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Date: February 13th 1916

Roffey Camp, Horsham,
Saturday, February 13, 1916

Dear Cousin Ethel:

Received your very welcome letter a few days ago and was certainly glad to get it. Now must get busy and drop you a few lines before supper. Have been intending to write for some time but never got around to it.Well Ethel, this is the certainly a splendid country. The scenery is beautiful and since the new year came in the weather has been perfect. Today the mercury is about 60 and it is like a day in June. The crops are coming up and everything is green and beautiful. We have had a little frost two or three nights but have not seen a flake of snow since we came. I'm sure a Spud Island sleigh drive would be okay now but suppose that will have to stay over till next winter. You warn me not to think of staying over here when the war is over. Well my intentions are not that way but then of course I haven't seen Scotland yet and from what I hear it is some place. However I imagine it's Spud Island forever.

This is certainly a splendid country and the people are very nice. The only fault I find with England is that it is such an old country that the people can't get away from their old customs and consequently conditions exist which are altogether unknown in the new country like Canada. For instance one sees the class distinction very plainly here. There is the wealthy class which of course is above the common soldier, and the middle-class in which you'll find some very fine people and the poorer class who do little but drink beer.

Now, permit me to criticize what you said about the "big-footed" English girls. I think you are prejudiced and that the adjective is quite unjustified for I have met several very nice English girls and I have not noticed that any of them have very big feet. Of course I don't claim that there is as large proportion of nice girls here as down home, but the ones that are nice are very nice.

Say I wish you could see where I am writing this. We, Lawson Jenkins, Warren Lane, Roy McKay, and I have a nice little room with a fireplace, a couple of tables, two big easy chairs, a camp chair and a lounge all to ourselves. It is a splendid place for writing or studying in the evenings and on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and all for the small sum off 6 shillings ($1.50) a week among the four of us. You know we have Saturday afternoons off from 12 noon and Sunday after church parade. If you saw us now, Lawson is writing at one table and we at the other and a big fire blazing in the fireplace you would think soldiering was a pretty good snap.

Now I must tell you about the little time we had last night. Prof. Thompson, Harry Mollins, Lawson, Warren, and I were at a home, a Mr. Debney, and had a splendid time. Of course there was lots of music with the Prof. and Mollins but what made the evening most pleasant and interesting to us ex-teachers was the fact that there are five teachers in the home, Mr. Debney himself and four young ladies, one of them Miss Pellellet being no relation but the rest all near relatives of Mr. And Mrs. Debney. They are I think almost the nicest people I have ever met and it is extremely interesting to compare our methods are teaching with theirs. In many ways their system is better than ours and in some it is not as good. In the first place the teachers are better qualified than ours and consequently do more efficient work. They are also qualified along more lines than our teachers, - for instance in order to obtain a license they must take a course in music and be able to teach it to their scholars. Considerable importance is also attached to nature study in its several branches.

Many thanks, Ethel, for that dandy box of chocolates. It was very welcome and they went right to the spot. The only trouble was that they went too quickly for it seems to be an unwritten law of the 98th that when a parcel comes everyone shall have a taste.

You will be surprised to learn that Col. Peake is leaving us next Tuesday and going back to Canada. You know that before he left Charlottetown he was up to Ottawa and on that trip he was promised the command of the brigade - our battery and the 97th. But when we got over here the command was given to Col. Cole of the 97th, a man very inferior to Col. Peake both in experience and ability. Had Col. Peake received the command, Capt. Prowse would naturally become Major, Lt. McDonald would become Capt. And there would be a step up for all our officers. But when he did not get it, it meant that if he stayed with us he would have to step down to Major and also deprive the other officers of their promised promotions. So rather then do this and go under Col. Cole he resigned and is going back to P.E.I. where he plans on raising another battery and being over here about July. I hope you people at home will give him good support as he certainly showed the man in what he did and the fellows are all proud of him.

Well Ethel I think I must finish up this scrawl. Have not a great deal of news. We are all well and enjoying ourselves immensely. Wouldn't be teaching school again for a good deal. E (??) is and I suppose always will be the same happy-go-lucky guy that he was in town.

Must say goodbye by now. Will write again soon but don't wait to hear fro me as it is hard to find time

Sincerely, your soldier cousin, Harold