France April 11, 1917 My Dear Mother:- Again just the usual few lines to let you know how things go. Your letters have been arriving fairly regulary lately, but for a month or so back there was little coming in. I suppose it is the change in my address which is causing this, and perhaps some of the parcels have gone astray also, but as long as the fellow in the battery get them, they shall not be wasted. What do you think of the big part the Canadians played in the war the other day. For my own opinion, it certainly was great, but I regret I can tell you little about it, except what is in the papers. However, I saw most of the prisoners, and among them were some queer specimens. I feel rather out of it now, away in the back country. On Monday afternoon I took a horse and called on Orvil, and together we went for a ride and had a nice time the day previous (Sunday). Another chap and I got horses and went to a little Village or town, tht we were in last December, and had our pictures taken. I will send you one if they are a good likeness. The ride that day was fine and we passed through some very pretty country. The weather was good too clear and warm, but today is a blizzard with plenty of snow. The civilians say it is peculiar weather for this time of year. I can believe them. About a week ago a notice came asking me where I would have my medal delivered, so am having it sent to you. I havent seen it yet, but just wear the ribbon, as is the custom. I hope, when it arrives home, you will give me a good description of it and if you wish you may get it suitably engraved. Ive forgotten the exact day I won it, but it was sometime in October. I heard in an indirect way, a while ago that Orvil was recommended while on the Somme for his good work. I am indeed sorry the recommendation was not accepted. This was while he was at the advanced dressing station, and from experience an advanced dressing station is not picnic. I guess he is too modest to say anything. If Orvil had been in, say, a fighting unit, rather than the field Ambulance, he'd have had decorations long ago. I was greatly amused to have the coming in and going out of the family. Im sure it must resemble a young hotel more than ever. And Marian has a job, and doing her bit for the army. How very nice indeed. I can almost laugh at her now doing the early morning stint as she used to when I went to the Russel Motor. Eudora seems to be the only one with respectable business hours. When I get home, Im sure you busy workers will look on me as the drone for Im getting so lazy, oh so lazy. So at last the States are into the war. Ive been reading a story here and there in the Saturday Evening Post by Will Irvine (who also wrote Canada at the Somme). He has been out here quite a bit and his articles are pretty true to conditions out here, although I don't think he has seen much of the front line except through field glasses. If you read "Our Army Overseas" by him you will have a fair idea of what the U.S. are up against. Wouldn't it be great if we were sent back as instructors to that outfit. I wouldn't mind it at all, but there are enough Americans out here to do that if called back. I run across them often. One I well remember, was in our outfit who had been a member of Congress for the state of Illinois. He and I had a fight one night, which resulted in him asking for a transfer to the French Mortars. He got it. He was the typical bluffing flag waving patriotism type and took delight in rubbing our fur the wrong way. It doesn't do. Marions letter of March 17 came tonight (April 17) and also parcel No 17 with the electric torch which is O.K. and believe me will be very useful. At one time the German star shells were our guiding light but now Im back so far one can only see the distant very distant reflection in the sky. Marions account of munition work was very interesting with all her guages, etc, and long hours and her surprise to find how accurately things must be made. If things are oversize, prematures are bound to occur, and the curses of a man up front, when a "prem" goes off are certainly not compliments to anybody who had a hand in it. Ive seen lots of men killed by prems and have had narrow squeaks with them on a few occasions. Had a letter for Bob [?] tonight who enclosed a newspaper clipping of Ghent's wedding to Marjorie Wilkinson. It ended up that his men in the 204th Battn "simply just loved him" which just goes to prove your old saying. One cant believe all they read in the papers. "Oh dear dear dear dear," that's just a sigh. Had a letter from aunt Maggie who was telling me Grandpa is able to get up and out these days and she is feeling better now that the spring and summer are approaching. Im dissapointed to hear Alen elder is out here. Im sure there are many thousands better fit at home to take his place. He is not strong enough for his job if it is front line work but of course these young bloods must see for themselves. Goodluck to them. What is Fred Baker doing? There is a merry tribe in our tent. A fine chap, a Jew whose passover biscuits weve just finished eating. He plays the mandolin, but today it got broken when two over fellows started to wrestle. Many curses and apologies, but some copper wire fixed it up and its now playing "Im all alone tonight" while the love sick ones do their best to keep in time. Outside it hails and sleets and there is lots of mud. In the next tent there is a poker game. The old birds are teaching the younger fry how to play and needless to say the younger set will have no money for French beer tomorrow night. We were paid today 15 francs. Oh it's a great life Mother but its lasting too long. With us also is a young chap who was in Toronto less than six months ago. He was telling us of recruiting at home. Canada certainly has no page of Glory under that heading. Do you see what President Wilson does? Conscription right at the very start. One can see on the face of it that he means fair play and when it comes to Peace terms, I think he will prove one of the strongest for fair play in the outfit. He has stood for an immence amount of chaff from the Allied press the last two years, and to read the comments of the last two weeks has somewhat sickened me. To arrive at an opinion after careful thought and study from all points and to stick to it, generally commands respect. This however is not the learning of some editorial writers today. It will soon be getting warm again and if you can manage it I would appreciate a suit of summer underwear now and again. When you send this, if the first time yu will send two complete suits. In this way I can change after a reasonable length of time otherwise it means wearing one suit until the other arrives, and then its often in shreds. The army underwear is "no good" and even when its new, its lowsy. Shirts are always easy to get the drawers are not so should you be sending a garment you will know which to send. This is a pretty length epistle isnt it? And perhaps it will make up for the length of time it took to compose. Your loving son John. P.S Soon there will be another change in my address I fear. At present am very peculiarly situated but just use the address I last gave you and I shall receive it alright. I got the pictures referred to at the beginning but am destroying them they are no good at all. Best wishes and love to all.