Mr. Hugh Hyndman,
DEAR HUGH:- I received your wire on leaving Quebec at 5 p.m., Saturday. It was the only message of any kind to reach me. One of the officers brought it aboard. I thank you for your good wishes. We are now in the Gulf somewhere, sailing under sealed orders. I don't suppose that either the ship's Captain or the Colonel could tell you much as they sail under sealed orders. Ever so often the Captain will send a sealed letter with a Canadian 2c stamp on it down to the Colonel and he again will send one back similarly stamped. Thus we move on from day to day. We don't know much more than you do but we know they are playing the game of secrecy splendidly. We don't fear but that the navy will get us there without conflict with the Germans.
Yesterday being Sunday and being at anchor above Rimonski, we had church parade on the open deck under the most excellent conditions. We number 1201 officers and men with a ships crew of 149. To see say 1000 to 1100 men all standing at attention as closely packed as they could stand with bright sunshine and blue sky above and the mountains in the distance with the intervening blue dotted with the transports was a sight never to be forgotten. I stood on a passage on the upper deck with the officers and men on the main stern deck beyond that.
A cornetist and leader of song stood beside me. In front of me for pulpit was a little table and a draped union jack. We had "The King"; ‘Oh, God Our Help"; "All Hail the Power"; and "Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus." I tell you what the men did seem to put whole soul into the singing. I preached to them from Mark 9:-38-42. "He that is not against us is on our side." I began by saying I loved those words of Mark because of their broad Catholicity. I then referred to the fact that I am a Presbyterian but that here and now I am a Chaplain that knows no denomination and that I wanted to be and would be a friend and chaplain to all…Roman Catholic or Protestant. Whoever needs physical or spiritual comfort let him come to me. The Roman Catholic officers have been particularly nice and ordered their men to attend and one of them spoke to me several times about how he enjoyed the services. It is very refreshing to get away from all narrow churchisms and to feel that there is no millinery of religion between the soul and its God. These men are no narrow piests but are ready to follow a Christ whose teaching says:-"He that is not against us is on our side"
Last night I went below and held a song service with the men and spoke to them and had prayers. At the close I said I would be very glad to have the boys come and speak to me at any time about anything- especially on matters of personal religion. Four men came to me wanting to know more about the way of life.
Since I began to write this letter we have come to anchor again or are at least stopped. These mysterious movements show caution and are rather uncanny.
We are kept very busy with various duties throughout the day. For example the order for to-day is as follows:
9.00…Muster parade for inspection
2.30-Lecture on Dress and Discipline
3.30-4.30…Lecture on Military Law
5.30-Supper for men
6.30-Dinner for Officers
9.30-Men below decks
I had an order issued by which all gambling among men is strictly prohibited. Drinking is also and one of the ship's crew will pay a severe penalty for selling liquor to a sergeant, who got drunk and is now under arrest. Things are very strictly carried out and it is good for everybody.
I will probably not be permitted to write news once we are in England but will nevertheless often think of home and the old rope bed I used to sleep on when a boy. Some night when my bed is in the slush and mud of a wet continental winter's night, the old rope bed and straw tick would look pretty good to me.
Again thanking you and all kind friends for good wishes and prayers, I am
Very sincerely yours,
MAJOR WILLIAM BEATTIE
Chaplain 2nd Battalion,
1st Brigade, Canadian Infantry England
P.S…The above address will always get us even though we may be in Germany