Dear Cousin Alex, –
I received your very welcome letter some time ago. I am indeed sorry to learn of Elsie’s illness, I do hope the operation has been quite successful – no doubt she will be some time before she feels her usual self again, as operations do seem to take it out of a person. I have some times wondered if the Mowat family possessed an appendix, but Elsie has proven we are no exception to the rule. I am hoping that they operated in time, and have decided this must be the case, or else they would not have allowed her to go home from Kingston. In severe cases it does not do to wait a minute, and in fact can in any case mild or severe, they can not tell until they operate and see, just what the condition is, and of all the tricky ills I think appendicitis one of the worst.
So Grant is now a Captain, I can not picture him as grown up even, he still remains a little boy with white hair to me.
I believe the chances are not alway very promising for the officers to get over with their own men. It depends on the demand, a great many of the battalions when they arrive in England are attached to some one of the battalions which are being held in reserve, then as men are wanted for the front to reinforce and make up to strength some battalion, drafts of men, say so many hundred are sent from this reserve battalion. Usually the officers have to take different courses of training, and they all say it is indeed interesting. Some who come to England with infantry wish to join the artillery, and so get transfered. At any rate they are usually sent over in turn for almost a couple of weeks for instruction in France. If they return to England they just have to wait their turn, as there are so many officers always on the list waiting their turn, unfortunately the demand is large and their turn comes. I believe though it is possible, and does happen some times for a number of the officers to be sent over with their own men, and possibly two or three of them get the chance to stay. It is much nicer in one way to be with the men you know, but harder too when it comes down to the realities —
I am on night duty at the present, we are not busy at present, we do not happen to get our patients from the busy part of the line just now. In France, to us with each day, it is “well how many feet of trenches have we gained or lost today”?
Speaking of the chances of the officers coming with their own men, if there will be a fourth division, it is very likely they will then all come together,
France is very beautiful now, the flowers are wonderful – our situation is all that one could desire, under ordinary circumstances. I wish I could give you an idea of how brave these chaps are, they are wonderful and are so anxious to get fixed up to get back up the line with their pals, you have no idea how devoted they are to one another. There is much I might go on to tell you, but time is limited just now. I am on night duty at present.
We have two aunts living up in Scotland, one Maggie the other Isabelle. They are such splendid women. They remember you as a little lad of six. Time certainly does fly. They keep busy knitting socks for the soldiers. They have a little “croft” as they call it up there, but have the land rented and they just live on in the house. I never have enjoyed any thing quite so much as my trip up there. It is rather difficult to catch all they say but it soon becomes easy.
Yes I still continue with my French, it does not seem very difficult, but time is rather scarce for study. I am sorry now I did not take it up before.
Thanks very much cousin, the Red Cross keeps us pretty well supplied with supplies here. I have asked a friend of mine who is up with one of the field ambulances if they need any thing, if so I will let you know. Thanks indeed.
With best wishes to all,
#2. Can. Gen. Hosp.