France - Souchez-Aix Nouette
Oct. 18, 1916
Dear Mom and Dad
We are now in camp a long way from the front. We came across in a small boat and we all consequently very sea sick. I tried to walk off the sensation but the bally old tub gave such a lurch that I was thrown across the decks. When I reached the other side I put my head over the rail and glug! gurgle! glump! away went the good grub I had eaten for the last five hours.
We are going to reinforce the 29th which is a dandy regiment. Just when we go to the front line I can't tell you but I understand we undergo a short spell of training first. Adrian and I had great sport trying to talk French to the countless kids which try to bum pennies off you. We got them to savvy a few sentences and one of them actually offered me an apple which I gave him a ha'penny for.
It is very pretty here too and reminds me a good deal of some parts of B.C. I haven't yet met anyone I know. However most of the other fellows have so I feel sure to run across some one soon. Fellows leave for the trenches almost every day and make a lot less fuss about it than they do when a regiment passes through Kamloops--a couple of hearty cheers, then away they go, some to return, very few unwounded. We sleep in tents here 13 to a tent. Although somewhat crowded it is fine and warm. So far I'm not "crumby" and hope to remain so for a little while. When you write address some thing like this: Private S. Winterbottom 116506. 29 Batt. Canadians, B.E.F. France; Army P.O. England and be sure to always put on my number and address finally to Army P.O. England.
The trees around here are those big poplars. As you go along any highway they almost meet over head. Right in the middle of our camp a spring bubbles up through the earth. The soil here is very much like Kamloops with exception that they have more water here than at home. The money question is also a change. You have to figure out stuff in francs one of which is approximately valued at 20 cents or 10 pence. Also there are smaller pieces of money known as "centimes" and to give you what a centime is equivalent to, it takes ten of them to make a penny and therefore it would take 5centimes to make one cent Canadian money. The smallest bit of money in exchange here is the "sou" which just about equals one cent You can't leave camp here unless you get a pass--not even to go down town. There is, however, a YMCA here so one can often get writing materials if you can crowd your way into to it.
I got a new pair of boots before leaving so don't fear the weather so much. I wish to thunder however that you would send me at least 3 pairs of heavy woolen socks. I don't give a cuss what sort they are as long as they are thick and serviceable. Also please send those shoe packs and please see that they are heavily nailed as regards to sole and heals. Please don't put off the sending of these as I am anxious to get them in time to wear for a while in the trenches.
And also for another thing which is really my fault for not writing a warning to you before. That back pay you sent me has all gone astray, absolutely lost except one lot of three pounds I received by a postal order just before going to London last. I'm glad you sent that lot but think it foolish to send the other as it would really have done me no good. If it was added to my account that would have been something to return to for a starter. Please don't think me rude or ungrateful. You see you at home don't seem to realize this is either a kill or cure business as if you aren't killed at the front you are killed financially when you return if you haven't put a little aside when you were able for a rainy day. savey-vous?
I am writing this epistle sitting in our temporary tent. The pad is resting on my knee and I am sitting resting on my pack and wondering what the deuce to write about that won't be censored. Everything is of course censored now. That of course will stop me from writing endearing letters to my pet girl etc. as they might be looked on as a new kind of fever contracted by trying to digest too much of the French language. The seasickness is certainly not nice and one can so understand the feelings of the sea-sick passenger who when asked to dine told the waiter to chuck it overboard to save time!
With the best of love,
P.S. Now don’t worry about me as it isn’t the right thing to do besides it can’t do me any good. I’ll write soon.
[Editor’s note: Transcription provided by collection donor.]