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Date: March 20th 1916
Beulah Bahnsen (wife)
Ralph Watson

20 March, ’16,
France 1 A.M.

This letter is sure disconnected alright, as I said it would be, but I will finish it off, and send it, because for the next few days I can’t write regularly.

The other night I turned out for convoy — luckily nothing doing in our ward, so I beat it for the “hay.” I’d no sooner got to sleep, than out I was pitched, to go back and sleep in my ward. Once more I was quarantined — a new fever case. When I arrived, they took off the night man — and there I was, and am, alone in my glory with two wards full of “irrespressibles”, as Punch calls ’em, to look after, and can’t get out for days. I worked that night, all next day, and now I’m on again tonight — feeling a wee bit “dopey” for want of sleep. I have no night Sister, and no one can come up here. Fortunately everything is going swimmingly and there isn’t much to do, but to take a few temperatures now and then, and look out for certain bandages slipping. At seven or eight A.M. I go to bed and will have a Sister (for days only) and she’ll have to get patients to clean up, etc. I do seem to find it, don’t I? However, each night I’ll be able to have a talk with you. I don’t have any meals to get at night, only cocoa at eight P.M., and bread and butter; also there don’t happen to be any important dressings. I even see where I’ll be able to read a bit. For the last hour, I’ve been reading the Bystander, Sketch, and old newspapers, and altogether enjoying myself. At the end of the largest ward is my little kitchen — under the bare tiles I have a stove, electric light, and a collection of canned eats that would make your mouth water.

It’s on the kitchen table, on a writing pad that some kind person in Canada has sent for general hospital distribution, that I am writing this. I have the door open a bit so I can hear if all is K.O. in the ward (you’d think it wasn’t). Wounded men talk a lot in their sleep. . . .  

“Swinging the Lead” is English all over France for the boys who play sick when they are well, to try to get a few more days in Hosp. Down here, it is played quite openly, and is a joke. If the Sister “falls”, well and good; if she is “wise”, also well and good. Some get away with it, some don’t; but it’s all in good part, as it can only go a few days at most. The boys “kid” one another openly in front of Sister or the Doctor about this, and sometimes it’s very funny.

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