Jan 9th 1916
Dear Mr Mackenzie.
Are we downhearted? No-oo-oo! We fully expected to go into billets for a week or so & then off to France. In fact our Colonel had officially told us so but today we were told that tomorrow we pitch our camp a hundred yards further up & that we may be here for a further period of six weeks.
Isn't that the limit? We were so miserable after hearing this news (which may not be true) that most of us went into our tents & lay down in our 'insecty' blankets to forget our troubles in sleep. But now the re-action has come & we are a bit more chipper, I think the Canadians have been forgotten. The men have lost their spirit to a certain extent & drills from now on will be performed in a very listless manner. Men who have come from the front say that all we lack is the sound of bullets & shrapnel to be in a worse condition than the majority of men on the firing line. And then we pick up a Toronto newspaper saying that the men on Salisbury Plain are "well, happy & comfortable". The [?]ppitaly one full of poor beggars dying by scores every week & very few men in this contingent but will have rheumatic twinges in later years to remind them of the awful winter of '14-'15 on Salisbury Plain. They silly country is flooded & you will probably see illustrations of the way people in Salisbury City itself are wading knee-deep in water. As for being happy- the majority of us are too young to remain down-hearted for very long & as for the comfort [6 lines left blank] the above blanks express our 'solid comfort'!
However no one really knows when we go so we live in hopes - and mud.
I see that one checque has arrived. I guess it will be followed by two or three more pretty soon.
Aucine Lampman has written me several interesting and freezing letters & the smaller boys have been very good about writing & really I am just living for my mail.
We were issued today with our field uniforms which we have to keep until we leave & have received a lot of other accessories so we may be leaving sooner then we expect. "G[?]en Sake".
Did you see that article in the Lakefield News from Roy Macdonald about the intemperance in our tent. We did & we are lay[?] for the d[?] when he gets back to camp. Only one man out of the 10 in our [?]ell tent drinks at all now. I have been on the wagon for over two months.
The wet canteen was a mistake here & thank goodness it has been abolished. I used to be in favour of it before it was given us but life was a perfect hell while beer & whiskey were sold & the tents were always full of it "Jack Canuck" to the cont[?] not without audience.
I am very grateful to you for having "Barrey". I wish I had the fox little fellow here with me. I am enclosing a picture of Salisbury Cathedral.
Oct 19th - Going to France in 3 weeks.
" 31st - " 2 "
Nov 15th - " 4 "
Nov 30th - " 6 "
Dec. 15th - "4 "
Dec. 31st " 2 "
Jan 8th " 1 "
Jan 9th " 6 "
[illustration of camp movement]