Dec. 12th 1917
Received your letter O.K. also two from Nen and one from grandma. Glad to hear everything is going strong at home. I also got 3 large packages of magazines which were might acceptable.
The weather hasn't been too bad lately. Only one day's rain but that made enough mud to satisfy anybody. We are getting on with our dugouts as fast as possible as a sheet of corrugated iron doesn't keep much rain out. We get pasted every day about 6 p.m. with 4.2's They've bracketed the mess about 7 times which isn't cheerful at all. However, what's the odds so long as you're happy? I strafed a cart the other day and had a horse up which we hitched in by means of rope. We went down about 3 miles today to a big dump of coke and brought a bunch of it back. The place was about 500 yds. from the Boche front line and they were shelling the road a bit which wasn't very healthy. However we got back all right and that's the main thing.
Glad to see you're soaking those exemption people to the limit. (Have just been smoked out by the stove. it happens regularly)
I have only one moan to make. Most of my kit has gone west in the stunt on the 30th of Nov. However, I've put in a hefty claim which I hope will go through. It's sure to be cut down of course, but I lost everything I claimed for.
I got courageous and wrote for my pass book a month ago and found I had £60 in the old stocking. Pretty good considering what a blow out I had on my last leave. I got through the best part of 60 quid in those 10 days! Not so bad for a hick from the colonies was it? I guess its me for the simple life this coming leave, however. It won't come off for another month though and thats about 7 quid more in the old till.
I spent a very boring day at the O.P. yesterday and read the Popular most of the time.
How's business these days? Hope the Christmas trade nets you a few extra "iron men." Do you want a loan? I hope that none of you at home bust yourselves over my Christmas as I really don't need anything at all. I've plenty to carry on with and rations are getting better. I was down at the W.L. the other day and had a swell bath and a good sleep. I'd lost all my underwear except my B.V.D.'s so the Quarter Master Sergeant dug up a pair of issue drawers which I am at present wearing. I intend to stick to them too as they are mighty good and it's much cheaper than paying $8 for a suit of it. Grandma's woolen sweater comes in handy as the top part so there's no flies on your uncle. I also wear issue breeches and puttees and intend to get a pair of boots as soon as my size comes along. I have a pair of Boche gloves, my tunic is nearly worn out, instead of a collar, of which I have only one very dirty, I wear a scarf and my tin hat is all dented. Some tramp eh! However, it's a comfortable rig out and thats the main thing. I also pinched 6 blankets, a small waterproof mattress and a horse rug, also a leather jerkin to wear over my tunic and somebody's cane. There's nothing like being an old soldier, you know, and I'll be able to steal the milk from your tea with another year's practice, which I hope I don't got.
I notice my hair is turning that beautiful golden colour like your's! It's not dirt as I washed it two days ago. I'll probably be a bald old rusty nut one of these days! Ho! Ho! I suppose you're too darn shy to get your face shot with your hat off theses days. How's the pot coming along. You should see mine!
This new Captain of ours is going to be a corker I think. He's cutting the mess bill from 7 francs to 3 or 4 which will help some. The most of it goes in drinks and as I'm still practically T.T. it hits me pretty hard. Except for an occasional glass of port I'm off the nose paint absolutely. I don't mind beer either only its impossible to get in the line of course. Don't think I'm trying to appear virtuous as I don't think any the less of a fellow who hits the can so long as he does his job.
A horrible thing has come to pass! If I don't shave every second day I get a noticeable scraggy growth of silk. And shaving in a cold wind when the soap dries as soon as its on your face isn't the best amusement possible. I saved my washing kit and trench coat out of the general ruin by the way.
Well this is about the limit this time as it's all the news available. (A heart full of love to you all and all in Ottawa.(XX) your obedient son,)
Love to all, write soon.