My dear Gertrude,
It is nearly dinner time but I will begin your letter. This is the day that, a week ago, I expected to be at home. However the intervening eighteen days or so will soon slip by. I was to devote today to Christmas letters & have been writing most of the morning & so far only accomplished those to Berk, Frank Robertson, Aunty Kate, & Mother - not one of them Christmas letters. I must reduce Canadian Christmas letters to the Strachans & the Creightons with letter cards possibly to Qualicum Beach & to your Uncle Frank. Most of the other people I would write to I haven't got their addresses. I forget if I wrote to Mr Baker last Christmas but I did in March & have not heard from him since so I can leave him out unless I hear from him. The Church of the Redeemer will probably be sending me a card as they did last year - so I will wait till then before writing to Mr James.
Perhaps before I commence any news I may have I had better give you my Christmas wishes, lest I omit them later - as I have been known to do. At one time, earlier in the year I hoped that the conditions by Christmas would have been such as to make the season one of immediate good hope - but with Russia behaving as she has done & Italy giving way - good hope does not appear to be within seeing distance - I still believe however, as I have believed - that conditions do not make a much earlier peace than the majority of people imagine - quite possible. Canada itself, showed the Election by any possible chance return Laurier to power - may yet come to internal civil strife - in fact I see little else for it - & that would no doubt encourage the Irish revolutionists, & such dissension in the Empire further encourage the German headquarters - however I don't see a Quebec victory is within the bounds of possibility. As a consequence I think one can with reasonable cheerfulness send happy Christmas wishes to ones connections. Spencer's family being with you ensures you all having not too quiet a time. I hope it is a happy time - with no ill health or bad or worrying news to disturb it, whether of friends & connections & with bright & hopeful news from the seats of war.
Canadian mail seems very tardy these days - I had a letter written on October 28th last Monday but nothing since. With Spencer's furniture going into the front bedroom & your Father & Mother moving out, it sounds as if they anticipated staying in Pearson Avenue for an extended time. Jenny of course naturally would do so - if Spencer is called up - so I suppose they will wait & see what the future brings forth regarding military matters.
I am glad to hear that you were accepting the invitation to the Helicoman musical. You certainly do not overdo things in the way of amusements & relaxations - which means as know, that I think you under do them. As you did go to this I hope that you met some very pleasant people there.
I am very pleased to hear that Mrs Chadwick is so much improved. Which reminds me that when you go to take them your Christmas wishes, will you wish them all a very happy Christmas on my behalf - & please do the same to Mrs Brown & Louise. I see that later on in the letter you were expecting to go with Spencer to see a picture at Massey Hall. So you were not to do so badly for the week. Very possibly with Spencer at home your opportunities for getting about will increase.
I think I told you I was sending a copy of our magazine to you I have not done so yet - the main reason that each copy has the last Examination papers in it & I find they will be very useful to keep for reference. Also the contents is practically all "shop" & will have little interest & less meaning for outsiders. However No 3 - out east Wednesday is much better than its predecessors - so I have ordered an extra copy of it - so that you may see one number at least.
I will enclose you the card I received from Berk this week - We visited Auriens[?] together in 1911. I wonder if he has been recalled to his Battalion for the recent heavy fighting. I hope not.
Yesterday I had a good nine mile walk in the afternoon - a very good day for it - went with Bruxey[?], a fellow in my hut who I have been working with a lot lately. We walked to Buxted - a place about as big as Uckfield but three miles from here & on the main Brighton Road - South East of here - whilst Uckfield is South - then we swing round by various winding & rolling roads to Uckfield where we did a little shopping & so back for high tea. After which refreshed in body & mind we put in a good four hours work together in the Anti Room. And by the way a new Anti Room has been opened this last week - no coffee or other bar in it or Billiard tables- tables & arm chairs for work & very comfortable upholstered basket lounge chairs for reading. Green curtains - plants - painted walls & roof & a linoleum floor give it a very club like air. Its one draw back is that it is not too warm 4 iron stoves do not seem equal to the work of heating it - particularly with 2 unprotected entrance doors opening & closing continuously.
However until to-day it has been mild since Monday last, so we have felt it a great room. I am however continuing this, where I began it this morning in the Y.M.C.A. less conveniences & room but more heat.
Our company is down for a two hours cross country run to-morrow afternoon - the 4 sections (or Groups as they are called) in competition. It is only about 4 miles fortunately but I am afraid I won't be able to do much for my group - my wind is not as good as it was before the fever. Not that I think I will be last in or even nearly so.
They have been issuing regular army greatcoats for the winter to the girls of the W.A.A.C. in the camp here. They have previously had ordinary womens light material & cut ones - in brownish khaki colour of course with shoulder straps - these others will be warm but I should think they would find them very heavy. It means also polishing buttons them as for us.
I have just broken off to write to Mr Creighton & now remember I must not forget Harold Brown - altho I have never heard from him since I wrote him in March. His or my letters have been lost. It is really marvellous the way our letters have reached each other both in France & here. Perhaps after making that remark I had better "touch wood". IT is about time I started to say something about the officers of the school & my fellow cadets. I think I will try & take up one per letter. I ought to start with our C.O. (Commanding Officer). Practically everybody & everything in the army is referred to by the Initial letters of his or its name. So the Colonel or Commander is always referred to as the C.O. - even officially. Our C.O, is Lieutenant Colonel Normand - he came just after we did - the previous C.O. who was here when we arrived being Lieu. Col. Lord Alfred Browne - we only just saw him but from all accounts an exceedingly nice man & officer. The new C.O. is a different type - we really know little of him to judge him - from certain changes that have come about he has not made himself at all liked - but on the other hand the few who have had personal dealings with him, speak well of him, also one or two who happened to have served in a Battery that he commanded in France speak well of him. He is a "ranker", that is he has earned his commission from the ranks after several years service as an ordinary soldier. Not in the loose way that it is often spoken of in Canada - that is a man like Sir Sam Hughes is spoken of as having risen from the ranks, because he was once a private in some Militia Regiment - in that way 9 out of every ten officers in the regular army even have risen from the ranks. He is a fair haired - moustached - small built man - quite soldierly but not at all striking in appearance but one who could look sufficiently striking if one went before him as a delinquent. And that very little is about all I can say of Lieu. Col. Normand so far. So far he has never made us a speech of any kind - although he has occasionally told us forcibly & succinctly what he thought of certain manoeuvres we have been performing on Battalion parade - from the secure height of his saddle on a rather big horse he rides.
All of us, not otherwise on duty, had to endure for an hour on Friday evening - an hour of valuable time - a lecture on War Economy & investing of course in War Loan. You may remember we had one at Woolwich. That was by a very racy speaker who made it very enjoyable by his manner & expression. This was by an old man of 72 who evidently was no speaker - had no voice & absolutely nothing to say. Of course he made a few especially inane remarks occasionally which drew our attention sufficient to give him a cheer - which in each case made him angry. I don't know who was responsible for sending him & how they could hope to produce any good results from such a very difficult subject without a really racy speaker, I don't know.
It is time I closed this letter & got ready for evening service before tea time.
A very happy Christmas Day.
With very best love.