November 24, 1916
Budsie My Darling:
Your letter received last week, but so far I have not received the parcel you sent. Did you get the parcel and book of post cards that I sent? I registered both packets. And say! Did you ever get the book of post cards of Albert? You have not said so in any of your letters. If you did you will notice quite a few pictures of the cathedral with the monument leaning over. The French always say that when Fritz knocks that monument down, the way will end in a month. It was knocked down by a shell a week ago, so here's hoping that their superstitions may prove correct, but I fear not. I guess I'm not superstitious enough myself to believe anything could end the war that easily.
We say a wonderful air flight yesterday - I guess I didn't mention that I am up the line again - two squadrons of our battle planes (sixteen in all) went over Fritz's line on a scouting or bombing expedition. We sat and watched them go over. As soon as they were in range of Fritz's anti-aircraft guns, he opened up on them, but did no damage. So he sent up a squadron of planes to meet them. Gosh! - such a scrap you can't imagine. The manoeuvring was wonderful. They fought until dark, the fight lasted two full hours. We were only certain of one plane coming down - Fritz's! But we saw three of his and tow of ours draw away from the combat and draw behind their respective lines, so they must have been damaged altho not totally disabled. When it began to get dark, we could distinctly see the spurts of flame coming from the machine guns on the plane. It was without a doubt one of the most interesting scenes I've seen yet.
We are having a very quiet time. Fortunately all the cases are sick men so we don't have to carry many stretchers. I am not with Harry this time. He is on another part of the line. I went over to see him and everything is OK.
Fat and I have three trips out on ration party but we met with no excitement. An occasional machine gun bullet to duck for, but after ducking you'd find it was yards overhead. To duck is merely a habit. You hear the swishing of the bullets and just naturally duck your "nut". But really, this is the quietest line we have yet held. But for an occasional bombing raid, it's as quiet as home. We hardly ever wear steel helmets, and we use the roads frequently without any danger whatever. We couldn't do that at Ypres, or the Somme. Naturally, we find being up the line a picnic, in fact quite a rest after the unnecessary military training they enforce while we are at headquarters.
Our dressing station dugout runs right under the road. At night, the road is used quite a lot by ration and supply wagons. It is very large, accommodating about 70 patients, and we have a phone in (connected with headquarters) and a water supply right outside the door. Oh, it's a jake little place. And, the most important thing of all, we get lots to eat!
I hope you were pleased with the little apron etc. I sent you. And how about little Bob's identification disc? Isn't it a dandy? I try to make my letters as interesting as possible, but we are going to get a green envelope again, once a month. I have two more sets of post cards to send you when I make up a little parcel again. Did you get the parcel containing the brooches, German crucifix etc? I sent that about 2 weeks ago. We are supposed to be getting passes now, but so far the only special passes have been issued, except for the officers. They mostly all have their passes. Mother is wondering if I can't get home for Christmas, but I wrote and told her that if I get a pass for the Christmas following this one I should consider myself lucky indeed! There are hundreds of boys who have been in France for 12 or 15 months and have not been on a pass yet, and have no prospects in view. Then again, there are lots of lucky ones that get away after being out here three months or over.
I got a letter from Bob while I was in the hospital and am enclosing it for you to read. I have not heard from his wife yet. The Frasers are worried about you because you don't write. They have had Jo staying with them, and Nan says she is going to write me when she gets home again. If she does, I will send the letter on.
I have not seen Jack W. again, so have not heard any more particulars about poor Vic. You say Blower is killed! Is he the one that used to sing "The Tin Soldier" at Tubb's, or was it his brother? I met him in Bramshott you know. He was in the office at headquarters. I used to see him when taking dispatches there. I was talking to one of the old "65" boys (Calgary Battalion), and he said that the 56th has had 900 casualties. If that's true, that's very heavy, isn't it. "Starks" was in the Battalion. I have never run across Dave Holland or Jack Millar, Taffy, or any of those boys out here.
It seems years since I said goodbye. It was nine months ago yesterday. I am feeling fine again now. I was very week for a few days and, but for losing a little more flesh, I feel no ill effects whatever. The Staff Sargeant was very considerate, giving me a very easy job on leaving hospital, in which to recuperate.
We shall be up on the line again on Christmas Day so we shall have the "novelty" of spending Christmas in a dugout. Think of me won't you, but rest assured I shall be happy in a way; you know I have a knack of making the best of things and getting pleasure where some fellows would be discontented.
Well, I must close. There's word of a stretcher case coming down, and Fat and I are going out to meet it.