France Oct 10th - 17
I received your letter of Sept 19th today. Glad to hear you are better and that all the folks are well.
I've been very busy, working just as long hours, as I used to for John Scott on the river home, only we don't have half as much to eat. It's getting mighty dark and cold at nights now too.
However, I am pretty well, and haven't got a scratch so far.
The boats we use, pontoons, and scows, not quite as large as the horse-boats on the river home. Got two of them covered with canvas to keep the wounded men dry. The little river is quite smooth and no rapids at all, only thing is trees getting shot off and falling across it, some big ones too, wall-nuts grow just the same as butter-nuts along the river home.
About twice a week I take down a big load of rations all done up in sand bags and marked, the trenches are on the sidehill along the river, its full of dug-outs all along the bank and the two of us are very welcome visitors, always plenty of men to catch the rope We unload one Battn's rations, and drop down to another till we discharge the whole load, all done without a sound in the dark, then ten or twelve infantry men get a hold of our line and track us back up to where a motor-boat lays. She tows us up to camp.
It saves hundreds of men, and mules, and the infantry boys think a lot of us. I am the only Canadian here, so they all call me the "Canuck".
The rest of the time we take loads of great shells, trench mortars, etc, some so big it takes two good men to take one ashore.
In fact there is so many things I'll have to wait and tell you if I get back. I sent Bess some pictures, did she get them? Also did my trunk come from Port Nelson yet?
I received the smoking from Bess O.K. also the papers from Gertie, thank them both. It's a treat to get things like that over here, tell them to be sure and write the address in full, among so many different units, a small one like this isn't well known.
If this letter looks soiled, its because I fell into the river last night and had to swim ashore with an overcoat on. Some job I tell you, fortunately the shore wasn't far or I couldn't have made it.
It's the darndest place for mud you ever saw. Mules, men, and everything else are plastered with it all the time.
The French horses are great, it's too bad you haven't got a pair. Most all I've seen have been grey. The army doesn't use them as they can be seen too easy. They use big collars made of wood, with a hinge on the top, and chain traces covered with leather.
The country around here must have been fine before the war, all the houses were made of chalk and snow white, with big gardens and groves of walnut trees all around.
Very few houses are standing now, in fact, everything is knocked to pieces, great holes as big as a cellar, and grown up in weeds - talk about rats, it's alive with 'em.
Everyone wears a "tin hat", it is made of very thin steel, shrapnel always bursts in the air, from 25' to 100 ft up, and blows down, it saves a great many fellows heads from flying pieces.
I dropped into an estaminet, that's the french name for a bar, one night last week. All drinks bought are carried to little tables, it takes a frenchman about an hour to drink a small bottle of wine. One of them came from St. Boniface, across the Red river from Winnipeg, had been here a number of years. He introduced me to his friends. I tell you they're different from the men in Quebec.
Tell Bess to write once in a while. It's great to get letters from home. Hope you kill a "buck" or two this fall. Take good care of my old rifle as I want to have some big hunts when I get home. Best regards to Papa, and all the folks.
Best wishes from brother Roy