Capt. G.S. Andrews, R.C.E.
H.Q. Cdn Corps,
Cdn Army O'Seas
21 Feb 42
It is almost a week since my last letter, and I'll make a start on this one now - and finish it later. We came up to Torquay last Tuesday - and found my friend Ted Sturgeon working for us on the platform when the train pulled on - He is a remarkable old man - I had forgotten, he is 71 and as spry as a man 60 - and he has had us on the run ever since. His wife, long an invalid died just over a year ago, so he is living the life of a free louce, on his pension from the Dept. hands in Victoria. It seems to be enough to keep him comfortably and respectably - and he has a good appreciation of life yet - his home was in Plymouth but since the blitz there, he decided to live in Torquay, which is just 2 hours distant by bus. He was back to Victoria in 1938 - the year we got married for a 6-month visit - and that is the last time I saw him.
We are being put up by his land lady - and have breakfast in - but eat most of the other meals out. Ted is very independent, and it is hard trying to prevent him from paying far more than his share of the spending - It worries me a bit - but he evidently is getting a lot of pleasure from our visit - it is like a fresh breeze from Victoria to him and his heart is really there, as well as most of his friends. I think if he is still alive after the war, he will come back to Victoria to end his days.
Torquay is a quaint seaside town - very much a resort - and in many respects like Victoria - but of course not as nice. It is very clean and tidy and prosperous too. At present there are a lot of well to do evacuated here, so all the hotels are full up - and we are lucky to have accommodation with Ted, even tho it is not at all luxurious. In fact it is a bit cramped, and not very good facilities for writing or doing much in doors, except sleep. These English houses are veritable ice-boxes - really it is primitive - absolutely no heat in any of the bedrooms, or bathrooms - and Ted has just one tiny electric coil in his small sitting room which also serves as a dining room.
On Thursday, we went into Plymouth for the day - as Ted had some business to do - which didn't take long - so we had a good book around under his guidance - saw all the results of the blitzes lent you - and also Ted showed us the place where we had learned his trade as a book binder over 50 years ago. He left Plymouth to try his luck in B.C. in 1912. We also had tea at his Plymouth house, now occupied by his in-laws. It was interesting to see Drakes monument, and the harbour from which he sailed on many of his trips - and to meet the The Spanish Armada - and the spot where he played bowls. England needs a Drake now.
In Torquay we have spent most of our time walking - there are lovely walks along the cliffs along the sea - it certainly reminded me of the walks along the sea front at Victoria. We have also visited all the important pubs - a very important part of English civilization - and to me, not a particularly interesting part. We saw a play too - quite goo d- Somerset Maugham's "Constant Wife" - quite amusing if a little far fetched - and a couple of movies.
I have not been able to get any letters written - nor work on my speech (to RGS) - However we are planning to go to Charmouth on Monday - and stay a day with friends of Mary Bonnycastles - and then go back to London - may stop at Mouvise - they are very anxious for Bert and me to spend a couple of days of our leave there - and I think it would be a good idea - because we can do as we like there- and there are good facilities for writing.
The weather here has been - and raw - reminds me of the day more & I took you & Caroline out to Butcharts Gardens that first time - you have to imagine how nice it must be in summer. However if it has been cold here, it has been worse in other parts of the country because this is one of the warmest spots in England - there are quite a lot of palm trees here - not big flourishing ones, but palms they are - so it speaks well for the average climate - It has probably been miserable weather back at our H.Q.
We have been wearing our civies here, and it has been a nice bit of informality - no saluting and we have not had to carry respiration. One thing, we have had lots of sleep - and good food - so I am feeling much more fit already - also have had lots of fresh air and exercise.
Bert and Ted hit it off very well - they had not been acquainted before - Ted has a very elect mind, and he is quite outspoken - he was a [?] of Canadian expansion which shock some of his orthodox friends here, I think he does it on purpose just for the fun of it.
Managed to get a few new cards for Mary here, and enclose one of these -some of them are rather pretty - and different.
Well its past bedtime - all the house is long since asleep - so I better follow suit. War news is rather discouraging lately - but it will be better by & by - they wont have it all there own way much longer. The Russians seem to be very confident - and soon the Anglo-U.S. strength should begin to be felt.
Love to you all -