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Date: July 8th 1943
Wanda Spencer - (fiancée)
Leslie Gill

HMCS St Laurent
c/o FMO Halifax
July 8/43

My Darling

Now this is just an experiment. No guarantee of how successful it is going to be. Im trying your favorite trick, writing in bed. Very un-comfortable, how in hell do you manage so nicely? It is quite late, but the yeoman is reading again and the light’s on so might as well take advantage of it. I received six letters from you, but none very recent. June 20th was the recentest. That was one you started on the 19th when you were “surprised to get your cable” Remember?

Lets start from there. No, there was no delay; the cable was despatched same day. Its not very often they take so long but occasionally, as you say, they might be side tracked and not arrive for weeks. Told you in my last letter how your cable in reply arrived OK. It gave me a real thrill. I love getting cables and telegrams (also letters) I am enclosing one from Zora, which is self-explanatory. Apparently she changed her mind again. A few months ago she was planning on another boy, then decided it would be a girl and in her letters to me referred to the child as Clarabelle I am amused! What shall we call our first two or three? Donald Ian McLachlan is rather a mouthful isnt it? Also the initials spell D.I.M. At school they will probably call him Donald Dim Wit or something. Parents should be careful of such things.

Cant stick this much longer. Have turned over and now cant see. Also my arms are asleep. Goodnight darling. Will finish this in a civilized posture tomorrow.

July 9/43

Me again, do you mind? Glad to hear you got some more bottom drawer stuff. Chinese, did you say? Good oh. My stuff is a different nationality. We can have “moods”! Be Chinese one day and something else the next.  You ask me what I have so you wont duplicate. Duplication has already occurred darling but it doesnt matter. I’ll be a very sloppy husband and spill stuff on our tablecloths so we’ll need plenty. I got one nice white one, very plain damask, and four napkins to match. One unbleached smaller one, decorated (very bad taste) but durable material. Ten or a dozen hanker chiefs. Have used a couple, sorry. They had some very cute pillow slips, large plain white and embroidered with HIS and HERS. Well I ordered these but when I opened them on the ship I found we had been seen off, as there was no embroidery on them. Came out of the same box too, but the top ones were soiled and the girl said she’d give me two out of the bottom and I fell for it. Nice little racket, isnt it? They must make quite a bit that way, seeing off poor sailors.

Oops! Just remembered. The white tablecloth, with napkins, is very much decorated! Sorry darling, but I couldnt afford the plain white one I wanted.

It was just a bit bigger but much better quality. I still have the bills and you can see for yourself it was quite and investment altogether. Hope I can get them home safely. Wont be able to get much more as I am stoney-broke and still owe a bit here and there. Last leave crippled me financially.

Do you think Im a heel for going on leave instead of salting it away? I feel rather guilty about it, but cant seem to help it. After a few weeks at sea a person gets rather crazy.

There is a rest camp here, where the boys go to recuperate after a period at sea. I have never been yet. Could have gone for two or three days this week, but there was so much work to catch up, and the gunners mate looked so forlorn when I mentioned it, that I just didn’t have the heart. They have quite a time out there too, from all accounts. No routine. Dont shave. Wear anything you like (or nothing at all) Free beer besides your tot. In fact its just a sailors paradise.

Sorry to hear Len cracked his ribs. It will be painful but not serious and they’ll soon heal. How about his arm, was that broken too?

I remember that bill for 5¢ very well. It was the only bet you ever paid and you insisted on a receipt. You were often making bets in those days but you never paid off when you lost. Welsher! I used to pay when I lost. If I had some of those nickels now I go ashore tonight and have a couple of nice cool beers!

You wonderful woman you! How did you know I wanted you to “stock up”? I didnt dare ask you though. Was it your own idea? No wonder I love you. Keep it up, we’ll need tons for the guests and our own consumption too. I’d hate a dry honeymoon, wouldnt you? Rye and gin are exactly right too. I guess we can still get grapefruit juice and 7-up cant we? Whoopee! Its going to be fun I think. I’ve been drinking various kinds of horrible foreign liquor this last year or so, and it will be a treat to taste civilized stuff again. Not to excess of course, just a few wets now and again, when we feel we need it!

Shocked to hear you think I have a juicer accent. Nothing could be further from the truth. I speak perfect Canadian, and used the expression “toodle-pip” years ago. Caught it from Hobbs and Crokie. Cant explain the “wirelesss” though. Are you sure its not a mis print or something?

J. Robert Barr (not Dave) was in the RCAF camp at Halifax last January. He is now somewhere in England. [?] Hobbs and [?] are also there. I had a letter from Barr this week. Never did locate any of my old chums such as Al, Len Wagstaff etc, but its very difficult to find out where a man is from his official address. I know, because I tried several times.

Glad you heard from Stan and he didn’t forget the 50.00. The place you put it was the best possible, especially as you have the bond in your possession. Im still moaning and making a nuisance of myself from this end about mine, but no success yet. The scribe hates the sight of me now, Im always after him. But they’ll turn up some time (I hope!) Something came up that requires my attention. Will finish this tomorrow.

July 10

Hello darling

I have been very wicked. Am I forgiven? Friday night I went ashore and had quite a run. Borrowed $2 from the shipwright, then first man I meet ashore was an old chum of mine from the West Coast and he owed me five which he produced before we stopped shaking hands. So it was a good night after all. Then he got a bit rowdy later on so I left him. So I tied up with the gunners mate, who I found wandering disconsolately about, and we made quite a night of it. I had to sling his mick and hoist him into it, and he says he hates me now. He’s been on a “dry tack” for a long time now, and is not pleased at having been led astray. It was fun though. Chuckle. But I felt very unhealthy yesterday, and couldnt settle down to writing. This is a lovely Sunday afternoon. I should be out absorbing the ozone and ultra-violet etc but this comes first.

In a few days you will have a visitor. A Certain CPO is drafted back to Naden and promises me he will look you up. I hope he gives me as good a recommend as Stan did! You don’t know this bloke, but that doesn’t matter. Hes married, has two lovely children and a jealous wife, so don’t get any ideas!

This cant be much longer darling and I havent started to answer all your letters. Polly Perkins is sleeping on my locker with your latest two letters under him. I’d hate to be disturbed myself wouldn’t you? so we’ll just let him sleep. They were wonderful letters darling, but I dont expect to receive many more of them. Catch on? In other words you will be telling me all these sweet nothings face to face! Or else whispering them into my shell-like ear. Don’t ask me when, I know but am not allowed to say. Keep my suit in the moth-balls for a few weeks yet, and rush the stocking up. Please do not tell anyone in case we are disappointed again. After I have my ticket in my hand and the train is just pulling in, I’ll rush up to the telegraph office and send the final confirmation. The glorious Victoria summer will be over, but we’ll manage to keep warm some other way! And I don’t mean with rye either!

Oh yes! When this certain CPO arrives you are to crack out on of our many (?) crocks of rye and wet him up. This is a direct order now, don’t forget! I have promised him already, so please dont disappoint him.

Very glad to hear about Kay’s romance. Lovely girl that. Did you meet the gentleman yet? Maybe we can visit them on our honeymoon if theyre still in Vancouver.

Glad to hear you have a nice room-mate again, but Im a bit disappointed too. Was rather hoping I’d be your next roommate. How about it? May I apply now for the next vacancy? Tell Tommy not to make herself too comfortable, as she may have to move out in a couple of months!

Ramble, ramble, ramble! That’s all I do, isnt it? Never could talk sense. Theres no much on my mind right now I cant concentrate also work to do so please forgive me if I quit now. You’ll hear from me again in a few days as usual. Until then take care of yourself and have a good time. You wont be single much longer, poor kid! And I’ll be one of those cruel husbands that dont allow their wives to gad about, so better do all your gadding now.

Goodbye darling but not for long.

Your Own

P.S. Still love you.

Original Scans

Original Scans