Pte. F.E. Wilkinson
9 Cadn. Fld. Amb.
I am making a desperate effort to get all my Christmas mail off in time this year, and so my letters are necessarily short.
As you may see for yourself I am staying in Mons, and am enjoying the open hearted hospitality of the Monsois, as the inhabitants call themselves.
Mons is a fair sized town about 25,000. It is full of wealthy Belgians who seem to have made money in agriculture & business and then retired to enjoy life in somewhat solid comfort.
Everything about Mons is solid, massive & consequently, expensive. The houses are very substantiably built and the city is surrounded by broad sweeping boulevards well planted with chestnuts. The whole atmosphere is redolent of imperturbability and has the outward appearance of being able to successfully resist any influence brought to bear upon it. The inhabitants who for the most part speak French, seem shy of displaying emotion, as individuals, but when their patriotic ardour is touched they can go to extremes in showing enthusiasm or hate, in regular mob fashion. Otherwise the daily life of the city seems unaffected by the sudden change in the war, & people go about their daily tasks with the same quietness & phlegm as before.
That the people have been deeply stirred by their liberation is evidenced by their attitude & conduct towards all of us. The treatment accorded to myself is an example of that attitude & is similar to hundreds of other cases.
I am living - "billeted" - in the mansion of a real Belgian lady who cannot do enough for my personal comfort. The sudden change from the bivouac life of a common private to one of comparative ease & comfort is strange & sometimes disconcerting.
I know that one has a warm, comfortable bed to turn into at night, a good fire before which one can roast one's skillet all hours of the day, properly cooked meals which may be eaten in a civilized fashion at a table, to be had, and the pleasing society of both sexes to whom one may converse on topics other than military, brings a deep sense of satisfaction & contentment. I am invited an invited and welcome guest for as long as the unit stays here. I shall never forget the warmhearted hospitality of the Belgians in Mons.
In conclusion I should like to say that in spite of all these kindnesses now being showered upon the Canadians, we are not forgetting the welcome & the cheer that will be ours when we once more come home.
That will be second to none in all the world, and I am sure that, at the festivities amongst you all at home, this Christmas, your merrymaking, will be all the brighter and glad in the knowledge of our present safety and our intented speedy return.
Very best wishes & best compliments of the Season,
very sincerely yours,
Fredk. E. Wilkinson