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Date: September 25th 1916

September 25th, 1916

Dearest Mother:

This is my day off duty and I must write to you. It is beautiful day, just warm enough to lay around and be comfortable, and make one wish that this little game between the nations was over and we were home again. This is my Sunday. You know the only Sunday we get over here is when we get day off duty, usually every sixth or seventh day. Our turn for O.P. - duty at the observation post - comes about once a week and we always have the next day off. The O.P. day is considered the hardest job of the bunch. There is more walking to do than in any other job, and walking over shell holes and through and over trenches, with telephone, water bottles, gas helmet, etc. by no means easy work. I was on O.P. yesterday and we had a nice easy day of it. It was pleasantly warm for walking and Fritz' artillery pretty quiet, although ours was banging away all day, smashing down defenses for the next advance which is this afternoon. It was certainly a great sight to see those 6, 8, 9.2 and 12 inch shells bursting on the trenches and in the villages and woods. It was a clear day, and with the glasses we could see perfectly. This afternoon the infantry go over and even while I am writing now, great deeds of heroism are taking place some four and a half miles out in front. Men are giving their all fearlessly and willingly for what they believe to be right. I would like to go out again today and see the charge and the two of us who were out yesterday would have gone if we had seen corporal, before he made out the detail and warned the other men, but he was out on the line himself last night and we couldn't find him until the morning and it was too late then.

Now I have a little bit of good news for you, and, it was also good news to me when I heard it yesterday. We had in our class a chap I was particularly interested in, one of our telephonists. He was a good hearted fellow but drank and was pretty fond of cards. He attended our class regularly, however, and taken all through, was a pretty decent sort of chap. Well, he was out to the O.P. with me yesterday and told me that he had decided to give himself a to the Master's work and was cutting out cards and drink entirely, and not only that, but if he was spared to get back safe and sound that he was going to take up the ministry. This was certainly good news for me and has given me good heart in the work. His decision he says was due partly to our class and the influence it had on him, partly
to a couple of quiet talks we had together and partly from a letter he received a short time ago from an old chum, several years of older than himself and now a minister, asking him to consider the new life and telling him that there was more real enjoyment in it than in the old one. Since coming to France it has been impossible to keep our class going due to lack of time and no place in which to meet but still we have been able to do a good deal of quiet work which I hope has not been without results. There is much work to be done here and I only hope I may be able to do a very, very little in the carrying on of that work, work that will tell as much in my own life as in theirs.

Now I must try and answer your letter. Was sorry to hear about Mrs. Marks. I suppose there is no hope. I have written to Joe twice since I got his address and have had one letter from him. I imagine, now that the Canadians have moved that Joe will be with them and in that case I'll see him soon, - someday when I get a day off. Also Heber I imagine is not very far from here. I will try to get track of them if I can. Would certainly like to see them You asked me about the underwear Harry sent. It is fine in every way, but don't send anymore as it is all the light underwear I will need. We'll let you know when I want anymore. Also about the colouring of socks. They would not show the dirt so much if they were coloured. Everything white is very hard to keep clean here. However that does not make a great deal of difference as there are no dress parades in France.

The parcels you say you were mailing the day after the letter have not shown up yet but will probably come along this week. Yes, Mrs. Taylor has certainly been good to me since coming to England. You speak of paper and chicken; both sound good and will be very welcome, especially the chicken. The pencils that you said Clemmie was sending will also come in very handy. They are hard to get here, especially the indelible ones. Yes I will let Clemmie know about batteries for the flashlight. I got a supply when I was in Edinburgh but I have the last one in now so will send to her for some more. You ask me to send you some of the boys' numbers so that you can send them parcels. I will not do
anything of the kind. Pardon such a flat refusal but you have quite enough to do without that. Anyway most if not all of the boys in our battery are especially fortunate along that line. Lawson gets a parcel every week from home and the other fellows, Bart, Warren,etc., get them quite often so there is absolutely no need for you worrying about them. As for sending me a parcel a week which you said you were going to do, it would be nice, but will make a lot of work and I would rather you wouldn't.

Winter is not here yet but it is getting late, almost the last of September and they tell us that the winter here sets in three or four weeks time so I think I will get you to send me a sweater. Would like something dark - dark blue I guess would be the best. Just a medium weight because if it is too heavy it will not go on under a tunic. Would also like a pair of waterproof gloves for a line work. Do not need them yet as the weather it is splendid but they will be indispensable when the wet weather sets in. I want to get all this stuff out my assigned pay, remember. Have some 90 cents a day going to my credit and want you to get anything at all that you send out of it, also use it for anything you like. By the way let me know if you are getting it all right. Would also like you to put a part of it - say a dollar
a month or whatever you wish - toward missions or some kind of church work wherever you think the most need is. I want to feel I am doing something, however small, to help on the work.

Now Mother I think I must close for this time. We are moving ahead again about the same distance. The guns go up tomorrow night and I want to get my stuff straightened out as I will be out on duty tomorrow.

Love to all and a very large share for yourself from a your loving son, Harold