The last letter home, I wrote four or five days ago. Now our company are in supports and have been for three days. Six fellows & myself in charge, are separated from the platoon and are at a strong point. This is a short distance behind the firing line and in case the enemy advanced this place would have to be held to the last. But there is not much chance of that happening. At night two men are on together for a couple of hours, then they are off for four. We live in dug-outs which fortunately have little box-shaped stoves and we rustle wood every day. The past week has been colder and snow has fallen till now there is a coating two or three inches deep. It gives us a taste of winter as at home. Last night large flakes of snow fell thickly nearly all night, just like the snow storms at home. I don't suppose it will stay long but just now the weather is clear & frosty, melting a little.
This afternoon I had a shave and good wash and feel much better for it. It must be six days since the last time I did so. It has been too cold & snowy to either wash or shave.
I told you that when I went on leave I left from supports and I also came back to supports but in a different position, to the left of the 1st. These trips up generally last about twenty-four days which is spent in supports This time is divided equally or nearly so at five or six different positions including firing line. Then the month is finished up back several miles for a rest. So we have a number of marches during the month and the long one come when we go back for the rest.
This war doesn't seem any nearer the end but the next few months may bring a welcomed change. Nearly always I feel fine and in good spirits but the last few days I haven't felt so good. The loss of Parlett has been hard. He and I were nearly always together, slept together, & got each other's meals etc etc. He was a dandy fellow and passed away so quickly. He came back from leave only two days before feeling fine after a good time in London. I had several little chats with him and he remarked more than once that he didn't want to die, he wanted to live. He told one or two fellows before he went out that he didn't feel like going but of course he didn't raise any serious objections. 'Leaders' & 'Lifes' come for him from Dr. Bow and Mrs. Cross. Leaders with Â½ dog handkerchiefs came a few days ago. I wish you would phone Mrs. Cross or Dr. Bow and tell them, Parlett's friends got them and anything else that comes. He knew the misses McIntyres quite well and has received parcels from them, some little things came for me in one. Other people such as Mr. Mantel used to write him but I suppose they will hear or see his name in the lists. Arthur P. had very few relations. He only saw his brother near London for a couple of hours and then the brother went away. He must have been a very peculiar man. Arthur told Yilpin coming back from leave that he was going to cut him out.
I had a pass to Baillieul and inquired about Arthur for no definite word had come thru our orderly room and was told that he died the same night he was brought in. He'll be buried in the town.
Corporal Milne who was killed instantly the next morning came with our draft and was a favorite with everyone.
I don't very much like the idea of Willie enlisting. It will be more burden for you and particular mother. But if he has made up his mind and you decide to let him come think twice before letting him join the infantry. In my case I was fortunate in getting in with a fine bunch of fellows. That helps 90% in keeping up your spirits while experiencing hardships, and at times they are not easy nor few. But of course the discomforts and hard work should not decide a fellow to keep out of the infantry because no one can stand this life better than young fellows in the twenties. It is where a boy is best suited and can serve best that should determine him.
Willie has never knocked around, roughed it or dug ditches etc. and I think would get tired of this life after six or seven months. He would be better at something where you use a few brains and in which you can take some interest, like in a Battery. There are numerous kinds of positions and he could decide on one. It might be a little difficult to join one of these branches but I think it is worth the trouble. They recruit for Army Service Corps in Regina and there might be a position in this branch that would be suitable to Willie. If he gets tired of that job it isn't very difficult to transfer into the infantry but it is almost impossible to do the reverse.
Sunday Feb. 27th
It is milder to-day and cloudy. There is no Sunday at the front. It is just like any other day.
Tell Ma I got the parcel with Towel Cocoa etc. Also the bundles of papers with handkerchiefs, one in one bundle & two in the other. I was in need of them.
I have two letters from you dated Jan.4 & 20. I saw that you got a 3rd prize in curling and mother mentioned it in her letter.
We have been in France over seven months now and after another four or five I want a change but I can write about that later. I suppose you haven't heard any-thing definite about a commission. It is difficult to get one from this side. If it is arranged thru Ottawa it saves a great deal of trouble.
You have been having some very cold weather at home. It will keep you all busy going to the furnace. Is there much scarcity of coal?
I must write more regularly home or at least send cards sometimes the don't collect the mail for four or five days when in the trenches but cards can always be posted.
Your letter of the 20th tells about your curling. You had a very strenuous day when you were on four draws.
It isn't likely if I get a commission that it would be with the Pats and I wouldn't like it to be so. The boys who got commissions before got them in the British Army or Artillery. Sparling was gazette to the P.P's but he transferred to the artillery. If I got one I would like it to be in the Canadian and with someone I knew. Perhaps in a few months a Colonel whom you know may arranged it. But don't do anything till I've been out here 12 months, of course I won't refuse but we will see later.
I often sometimes feel a bit homesick and wonder what you are all doing at home. After this war is over I want a good rest. I hope that everything is going all right at home in every way. That you are all well and not suffering with the cold. With much love to all.