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Date: May 24th 1916

Pte. C.D. Richardson
May 24, 1916

Dear Edna:

Two more long letters to answer! That's what makes letter writing worth while. There is so much to reply to that it will save me trying to think of news to tell you, for you know we have to be very careful what we write. I have had some of my letters sent back by the Censor because I did not know exactly what was allowed. Really the most interesting things that happen, - and there are lots of them, - are the ones we have to keep to ourselves. If I could tell you exactly where we are and something of the country as a result of shell fire you would be in a better position to understand the pleasures and otherwise which we experience.

Before going further though, I must answer so many things that you referred to, for evidently we need to understand each other better. Perhaps I have give you wrong impressions, but if so, I assure you they were certainly not given intentionally. It was characteristic of you, Edna, to come forward openly and tell me how we stood and I admire you for it. It was those qualities of true young womanhood that made me anxious to be a friend of yours in the first place, and no other motive than true friendship has ever been my purpose in corresponding with you. I have sometimes referred to the fact that it was odd how we every started writing to each other. I think I sent you a card congratulating you on the success of your First Year at the M.A.C. and somehow we continued writing. When we consider that while you were at College in your first year we were only casual friends it has often occurred to me that our situation is rather uncommon. From the first time I knew you, though, I was interested in you because you seemed to appeal to my particular fancy as one whom it would always be a pleasure to know.

I think that explains briefly the reason I have come to feel that you are like a little sister of mine, one who is kind of a chum, to whom I feel free to say what I think and tell of what I do, knowing that it is all done in the spirit of close friendship.

You spoke of your friendship with Leslie - you will excuse me if I tread on sacred ground for I only do it that we may be understood - and I think a great deal more of you for your confidence. I have known you were very good friends and I am glad of it. Leslie is one of the boys I hold in the highest esteem and I hope he considers me one of his friends as I have always done of him and shall continue to do. He is one whose manliness and likeable nature has made his pals his sincerest friends. I congratulate you from my heart that your opinion of him is of a similar nature to what mine has always been.

To put things plainly, Edna, we are friends, very good friends I hope, but nothing more. I know neither of us has ever thought otherwise. I have enjoyed your letters, your kindness and your sympathetic sentiments more that I can every tell you. I can truthfully say that you are the best correspondent I have ever had. I only hope I shall not lose your cheery periodicals. Are we as good friends as ever, Edna? Well, rather, if you are willing, for I assure you, I am.

I am sorry that my letter stating I had not heard from you for so long that I was beginning to wonder if I had offended you, caused you to worry. That was just thoughtless of me, to make you feel badly for I might have known you were not that kind of girl.

As I write, the roar and thunder of the guns is something fierce. The bombardment last night when we went up to the reserve trenches was like a thousand thunderstorms. The shells began bursting around us and the violence of the explosions was enough to make one dizzy. Needless to say it did not take long to find the deepest hole to escape shrapnel. Perhaps you have noticed in the casualty lists that Jenkins was shot in the leg a couple of weeks ago. It was a sniper who got him. Quite a number of our company have been killed and great many, more wounded lately. The only times I have been in the trenches yet has been on working parties at night. We work all night repairing parapets and anything else that the shells smash up.

We are close to a city - in fact we go through it nearly every night on working parties - where there is not a single building that is not in ruins. You have heard the name of it so often since the Canadians made their name that you would instantly recognize it, but I am not allowed to name it.

Our classmate Bill Harkness is right beside us in camp here. We have also seen Trimble and Major (now Col.) Dyer's son Harry who graduated in ‘14. As you know Col. Dyer was Chairman of the Board of Directors of the M.A.C. Besides these we have about a dozen other M.A.C. boys all camped close to us.

Of course we move camp every few days. We spend so many days in one place then gradually move closer to the firing line until we spend so many days in reserve and so many in the firing line trenches.

This is the 24th of May. I wonder what you are doing. Perhaps you are taking in the Boissevan sports, or it may still be too muddy for such things. I can hardly realize what a flood you must have had everywhere. My brother wrote and told me much the same story of conditions in Saskatchewan. When he writes a great lingo of business matters to me now, it seems almost like a dream that I every had anything to do with them. The one absorbing thought here is war, and more of it. You can hardly boast a dry Manitoba yet when it is all under water, can you? Oh, I am afraid Saskatchewan has it beaten yet! If we were nearer I'm afraid we would have quite a scrap over the merits of our native provinces wouldn't we?

You will remember the old Uncle I went to see in Cornwall, don't you? Well I got word a few days ago that he died suddenly. At his extreme age I did not expect him to live long, but I was hoping to see him again. I was greatly interested in him and he was so anxious to see me again, that I was sorry to hear of his death.

I was surprised to hear that your brother Merril had gone to England so soon. He will be anxious to get over here now. If he is transferred to cavalry he will probably not come near the firing line for a long time; if not he may be with us in a couple of months. For his own sake I hope he gets into cavalry, though I would like very much to see him. Don't know whether he would care to have me write to him or not, but if you think so, let me have his address will you? I could put him wise to a number of things that would save him extra trouble here.

Thank you very much for the snapshots and clippings. The snaps are very good and the exam results are alright too. I think you did very well. I know the standard is being raised every year and the C's are always in the majority anyway. It is much better than having a Supp. or two to write off. I hope you will be able to go on and take the degree course. You look quite natural in the snaps and you are smiling the same little smile.

Yes, Esther certainly did well. I was glad to see that Miss Nixon came up strong too. I don't know her very well but I remember telling some of the boys last year that I would bet on her topping the class sometime, and they were inclined to think otherwise.

I had a good laugh to myself when I read of you and Esther stealing eggs. It reminds me of some of our own such excursions last winter. Your description of exam time and writing in that room like a zoo was good. Yes, those are times one cannot forget.

You speak of me teaching a little French girl English or learning French from one. No I haven't done very much of either. I haven't seen a good looking Belgian girl yet, and those in France well, they are pretty, alright, in fact there are many beautiful girls, and if Parisians dress any more flashily they would make some display. But I don't take any notice of them of course, for they are second to Canadian or American girls. Of course, you think I say that to serve my present purpose, but I positively believe it.

I am sorry to hear that your little driver is under the weather, though by this time I hope she is better. When one becomes attached to a particular animal it seems hard to lose it. I hope she did not have to be shot.

I forgot to tell you that we are not allowed to have a camera here so I cannot take any snapshots. I suspected it before but hoped I could have sent you some before I left England but could not get any prints made, we came away in such a hurry.

We are going out again to reserve trenches tonight. This makes three all night excursions in succession with only 8 hours sleep in 48 for me so I am rather stupid today. I cannot sleep in the daytime unless I am absolutely all in, but before long I shall be able to I expect, for all work within firing range is done at night.

It has started raining since I sat down to write and the shelling has quietened considerably. I don't suppose the rain has anything to do with it though. I was only thinking of the pleasant prospect of a night in the rain carrying on the noble art of filling sand bags. The tent I am writing in, is a long one, about 80 feet long I should think, and about 40 feet wide. In one end of it is a canteen where tobacco, chocolates, biscuits and tea are sold; the rest of it is used for writing, reading or eating in, there being tables and benches there. It is provided by the Boy Scouts of Canada and a sign board to that effect is on the outside of it.

When you consider that these huts put up and maintained by the Y.M.C.A., Salvation Army etc., are within range of shell fire all over this part of the country, it gives one an idea what a great work these organizations do. The Y.M.C.A. particularly, is one of the soldiers' best friends.

We play baseball, football, lacrosse and other games practically every day we are not on duty. I have played more baseball since coming here than I had done previously for 3 weeks. We have a P.P.C.L.I. team and play other battalions around here. So far, I don't think we have been beaten, not since I have been here anyway.

Well I think this is long enough, but as it is going in a green envelope it does not matter much about the length.

I hope you will understand what I attempted to drive at in my own crude way, so that you will know that I do not want you to feel under obligation to me in any way.

Believe me, little sister to be

Your sincere friend,