July 23, 1917
My Darling Budsie:
Your letters received and I know by the tone of them that you are in much better spirits since getting back on a farm. I know that Ridleys are good company and they will help you to have a good time.
You know I have had my hair cut close to the scalp since I came to France and now that I am letting it grow in again, it is coming out quite grey. Harry's is the same - in fact worse than mine.
We are really having a dandy time now. Just B Section are together in one camp and we are just having a picnic. We have a splendid camping ground close to a town. In fact, we were located in the town in an old school house, but Fritz shelled the town for a week, and we had to get out. We had SOME excitement for a few days! Running out into the street with stretchers bringing in wounded from houses and streets. They were mostly Belgian civilians, including several women. One poor girl that Harry brought in was wounded in the legs, head, breast and arm with shrapnel from a high explosive shell. So now, most everybody has left the town, and we are camped about a half mile out. As we are in a rest camp, we haven't much to do, except in the line of making the camp habitable. But we find lots of time for recreation. We play football, baseball, and horseshoes nearly every night. Our officers are all dandy sports - most of the younger ones play with us. The Colonel and Major (first and second in Command), who are too old to play are our stauch supporters, and are helping us in every way.
We mover tomorrow to a new camp, about 15 miles from here (just B Section) and I guess we shall be there for about 15 days running a rest camp and hospital.
I have been despatch riding again for the last 5 days. Gee! I like that job so much. It is so exciting - you can get around everywhere, and one sees so many changes. I just love to get out on an open road and travel for all the cycle is worth. But the traffic! You can never imagine it. Every morning at 7 o'clock, and each night at 7, I had to take a trip up to the front, where our sections are, and get reports etc. It was about a nine mile run and usually the road is covered with every imagineable moveable thing. Motor cycles, cycles, cars, ambulances, buses, trucks, lorries, steam rollers, farm wagons, general transport carts, guns and ammunition wagons, limbers, hand carts, horses, troops, and a smattering of civilians. All these can be seen at any time on this main road, and you can imagine the excitement of a ride through such traffic. It's a stop here and a spurt to get thru there, a slow down to run in between two lorries and, at the end of the journey, about two miles of road that is continually shelled. That's where the fun is! Dodging shell holes, dead horses and broken wagons, and always one's ear is cocked to catch the sound of a shell. Gee Whiz! It makes the blood course thru your veins. However, I had no accident, and this morning handed the motorcycle over to the despatch rider whose place I was taking during his slight illness.
Well, I hunted up two more Meota boys last week. Paul L'Hereux, and Alan Kirkum. Paul was just delighted to see us, and on Monday, Harry, Paul and I discovered Alan. He is a sentry on the line. He has a real "cushy" job. And to celebrate the occasion we had two bottles of champagne. The first I've ever tasted. (You can buy it out here for a dollar a bottle). Paul was double surprised to see me because he had never heard that I had enlisted, and he wondered where the rest of the single men from Meota were. I saw Vic and Jack yesterday and say, they are in the same Battalion as Ed Ridley. We tried to find him last night but he is in the transport and was away when he called. I may run across him again. Fred Taylor is also around here. We were going to try to find him last Monday, but it was too late.
We had a great football match last night. Played the Horse Transport men and won by 6 goals to 1. We had a sweepstake in connection and that darn old Porky won 10 francs - almost two weeks wages!
I bought another wrist watch last week from a fellow that was hard up. He gave 25 francs for it two weeks ago and I gave him 5 francs ($1.oo). My other watch has been on the hog since I left England.
I am sending you a paper printed up here as a souvenir. It may not interest you much, but there are a lot of things in it that I can point out to you later on. We had a little parade this morning at 8 o'clock (Sunday). We have first class bathing conveniences in the town. They have about 40 hot shower baths. When you go in, you leave your shirt, underwear, sox and towel. When you come out, you get a clean outfit. Usually, you get more than you leave. In fact the shirt I got this morning I spent nearly an hour dragging out lice and nits before I could put it on. But we should worry, the lice are the least of our problems. The damage they do doesn't amount to a darn. But I'll soon need a new set of finger nails if I'm out here much longer.
Harry and Dutton wish to be remembered to you. Give my best to the Ridleys, and tell Bob his "Thad" will soon be home.
All my love for now Dear,