Dear Pa, -
It is quite a long time since I have written to you and it seems the longer I put it off writing the harder it is to get at it.
On Jan. 1st I received a note stating that I had been appointed to attend the Canadian Military School at Crowborough and take a two months course commencing Jan. 3rd. I was to comply with order - No. - which stated a number of things - too long to put down here. Doing this I found myself at Crowborough Station at 2.30 to-day. After having Lunch and a two mile taxi ride reported to the adj. of C.M.S. gave in our particulars and were allotted to a hut, told concerning the hours of meals and parades etc. There are quite a large number of lieuts. a few Capts. and fewer Majors here for the course. I'm the only one I've noticed that has been to France most of them are only over from Canada a short time. It is quite a come down after living at the Hotel. I and Richardson (Lt) stayed there together and had things very cushy. Capt. (Dr.) Harvey and his wife are there also Capt. Salmon (Real Estate in Regina). That is Edinburgh Hotel - St. Leonards-on-Sea. I stayed there all the time except two weeks, since moving down to St. Leonards It was costly but very comfortable. From here they generally send you to France. I may be an exception to the general rule but am not sure yet.
I suppose you have heard from Willie. He went to France on Sunday dec. 16th and I haven't heard from him since. I'm glad he is in the artillery and his chances are greater than in the infantry. He wired me Sat. afternoon. I got the wire at 5.30p.m. and couldn't get over to Shorncliffe from St. Leonards till 10.30 and they would all be in bed and there wouldn't likely be a taxi at the station and after 11 when I'd get to the Barracks and then to find him. I wired him to wire me if they didn't go till afternoon but received no answer so concluded they left in the morning. The O.C. of our Division didn't want me to go as I was orderly officer on Sunday and also had to take a church parade. He was short of officers. After a great deal of debating I decided that it wasn't much use of me going over there at such an hour and then have to find Willie and walk back to Folkestone to get into an Hotel, which would be difficult at that hour and then have Willie leave first thing in the morning. The Hotels over here lock up about 11 o'clock.
I hope I soon hear from him and I learn how he spent Xmas & New Years.
I received a parcel from home with short-bread, fruit cake, maple cream, Ammonds, Gum, Date Cookies, Cakes & Bull's eyes. They all went fine especially the Date Cookies & fruit cake. There is another parcel on the way with socks, head-comforter etc in. Ma's last letter dated Dec. 10th with a splendid snap of Mary & Miss Styles.
Arthur must be quite grown up and can now go off on his own skating. Does he go down to the pictures alone?
I have told you about seeing Dan Mac. and Arthur Brown (nephew of Gredge Brown). Art is a dandy fellow I met him in London while up there at Xmas time. Also met L[?] Clark and his brother. We had lunch together.
I will write Mrs. McAra when parcel arrives. The small kit will no doubt be very useful here.
New Year's day they don't celebrate in England. Quite a number of the stores were open. We had a parade in the morning. The meals were as usual no turkey or chicken.
Pa, I have not saved up money and have spent it pretty freely. I am only a month's pay ahead 22 Â£s, hardly that. I will have to get quite a few things here - books and equipment which will cost quite a lot. I didn't get equipment for overseas like a revolver, webb equipment, prismatic compass, mattress & blankets etc. and we are supposed to have all these things. If you can see your way clear could you send 25 or 30 Â£s to Mr. Reid or put in Bank of Montreal to my credit. My account in the bank is like this - Lieut. J.S. Balfour D. of R & O. That is - under the branch of The Director of Recruiting & Oraganization. I hope you don't think I am over extravagant. My Hotel bills and while at Grand Parade were pretty high and I could go along on my pay now if I was extremely economical except for these extras I've got to get and didn't count on. A Commission generally costs the father something and I've managed so far (4 months). Living in England isn't very easy to save money especially when one feels that he may be sent over to France any time.
It is 9.30p.m. so I'll close and get to bed to start regular training & hours to-morrow. I sincerely hope that you spent a pleasant peaceful Xmas & New Years.
With love to each one.
P.S. I've received letters and papers very regularly
My envelopes are too small I borrowed this.