Nov 7, 1916
My Dear Mackenzie
I just got yours of 21st Oct before [?] to-night. I was mighty glad to get news of the grove again. Had had letters from [?] Smith and Dary and like to hear of the old school from all sides and angles. The roll call with comments was a particular delight and made me feel quite at home again.
I am pleased that the numbers are keeping up, as from what I had heard Canada is beginning to feel the financial pinch of this rotten business and I feared that it would affect the people whose boys we like to get. There is apparently heaps of cash in Canada, but unfortunately it is being made largely by a sort of shyster class who won't do their duty. I may be utterly wrong in this, but things here make one feel very sore at times.
From what the boys told me I judged Ketcherum to be a good man for his job. Also glad the sports go so well. I suppose by this time most -if not all- the events are over and you are coming down to the hated "'Tween seasons".
You may thank your stars you don't have this country's diabolical climate. Rain every day for past three weeks, mud & slime, slime & mud. [?] God! It is depressing. But what it must be in the trenches!! Curiously enough the fellows there don't seem to mind it so much. Man can get used to almost anything. Their only complaint seems to be rats. And by all acc'ts they have an overdose of them. They say they're worse than Huns. It is sad to think of Morris Carey & Chinney, but they were all men & men of a high type. The best always seem to go. I suppose because they are the best and take the bigger chances. I wish I knew where the Freewicks were, but unless you know a fellow's corps it's very hard to trace him, besides, we are not over burdened with leisure hours.
I was more than delighted to hear that you & Hilliard were O.K. together again. That has always been a sore spot in my mind since it happened. Had a letter from him the other day & he was quite happy about it. He is really "one of the best" and has always been my finest friend in L. I will look up the Coones boys if still here. They were in Bygott's company & so I can't say what has happened to them but I believe they've crossed to France.
The other day I saw Rupert Taylor, He was my best man. Is married now, working in the War Office, was turned down for service. Seems very happy, & the same old mind-in-the-clouds-chap. I wondered how he found me out to write to me. Said he had heard from one of the Lurres[?]s. Saw Fred La Feure last night in Folkestone. He was over in France & had crossed for a day or two. He has been over the whole front in connection with Railways and was most interesting. Looks splendid, has quite a snug job, I think, as he is more or less independent. The spirit of the officers who are old timers is wonderful.
When you think how many regiments have lost all or very nearly all their original officers you wonder how they keep going.
Our mess is a curious coming & going centre, men here for a few days & then off to France. Others get a few days leave & drop in on the way to London. It's a continual shift.
We were very sore at being all split up & chased into the 39th but have stopped worrying now. I was in a tent till 3 nights ago but now am in a room in a hut with Ha[?] Burnhauer as a mate. Have had 4 different tent & room mates in the month I've been here. Don't expect to be here much longer. If I'd been wise to the fact that only the junior ranks get a first chance I'd have been over long ago.
'Spose Helen's told you I had one warning, & how quickly it was cancelled. The next time I spose I go.
Here we live in the lap of luxury, comfy rooms, light, Don't have to roll out till about 7, good meals & liquid refreshment as Capt Hallitan used to say.
We manage to do some work between meals though. Everyone & [?] is extremely regimented. If you're 5 minutes too early or a second late for anything you're in for it. Have to have every thing polished up to the nines & behave just so. All the same it makes things run very smoothly and you know just where you're at. Off parade we can have a very good time.
"Lights Out" has just been sounded so I had better ring off and get ready for bed.
I had two good letters from Dan. He seems to be getting on first rate. He may get into the game yet. The Lord only knows how long this thing's going to last.
With kindest regards to Mrs. Mackenzie, Winifred & all at the Grove.