30 Cdn Air Survey Liaison Sec, RCE
Canadian Army England, 26 Oct 44
My letter is a day or so late this week, on account of the fact that I've been away, checking on the ground, and in the water, some of the work we did from the air photos before D Day. Worked and lived entirely with the Royal Navy during the time, and you can imagine what an interesting time it was. Spent the nights, and the stormy days on shore in a little Normandy fishing village, and lived in the Senior Officers' Mess, RN. It was interesting to find that the Navvy considers a major as quite an important rank, and treats one accordingly, The tendency in the Canadian Army, especially in the last year seems to be to treat majors as rather small fry, I think I understand the reason, but need not mention it. Anyway, I was given first class treatment, and the Naval officer I worked with was what corresponds to a surveyor in the navy, He was a typical surveyor, quiet, will seasoned with practical work, in interesting parts of the world, a bit shy, a little absent minded, and a perfect gentleman. This chap reminded me a little of Rd McCaw, whom Frank Swannell and AJ Campbell knew well. Anyway, he cooperated 100% in getting me the information I required, although the weather was as usual atrocious, and cut down our scope somewhat. One stormy day, a young RE survey officer whom I know here came along in his truck and took me out to the Unit for supper, and I was able to see a little of the countryside, including supper, and I was able to see a little of the countryside, including a town which was quite important during the early stages of the in a town which was quite important during the early stages of the invasion. It was quite undamaged, and has a very fine old cathedral, which had a famous tapestry of antique origin depicting the invasion of England by William the Conqueror. It was a real old structure of rather peculiar architecture, sort of a transition or blend between Norman and gothic. It also had some unique flying buttresses supporting the high vaulted roof. Fine stained glass windows, one in particular predominantly a very rich red. I guess men like red, or at least I do. Went into a small shop, and bought a Camembert cheese, as usual mixed up bits of German with my French, but fortunately the most glaring instance escaped notice. Might have given rather a bad impression. Under the nervous strain of trying to speak French, I have a tendency to use bits of german, which I spoke with comparative fluency, and comes much easier. Perhaps Mary's nervousness affecting her speech comes from her Pop after all.
The trip over from here was very rough, and altho I didnt have to heave Jonah, I had a frightful headache, and rather a critical tummy. Adopted the wise course of not eating, some of the trips in the small hydrographic launch are quite rough, and didn't affect me in the least. I think if I can see the horizon I don't get sick at all. I remember a vivid occasion on which you "retired" to your stateroom during rough weather. Your calm and cheerful behaviour on that occasion made an irreparable breach in my tough old heart, with consequences of a most happy and far reaching nature - for us both. The trip back yesterday & last night was very pleasant, and I found agreeable company. Must say the Navy chaps have a high average with me, I think it partly because they get around and see the world, get cut of their native groove, and are more tolerant. Also, they are thrown very forcibly and intimately into the hands of Nature, and all her grandeur, vagaries, and terrors. The thing I most enjoyed on getting back today (next to reading your letter of the 15th which was here to welcome me) was a hot bath. That part of France is a sea of mud. My feet were wet the whole time there, except at night in my eiderdown sleeping bag, which is a real comfort.
Your letter of the 15th is a lovely one, and the snaps are very welcome, it is a very good one of you. I look at it and feel very proud that "she" is my wife. Tell-Minnie that her presence, combined with yours makes a very agreeable reminder of good old days which we hope will be resumed before too long. Mary's pictures are very sweet and the one with her leg over the rail is extremely good. She is a sweet dear interesting child. You must tell Babbie what a lot of good her snaps are to me, and thank her, and my best to her and Harold.
Maybe your next manuring of the garden will be when I am home. Didn't it say in the scriptures that "out of the strong came sweetness"? You certainly should prove that with the flowers next year.
The presents you got for all my lady friends here in England are bound to be just right, and will put me in high favour. The little snow suit for little Irene Godard should be a hit, Just before going away, your parcel with the shorts & socks came, thanks dear, they are swell. The shirt you mention this time will be welcome. I don't seem to have the to shop even for myself, and one or two of my shirts have finally reached the stage where they tear just when I put them on or take them off too quickly.
The first paragraph of your letter made me very happy dear. Tell Mary to give Mrs Andrews a big hug and kiss for her Pop.
LOVE to you BOTH