LETTER FROM FRED LOWE WHO IS NOW IN ENGLAND
4th Brigade, Western hanger Camp, England,
June 13th, 1915
I have been in England two weeks now and have begun to understand the money and the way they have of speaking. One thing I have not mastered yet is the way of going around the streets of Hythe or Folkestone. I got off the bus the other night in Folkestone and after walking for half an hour as I thought towards the pier, I wound up at the same place I started. I was on night piquet last night for the first time in England and had to watch 43 picqueted horses. We have air-raids, spies and everything to watch now and have to make our beat on time, also see our horses' blankets are properly on and that they don't get loose. The great thing is not to let somebody into the lines. The officers never seem to sleep and are coming from some unexpected place or sending some other fellow. I was talking the other day to a man from Shornecliffe Base hospital. He says there are two thousand wounded Canadians in that hospital and more are arriving daily. They all want to go back, though some are badly wounded. The wounded Canadians and others say that the first Canadian contingent saved the day at Langemarck without a doubt and deserve all the credit. June 14th - A few letters from Canada drifted in to-day.
The fellow sleeping next to me got a Sunday World and one can hardly get a page of it as the boys all have a little piece of it. The horses we have are a wild bunch. I was out on a ride (without saddles) and we all have to mount together at the word of command. I had just mounted this morning when the fellow next to me mounted and his horse immediately reared, bucked, and did all kinds of stunts and threw him off. Then he jumped straight up and fell on my horse and knocked me off, my horse backing and kicking right over me. By this time it was a regular stampede, and two of us right in the middle of it, and we certainly were lucky to get off without getting hurt. Some of those horses have never been ridden and you can imagine how many of us are thrown off when there are about ten classes in the school. Some horses are as quiet as lambs when we are mounting, but as soon as one thinks they are all right, they go flying over the horses head. We have been issued with British boots, and the toes and soles are nearly all hob-nails and will stand some wearing.
July 4. -
I received your letter and was glad to hear from you for I had been looking for a letter ever since I came here and thought it some time in coming. I was glad to receive the Cobourg papers and I kept them till I was certain I hadn't missed anything. The English papers are filled with calls for recruits and munition workers and all bill-boards are the same. The Cobourg Heavy Battery arrived in camp at Otterpool, about a quarter of a mile from here by fields, three miles by road. We have to go around the road as the fields are out of bounds, but you know it's bound to get dark and we are sometimes apt to take chances. I saw all the boys and was talking to Colonel Odell. The Cobourg boys are all well as far as I know and they are so near I can see them at almost any time. I was out for a ride in the school on Friday afternoon when a messenger came for me and said a Major wanted to see me, so I got permission to fall out and put my horse away. On going to the bunk house, I found Major Beattie waiting to see me and I spent part of the afternoon with him. He expects to go back to the front in three weeks, but at present is staying at Folkestone. He told me some very interesting things about the way they live at the front. I will be glad when those-socks arrive as these large hob-nailed boots are somewhat hard on socks and I have invested a few shillings already and I had a fair supply when I left Toronto. We were out for a field day yesterday. Revielle at 4 a.m. and we went about ten miles from camp and passed through some grand country. Sometimes we were away up on the hills and could see the country spread out for miles below. We had everything carried out under active service conditions, the guns in position about two miles from the Battery base. The meals had to be carried up in field kettles. I had a grand job riding horses from the supposed firing line back to the water, and I certainly had some dandies to ride and lead two more but I enjoyed it all right. The Canadian mail arrived to-day, and it was very heavy, the fourth Brigade receiving about 800 letters. Some fellows got three, four, or five letters and others none, which seems too bad. I would like to see them all get something. When the mail comes there is such a rush but some are sure to be disappointed. This country certainly does look ancient with its crooked streets and old castles, and windmills for the grinding of corn, but it is very modern in its newest war equipment.
The Airships that pass over every day cause a great deal of excitement, some are French and some are English. They fly at a great height, some of them being almost out of sight. We are sleeping in huts, but the Cobourg boys at Otterpool are in tents. The towns in England are rather close, but the villages are very close together.
In about a mile and a quarter along the road will name the villages, Stanfond, Westenhanger, Newingreen and Limpe, so you see one does not have far to go to come to a village. I can count the money very well now, and spend it accurately. I am going to have a few days' leave one of these times and have a look at the north of England. We are going to have two days' field day starting to-morrow morning and sleeping out - a couple of blankets apiece. I guess it will be rather cool as it is very cold and windy to-day. I miss the ice cream here. You scarcely ever see any but when you do find a place where they sell it you get about three spoonfuls for six pence. The boys say 'The samples are all right, bring on the ice cream.'
Will close now, but glad you are all well and I hope to hear from you soon. Will try and let you know how things are going. Be sure and send some papers, as they are scarce here.