No 22 Witley Camp
July 21st 1915
I will now resume my experiences while on my leave. I'll start from the beginning and tell all that I can remember. We left camp by the London & S.W. Railway, and arrived in London about noon, being about an 1 Â½ hr. trip. A Y.M.C.A. man met us at the train and took us up to the Maple Leaf Club by auto, I passed lots of places I've heard about a lot, some of them are, Buckingham Palace, Victoria Memorial, Rotten Row, Houses of Parliament, [?], St. Paul's, St James Park, Hyde Park Corner, and several of the bridges. At the Maple Leaf Club we got a bed and a breakfast for next morning at a shilling for each, it w as a nice soft bed, eight in a room. We then went by the tubes to the Y.M.C.A. headquarters near Charing Cross, got out at Covent Gardens, that sure is a great market but oh the prices, cherries at 2s a lb. peaches at 2s each and other fruit at the same high rates, they seemed to be mostly cockney's running the place. Those tubes are certainly great we had to transfer 3 times before we reached Covent Gardens by that time I didn't know where we were, but the guide seemed to know alright. In the afternoon the rain poured down so we went to the nearest show and saw a good show, a modern play about the war and the spying system of the Germans over here. In the evening it was still raining so we went to "His Majesty's Theatre" in Piccadilly and saw "Chu Chin Chow" a musical comedy that has been running at that house for 580 days. It was the most gorgeous show I ever saw, the costumes and scenery were grandiloquent, as Dad says. They sure have some pretty theatres in London, but I expected them to be bigger than what they are. After the show we walked around the Strand and Piccadilly and around Trafalgar square, isn't that some monument there? You wouldn't know London at night now all the street lights are out, it's hard to see your way around. We soon got disgusted with walking around the streets every other person we met was in officer, which meant saluting, the first day me [?] arm felt as if I had been playing base-ball all day, from waving it up and down, the next day we just passed most of them up, didn't notice them coming, I guess they were as well pleased as we were. There seemed to be about three times as many officers as men about the streets. We saw soldiers from all over, Yankees, Australians, New Zealanders, Belgians, French Aviators, French [?], they have a fancy looking uniform with red caps and lots of Canadians. Next morning we wandered about the town, they have got some great stores there, I didn't see Maples' or Whiteley's, but saw Selfridges which is a wopper, Robinson & Cleaver's and several others I've forgotten the names of. We also took in a War Exhibition of relics from the front and models of modern machines ships, trains and engines, it was very interesting. Had lunch in town and afterwards went to the famous Zoo. We spent the whole afternoon there and then didn't see it all, they have every animal you could think of there the park about there is pretty too, they have a hospital for the blind there now. At night we went to another show at the Shaftesbury, also in Piccadilly circus, it also was jake. Didn't get a chance to see Madame Tussaud's, but hope to next time. Coming back to the Marble Arch, the Maple leaf club, is close to it, we got lost in the tubes, were travelling around from 12 p.m. till 1 a.m. trying to get out. Everyone we asked told us a different way to get out. We got some beautiful views of London chimney-tops from the trains, it's a queer looking [?] alright.
I left London about 10 a.m next day and arrived in Chatham about 1 P.M passed Woolwich, Plumstead, Erith and Abbeywood. Saw a big camp of gypsies near Plumstead, they're an awful dirty looking bunch.
They were mighty glad to see me at Chatham, gave me a great welcome they thought I was an size, I told them they all grow big in Canada might as well boost my own country when I have a chance. Phoebe doesn't look at all like her picture she is much better looking and a mighty nice girl as well. Nora is pretty as a picture we all went to their house for supper, he husband is an electrical operator an has a good job. They are going to more to London where he has just got a better job. I would have liked to have seen Ethel and the two boys but hope to before I leave for home. Chatham is a great Naval and Military town half the buildings seem to be government works of some kind. Unfortunately in rained most of the time, so that I couldn't get around very well but all the same I sure did enjoy myself. It rained everyday I was on leave, after having two months of nearly perfect weather, pretty tough, eh? You don't seem to be having extra good weather back there in Victoria. I had some great feeds at Uncle's, the best since I left home, they even wanted to give me my breakfast in bed Sunday morning, I wouldn't stand for it, but Uncle brought me in a cup of tea. Gee, they gave me a swell bed in a dandy bedroom. It was an awful job to get up in the morning tho. Uncle and I went to Plumstead the last day. Visited Arsenal square, the old churchyard, where we found the grave where our relatives are buried it had a small tomb stone about a foot high with the initials and dates on it, [?] P.[?]/ 1981 [?]. 2 1869 A.[?]. 1886 S.[?] 1901. We went in the old church & guess you wouldn't know it now it has been enlarged about 3 or 4 times. The church-yard is all running wild now, I guess they can't get anyone to look after it We didn't go inside the Arsenal but followed the wall, it must have been miles long. Will have to tell you more next time, this letter is getting too long-winded.
I have just finished my parcel gee that cake was fine ma, it wasn't broken in the least. Tom and I ate the last two pieces last night we went to the Salvation Army Canteen, got some coffee which I sweetened with some of your lump sugar, and some buns with jam, that Tom had and finished with cake. The peanuts, chocolate, dates, biscuits, etc all went down jake. But I am sure proud of your cakes, I gave a piece to two other boys they said it was jake, I had some of theirs', but yours had theirs beat a mile. I wasn't fooling when I said we get lots to eat, that's the truth I get all I want now and besides even if I didn't I can always buy lots at the canteens, so don't worry about that.
Got a letter and picture from Meg when I got back I must write to her again.
Sorry you don't care for the Rendell's if they don't come to see you, don't you bother about going over there they are funny people. I thought Doug's sister would be only to glad to come and see you. I had a letter from Gert Rendell the other day. I like her the best of the bunch
I am enclosing the tickets we had from the bus running from Plumstead Common to the old Kent Rd. guess you couldn't do that when you were there. They run about every two minutes, it is a dandy trip too riding on the top of the old bus.
I am mighty glad to hear that you and Dad are keeping well, ma, that helps to keep me cheered up. Though I always do feel cheerful anyway, but I like to hear that you are both ok.
I expect this to reach you near your birthday ma, so I will take this chance to wish you a very many happy returns. I sent a little brooch to you as a present yesterday let me know what date you receive it. Hope you had a good birthday Dad, wish I were there for both of them. I feel positive now I will soon be back the news is getting mighty good now.
Everybody here expects it to end soon now
Must close now, with lots of love