Lieut. GS Andrews, RCE
H.Q. Canadian Corps,
Canadian Army Overseas.
England, 22 June 41
Got back about 8 pm from a marvellous week of leave, - a bit of cold supper at the mess, a refreshing bath and shampoo, and now its nearly bedtime. Three of us, Lieut. Herbert Hammond, Lieut. Edouard duBois, and self, took our bikes on the train as far as Taunton, in Somerset, wherefrom we set out for Exmoor on the bikes. Whenever possible we chose by-roads and country lanes, of which there are many, away as far as possible from the main roads and traffic. These invariably took us through beautiful countryside, quaint, sleepy little villages, past old old farmsteads, and manor houses, ripe little country churches. There is a wonderful sense of stability about these - centuries old - generations of the same country families taking life at an over mellow pace - quaint Somerset dialects -
The country is quite hilly, invariably we chose the high roads over the top, which meant good climbs on foot, pushing the bikes, and once on top, free-wheeling along the gentle rolls, high up on the moors where the soil is too poor and the site too exposed for cultivation, then steep long runs down into the farm-filled valleys. The weather was perfect, not a drop of rain, and a strong June sun. We wore shorts and no shirts most of the time, so we all got well sunburned, - heads, backs, and legs. - Sweating copiously we got rid of a lot of dirt, accumulated in our systems during the winter.
Hammond is from Victoria, a grand lad, and like myself, from a well known old Winnipeg family. He is a trained architect, and well travelled, so that his comment on many of the old buildings and churches was very interesting. Incidently he is keenly interested in what I have told him about our Ten-mile Point home, and says if I will give him three days fishing a year off the point, he will do the plans for the house. You will meet him someday, and you will like him. He is a congenial soul, revelling in British Columbia, her wilds, her history. He is also a Sun-Worshipper like myself. duBois is a good French Protestant from old Quebec, a dour, likable fellow, more like a Scot than a Frenchie. He is a friend of Hammond's
First night we couldn't get accommodation in the Local inn, so put up in a Crofter's cottage, really a farm labourer, who has about 3 acres around his cottage, and works on the master's farm, This provided an interesting opportunity to get an insight into the home and life of those simple, solid, honest folk. Three other nights we were above to get accommodation in an old inn, in the village of Exford, the centre of famous stag-hunting, with a real atmosphere of horses and dogs. Took loops out from there each day, stopping at all the local pubs by the wayside to sample the older, for which that country is famous. Another night at a master farmers, nephew of the local squire, the farm was called Birchanger, and the squire's "Combe Sydenham" a very ancient manor house. The nearest village was called Monksilver, and the next larger village Stogumber. All was called Monksilver, and the next larger village Stogumber. All steeped in history. Drakes second wife was supposed to have been a Sydenham, from this place. At least the local parson told us so.
At Birchanger Farm was a little daughter, 2 years old, blonde, and blue-eyed, and reminded me of Mary. I showed her Mary's last photograph, one of the snaps, and seeing another house in the background, she said "Dolly's House". Her name is Anne Notley. Perhaps Mary will come over to see her some day.
I think we saw one of the most lovely parts of England at the loveliest time of the year, in perfect weather, and in the best manner to really take it in.
When I got home, I phoned Basso at the office, who informed me there was no Canadian mail.
Next day, 23 June.
Back in the office for another siege at the old campaign. Feeling much revitalized or what ever it is, and ready for what may come. As luck would have it, your letter of the 25 May came with some "Provinces" this afternoon, so all is hunky-dory. Glad to have our new address, and am looking forward to your first letter from it.
Must stop now - Everything is going fine and the war seems to have entered a new stage - All my love to you & Mary -
As ever -
Hitler declared war on Russia at this time.
Mary's Poppy on Leave!