Dec. 13th 1916
Dear Mother: -
I don't remember how long ago it is since I wrote home last. It must be quite a while. I am beginning now to make out a list of the letters I write and the date of writing so that I will know about when it is time to write again. I received a letter from Dad and one from Gudrun, one from Stjona, and and one from Lolla Freemanson.
I went to London on Dec. 2nd on a weekend pass and had a fairly good time. Forrest Jardine is my bed mate here and he is a pretty good scout. Harry Palmason and Swanie Johnson & Jardine & I all went to London that weekend. Harry & Swanie were together & Jardine & I were together. I did not see much of Harry 7 Swanie in London. Jardine & I went all over the principal port of the city in a Y.M.C.A. automobile and the ride did not cost us anything. We went into the St. Paul's cathedral and it was grand. This was Sunday morning and there was a divine service on. The music was excellent. We only stayed in there about 5 minutes. We went past the Kings Palace. There was quite a crowd of people at the gate waiting to see if the King was going for a drive. The Kings Carriage was at the door so we stopped to see if the King was going to appear. But no such luck. A lady dressed in black got into the carriage in a hurry & off they went. Then we went along Rotten Row. It is a long promenade or driveway. That's where London Society go out riding on Sunday for exercise. A crowd of these big bugs were riding up and down. Then we went by the Serpentine which is a long artificial waterway which is long and rather crooked. That's why it gets the name Serpentine. We also went past the Post Office, the War Office and the Houses of Parliament (House of Lords & House of Commons). We went along Piccadilly and Liecester Square. We also went past the tower where the Bow Bells were. They are the bells that used to ring for Dick Whittington in olden days. Well dear mother it is getting late and I must soon be making my bed and be going to bed, so I will say Good Night & will continue this letter to-morrow. Good night - your son
Thursday Dec. 14th Evening
I have just had supper so I start on this letter once more. I did not tell you last night that wer were in quarantine. Two boys in our section took sick with the measles a little over a week ago and were sent to the Hospital. We were quarantined on Dec. 6th and the quarantine is to last 16 days from that date if no more cases break out. If everything goes well we will be out just before Xmas and might possibly get leave at Xmas. We are supposed to get six days leave. I intend to spend about one or two days in London and the remainder of my leave with Mrs. Tylor of Highbridge (Mr. Bristows sister). I got a letter from her today and she was asking me what time I would get my leave. She said she was going to book some seats in the Bristol Pantomime Theatre when I go to see her. I have written to her several letters and she answers them promptly. She writes me very nice letters. I think I'll send you one of the letters she wrote me. I got a letter from Mundi lately and he has been quarantined like myself. He has been to the ranges, though, and he says he did pretty good shooting and expects to be sent to the front with the first draft from the 108th. At least he thought it likely. But then Swanie got a letter the other night from Laugi Hjorleifson and he thought that they woould be quarantined quite a while longer. I suppose some more measles have broken out at their camp. I got a letter from Frank the other night and he has been quarantined for sometime. So you see, the measles are getting popular. Frank is attached to the Signal Base at Seaford. I suppose Aunt Nina has already told you this. He says he is feelling fine and having an easy time. The first days that we were in quarantine we had an easy time. Now we get Physical Exercise and Route marches and Squad drill every day. We would sooner have an easy, lazy time but perhaps it is just as well that we get plenty of exercise. At least it helps to keep us in shape and condition. I have not received a parcel from home yet but I guess it must be on its way. I am sure I will get it in a few days. Some of the other boys of the section have been getting parcels from home and they have always treated the boys of the section. Jardine got a parcel the other night and he only had one piece of the cake himself. I guess it will be the same when I get a parcel.-The mailman has just come around and I stopped writing to read them. I got five letters, one from you and margaret dated Nov. 23dr one from Josie, one from Bonnie, one from Mabel Hermanson from Selkirk and one from her sister Lalla Hermanson.
:You were asking me if I received the money that was sent to me. I got the money order alright and the $2 00 from Wyatt and the dollar which was from the Old Women's subscription. But then you mention another dollar which was sent later which I have not received. I might get it yet though. Every cent I got from home has helped quite a bit. We have not been paid all that has been coming to us since we came to England. They have been taking five dollars per month of our pay or rather hoding it back. I don't exactly know why. I think that they are keeping back five dollars per month until we have fifteen dollars to our credit. That is what we have been told. It is taken in case we get a long leave when we get back from the front. Some say that it is in case that we get kikked at the front and that the government may have paid the amount signed over to our relatives. Some say that they won't pay the signed pay after we are dead and that the government may have already paid the assigned pay when we get killed & so they keep the fifteen dolllars so that they won't be out of pocket. This may not be true but then we have never heard any responsible information why this is held back. We have asked our Lieutenant and sergeants but they claim they don't know. I guess we will get along better after New Year as this is the third month we have been here and by the end of the month they will have their $15 00 on their hands. We will likely get more pay after that. We have only been getting about £ 2 per month on the average. I have got along fairly well on that and the money I got from home. I don't know whether you have sent any lately but any way I think I'll get along alright after this. It is when I get a pass that I need money most. Anhd it is when on pass that we get the only amusement or good times. We can't have any fun in camp. There is no entertainment we have here is a concert in the Y.M.C.A. or one in the recreation hall of the Depot but they are not up to much. We could go to the town of Crowboroough but there is nothing worth while going to as the town is about two miles from Camp. I am sure I will have a good time when I go to see Mrs. Tylor. I think we will start on the Machine Gun Course about New Years. That course will take us at least six weeks so I don't think I will be sent to the front till late in February unless they need the men extra urgently. If they need the men extra bad they might hurry us through the course and make the course shorter but I hardly think it probable but of course you never can tell. I would advise you to address all parcels to Army Post Office London but it is alright to address all letters to G.M.G.D. Crowborough. I know that they forward letters to soldiers who have gone to the front. Of course when I leave for France I will let you know how to address the letters differently if I think it advisable. One of the boys of the section got a parcel from home two days ago and it left Winnipeg about Oct 26th. Another lad got a parcel today and it was mailed about the end of October. So you see the parcels are a long time coming and I might have to wait about two weeks before I get mine. I wish you would send me ten dollars when you get this letter. If you send me it shortly after you get this letter the money ought to reach me about the first of February. If you find it hard to raise the money so soon then wait till you can send it. As long as I get it before the 15th of February I will be satisfied. I might possibly need the money to get some things before I go to the trenches. I know I am expecting or rather asking pretty much of you for I know you need all the money you get. If I could get this money from you I wold be pretty sure to be on the safe side. But regarding the fifteen dollars that is held back on us, that is taken off our pay and not the money I signed over to you. I don't think the government will take it off your money as well as mine but if they do you will know that they have no business to do it. But it is not for us soldiers to dictate what the Canadian government must do or must not do. We have got to do what we are told. Some of the boys have said that they can't refuse to give us six days leave at Christmas but I have found out that the authorities don't ask us what we are entitled to or what we are not entitled to. They have us where they want us and there's not to reason why; there is but to do or die. I am not grumbling but I think there might be better systems in some places. I don't know whether this letter will be censored but if it is I guess the censor won't like what I write. I read a joke the other day about two Jews who were fighting with the Allies and were taken prisoners by the Germans. Their names were Abraham & Isaac. Abraham wrote home and told his folks what a fine time he was having and how well he was treated and what fine grub he got. Then underneath he wrote: - "P.S. Isaac was shot yesterday for grumbling." He was pretty cute, wasn't he?
Well, it is getting late in the evening so I will leave off for the present. I will continue to morrow night. Good night dear mother, you son Archie.
Will get a bunch of parcels when they start coming
Friday Dec. 15th Evening.
I'll be getting quite a few things by the look of things. I'll get a parcel from home and the tobacco from Dad and a parcel from Bonnie, one from Lolla Freemanson, one from Stjona and one from the Good Templars.
The mailman has just been here and I got a letter from Frank. He says he is in good health and still in quarantine. His bedmate took sick with the measles but Frnk did not get a touch of it. He expected to be out of quarantine by Xmas. I got a letter from Mundi today and he is still in quarantine. He said he expected they wouold be in quarantine about two weeks longer and after that they expect to be sent to France. He says he will be glad when he leaves that damnable camp. The Canadians don't always get the best camps. For instance the camp I am in is a muddy, sloppy camp. We can't step outside the door without getting all muddy. But the country surrounding the camp is very pretty country. But we have not much chance to see much of it. We haven't got much spare time and then most of it is out of bounds to us. We have been able to see a little of it lately when we go oon oour route marches. The other day we went past an old mill which was run by water but which is out of use now. There are streams and ponds everywhere. Today we saw a little artificial waterfall which was very pretty.
The meals we get now are not too bad. They were not any too good when we first came but we kept on kicking so they are a little better now. Mundi said he would be glad when we get the tobacco from Dad. We had a little snow this morning but it was so little that it did not even cover the ground and it disappeared a few hours afterward leaving the roads sloppy. We hardly realize that this is the winter season. The weather is so mild that we think it is fall. We haven't had much rain lately. When we go out for physical exercise we have no cap on, no mitts, no overcoat or tunic but we wear our sweaters. We haven't had a sunshiny day for a long time. The days have been dull and sometimes foggy. I have a bunch of letters to answer and it will keep me busy for a while. Be sure and give my best regards to all the friends and tell them I am getting along fine and will soon mow the Germans down with a machine gun. I am getting sick of England atleast what I see most and I don't I'll be sorry when I leave for the front. If we got well paid and got week end passes oftener it would not beso bad. Returned soldiers get more money and longer leave than we do. Well I must close now and answer some of the other letters and besides I can't think of anything moreto write.
So Good Bye your loving son Archie Polson 721948
Canadian M.G. Depot
Kiss dad and the children for me.