30 Cdn Air Svy Liaison Sec, R.C.E.
Cdn Army England,
12 Dec 44.
This is really a second installment on my last, which I just finished up before supper. Seemed to fill it up pretty well with the Mill Bay proposition, so will try & tell you more about my trip in this one.
Have just come up to Axel Kinnear's H.Q. from Ghent today - where I spent several days with Lyle Trorey & Bert Hammond. On Sat. got a chance to ride down to Brussels for the day - returning to Ghent that night. In Brussels, saw my old friend Rothery, who has recently returned from West Africa - he is just the same, and was really pleased to see me, as I was to see him. Spent a New Years with him at his home near Glasgow 41/42. Brussels is a maelstrom of troops on short leave - would not care to stay there just now, but they all say it is a fine city - something like Paris in miniature.
The Hammond-Trorey Corp'n is installed in a big modern science building of the Ghent University - and they are great friends with one of the professors. Hammond & I went to the Professors house for Sunday p.m. As is generally the case, with them intellectual Europeans, they are most charming & cultured. He is my age and Mrs is about yours, (also a blonde) - They have a son 13 - clean, long & lanky & a bit nervous due to rapid growth - and a dear little girl 9 - she made me think of Mary. Showed me her wooden shoes, which they wear on occasion, and I told them I wanted to get a pair for Mary - Mrs. said she could get me a pair & the prof would bring them to the University. Next morning he & Vera, his daughter came into Hammond's office with the shoes - and they were a present for Mary from Vera. IT was nice of them - & they seemed pleased to have an opportunity to do something for the Cdns who helped to liberate their country. I suggested they get Vera's size, which will be a little large for Mary - but she will grow. They wear a heavy sock over the ordinary stockings and [?] a kind of sock [?] inside over the instep. They also put a strap & buckle over the instep - but there is no leather in Belgium - you might have a shoe-maker put straps on. Better make a rule that they be worn outdoors only - otherwise the noise will drive you crazy. Anyway Mary should have some fun with them. The three little pieces of Bruges lace are hand made, and wish I had got some more for you - perhaps enough for a table service.
Lyle & I went for an evening with the Professor again last night, another prof & his wife there too - all very interesting & hospitable. Our friend was an active member of the resistance movement during the Nazi occupation. He was in jail for 8 months - & liable to be executed anytime - however they let him out. His experiences were equal to anything in the [?] - How these people hate the Germans! Conditions are very bad in Belgium - The black market is the only market - prices are fantastic, and to live people are using up not only all their current incomes, but there savings too. Wish we could send something to little Vera, but it cant be done yet. Might send a card - an open post card from Mary - don't call them Dutch shoes, these people are Belgians "wooden shoes" is o.k. The parents speak English.
Miss Vera Vuylsteke-Laveyt
Axel is OK and doing a wonderful job. Staying with him tonight.