Dear Mr Mackenzie
As the only old Grove boys in the ranks of the 92nd we thought we would join forces to let you know we have not forgotten the Grove. Of course Capt. Kathbin is an old Grove boy but as he has the misfortune to be an officer he does not enjoy the pleasure of our society. He no doubt deplores this but it cannot be helped.
Bill Renfrew is a bugler and I (John Sydney Smith) am a private in C. Co. We are both feeling the good of our new life and it has set us up wonderfully. The 92nd is perhaps the best battalion we could be in, as we both have a number of friends among, and claims on, our officers and so we have the pleasant feeling that we have a friend at court when needed. I joined last August, and had almost forgotten Bill till one one day while I was in the line waiting for dinner, I saw a very splashily got up civilian, quite the nut watching us, with one of the officers. He came over and shook hands and I found out who it was. He knew me at once in spite of my tough appearance. (The 92nd did not receive any uniforms till a month after they had been at camp, so we looked pretty tough, our civilian clothes having gone to rags.)
However despite the battalions unpreposessing looks, he joined next week, and we stick together pretty closely although not in the same company.
I don't know whether the school would know us in our kilts and our uncovered knees might cause a flutter in Lakefield, but we wouldn't go back to [?] for anything. We've worn them all winter for walking out, and so we hold ourselves real highlanders, not the church parade kind.
We hope to be on our way to England by spring, as we are heartily tired of wasting time here. Our barracks are quite comfortable and the meals are good, at least to a soldier so it is simply the monotony of winter training that gets us. We can't do anything much on account of the snow, so existence is not very varied.
George Renfrew is a gunner in the 13th batter, 2nd Division, and was at last hearing well and happy.
I don't think there are any other Grove boys now in training here, though there might well be some without our knowledge.
We have neither of us seen the Grove for some time, but we remember very well the events that happened in our time there, and often talk of them. They seem mostly to have happened last year.
I have always felt, and I think Bill feels the same, that though I can't remember anything I learnt in school which was or has proved of any direct utility in after life, the things I learnt out of school at Lakefield have made a man of me, and I feel their value every day of my life.
The army is very like school, in a much rougher way, and I think it will do me a lot of good, though Lakefield did the work pretty thoroughly.
John I think has stated sentiments for both of us. We will have many an evening going over the things we have done at L.P.G. [?] Me being a bugler & John a signaler of course at the present dont see much of each other, but fortunately are in the same platoon, also the officer in Comand of the same is a friend of mine from B.C. We manage to go round together in the evenings however.
If we are lucky we hope to go back to the Grove and see the old school with improvements which always take place every year or so.
We wish you & Mrs Mackenzie good health also the family & boys.
With all the good wishes in the world
We are sincerely
John Sydney Smith
Bugler W.G. Renfrew 192710