At the Front,
Easter Sunday, April 4
If I have to make this letter longer than this one sheet, you will have to excuse some very dirty notepaper. Your nice long letter with the drawings in it arrived o.k. I think that the photo of you is a very good one, although it does not do you justice. No photograph could.
I have just come in from a visit I paid to the 3rd Battalion, and Derek Broughall and I took a long walk up the road, and we had a good old chat. He has grown up to be an awfully nice boy, and he has steadies down quite alot since he left school. He is very popular with his mates. Another member of his gun crew is Ross Buitsley - Argo's old Captain.
I have a real piece of news for you. Who do you think is in the British Army? Give you fifteen guesses and I will tell you in my next letter - No, I will satisfy your curiosity Seton Broughall is driving a motor transport here in Flanders! Can you imagine little Seton driving a big truck with his uniform on? He is with the British Army, not the Canadian.
Don't be afraid of writing a long letter. It won't bother the censor, as the censor has nothing to do with the incoming mail, and the person to whom it is addressed is the only one who will read it. I shouldn't think it would be difficult for the people at home to find out where we are. They now, for instance, that we were recently concerned in a very big battle, and knowing where that took place, it ought to be very easy to locate us. We are resting in billets now and will be moved somewhere else shortly - very shortly.
We had a most impressive Easter service in a field today. It was pouring rain, and we stood through the whole service around an extemporized altar. The Holy Communion was a solemn occasion for those of us who realize what we are going into before long. I shall never forget the Easter of 1915. I hope that by the next great church day - Christmas- I shall be back home in my own Canada again Win, never lived a man who loved his native land as much as I do mine. All my dreams are of Canada and Lakefield. I long for my canoe- the boys, but particularly the boys - and the school.
The weather here is getting warmer and more springlike every day, although we often have fierce blizzards, and very cold nights. I have got so that I can wrap my blankets around me and curl up anywhere, sleeping soundly all through the night. Aeroplanes of both sides are always active, and signs of shelling common. On a clear day one can see the planes surrounded by innumerable white puffs of smoke. Sometimes they come right over us and drop bombs on the neighbouring towns.
I don't like Flanders. The novelty has all worn off, and I can't get used to these farm houses. Not that I ever sleep in one - the common soldier is sent to the farms. Each house is built around a smelly cess pool.
I have several tatoo marks on my arms now. One design was pricked on in the trenches during shell-fire.
I went for a stroll through the town today, looking at the damage done by shell-fire. The church, as usual, has been a great target and even the graveyard was not respected. Some of the tombs have been opened, and one can see the coffins. Hardly a house in town has escaped the hail of shrapnel that was poured into it, but that has been the case with most of these towns. Those on the firing line being just shapeless heaps of bricks and stone. And the cattle in the fields - whew! Very dead and very smelly. It will be a lovely place when the hot weather comes and the thousand of corpses scattered along the line, some exposed to the air, and many just half buried, begin to make themselves noticed.
You must admit that this is a long letter, so I expect you to take pity on me again soon.
Your sincere friend,
Gordon H. Grahame.
Derek Broughall was killed in action in France.