Canadian Expeditionary Force,
Amry P.O., London.
June 13, 1916.
My dear Mr. MacKenzie,
As it is just a year since I had the pleasure of being at the Lakefield Preparatory School I thought I ought to let you know what I am now doing with myself.
I saw Mrs. MacKenzie at your brother's house a few days before Christmas. The next day I enlisted in the 42nd Bty. in Toronto. A couple of weeks later this was changed into the 8th Brigade Ammunition Column, and on the 2nd of February we left Toronto for England. We had a very good trip across on the Metagama, and I was especially fortunate in being sent first class, so I enjoyed the voyage as much as I am capable of enjoying a boat trip. I can't say that I ever felt quite as well as I do on land, but I came off better than I expected. You can imagine my surprise on meeting Bob Hamilton on board.I am sorry to say I didn't recognize him for a minute, but the last person I expected to find a gunner was one of the boys from the Grove. I have seen him several times since, but as we were in different brigades I do not see a great deal of him.
We landed at Plymouth and were taken to Bramshott Camp where we stayed for two months, and where it rained most of the time. On account of the rain we were able to do very little drill and had only about twenty horses for one hundred and fifty men. We were kept busy however, whitewashing everything in sight and doing other fatigues too numerous to mention.
In April we moved to our present abode: Whitley Camp, Milford, Surrey. Here we have had lovely weather. They gave us our harness, mules, and wagons, and we were just beginning to get some drill when the authorities decided that Brigade Amn Cols were of no use, so they abolished them and transferred most of us to the D.A.C. This occured about three weeks ago, and since the I think most of us have been killing time, partly because we were disgusted at the change and at being split up, but principally because there seems to be nothing else to do. At present, I am taking a course in field telegraphy, but I don't expect to use what I am learning as I have a brother in the 2nd Heavy Bty. in Belgium and I expect to transfer to his battery as soon as I go across. The rumour at present is that we will go within a month, but of course we never know.
Apart from the army life, which is, of course, rather restricted and has been a little dissappointing with us on account of a complete lack of - as far as I can see - any system, I have enjoyed myself very much here. I have met two of my best friends at Trinity in London, and seen a good many of the sights there, and a fair number of theatres. Of course, the country itself, especially in Surrey I suppose, is very beautiful at this time of year, and I enjoy walking to different places along the roads here. On Sunday I walked to Charterhouse and explored parts of the building; I felt a little nervous about going around too much! Rather peculiar for an ex-master, but of course I am a 'tommy' now, and am apt to be "put in my place" if I am not careful. They have the most beautiful chapel, all carved oak; I wish we had such a fine one in Canada.
On the 24th of May I went to the Isle of Wight, landed at Rye, and motored to Ventnor, where I went for a row. We were not allowed to go more than a mile from the pier for fear we should supply petrol to a German sub! However, we had a very good day, and saw some very pretty places. We are expecting to get a six days' pass soon, nd it so I hope to go to Scotland and see what Edinburgh looks like. If the Russians keep on as they are doing at present we won't need to stay here much longer.
Mr. Crawford Grier was my section commander while I was in the 8th B.A.C., but he has unfortunately gone to the 30th Bty. now. He made an excellent officer and was liked by everybody.
With kind regards o Mrs. and Miss Mackenzie and yourself.
Yours very sincerely,
George W. Spragge.