April 16th, 1916
Dear Mother, Father and Brother:
Sunday evening and I must send you a few lines. Am afraid my letters have been mere scrawls lately as we have been pretty busy and I haven't had much time for writing. Then after I got into the hospital with the measles we were only allowed two notes a week. Well, Warren and I got out of the hospital on Monday just in time to catch the battery in Horsham.
We packed up our kits on Tuesday and came here Wednesday morning. We are feeling fine and ready for work after our 18 days rest. Of course I missed my exam in Horsham but expect to get it this week. The results in the first exam were very satisfactory. Most of the fellows got first-class and a few more who did not get first came in the second. There were no failures at all, so I think my chances for first-class seem to be okay.
We, I mean Lawson, Warren, Roy and I, spent Tuesday evening at Debney's and had a splendid time. We all had late passes and stayed on till about 11, when, after singing "God be with you till we meet again" we returned to camp. On Wednesday morning we finished packing, turned in our kit bags for transportation and rolled our coats etc. We fell in at 11:30 and marched off at 11:45. Here we immediately boarded the train and after a 20 minutes delay in which we had a chance to say goodbye to any friends we had made in Horsham, pulled out at 12:40. Debneys were all down to see us off. The 107th battery from Montreal gave us a splendid send off. They marched down ahead us and formed an honor guard outside the station and gave us three rousing cheers, followed by "For They Are Jolly Good Fellows". Maj. Prowse halted us and called for cheers for the 107th. Just as we marched on again we met an old gentleman who called out "Are we downhearted?" and it would have done you good to hear the "No!" that answered it. Then when the shout died down the same old chap shouted in a voice that almost every man in two batteries could hear "God bless you all and down with the Kaiser".
From Horsham to Lydd is about three hours' run and we passed through the historic old town of Hastings which has played such an important part in the history of the British nation. The country around here is extremely level and a great deal of it covered with gravel. Between Lydd and the coast are the world famous Rowley Marshes which rose out of the sea 300 years ago. It is a splendid country for sheep raising and of the million sheep in Kent County it is estimated that 1/4 of a them are on the Rowley Marshes. Lawson, Warren, Roy, Bart and I had a nice little picnic this afternoon. Bought some steak, corn, eggs and jam, fruit etc. last night. Took our haversacks and mess tins and went out to the shore. Lit a fire and cooked our stuff and had a dandy time.
Received your parcel when I got out of the hospital. It was forwarded but sent back to the battery office, I don't know why. That candy and cake was in good condition, and it certainly went well. Many many thanks for it. I got a parcel from Clemmie just before I went to the hospital so have fared pretty well. The candy was great.
Have you heard of Mrs. Warren having a cousin Louis Coles, in the battery. He is still attached to the battery but has been left at the base in Horsham. He was a splendid, clean living fellow and a good soldier. Do you know Heber Gordon's address? If I knew where he was I would drop him a card. I understand that Danny McKinnon's ammunition column is at Bramshot. There are quite a number of fellows in it that I know and I want to get up some Saturday if I can. Ernie Kelly and Fred Nash are into an argument and everybody has a word when they get a chance so I imagine this is of funny letter. Have about 25 letters not answered. Don't know when I am going to get it done. Will have to answer a good many of them by postcards. Wrote to Mr. Stirling soon after I came here and you spoke of him receiving my letter but have not heard from him since I came over. Probably he has written and it has gone astray. Will send him a card as soon as I get time. Youask about Ern. Yes he is still in the battery and I am glad to say he is making good in his work and is also keeping himself more under control since he came over. He is taking up observing and is getting on fine. You should see the battery bunch at work now. They are certainly fitted for doing good workand giving a good account of themselves when they get across.
You ask where my military mustache is. Well to be honest, I guess it is a case of "never was". When we got across we were allowed to shave them if we wished so most of them came off. You speak of Mrs. Green sending a pair of socks. I received them a few days ago also a pair from Mrs. Albert. Don't know what I will do with all my socks as I have more than I have room for and will have to leave some of them at the base when we go across. Don't send any more until after we go to France anyway as I cannot find room for them. Have about a dozen perfectly good pairs and left a lot of old ones in Horsham when I came here.
Was very surprised to hear of Frank McEwen's death. Must drop a line to the kids. I had three of them among my scholars. His death must have been very sudden. Yes, I know about Angus Martin marrying Mabel Inglis. Poor fool, I did not think he had lost his senses entirely but imagine he ought to be recommended for a D.C.M.. He has certainly shown greater bravery in "facing the powder" to saying nothing of the paint.
You say you would like to have some more of those snaps. Don't know if I have any left but if I have will forward them. Am enclosing a note I got from Gladys Debney [not in letter] when in the hospital. She is only 8 and I think the cutest kid I ever saw.
I must close for tonight as it is getting late. Don't know if this will go on Friday's boat or not. Willtry and write more about the camp and our work next time. We expect to be here for about four weeks anyway.
Lots of love from your soldier son, Harold