Canadian Military School
Shorncliffe Camp, Eng.
September 17, "16
Oh dear me! what a monotonous lonesome day. Other days one is working so hard most of the time and sleeping the rest that you haven't time to be lonesome but on Sundays one can only go to a more or less stupid Anglican service and the rest of the time one writes more or less blue letter or goes for more or less stupid walks over a more less stupid country.
"Howsomever," as cockney Bill remarked when he found that beer had advnced in price a thrupenny bit' per pint, "you 'ave ter put up with it, yaknow - blimy but it's an orful war."
The sun has long gone down as as Shakespeare remarks 'light thickens,' for it is now 8 p.m. or in God's country where you live it is 3 p.m. Although all the land is full of live, waking people never a light shows from hill or valley and constantly we hear the hum of those restless sentinels of the ari - the aeroplanes - as they soar round and round, high above our black-painted tents, guarding his majestie's Canadian forces from the bombs of great zepplins. In Canada, if one steps outside after nightfall the cheerful glimmer of isolated lights greets one from all parts of the landscape but here neither the humble hillside cottage nor the lordly manor, summiting the hill, nor the cluttered tents that clad the valley, show the least illumination lest "the peril that dwelleth in the darkness" assail them. It is like a dead land.
One can realize the feeling of the ancient Briton as he stood by his tent on this same eminence and gazed forth over darkened hill and valley. He could not have a fire either lest his lurking foe rain the unwitting death upon him. Fire has been called man's greatest blessing - perhaps it is. If so light is his greatest luxury. Without light waking hours are cheerless indeed.
Dictum est. Some philosophical venture! Well! To descend once more to the plane of proletarian intellects I might just remark that we are getting the work handed to us on all sides. Squad drill, musketry bombing etc. succeed one another with bewildering rapidity. We cover a months course in a week and do it thoroughly but believe me it keeps us moving.
The discipline maintained is simply tyrannical. When one is out in a squad for squad drill one has to stand like a statue for minutes together without wiggling a toe, moving a finger, turning the head or eyes or even winking an eyelash. Just then some little wandering willie of a lady-bug alights on your cheek, mistaking it for a public promenade, to stretch his legs after a long voyage overland or perhaps endeavours to show his playful propensities by performing a cake-walk or a fox trot or some other equally innocent antic. You strain every muscle tense to inhibit the almost irrepressible tendency to gently notify your guest that he is trespassing on private property and comfort yourself with the assurance that he will certainly recollect that he has a date on somewhere but not such luck. Mr. Bug is either too weary to proceed further at once or he is ahead of scheduled time and has to put in time before going on.
At last you become desperate and throwing discipline to the winds you make one sweep at your persecutor with the nearest had.
But alas the eagle eye of the Sgt. Maj. Has caught the movement and he descends like Dicken's school master upon the unfortunate Smoots. "What the devil, sir" he roars, "what the devil special right 'ave you to flop your 'ands around like a bloomin' windmill."
Well I must finish up and get this off by the first Canadian mail. Give my respects to all.
Ever your affectionate Bro