Jan 3rd 1916.
Yours, Em's & Alf's letters arrived today. They were a day late but that was due to the Xmas rush. I don't know how they ever handled the mail as they did. It was wonderful.
Mother, I'm afraid you were not in the newsie mood when you wrote that letter. I can plainly see that war was on the horizon. You naturally were doing [?] a good deal about Alf's letter and so have I since I received it. And do you know, I think Alf is right. You must consider his side of it as well as our own. If he feels that way, the only proper thing to do is just what he proposes to do. I know how I felt about it, and I never put in a more miserable time in my life, mentally, than I did from [the] time [the] 1st contingent left, until I got on. It is not every boy Alf's age who feels that way. Would that they all did, but they don't. So one has to place oneself in Alf's position to really appreciate the conditions. Lots of the boys at University are going, and if he doesn't finish his year out, he can do so afterwards.
But I think I could offer one or two suggestions to Alf and to the rest of you if you are open to such.
If I were in Alf's position I should enter the Artillery branch of the service. He can receive his training before leaving Canada or in England. It is a much nicer position and Artillery is the "first" branch of service. This war is an artillery and aerial war. It is much more pleasant to be behind a "howitzer" than in a trench, and one can do better service behind the gun. When I get home, if I do not return to the 90th, I shall join the artillery. I see the value of it here. We would not be where we are today if we had had proper and sufficient artillery. So I shall write Alf and tell him what I think about it. In the meantime don't lets worry about it.
Tell Em I have one of the snaps taken down at Lorne's camp last summer. Lot sent it in her last letter. It is quite good.
Rec'd the other parcel alright containing the cigars from Marge. And say, it was in some mess when it arrived. I think about [?] trucks had run over it. The tin box was all smashed, cookies, cake & fudge all in one piece but strange to say everything else was in good shape. It did not hurt anything as it all had to be mixed sooner or later anyway. The cookies & candy were great.
And aunt Sarah's daily food got mixed up with the other daily food and I had to eat several layers of candy before I knew what it was intended for. The jar of honey, cigars, shawl and all the rest were in A1 condition. Many thanks all for the fine hand out. I have been eating the honey today.
Oh, yes, I almost forgot to tell you. I'm in the hospital now. Patient. Isn't that funny. Same old trouble. My throat is kicking up a bit but I have it under control now. I so am glad it didn't trouble me until after Xmas, that I don't really mind having a tussle with it now. I put in three bad days and nights with it with no sleep, but it is getting better very quickly now.
I tried to fix it up myself but it beat me out and I lost my voice completely, in fact I can't speak above a whisper yet, but I can swallow and breathe now which is more than I could with comfort last week. I believe I am getting out of this place tomorrow. At least one of the Majors said I would be all right to move tomorrow, he thought. So, don't worry a bit. You see it is a change and a rest for me and it is a chance to do a little writing, although today is the first time I have felt like it.
I think I would make a poor inmate for a hospital. This is my first experience & believe me it is a monotonous life. I would rather work 20 hours a day than stick at this job. Gledhill, my man, is very faithful these days. Trying days as he calls them. He comes over half a dozen times a day, and because I have to whisper, thru necessity, he does the same. I laugh out in his face often. He is a queer card. But faithful is his middle name.
The orderly has just come around with the final dose for [the] night (9:15 p m). This time it is 'OXO'. Good dope too.
Em must be having a regular war at home with those papers & exams of hers. I should think she would be glad if they would all enlist. Less papers to examine anyway.
And say, I don't feel like writing any more tonight so will you please forward this to Alf and it will serve the purpose as well as another letter. I will write him later though when I'm not so lazy.
Kindest regards to Elizabeth and tell her I have not forgotten that I owe her a letter.
Have not heard from Father for some time. Did he make a sale when he drove to Kenilworth?
Kind regards to the Giles' and all the friends and lots of love for all the family.