November 29, 1916
Dear Sister Clemmie:
I received your letter of Nov. 5 last night and the parcel containing the vest the night before. Also Eon's parcel which I gave to him. He said he was going to write to you. My sincere thanks for the vest. It is a dandy and is a splendid idea for us fellows who have to go out on the line, for a sweater coat binds around the arms and body and one gets overheated with walking and one is liable to catch cold sitting around. But speaking from my experience yesterday, one does not get overheated to any extent, walking with it and can sit down at the O.P. and be comfortable. Eon got one of them too, I think he said from Blanche. You asked if I had a muffler. No, I haven't got one but I don't think I will have any need for one.
Mother wrote that she had sent a sweater. It should be along tonight and will take the place of a muffler. then again our tunic collars fit well around our necks and there is really no need for anything more. We are pretty well equipped for the cold in every way. Yesterday we got an issue of two suits of heavy underwear and a pair of woolen gloves. then we have been issued with sweater coats and sheepskin jackets made to fit under our tunics. They are sleeveless, lined with cloth and a great protection against wind. Added to this your vest and the sweater mother has sent and there is no reason I should ever be cold.
You ask about socks. At present I am pretty well supplied. Our work here is hard on socks and they wear out much quicker than at home, but with ordinary care, two pairs or three at most will do a fellow a month Of course a fellow likes to have seven or eight pairs in his kit bag so he can stow the dirty ones away until he has a good opportunity for washing and then make a job of it instead of having a wash every few days. Mrs. Green sends me a pair about every month, Mother sends a good many and we get an issue every little while so I fare off pretty well in that line. If you send a pair every five or six weeks, it would keep me pretty well supplied along with what the others send. About the size, I like them just a snug fit, not the big loose ones.
The mail service seems to have been somewhat disorganized lately, no doubt owing to the number of parcels going about Christmas, and parcels seem to take a couple of weeks longer getting here. No, I did not get two boxes of candy from Ethel. The second one never showed up. There should be parcel mail tonight as the Canadian letter mail came the last two nights.
You speak of the Canadians going behind the lines for a rest and ask if we are back too. No, but we expect to move any time. The first order that came was to be ready to go back to a certain village a few miles behind the line for a month's rest. We expected to pull out on Saturday morning, the 25th, but it was postponed until Sunday morning the 3rd. Then that order was cancelled and the next one was to be ready to move to a different front taking guns and all the stores. Then that was cancelled for the present and the next order was that a battery was coming in to take over our guns. At present we are standing by with kits packed and ready to leave at a moment's notice. Of course we have no
idea where we are going but a change is as good as a rest and in this case it will certainly be a change for the better. Following this move no doubt we will get leave to England and Scotland for me, I hope. Some of the fellows are away now on special leave. This only applies to ten fellows who have found the summer work too hard on the nerves. Added to this Minter Keeping went yesterday on special leave to see his brothers, Ben, who is going to England on leave, also Ewart who is in No. 5 Siege.
It was very kind of Mrs. Stewart to give you her sister's address and if I should happen to be in that part of Scotland when I go on leave, I will call. Now I don't think I have any more news this time. Will write you in a few days, I received two bundles of papers last week, up to Oct. 17. Many thanks for them. I suppose by the time this reaches you it will be almost Christmas. I would like to have sent some little remembrance but under the circumstances that is impossible and I can only wish you a very happy Christmas and New Year. give the kiddies a kiss for me.
I don't know where or how our Christmas will be spent, - perhaps somewhere in Belgium. I hope it will not be 'Somme' where in France! However, I will write and tell you all about it when it comes. It will be a novel experience to spend Christmas in the firing line.
Now I must close. Again, thanking you for the vest and with love to all
Your loving brother, Harold