My Dearest Betty & Darling Kiddies:-
Well my dears it will soon be three weeks since I left Old England & in that time I have travelled arround France quite a bit & have seen a lot more of France than bitter too, as well as gaining some very interesting experiences, which are still continuing & are likely to do so - last week I spent four days in a certain town which Fritz was shelling heavilly by day & bombing by night, I can assure you we had a warm time of it, & I was not sorry to receive orders to leave for another place, I believe there is going to be some hot fighting on this part of the line, especially if Fritz takes a notion to try to recover some of his lost ground - however he'll sure meet with a warm reception if he tries it. The work with the Y.M.C.A. is going to be rather interesting I think, but will also mean lots of roughing it etc. - however I'm well use to that by now & it's a change from the trenches
The weather this last two weeks has been & is still bitterly cold, the ground frozen quite hard & covered with snow however its far better than the mud & slush. The Division which I am attached to is out of the line for a month's rest & I came to the village in which I am at present located last Thursday a battalion is to be quartered here & it will be up to us to entertain them, we have or are fixing up a 90 x 30 tent in which we shall hold concerts - cinima & services, a smaller tent for writing & reading & then another small tent for myself & the two who are with me to live in. This week the battalion will be having their Xmas celebration in the large tent, & then we shall start in & I am having quite an interesting experience here, just across the way live a French family Father & Mother - three young women a boy about 15 yrs & a little girl about as old as Billy (we are great chums) we have our meals with them & they are very good (am getting hold of quite a bit of French) To night at 12 midnight there is midnight mass in the Church to which I am hoping to go with the family I will tell you all about it. You would smile to see me sitting at dinner with the family, 1st course = Soup with cabbage carrots etc - they set a large tureen in the center of the table, & we all dip in with the ladle as we need it 2nd course then there is boiled or sometimes chip potatoes & meat & bread, with light beer (the French people are great beer drinkers) & after that we have coffee & a smoke & they can sure make good coffee, when we can get them we buy eggs which cost us 12 cents each of 60 sometimes.
I am not sleeping in the tent with the other boys, but have a shake down in the barn among the straw, & rats & mice to say noting of the boo - boos
You will be interested to know that I have only had my trousers off twice since I left England & in cousequence am as lousie as a fat coon but that of course is a minor detail. Well it is Xmas eve, & how I shall think of you my dears & wonder & try to picture what you will be doing - I hope you will have got the boxes of holly & mistletoe safely & I do hope & pray that we shall be together for next Xmas - what a celebration we will have - it is almost 6 weeks since I last had a letter from you, but am looking for some anytime now, The address at the head of this letter will always find me so you had better address letters accordingly until further notice.
I expect to be back in the line in about three weeks time ( about the time you get this letter) we have advanced Y.M.C.A. canteens within two or three hundred yards of the front line trenches, so you see that there is still the element of danger, but the One Who has kept, can & will still keep, so don't worry my dear, but still trust & pray
I am not sorry to have the added experience, it will give me a more all round experience of the War & also I shall have the opportunity of seeing a great deal more of the country.
I suppose conscription is in full swing in Canaday & we may expect the much needed reinforcements - how is it going to effect Arthur?
Well sweetheart I do hope you will have a very happy Xmas - May God bless you with every needed blessing & bring me back to my dear ones soon - soon My dearest love & lots of hugs & kisses
Yours lovingly & lovingly