September 3, 1916
My Darling Budsie:
Your letter received last week. Since I last wrote you, we have moved into training camp, and have now been here for a few days but expect to move any day - 'tis rumoured tomorrow. We've had a pretty good time since being here, but lots of marching and drilling. Every day we have route march with full pack, carrying blanket, ground sheet, overcoat, haversack, water bottle, field pannier, gas helmet, steel helmet, toilet articles, and spare clothing and all other equipment. So you can see we don't want to carry anything that isn't absolutely necessary.
Oh! Just received your parcel and was just delighted to get it. It was packed spendidly. Only it has been so wet and damp that all the candies were in one lump. Mrs. Gregory sent me two pairs of sox, and Mother two pair, so I am well of for a while yet. Mrs. G. also sent me a packet of "Optimists". I was glad to get these and you can bet Harry and I just devoured the Meota news. It seems there are just as many people at the beach this year, and even more picnics. And I guess Russ must have a nice place now. His mother is staying at Meota now, keeping house for him. I am glad that you are comfortable in your new home, and also that Nine (Nina) can be with you so much. I am enclosing a little surprise for you. A photograph was taken in a little Estaminet just a few miles behind the line. Note the primitive scenery. They are all boys in the same tent as Harry and me, and the toughest bunch in "B" Section. How do you like my "Charlie Chaplin"? Mooney, the big fellow in the centre row on the left calls me "Pink Whiskers". Guess I shall remove it before I get to see you again eh? And how do you like the short knickers and the little (?) cigarette holder? The Staff Sargeant sitting in front with me is a peach of a fellow - just one of the boys; and the rest of them are old "C" Sec. boys
Gee, but the boys like the candy. Tiny Creighton likes the "spuds", and Bill Mooney the "brown stuff", but they mostly all like the girl on the box best.
Only four more days and we shall have been in France for four months but it seems more like four years. Now, does Bobby really ever ask after his "Thad", or do you just say so because you think it will cheer me. I wonder would the little chap recognize his "Thad"?
Say! We are damned near starved these days. Our rations consist of a quarter loaf of bread for 3 meals, and on dessert spoonful of butter; and the breakfast consists of 2 small pieces of bacon weighing an ounce and what bread you want to consume from your quarter loaf. For Dinner, stew every day and potatoes. Supper, just jam and tea.
...If you have any bread left for supper jake; if not you do without or buy it. Last night after we had had our supposed supper, Harry and Mooney and I walked to the village and bought about 4 pounds of beefsteak, and a loaf of bread, can of apricots and some buns. We took it to a private house and got it cooked. The people were very nice - gave us coffee, butter, cooked the meal and provided the dishes etc. Oh, what a meal! The first real feed for weeks. I guess Sargeants get a good dinner - salmon, pork, pickles, potatoes, bread, butter, jam and tea - and they don't deserve any better meals than the privates unless they pay for them. This I know for a fact because one of the boys in our tent was in the Sargeant's mess for dinner today.
We are getting terrible weather now. Rain every day. I have just been on water duty and got wet through. Have been wet so much lately I feel uncomfortable unless I can feel the water trickling down my back and out my short pant legs. We are camped quite near an aerodrome, and we see dozens of planes daily, all shapes and sizes. It's wonderful to see them rising and landing and they have so few accidents. Hop picking is in full swing now. The French and Belgiums grow a lot of hops - there are field and fields of them.
You say you don't receive letters from me regularly. I have not written since I wrote you a note saying we were moving, but I always write to you once a week regularly - that is a letter. I send Whiz Bangs (Field Post Cards) whenever I can get hold of one. Your letters come very regularly, and they are not opened before I get them - there is no need to, going into France - it's only mail going out. And now we have to sign our full name at the foot of each letter.
I guess you have all read in the Canadian papers that we are all moving down to the Somme, where the big advance has been made. Do you remember Cosgrove, the big fellow (a barber) that you danced with at our "Farewell Dance"? He was seriously wounded in a shell burst on the 2nd of June.
I was going to send you a few souvenirs, but cannot send them thru the mail from France. Give my love to Nina, and Mrs. C.B. and remember me to C.B. Haven't seen Vic or any of the boys lately.
Love to you my dearest
Your own boy as ever,