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Date: February 6th 1916

Langham Hotel, London
February 6, 1916.

Dearest Ruth:

I am here over the week-end with Neil Van Nostrand and you have no idea how much of a treat it is to meet him and have a talk in the Canadian language. He is now an instructor at Netheravon, but is hoping to get off to the front before long. I imagine Neil is a pilot rather above the average, as up to the present time he has never had a crash, in fact, although he has had some ten or twelve forced landings, has never even broken a wire, which by-the-way, is some record. At our Aerodrome, some one crashes a machine almost every day that there is flying, and nobody seems to think much about it. One day there were three wrecked busses on the aerodrome at one time. Nobody hurt to amount to anything, but it was rather depressing to see them tumble one after another. Poor old Ross has gone. He shared my cabin on the boat coming over, you remember.

Neil and I haven’t done much but talk since he arrived yesterday afternoon. We had tea at the Cave Tea Rooms- a nice little joint just off Piccadilly Where one always sees a lot of Canadian Officers. We had dinner here at the hotel and went to a good show at Daly’s called "Betty" It is only about 20 minutes walk from here, so we strolled home afterwards up Piccadilly, and along Oxford and Regent Streets. London, in peace time must be wonderful, for it is ever so fascinating now even with all the war-time restrictions. Of course, the street lights and the shop lights are all darkened, and one must walk and behave very circumspectly. But such a Jolly light-hearted crowd you never did see. Heaps of Khaki just home "on five days leave" helps to make it so too. Soldiers of every sort and description pass you on the street by thousands every day. Belgian, French, “Anzacs” Highlanders, Canadians, British, "Tommies" and Jack-tars etc. etc. The Indian troops, the little grinning Gurkhas and black bearded Sikhs always make one stare. One still sees the bright colored Belgian uniforms occasionally, but for the most part they have changed over to a Khaki similar to the British. The Italian Officers are a dashing lot, with flashing eyes and fierce moustaches, altogether most terrifying creatures, and the Frenchman in his pale blue-gray uniform (some of them with long capes hanging down to the knees) is most picturesque, and you may be sure he knows it too! The Anzacs are all fine big husky chaps, and are easily distinguished by their broad brimmed felt hats, those of the Austrailians being turned up on one side, and the New Zealanders wearing theirs flat. All the Colonial troops are a most independent and democratic lot, and it is not at all an uncommon sight to see a Colonial officer walking along the street, or even having a drink with one of his men.

A good picture came out in "Punch" some time ago, illustrating this characteristic. Perhaps you have seen it? It shows a Canadian Colonel addressing his regiment and saying "Now boys, the general is going to inspect you this afternoon. Have your buttons clean, don’t spit and for God’s sake don’t call me “Alf.”

People over here feel the destruction of the Canadian House of Parliament very keenly. The papers are most sympathetic and most indignant too, for the impression prevails that German sympathizers are to blame.

We went to the Princes Restraurant for lunch to-day. It is a mighty nice place, but hardly as well as the Carlton or some of the others. We also took a walk down old Bond Street and saw all the shop windows, and believe me, it was worth it, for they are truly wonderful.

Now I must leave you, as it is tea time. Neil and I are both going home to-night. Thanks for all your letters, Dear. They are always so good and so full of things that I am eager to hear about.

Always your loving brother,

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