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Date: May 5th 1917

Sat. May. 5th 1917.

Dear Mother:-

Well I ought to be able to get four page filled up this time, with all that’s been doing lately & especially after missing the last mail. Lets see now, I suppose I ought to start at the beginning. Nothing doing to speak of Mon. or Tues. Wed. morning we were through the gas chamber. We first went through chlorine gas with our gas helmets on. They are just flannelet bags with eye pieces & a mouth piece which you can blow out of but not into. The bag goes over your head & tucks down under your tunic & is soaked in a mixture that neutralizes the gas & so you only breathe pure air. It is good for about 3hrs., but after every time it is used at the front it is supposed to be exchanged. & sent back to be redipped. There is another contrivance for use in gas that is just new, called the Small Box Respirator. There is a sort of rubber mask that fits over your face & connected by a tube to a box that you carry in front of you the air & gas goes into one side of this box to the bottom & then you breathe it up the other side through chemicals that neutralize the gas. You blow out through the same mouth piece that you breathe in thru. but it is fitted with a valve the same as the gas helmet, so that when you breath out your breath doesn’t go down through the box.

Well we got through the chlorine gas with colors flying & then we were sent through tear gas. The helmet isn’t proof against this but the other is. However we were sent through this with nothing on just to see what it was like, as it isn’t harmful as the chorine is. It just affects your eyes like soap, only perhaps a little worse.

Well Wed. night I went for a walk through the woods by some ponds. It sure was a dandy walk. That is why I didn’t get a letter written you that night.

Next morning we were out throwing live bombs, just to sort of get us acquainted with them so we wouldn’t be afraid of them when we got to France if we ever had to use them there. At noon I received your letter of March 25th, with the $15 & also a bunch of papers. That left me busy all noon & so I didn’t get your letter written then. When we got off parade at 4. we were told to get ready to go to France any time after five o’clock. That was my last chance of getting your letter written & so it didn’t get written. Well we didn’t believe we were really going to France, we thought it was just a route march. We fell out at 6. & stood around till 10. & then went to bed. The next morning we did nothing till 11 & then we fell out again & at 11:30 started off. I had everything I would take to France but an extra outer shirt & my great coat. My pack was heavy enough without them too. In about three hrs. we landed up at Bordon station beside a train that was waiting there & we thought we were moving for sure, likely to Shorncliffe. However in about ten mins. we turned around & went back a piece & camped for dinner, consisting of a couple of sandwiches & water. After dinner I went down to a pond near & washed my feet & rubbed a lot of boracic powder on them & then was ready to go on, which we did at five o’clock. We got home at 7.00 after doing about 15-miles that day. Of course I was a little tired but not very. My legs had got sore the day before & stayed sore & I also had a little blister on one toe & my shoulders were a bit sore, but after having a good bath, I was ready for another walk. I was sorer this morning than I was last night. It sure was hot yesterday. 109° in the sun & the sweat was rolling off everyone all day. I had my tunic open & my two shirts & that helped some.

We didn’t do anything this morning but get ready to go to the ranges for two weeks, where we are now. Of course that is just our eighth week bunch, about 16 of us. It was a 5 ½ mile walk & my pack was heavier this time than yesterday but it didn’t bother me in the least. There are just a few Canadians here. It is an Imperial Engineering camp & practically everyone around is an Imperial. We are in tents with floors, six in our ten so we aren’t crowded. I only hope it doesn’t rain for the next two weeks as it hasn’t for the last two. I guess though that is hardly possible, even in Canada, much less in England. There are a couple of fairly decent towns within about two miles of us so I guess it won’t be too bad here.

I suppose I ought to answer that letter. Yes I know Fred Turner, if you remember asking about him. He used to be in my room, & went to France a couple of weeks ago. I got that box you sent on March 13th with the ginger cookies. The [?] was pretty punk. I have lost your “Adventures in Contentment”, so if you want one I guess you will have to buy another. It is about the first thing I have lost in the army, but it certainly has disappeared. I haven’t yet got that fruit cake that you sent me. That other box was the first I received from you since the middle of Feb. So you think you would like to have Miss Edith Russell stay with you because she would be such a help to you. I would hate to have to have to go to school that way.

It is pretty mild in England now, though up to a little over two weeks ago, quite a while after you wrote, it was rotten, perfectly beastly weather. However there are daisies & violets & dandelions & clover etc. all over amongst the trees now. This is a pretty good part of England, I think, for those sort of things.

Well I guess that’s all the news now. Soldiers letters from England to Canada go free now, if they are posted in the camp but as this is an Imperial camp, the rule doesn’t apply here, so I’ll have to continue stamping my letters.



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