved up by the same upheavals which formed these great chalk cliffs and frowning hills, and intended to remain as long or perhaps longer.

Of course it has been raining, but today is fine and clear like a Canadian day in early May. The trees are bare, but the evergreen hedges give the place an unusually fresh look for winter time. How I wish you were all here and that I could just drop in on you from the trenches and flop for a week. The towering docks of Montreal and dear old Toronto seem so infinitely far away at times, especially in France. Wouldn’t it be splendid if I could only run home for a couple of weeks on a fast airship or some other fantastic contrapsion which could make the journey in a couple of days. One of our new aeroplanes which travel over 100 miles an hour would be the thing if it could only carry enough gasoline. The crowd here has changed quite a lot, but the spick and span Canadian Tommy is still in evidence in large numbers. You can’t beat our men for smartness, but Lord, they can get rummy looking after a couple of months in the trenches. They are just as tough looking as the typical English Cockney fighter who is about the fiercest looking thing behind a long bayonet that one could hope to see. He isn’t afraid of anything because he doesn’t think that anyone else but an Englishman and a Londoner is worth being afraid of.

I am so glad that you and Molly did so well last- term at school. Don’t kill yourselves. There is more in life than booklearning. I often wonder if I shall ever be able to study again. One’s mind gets absolutely pulpy in this infernal life. It is very quick to pick up external impressions, but introspection becomes rather a forgotten trick. However, as D. B. Sinclair used to say, "The mind is a muscle and needs exercise", so perhaps a few months wrestling with some weighty matter will set mine up again to the M.A. standard.

I have been spending the time since I landed just sleeping in and wandering about seeing people. Looked up the bunch at Sandling and had a long chat with John Knox. We hope to have him out at the front soon, as after a combined offensive against the stony parapet of Col. Prysmil’s determination to keep him here as a musketry man, we succeeded in having him relieved from the job. ’’Well, Crawford, I won’t stand in your way if you want to die young”, he said, and the first line was taken. I left Jack exploiting the victory, making irresistible charges on Col, Brown of the 23rd, the Re-inforcing Officer, Headquarters, and all other obstacles. Meanwhile, I went off to tea with Mrs. Basil Wedd and Mrs. Sandford Smith, and had a nice pleasant evening. Of course you know Nora Van Nostrand who was, and Mrs. Smith is the wife of Col. Smith of the 4th C.M.R., a famous Toronto horseman and architect. This afternoon I am going to call on the Merrills who are here in a flat, and then off to London to-night for a few days. Jack Harman is going to meet me there. I think I shall try to drop into the House of Commons and hear part of the debate on the Naval Blockade. They say we are likely to absolutely pooh on the States on International Law and anything else that happens to stand in our way and absolutely pre-empt any material which is even suspected of being re-shipped from its destination to Germany.

How is everyone at home? I do wish I could see you again before I go back for the great push. Take care of your dear selves and keep well and strong, and tell Dad not to overwork. He isn’t a youngster now. I shall write again from London.

Best of love and kisses to you all, little sister mine, from

I am feeling quite well again - throat just a trifle sore.

Original Scans

Original Scans