Thurs. Oct. 8
Rec'd you last letter O.K. a couple of days ago but have been unable to answer it till now on a/c the rotten conditions we have been existing under during the last ten days. We went to Longmoor rifle ranges a week ago last Tues. in a heavy rain and when we got there we were given leaky old tents some of which had three inches of water in them. The worst of it was they put nine men with all their equipment in each tent and we hardly had room to turn around in. Out of the nine days we were there it rained eight and the mud was simply fierce. Of course we had to go out & shoot all day long rain or no rain, and when we arrived here again last night I hardly had a dry stitch of clothing to my name. The rest weren't a bit better off and talk about your "cheerful Tommies" - we certainly deserved the title when we pulled in. I "hit the straw" at 7.30.
And now Cath. I've got a little surprise for you (at least I think it will be a surprise for it came as a big one to me). We were just running to get our mail this morning when the "fall in" sounded and we lined up on the parade ground. Major Shiell came out and informed us that he just got orders from headquarters to hand over 175 men from D Co'y to leave for the front on Tuesday.
I never saw up so [cut?] up in m life - he couldn't keep the tears back. You see there are only 250 men in the company and that means that practically all his "men," as he has always called us are being taken away from him. No officers are going. I know just how he feels and we feel it too - for he was certainly good to us and he told us he wouldn't wish to have a finer company of men under him. B Co. are sending 175 also making 300 in all & we are going to reinforce the 15th Can. Highlanders of the 1st Contingent I think. They are in the Somme district and have been getting it pretty hot apparently. The 92nd went to reinforce them a month ago and I was just talking to a returned 92nd man who said they had lost over 500 already. Lawrence & I were going to start another course in scouting next week, but are going in the ranks with the draft on Tuesday. Of course there has been some excitement since we got the news and needless to say our drill has become a thing of the past. Our equipment, including new Gordon kilts is to be issued tomorrow.
But we aren't the only ones who are going - they have been shipping them out of here all day long. I guess they must be getting ready to start something or else the British are losing pretty heavily.
Needless to say I've been pretty busy during the last six or eight hours. Finished a very nice little washing just before starting to write. The army issue of socks isn't worth the space it takes up in our kit so I had to get busy and wash up 4 or 5 pairs of homemade ones. I think I would make a pretty fair wash woman in time - if I could only learn to economise on the soap - I used up a whole cake on 5 pairs of soap. How's that for war time economy eh? Wouldn't Mrs. Swarbrick kid me if she ever heard that? I am taking "your" pair along with me & intend to celebrate my 1st day in the trenches by wearing them on that occasion.
We haven't received any Can. mail for nearly two weeks up till now but during the last two days it has been rolling in nicely. I got 4 letters from home & a box marked "candy." It's a good thing it was marked though or I might have suffered a stroke of brain fever trying to figure out what the box really contained. It looked more like a mixture of milk & syrup than anything else. I finished one of Rose's calling cards out of the wreck and then a bunch of us cleaned up on the "candy" with a spoon. It didn't taste so bad after all.
Lawrence bro't me in a bunch of R - "Dominions" today and judging by the funeral notices I think the population of the old town must be rapidly decreasing. I was surprised to learn of Mr. Macfarlane's death. But then I suppose it came as a shock to everyone. It seems funny to me too that M.J. Mac should be asked to conduct the service at A.F. McKinlay's. Do you suppose he has sent in his bill yet?
Suppose you are having a high old time now-a-days - if it weren't for that new latin you'd have it pretty soft. Too bad they changed it but then you'll be able to keep out of trouble in your spare's with all that ahead of you. And Scotty MacDonald is back again! Gee Whiz. (that's as strong as I can put in on paper) There must be some attraction what can it be? Is Mick back yet? And dear little Firly, is she still on good terms with Asbury?
Well, so long for the present. Will write whenever I get the chance, but if you don't hear from me as often as you have been don't run away with the idea that your letters aren't welcome.
Hope you don't get tired writing out new addresses
D Co 134th Bn
48 Highlanders C.E.F.
Army P.O. London
P.S. - Don't know whether you saw this snap or not. Perhaps Inez showed it to you.