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Date: November 19th 1916

Hut 31, No 1 Company
1st Can. Casualty Training Batt.
Shoreham, Sussex
Nov 19th, 1916

Dear Edna:

I put down the above address to let you know where I am, but I shall be away tomorrow - either to France or to the base depot of the P.P.C.L.I, I do not know which.

Your long, interesting letter of Oct 18, came some time ago and I have been intending to answer it before but since being on draft I have been kept busy with extra parades and inspections besides being confined to barracks for the past 8 days - or at least I was supposed to be. However I have been out of camp several times, and went to Brighton yesterday.

I must say, I hope you use the Red Cross note paper quite often for you wrote such a long, and newsy letter.

It was certainly very good news to know that you are going to continue writing to me after my "Confession". I feel so much better after that for now I can write you for the first time knowing that we understand each other. It was very good of you to say so many nice things about me, but I am afraid I do not deserve the great lauding you gave me. Only people who have died and are supposed to be tuning harps for the angels usually are spoken of in the way you have done of me. But I do appreciate more than I can tell the kind words you have spoken, and I can only say that I shall try to be what you think I am.

There is no need of me repeating what I have said to you several times. I knew that my acquaintance with you, though it has been mostly through correspondence has only confirmed and increased the high opinion I have always had of you, and I shall prize your friendship always.

Yesterday I had my photo taken as my people at home have been very anxious for me to do so before I go back to France. I have intended doing so for a long time, but I have left it until it was almost too late. However, since coming out of hospital I have not been looking as well as usual and I was waiting until I picked up a bit. I feel practically as well as ever but I have not put on flesh as I did when I first came to England. When I went to France I weighed 157 lbs (not so much as Merril) but now I weigh only 145.

By the way, the last letter I received from Merril he said he was on draft for France, and as I have not heard since I presume he has gone. Evidently from your letter you had not heard that, when you wrote, unless he was afterwards turned down, for he did not say whether he was going as cavalry or as infantry. I would advise him to stay with the cavalry for he will see plenty of the war yet. I do not expect to see it end before next fall at the earliest, and it will not surprise me if another year is tacked on to that. I am not a pessimist, but still that is how it looks to me. I haven't the slightest doubt about the final result, but there is a long row to hoe.

When I think of the way the 4th University Co. is shot to pieces it brings the reality of the war very near to me. Just a year ago we were all in Montreal, and today there are scarcely a dozen in France. Those that are left are scattered all over England. But still it is to be expected when one sees how things go on out there. The last I heard, Crawford was alright yet. He is a corporal now. Bill Ramsay, E.C.'s brother is also over there. I think he is corporal also. After the scrap in June and later on the Somme, there were so few experienced men left that they were practically all promoted.

I was very pleased when Steve came down to see Brown and myself last Sunday. I expected to go away last Monday, so I wired to Steve to come if possible. This is the first time I had seen him since I left him in the front line trench in Sanctuary Wood. I was afraid I would be going back without the three of us being together once more. We enjoyed the week-end very much.

Jim Brown is still unable to get about. His back keeps him on his bed practically all the time. He can only walk as far as the Y.M.C.A., a distance of about 100 yards. He went before a medical board yesterday, but they are not decided what they shall do with him. He will either be sent to hospital or back to Canada. Steve is leaving the convalescent camp in Berkshire in a few weeks to come here, or rather to Hastings for this camp is moving from here this week to Hastings.

Do you remember me telling you about a chum of mine with whom I went to Normal, who was in Egypt with the Army Medical Corps? I was greatly surprised when he walked into my hut yesterday. I did not know he was in England. However he came back with Malaria fever and he has been in hospital where Steve is. As I had moved since I wrote to him last he did not know where I was. However, he saw Steve up there wearing P.P.C.L.I. badges and he asked him if he knew a fellow by the name of Richardson in the battalion. Steve remembered that he did, or used to at least, so my friend Adams hunted me up. He is now at Shoreham waiting for a commission in the Flying Corps.

I had to smile when you told me you had written to my Mother to find out if there was anything wrong with me. It was quite alright. I can just hear my sister, Cora, saying, "Oh, Douglas has another girl eh!" I am expecting to hear about it.

I wonder if I should tell you a little incident that happened one time. Now that we understand each other I think I shall risk it. I write to another girl sometimes and her name is Chapman, too. Quite a coincidence isn't it? Well I once wrote to both Miss Chapmans the same afternoon and instead of sealing each one as I wrote it, I left them unsealed until I had written them both. When I did put them in envelopes I addressed the wrong one to you, and the one to you to the other girl. I then gave them to a friend of mine to post. He was going to post them on the train so they would go quicker, but somehow he missed the train and brought them back to me. In the meantime I had thought of something else I wanted to put in one of them, and I opened it. Well, when I discovered the mistake I nearly fainted. I thanked my lucky stars many times that that fellow missed the train. It saved me a very embarrassing situation. I have been very careful ever since. I suppose you would have enjoyed the joke wouldn't you?

Since writing the above I have had tea, and a quiet smoke, so prepare yourself for another seven pages.

It is raining now, so I shall not go out as I intended, until a little later. I am going over to see Brown as soon as I finish this. I try to get over every day if possible as he finds it very lonesome lying on his bed of boards in a dismal hut. He has always been so active and full of life that his condition now makes him feel it very much. He is very cheerful however though he is very thin. He weighs only 6 lbs. more than I do, and he used to weigh about 40 lbs. more.

I am very sorry indeed that I kept you waiting so long for a letter. You have been so good to me in writing so regularly and so entertainingly that I am thoroughly ashamed of myself. I simply was neglectful. The College news you gave me was interesting and I am looking forward to hearing more of it from you. I thought perhaps you would have changed your mind and have gone back to the M.A.C. The divisions are more equal now aren't they? If the war continues the girls will soon be in the majority and then it will be an awful calamity when it comes to arranging the partners at a banquet.

Oh, you were right about Shearer being made Captain. I have heard from my sister since and he is now Captain and adjutant of the battalion. The battalion he is in, I think it is the 232nd, is going, or has gone to Saskatoon for the winter.

The weather here has been very cold lately. We are on a hill and the wind from the sea is very chilly. We had snow a couple days but of course it melted, as fast as it fell. I certainly prefer the Canadian winters, and I would like to be in a Canadian blizzard at the present time. Of course the first 10 years of the war will be the worst, then we may begin to think of getting back to familiar scenes again.

So you and one of the neighbor boys had a spat eh! I am glad you stuck up for what you did. He should spend a few months in the army to make him appreciate what he has to enjoy at home. Perhaps I should not say this, but as I have not experienced it myself I will say that anyone who has spent a year in France, has put up with such hardships that no one at home has the faintest idea of. I think one of the keenest disappointments of the old soldiers, I mean those who have been out ever since the war started is the seeming unconcern of those young men who are holding safe and soft positions without any apparent intention of doing their share. I know that their accusations are not always justified for no one can judge another's actions. There are always reasons that are not known. But these old soldiers are so absolutely "fed up" that they are sick of the whole thing.

I am very sorry to hear about the death of the young fellow who was engaged to Roy Arnott's sister and also of Bessie Briggs' brother. I should have said "Miss" Briggs but I forgot for the moment. Yes, there are many who have felt directly the effects of the war.

Don't be alarmed - this is the last page. I have not been able to get over writing long letters when I write to you. I think it is because you make yours so interesting. I don't write such long letters to anyone else, except one, but of course there is an excuse for that isn't there? I imagine you write some pretty long ones somewhere else too and perhaps shall be teasing you, so I shall stop.

I shall look forward to that box of candy you are going to make on "Candy Day". If all the soldiers had little girls like you, any sisters and one or two others, to send them candy and cake they should be kept just as happy as I am. I shall send you my new address as soon as I am settled permanently. If I go to France, of course you know what my address will be.

So I shall close and as usual will say,

As ever,