Bilgate Camp, Kent, Eng.
14th Reserve, 2nd Company
May 4th, 1917.
Dear Mother and DadÂ -
You'll be glad to know that I got away for leave at last and enjoyed myself fine. I wonder if you got the letter I sent with Grandma's. She sure was glad to see me, as they all were. Grandma doesn't seem to me to have altered a bit, and she is just the same; always doing something. Well mother, you'll guess how busy I was, as they wanted to know about you all. I was sorry I couldn't see aunt Lily, but I couldn't manage a pass for both places, so I'll have to look forward to another leave. I suppose you will have heard that Mark got his thumb crushed, and will likely lose it. I had a letter from both of them, and I don't think they'll have to go as their employer holds them. Winnie's husband is out of hospital and in Ireland now, I think. Grandma gave me a photo of them, and I think the baby looks cute. Mervyn is quite a boy too, and was bigger than I imagined. Auntie and uncle are still at the school and May teaches at St. Cross and seems to be getting on well. Uncle, May and I went to Norwich Saturday and had a good time (as I had all the time), as they couldn't do too much for me, so I'm afraid it's rather spoiled me for a day or two after I got back to camp. But I was in luck's way, as I've done nothing for three days hardly, and we got time to get over it, and today we got medical inspection, and getting fitted up to go to France, as, I may go anytime now. Our first draft went yesterday, and I'm in the second. Most of us Swan boys are going first out of the 226th.
Well mother, I had quite a pile of letters when I got back from leave; three from you and I got Joe's too, and some from Bertha. So they all seem to wait for each other and come together. I was glad to hear Joe is over the operation. I suppose he got pain and pleasure, eh, if Louise is still in Winnipeg. You never say anything about her now. Bertha says Joe is quite a tease. Tell Joe I'll put her wise to something, and there will be some more teasing. It's too bad she was scalded, . .but says she's getting over it. I suppose you will be getting some nice weather now. It was horrid here all winter, but this last three weeks have been lovely. And I hit it lucky for my holiday. Starston is very pretty. It was the quickest six days I've had in England. I got there six PM and I left at one on the day I came away. I had a few hours in London, going and coming back, while I made train connections, So I got about the best places, and walked down the Strand and Piccadilly, that I've often heard so much. Some of the boys stayed in London. They didn't used to think much of England, but seem to have changed their minds. I thought I'd get through all my money, and come home broke, but I've still got 4 pounds to go to France with, so it didn't need that to have a good time with. I only wish that 1'd have been able to see you all too, but I'll still get there, as this can't last much longer, and it's sure to stop when I get there. Well mother dear, don't forget to give my love to auntie, and tell Marjie that Mervyn has a lot to say about her, and to write to me. Well mother, I'll close with love to you all, and hoping this finds you all well, with love from your affectionate son,
P.S. I sent you a photo stand and I'm sending you some photos next week, so I hope you'll like them and I'll write again soon. Don't send me anything as my address might change.
[Editor's note - The following letter is dated May 3, 1917, and is from France. Yet the above letter is dated May 4, 1917 and is from England. One must be dated erroneously.]