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Date: September 25th 1916
Mother & Father
Bill Calder

Witley Camp
Surrey - Eng.

Sept 25th

My Dear Mamma & Papa.

Well we all arrived here safely after a very good trip on the whole except for a few nasty days in mid-ocean.

I suppose Aunt Mert has told you about my Halifax trip which I enjoyed very much. We got into Halifax 1.30 A.M. on the morning of the 12th, after traveling from 10 m. W. of Truro with blinds down & the troops were not allowed to talk to any civilian. There were four guards (all Vancouver boys on account of easterners) at the the ends of every car - two on each side & on stops we kept every one away from the train. I asked (I was on guard) a few girls in Truro if they knew (?) (?) but they did not know her & I doubt if I would know her if I saw her. We were kept in the car all day down at the docks in Halifax, but had a parade in the afternoon through town & up into the citadel where we were dismissed for half an hr. we passed the public guardens. That citadel is a great place. They have a lot of swell German prisoners there & I made one of them quite sore by winking at him, - they have them all in a wire cage & all smoking cigars like the duce. Got back to the cars at 1.30 pipe band in the lead & had supper.

We were in the cars then till 9 P.M. when we got the order to be ready for embarkation in ten m. Well we marched onto the pier & here I saw aunt Mert & Mr. F. again. There was a Bat. of infantry &, the 1st & 2nd sec of the D.A.C. & a draft of F. G. Horse ahead of us, so I had about 2 ½ hrs. with them. (Lieu. Macdonald let me fall out) Aunt Mert gave me a pr. of socks & 2 fruit cakes - nobody can make socks like you Mamma. Well at 11.30 P.M. I said good by & walked up the gang plank of S. S. Northland, & got quarters in a second class cabin, & eat in the second class saloon, - believe me it is swell, the infantry are all down in the "Glory Hole" down below the water-storage & the (?) of Art. on top of them. One of our boys has a first class cabin up with the officers! Fancy easy chair & ect.

September 13th

Left dock at 6 A.M. & steamed out to sea followed by three other transports & lead by H.M.S. Drake. The sea is like a mill pond.

At 1.30 just as we left the lunch table & I was up on the Midship deck leaning over the rail smoking there was a seaman up in a skiff just above us fixing some thing in it it was strung out when all of a sudden there was a rattle of a block running out & the seaman & a bunch of boards ores & ect were all in the water with a big splash. The seaman seemed an old hand at the game as he cleared himself of the rubbage & struck out from the ship saying - "I am all right boys" our ship went back to Port (he fell on Port side), & the Scandinavian behind us left the line to Port, lowered a boat & picked him up, where he stayed till we got to Liverpool. A strong N.E. wind started to blow about 4 P.M. today.

September 14th

Fine weather with a N.E. wind & a slight roll on the ship, but nothing to speak of. Passed four fishing schooners to starboard to 9.A.M., they were very close & going north under full sail. We also crossed a tramp to starboard at 1 P.M.

Our Cruiser is very close, keeps about 200 yds ahead of us & the three other troopships at intervals of about 300 yds. in a st. line behind us. We got some pretty good grub on board sometimes - had liver & bacon for breakfast, & mutton plumpudding & ice cream for lunch. We also get two plates to eat off for our meals think of it! & we do not have to wash them.

I have a fine stateroom, lots of room & an easy chair in it! It opens out on to the Starboard promonad just abaft the rear funnel (the ship has two funnels. The second class saloon is very fancy where we eat.

4.30 P.M. passed a fishing schooner on the starboard bow. 9 P.M. - the wind is increasing & a heavy sea is coming up.

September 15th

There is a heavy sea today & the ship is pitching pretty bad. - putting her nose under every trip, there is also a slight mist.

Sept 16th

Quite a fogg & a pretty heavy sea, the ship is still taking water forward. It is very interesting to watch the Scandinavian behind us, at times all we can see of her is her bridge & funnels, then of a sudden she seems to be right clear of the water with tons of water pouring off her forcastle. The cruiser is just on the horizon. I would like to be on her, going ahead up there & not caring if she (?) or floats. There is an awful lot of seasickness on board & it is very dangerous to go on deck as the sick are putting things over the rail & the wind catches it & lifts the whole damn works on board among the crowd! I have not felt the least bit sick & eat like a horse. The poor infantry down in the hold are having a hard time of it they are all sick

Sept 17th Sunday

6 A.M. heavy sea & thick fog - wind still high - 9 A.M. Fog cleared off & wind & sea abating. Had church service forward on deck it was not compulsary but I went. It got pretty warm this afternoon & the sea is going down.

September 18th

Verry foggy but warm & a calm sea (for the middle of the Atlantic). The Drake is just about 300 yds to Starboard today & stayed there all day, - the fog is in banks we are in it one m. & out the next. At times the Scandinavian comes right abreast of us to damn close for my fancy we can plainly hear each other yelling. This is an awful slow ship, we make about 12 m. an hr. & it is getting awful tiresome, all we have to do is sit on deck smoke & tell yarns - B.S. mostly! We have nothing to read & nothing to look at but ourselves & the ocean.

Sept. 19th

Fog & getting rough again with S.E. breeze.

Sept. 20th - Wednesday

Fog all cleared away & no wind, just a gentle roll on the sea. They gave us physical jerks on the deck, one sub. at a time & it was funny to watch us when the ship pitched or rolled.

About 6 P.M. tonight the Northland was sent to the hind end of the line, behind the Mettajama.

Sept. 21st Thursday

Rather a cold day. The ships are going through the darndest movements today.

We go in column of route for a m. & then we get in line & zigzag all over, very close together all the time, with the cruiser on the lead. We have to wear life-belts & water bottles all the time now, every place we go. We are all detailed to our own life-boats & get drill twice a day - I am in a canvas boat which is supposed to hold 54 people well I would hate risk my life in it alone & I am damn sure it would not last an hr. with 20 men, the canvas is rotten as H.__. It is only a pharse to pass the board of trade.

Had rabbit for dinner today all the way from Australia (cold storage) & ice cream & plum pudding

Sept 22nd

Five destroyers met us at 3 P.M. this afternoon, they came from all sides of us & each one took a ship - the cruiser had one to. About 7 P.M. all the ship separated & went on their own (including the cruiser) with its destroyer.

Sept. 23rd

Sighted the North coast of Ireland at 6 A.M. & it is awful pretty (we are very close to land) I have never seen the like of it pretty fields & hedges it is perfect. Lost sight of land again about noon & are out in the Irish sea 2 P.M. sighted the Isle of Man.

We took on the Liverpool pilot at 6 P.M. in sight of the (?) lights & our escort left us. Going up the Mercy there were big search lights shining in the skies. Sent below at 10 P.M. & the fall in sounded at 11.30 P.M. - we paraded with full kit on deck (the ship had docked) & were put on the train - I hate to call it a train as it looked more like a baby carriage! Little wee cars with rooms in them that hold about 6 - they put 8 of us in them! The engines are like the gravel engines they use for construction on the C.N.R. but they sure can go the cars have only four wheels about the size of a Ford with spokes in them!

We were given 24 hr. rations before we left the boat - bully beef & crackers - We had quite a time played the pipes & ect kissed a few girls at Birmingham & ect. Got to Witby at 9 A.M. & walked 2 ½ m. to camp with our full kit & I had to carry my pipes! Palmer thought we might have to use them it darn near killed me up all night, I am going to send them home pretty soon & so are the rest of the pipers. We have dandy quarters here, live in houses, 40 in each with a straw matress! It is awful pretty here.

On the night of the 24th we were rooted out of bed & made to dress as there as a Zepilin raid (cant tell you any more will have to wait till after the war for that) I suppose you heard about it.

Sept 25th Sunday

Went down to the (?) (a town of about 10000) it is all town here anyway you cannot tell one town from another as the houses are as thick as hair on a dogs back & went to Supper at the Mayors house! Flying high he took 25 of us up to supper & gave us a fine feed & then took us to one of Mrs. Henderson's free concerts which was fine. Saw an airoplain in the air above the camp this afternoon.

Sept 27th. Wednesday

Well I guess it is time that I sent this letter off to you as you will be getting anxious for one. We have been taking it very easy lately had a 12 m. route march yesterday through the country & it is lovely green every place & awful pretty little cottages all covered with ivy -. But Papa with all its beaty I would not trade it B.C. for a $1000 B.C. is my home & always will be I like the uninhabited places where a man can get clear of the city over here you cannot go 100 yds without passing a house why the whole damn country is a Town.

I am going on leave to London on Friday afternoon for six days & will write you from there next time will go & see Dick & Mrs. R. L. - Brown is going next time that is on King's leave befor we go to France & I will go with him then & get him into the House of Commons (through McBride)

Things are more expensive there than in Canada! & they sock us Canadians in good style the dirty (?) Matches are exactly twice as expensive & tobacco is a little dearer, eggs are about 85 cents a doz. & they make us pay about a shilling for one fried.

The money is the duce over here it is funny to hear us counting our change after buying anything - it is a great way to get acquainted with pretty shop girls. There are very few pretty girls over here in comparison with the big percentage in Canada & the States they are nearly all very clumsy & walk like a man with big feet they call us Canidians.

Some people I cannot understand at all they have the darndest lingoes that I ever heard of they sound like chinamen - I wish you were here with one of the cars for a while & we could have a dandy time I tell you I never saw such fine roads in my life all ashfalt.

There have been two Zep. raids lately one last night & one the night before there was also one the first night we were here they were pretty close to camp, But I cannot say anything about those things just now.

I hear the Liberals got in pretty strong in B.C. & that Bowser is kicked out.

Glad to hear that Prohibition has passed also, how about women Suffrage? Did they get it & will they be allowed to put a member in the house?

The Grub here is fearful, not enough & damn poor what we get, have to buy most of our eats!

The 1st section got inoculated today so I guess they will give me a shot before I go on leave that is the usual stunt.

I wonder how Jeff is getting along in the R.H.A., he is so darn soft, that they can do anything with him; if he was wise he could get his ticket pretty quick by spending a month in the clink (guard room jail) & ect - they would soon ship him home.

You asked me before I left Pet. if I would need any money to see things around this country well Papa the way things are now, it would be pretty hard for me to get enough money to take a good leave & see the country on our pay as a lot goes to buy our grub, at lunch every day we have to go & get a decent one in the canteen & usually a piece of toast & coffee after breakfast, so if you could advance me $25 or $30 without putting you out any I would be very glad to get it, I suppose you will have my 1st months assignment when you get this. I am going on guard at 6 tonight for 24 hrs.

No. 338909 Driver W. G. Calder
3rd Sec - 4th D.A.C.
Canadian Exped. Force
Witley Camp
Surrey Eng

With Love for all

from your Bill

P.S. tell old Phil that the little I saw of Ireland (North coast & Port Ross) was beatifull & I like it better that what I have seen of Eng. Yet - tell him we were to close that we could nearly see the shamrock growing!

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