From Pte D.G. Buckley
(PS) you can address letters to me here if you like)
2nd Canadian Contingent
Hyte. Kent. Eng.
Was delighted to receive your letter, the first you have written me since I left for "furrin parts." The life here is about similar to our work in Canada, but the hours are longer.
Doubtless you have received my cards from London. They started giving leave the first week after we landed here. The first bunch got 6 days leave, but so many overstayed their passes, that the second bunch only got 3 days or four, with the vague promise of a week end in the far future. Jack and I were in the second lot. John MacFayden was also scheduled to go with me, but was discovered to be, (in plain words) lousy having contracted friends of an unpleasant nature on the boat, so he had to stay behind and be fumigated.
Jack & I went to mighty London on Wednesday night, arriving about ten thirty P.m. We found a peach of a hotel, just off Picadilly Circus, where the very select stop, the rates were considered high for a hotel in England, being 6 S. 6.s. for bed & breakfast. Well in Canadian money, can you get a room, bath & breakfast for about $150. This hotel had the Chateau Laurier beaten a mile. Wednesday night we had the sleep of our lives, and Thursday morning hit the trail. We saw nearly all the sights, taking taxis to save time, the darn things only cost 8 pence a mile. Saw Mrs Henfrey and had a chat. She showed me a lot of Al's stuff, including the razor sent him by Lord -. Seeing those things rather got our goats, so we beat it to the zoo. We also saw St Pauls, and I think the place that impressed me most was seeing Lord Roberts grave in St Pauls. I'm a kind of irreverent cuss, but a kind of feeling came over me that somehow he knew we blooming Canadian privates were there, and expected us to do our bit. Several of our lads who visited St Pauls came away with somewhat the same impression. Sentimental bunch of cusses, are'nt we.
We visited the Sun Life office and really their kindness could not be excelled. The two who did the most for us were Harry Bazall and Mr Lionel Woods the secretary. They showed us many of the odd, out of the way, interesting little touches of old London that the ordinary visitor usually misses, and helped greatly to make our trip pleasant. They left us to ourselves in the evenings however, and believe me, little old London can certainly give you a good time when the lights are on. Enough said! Jack went out of town to see his aunts Friday night and got back to the hotel Sunday morning Saturday afternoon I went to see the show 'Henry of Navarre" with Mr Woods and it was great. We had afternoon tea in one of the fashionable centres afterward, and then said goodbye to each other in the hotel. All these places were thronged with officers, off for the week end, and as I was passing one of the tables after leaving Mr Wood, I felt a grip on my arm and a voice cried "Hello Buck old top,' and it turned out to be Hunter one of the boys in our crew at Philadelphia last year, who stowed away on a ship to England (his home) and is now a 2nd Lieut in the North Staffordshires. He introduced me to a chum of his, another 2nd Lieut in the same regiment, and we joined forces and started out to see the sights of a Saturday night in London. We had a big dinner at one of the swell joints, and there Hunter met a girl he was stuck on, and said he'd meet us at breakfast at my hotel in the morning, as he was going to see her home and spend the evening with her folks. Nell Harmer (the other officer) and I then took in the sights and ended up so far away that we did'nt go back to my hotel, but stayed at another one, the other end of the city, going back to my place in the morning. In the meantime Hunter had finished his call, and went to my hotel at midnight to see if we were there. Finding us not in, he got my key and went to bed in my room, as it saved him hunting a hotel. He paid me for the other hotel bill that I had, when we all met in the morning. Some system. you must not think that we young fellows were cutting loose by being around so late etc, we really were quite good, but holidays were so good to all of us, that sleep seemed a waste of time, with so much to see. Sunday morning I introduced Jack and the four of us went to Hampton Court, and spent the after noon punting on the Thames. The river was crowed with pleasure craft and we had a good time. Was unable to get any snaps however as my films ran out, and I could'nt find a place to get them without missing our train to the Court. I've taken very few pictures in England as photos of military camps, fortifications etc are strictly forbidden, and nearly every interesting place has concealed guns or something, so my picture taking is rather limited.
We got back to Waterloo Station about 6 Pm and there parted with the two officers, who were really very good fellows, and who took us to places that their uniforms gave them to entrÃ© to, and which otherwise we should have missed. Jack & I left Charing Cross at 7, 15 pm and were back in Camp at 9.30. Pm tired, broke and happy having had a dandy time.
We are having musketry all this week and march to the ranges at Hythe each day. Today was a scorcher, and the perspiration was dripping from our faces when we got back to camp. The road from Hythe to camp, has hills worse than going up the Cliffs, but the roads are smooth. (Just had a slight interruption), One of the boys sleeping in this hut, has just been run over by a transport, and been taken to the hospital. This is the life.
I had several talks with wounded Canadians in London. They are very bitter with the Germans. I dont know whether this should be told or not, but since our boys at the front saw one of their sergeants crucified, they have taken no prisoners, unless they cant help themselves. They were so crazed when they saw this poor fellow hung up, that they fired bayonets and thrust into eternity two hundred German prisoners they had just taken, and I dont blame them a bit. On all sides you hear the same tales from boys back from the front. They make a fellows blood boil, and I thank God I have no taint of German blood in me. They are not human, and I hope we exterminate them as we would a nest of reptiles. And they are not beaten yet by any means. We are horribly shy of munitions of war, and there are thousands of men, trained well enough to go to the front, who have not the equipment. Bu this is not a pleasant subject is it.
We hope to do our best when the time comes, and I would not change my ragged old suit of khaki, for one of mufti, for anything. Sounds like a braggart does'nt it. But I mean it kid. Well this is getting rather a long letter so I must stop. I think I shall have to copy it for the rest of the family.
Did the papers have anything about our departure.
While I was in London soldiers from several Canadian battalions stationed here, got in a riot in Folkstone, and a detachment of British troops had to be called out. The fight was only among themselves, they are on good terms with the civilians. This is the first trouble the 2nd Contingent boys have been in, and likely the last, as the treatment of the offenders is going to be the severest.
Well Abbie this is a bum letter but its some job to write letters. you know how I love letter writing, but to you sweet heart its a pleasure. Much love to John and the kids and with heaps for yourself I remain
Your loving brother