291494 A Coy. 19th Reserve Batt'n
c/o Army Post Office
March 22 / 17
Will send blank cheque in my next letter: there is a time piece of Shamrock from Ireland with Snowdrop
My Dear Betty:-
7 P.M & after a hard day marching & firing, we are working very - very hard these days, marching 14 miles a day to the ranges for firing etc. so that when we get back to our huts we don't feel in much of a letter writing moon then conditions are not ideal to day the least for satisfactory writing, just now some one is scraping away on an old violin - some are beating time with knives on the table or tin plates - others are dancing & singing so you cam imagine the result. We are supposed to get Saturday afternoon & Sundays off but last Sunday we fired at the ranges & only got a part of the day; however what little spare time we do get we try to make the best use of in visiting the places of interest arround. I just received this afternoon your letter No 6. & dated Feb 18th evidently mailed at Stratclair, this is the first letter I have received sence No. 2. written I believe Feb 6 or 7 was surprised to hear of dear little Shirley having the measles & you being quarranteened - I do hope she is quite all right again also Billy you will have had an anxious time & kept pretty busy. I also notice that you have had Ruby & Alma with you. You have had a hard & strong winter I hope sincerely it is over by this. I'm afraid that you've left yourself short of money only just let me know, don't be afraid of what I'll do etc I'll get along alright, and I'll send back the $150. Anyway I am enclosing in this letter a signed blank cheque so that if you you are in need anytime you have only to fill in the amount up to $150 or rather 30£ & send it to Rose, you had better make it payable to her also, & she will cash it & send you the money or in case anything happens to me you can do the same. I think that I had better let you have it back anyway before I go to France. By the way I am arranging or rather Serg't McCord a friend in my company & myself are arranging to send a joint cablegram, letting you & his people know when we cross over to France, we are expecting to go together, & we will send the cable to his father he has a business in the city, & as soon as he receives it, he will phone you & also let you know our address - we shall go to one of two battalions in France, either the 46th Canadians of the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles, but shall not know which until we go - however we are to so word our cablegram that they will be able to know which it is & you will then be able to send letters directly to me as well as being spared an anxious time.
McCord's keep a tailor's shop in the city - Military Outfitters etc you might look them up in the Phone book. Well we have begun to move the Germans at last also the Turks, & what about Russia? great days these eh? But still I would not like to say when the war will be over, Germany evidently intends to fight to a finish, The food question over here is serious as you will be able to realize a little from your papers, more than that I cannot say, I have forgotten the taste of white bread, also a few other things, however if we are spared to return we shall appreciate for a time at least a few of the things we had come to axcept as a matter of course.
I am enclosing in this letter some ivy leaves - a snow-drop & a sprig of cedar all plucked from Lord Tennyson's lawn - then enclosed note will explain. Serg't McCord & I walked out to "Aldworth" last Saturday, about 6 miles from Camp, & through scenery which is simply undescribeable through wooded lanes - over moorland gorse & heather clad, through quaint old villages, By the side of chattering brooks, birds singing their welcome to spring etc etc, Aldworth is a beautiful Gothic structure Tennyson designed it himself, it is a perfect dream in architecture, & poem in itself - we spent about 1 ½ hours in the poets study - it is just as he left it, a large upstairs room - windows all one side & one end, with glass so clear that you would not know that any was there unless you touched it - lounges - divans - large easy chairs - all covered in a kind of soft silver grey - on the walls hang a few priceless oil paintings by old Masters, but they the walls are almost covered with old prints & photos - there is a large drawing of himself by the Painter "Watto" also a photo of himself as a young man & another which especially drew my attention, a photo of his friend "Arthur Hallam" - to whose memory he wrote "In Memoriam"
I asked the lady who shewed us in, for permission to sit in the poets chair & write a few lines at his table it was very graciously given & she even brought note-paper for me to use, standing at the windows, you have a view the like of which I have never seen or shall see again wooded - hills - rolling moorlands - rivers & streams - "the stately homes of England" nestling in their setting of perpetual green - villages snug & cosy in the valleys, & beyond all this the sea - shimmering in the light of the evening sun like molten silver - from the poet's window we can look out upon three counties, Hampshire - Sussex & Surrey
You will be interested I know in having these little souvenirs & will treasure them accordingly, & if I am spared to come back to you, I shall be able to interest you in telling you still more about these dear old places. Well my dear I must close again & get to bed. Don't take any notice of the people you mention, & above all don't let them knock any of your affairs to discuss - after all you're not dependant upon them & never will be I hope - let them mind their own business & we'll mind ours, I'd certainly hate to think of you & the kiddies being confined up in a block etc.
Give my dear love to my kiddies tell Shirley I hope she is better & Billy that I was pleased to get his pictures of the "horned horse & elephant & skunk etc etc. fondest love my dear & write often for yours' are the only ones I get. Good Night God bless you.
Betty xxxxxxxx Billy xxxxxxxx