Nov 14th 1916
When last I received a card from you, you were enjoying a summer trip in the mountains so, if you have written since the letter is probably waiting for me somewhere.
On October tenth, my pilot and I were unfortunate enough to be separated from the rest of the formation with which we had come over the line and to meet three hostile planes. These proved to be too much for us; the pilot, poor chap, was killed; but Fortune was kinder to me for I had only a couple of slight cuts in the arm and a wound in the left knee. I was able to land the machine without doing any further damage to myself, though it was on the wrong side of the line.
Already five weeks of the three months which the doctors say it will take for the knee to get better have slipped by. I am still on my back but there is not much pain and in the end the knee may be as good as ever so there is much for me to be thankful for.
One thing which inspired me more perhaps than it would have had I known the German people before the war was the kindness of soldiers and the courtesy with which their officers treated me.
After two or three days in a field hospital, I was taken to a hospital for prisoners of war and in due course, settled in a ward with two other British officers – an Australian major and an English subaltern. Our numbers have since been increased; so that now we are seven, two of whom are French.
We are not an unhappy party on the whole. The worst part is the knowledge that the folks at home will worry and that for the rest of the war we are out of the game, unable to do anything for our country. The days and nights roll by while we discuss or dream of the good times and dinner we have had and will have again when this is all over and wondering when that will be. Our tastes in dinners vary from simple meals of steak and onions at one time, to dinners that would keep a French chef up all night, at another. Music is one of the things I miss most and I often wonder what is going on in Toronto this season. It is quite unnecessary to say how much I should like to be there. Wishing does little good; but the optimists here say peace will come soon. That would be a pleasant surprise.
You can guess what fun we have with our languages. The mixtures of French and German (mostly incorrect) and English one puts in a single sentence would make any moderns prof turn grey in a night. Someday all of us will be linguists of sorts.
I must trust to your generosity to forgive this awful paper and scrawling. My address according to regulations has been written on the envelope and will answer I think for “the duration” no matter what part of this country I am in – Stammlager, Wahn, Deutschland.
This may not reach you for January first; but soon enough I hope to carry to you all good wishes for the New Year.
With kindest regards,
Very sincerely yours,
Arthur H.M. Copeland