c/o Officers Mess
Survey Training Centre, R.E.
Sunday night - and I have been in the British Army a week. We have been moved again up to a neighboring Fort Widley, just two miles from the Parent Fort. Here they concentrate on technical training. IT is a detachment from the Fort Southwick Command, and is similar in size & construction. As far as life in this part goes, it is rather quieter and more settled perhaps a more "homey" atmosphere. Any way we feel quite at home and everyone is very nice. A novel feature is a woman's regiment who look after the cooking & other details - then O.C. is a Mrs Kirk - who is a member of, and looks after the Officers' Mess - She eats with the officers - and although it seemed strange at first, I am all for it. The food is distinctly better than at Southwick - and theres almost a family like spirit. Mrs. Kirk is a fine woman - she has a son, officer in the Navy - who survived one of the British submarine losses, and is now a prisoner in Germany.
We were down to Southampton on Friday, and go down for the day tomorrow. That is the centre of the Ordinance Survey - one of the finest mapping & map publishing organizations in the world. General McLeod, who is in charge of it, and who was formerly chairman of the Air Survey Committee at the War Office, came up here the other day for tea, and then gave us a lecture on the importance of survey in the last war. It was very interesting - He is a fine man -
Bill & I had today off, and went to the Isle of Wight - It was a perfect day. They have a balloon barrage up along this part of the coast, and it is quite a sight to see fifty of them scattered all over the sky last night we had a display of searchlights which like a synthetic Aurora borealis. I have not had any mail yet - and am just about crazy to get word from my wife & baby. However, as luck would have it, there is a Lieut. Andrew, in this regiment who recently went down to Southampton - and we got word from him yesterday that some mail had gone down there by mistake. So Tomorrow I am looking forward to getting my long awaited mail.
I hate to include some bad news, but it might as well be done. In a recent letter I had just formed out about the rates of pay - and made a hurried calculations - pounds shillings and pence to Canadian dollars - and made an error in the result - this is about the situation: my pay as a 2nd Lieut is 11 shillings per day, plus 6 shillings for married allowance. Then there is an allowance of 1 shilling per day for engineers. So my total pay is about 18 shillings per day. - That works out to per month:
Gross pay @ 18s per day about $125.00 per month. Then from that I must deduct the following
Mess fees, 2s per day - 15.00 per month
Batman 10s per month 2.50 " "
Laundry about 6.00 " "
Incidentals, smokes, occasional pint of beer, odd meals out, bus fares etc. I doubt if I can keep my expense down to much less than about 50.00 per month, which leaves only 75.00 for you & Mary. I might possibly get promoted to full Lieut. In about 3 months, if I am lucky, and that will make an increase of about 12.00 per month.
Tobacco is terribly expensive here. I think it would be a good idea if you sent me a tin of Dixie Plug once a month. Address call my mail 2/Lieut GSA - R.E. after Andrews. If you enquire from the Imperial tobacco company, you may be able to arrange to buy Dixie Plug at a much lower price then $146 per pound, I know that you can send 1.00 to them with a soldiers' address, and they will send 300 cigarettes postage paid to any soldier overseas. That is 1/3 the price of cigarettes in the stores at home, and it is 1/6 the price of cigarettes here. Cigarettes here cost almost 2c each, and pipe tobacco is even more expensive.
I wont get any pay till the end of May. Also they may not pay me for the period of 3 April to 29 April although I have applied to them for pay concerning that period. You see I was not officially entered on the Army pay list till 29 April, when I reported here.
There are a lot of officers here in this unit from various parts of the Empire - and in every case, their colonial office is making up to them the difference in between their army pay and their civil pay at the time of enlistment. It makes one rather disappointed with our BC government! You might mention this to some of the brass hats of the forest service when you get a chance!
I am not going to post this till I get my mail tomorrow. So for the time being Goodnight my dear & a kiss for you both.
12-V-40. Sunday -
This letter has been waiting a week. I had full hopes of getting my mail at Southampton last Monday - and to my dismay found that it had been sent on somewhere - presumably back here. So each day I thought it would turn up - but it never came - I was feeling keen disappointment and some disgust with the people for not trying to locate us -
However yesterday two letters came through - one dated 6th April, the other dated 9th April - Apparently these came direct from the Bank of Nova Scotia, London, so the ones which have went to Southampton are possibly of later date and I certainly hope they will get back here.
Evidently you are now home in Auburn - God it was a thrill last night to have your letters - it seemed something like having you in my arms for a little bit - and to hear about Mary - the little darling. I would love to see her in her little car seat. You must have had a terrible job closing up the house. I am anxious to hear about it all, and about your trip South. Your arrangements with Mary Garman sound fine - and indeed we shall have to watch the expenses - An officer has to keep his end up to some extent - and that takes money.
We have been very busy - the courses I am taking are excellent - and will stand me in good stead after the war is over, but they are not easy - It is a bit hard to get the old brain limbered up again to grapple with spherical trig and survey astronomy. I am very pleased with the Royal Engineers so far - they do things properly and thoroughly. The army aspects are getting gradually more familiar - and although I still feel a bit awkward, and have a lot of the answers to learn - it is gradually taking shape - and I should gain in confidence & effectiveness.
There are more excellent and very likable officers at this detachment - and our O.C. is a good scout - that helps a lot.
This is the way to address my mail: -
Lieut. G.S. Andrews, R.E.
c/o Chief Postal Censor,
Since I started this letter, orders have come through that overseas mail must not be addressed to our local address but should be sent through the Chief Postal Censor, London. This will probably be quicker in the long run, and he will be kept informed of my local address. Although I am still only a 2nd Lieut., it is general etiquette to address unofficial mail as "Lieut." Some day you may be able to put Col. or Gen. however that is a question of time - and a lot of time too, no doubt.
The War news of the last few days has been dynamic but really I can't help thinking that this is bound to come, and it may bring Victory & Peace for us sooner. As a consequence of the time situation we are on more rigid duty here, and all leave is cancelled etc. However it doesn't make much difference to me, as I have lots to do anyway, and travelling around is expensive.
I guess I told you we had lunch on Monday at the Officers Mess of the Canadian Survey Company in Southampton - it was nice to get into a decidedly Canadian atmosphere again - it is quite different to that of the Imperial fellows - Bill seems to be enjoying himself - he is taking the same courses as I, he has a distinct advantage however with his Canadian Army experience.
I am orderly officer for to-day - first time here - and I hope it goes off O.K. I am responsible for all that goes on I must inspect the guards, the mens meals, quarters - etc and see that the daily life of the part is in order. Its good experience - and some of it is quite interesting.
I am using up all of the mens notepaper - so perhaps I had better use up some of this. Letters all cost 2 Â½ d each now postage that is 5c. I think if I write once a week to you that will be not too luxurious, and it is about as much time as I get - I am very anxious to show up well here - you must tell the others that we are very busy - and it is hard to get time to write. Sometime when you get back to Victoria - you might phone McKinnon and ask him to have my mail sent c/o the same address as I gave you - I should like the Forest Service to send on my technical journals - as they are right in line with our work here - you might tell Hugh Hodgins that the pipe he gave me is now nicely broken in and is a very good smoker. I guess Frank Swannell will be getting itchy feet again - I will try to get a note written to him soon.
I have written the Smedleys - but don't know when I'll get up to see them. Have just sent them my address so they may drop me a line soon.
Here are some snaps taken at the Haywards - Bills friends - at Dorking - they are lovely people - Mr. Hall would be interested to see them - and you might be generous & give him the one of the group, which I am not in. We were in [?] - that means civies. We are planning to get some snaps in uniforms soon.
Well dear - everything is going fine - I am feeling tops - no headaches or anything - Army life seems to agree with me. Keep happy & have a good time - and don't worry - all will be well.
Love to you both