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Date: December 1st 1918

Dec 1st 1918

My Dear Mother:

You will notice I am still in Belgium but at the rate we have been going the last few days it looks as though we would soon be across it. I last wrote you on the 25th Nov. but it was only a note with a couple of postcards enclosed. The following day I was on guard and about 9 P.M. at night we got word of moving in the morning early so had to warn the men and it was a contract to let them know in their several billets as most of the doors were locked and I had to talk a little French to get in so that I could tell the men what was wanted. Again at 5AM had to call and waken them. I, being on guard, rode on the lorry with the rest of the guard, and the remainder walked the first six miles and then boarded the lorries. We passed through Mons and continued about straight East a total distance of about 25 miles and then pulled into a fair-sized village and got billets in the Town (or village) hall. It was a very nice place and the people were glad to see the soldiers coming and were quite interested. All along the road were decorations of evergreens and flags etc and it has been the same everywhere. Giving praise to the Allies, the British, and also the Canadians. Flags of all the allies are to be seen. The Belgian Flags are old ones but the other Allies Flags have been made at home in a hurry and no two are alike, and are certainly comical.

The next morning left early again and travelled about 30 miles further, everybody riding, and got billets in a schoolhouse in a small village. It rained a little so was not very pleasant. Then again the next morning left about 9:30 AM and after passing through Namur stopped in a village about two miles past and were billeted in a deserted chateau which had been a lovely place but stripped of practically everything except a Piano which was in good shape and came in useful. The next day, (yesterday) also stayed there and there was a trip arranged to Dinant a town about 20 miles straight South and I took it in. The trip was along the River Meuse and as high cliffs line both sides it was very interesting. Were disappointed in the town as it had been heavily shelled in 1914 and little of interest was left. There was a great fort about 300 feet up the cliff but did not visit it. However visited some wonderful caves that were 200 to 300 feet under ground and under the River. Returned early and I stopped off in Namur for the evening and had a chance to see some of it. It was quite lively and the stores were filled with merchandize but the prices are exorbitant as elsewhere we have seen. They are certainly fearful and people in Canada can consider themselves fortunate. Thread, wool and all such things are very expensive. Ladies Boots about $50 a pr. A pair of stockings for a child of about six years were marked 12½ Francs which is about $2.50 and socks for men are about $3.00 and cannot be bought at all.

Left the village near Namur this morning about 7. AM and are now billeted in a large paper mill just outside Huy a distance of about 15 miles further east. The machinery has not been touched and the plant has been running recently. Very little damage has been done in this country. Quite a number of bridges over the rivers were destroyed by the Belgians when retreating in 1914 and some have been repaired. Have seen hundreds of German motor trucks purposely ditched or run into something and destroyed or damaged. Think they ran short of gasoline and had to leave them but am not sure. Also saw many caterpillar tractors and all kinds of war material near Namur in one place he blew up 35 cars of about 9" shells and also damaged many houses by it. Around Mons he has cut down many of the trees along the roads to make lumber. They are all about 2ft diameter and hardwood. Close to Mons for quite a distance hundreds were cut half-way through so that he could fall them from both sides across the road and block it. Namur is where the Meuse and Sambre rivers meet and they are both quite wide. There is plenty of traffic on them. They use barges about 100 feet long and generally tow them with a horse but at present the men have to do it and it is quite a contract. Today we travelled along the bank of the Meuse and it was a nice trip. The cliffs are higher than at Niagara and just as steep. It is very hilly all around here. This place also has a wonderful Fort.

I received two Saturday Posts this week Nov 2nd and 9th so it is coming now. Read two articles in them on Ballooning in France by Lieut H.K. Black of Guelph so he has something to talk about.

Cannot write all I hear or all I see these days as it would take too long. Have seen all kinds of refugees lately and also prisoners, English French Italian etc. coming back. You cannot tell them by their clothes as they are wearing anything can get.

Have had a little cold but otherwise am alright. It is almost better now. Love to all and a Merry and enjoyable Christmas.


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