Lydd, Kent, England
May 31st, 1916
Mrs. J. Drader,
2132 Belmont Ave.
Victoria, B.C. Can.
I can’t tell you now glad I was to get your letter of the 9th. It is the third I have received from Canada since we left it a month ago. Am lucky in having time to answer it right away. It will be pretty close to July when you get it, too.
Don’t know what is wrong today, but our company is getting a rest. We have been going day and night for quite a while now. I think there must be a mistake somewhere.
We shifted camp on Sunday. Came down here to shoot on the range. Struck our tents on Saturday evening and slept under the stars till midnight. Reveille, and Eugene all came at once. We had about half an hour’s talk with Eugene and then put on our packs and started on our Route march here. We kept it up without a long enough halt to let us take our packs off or eat any of our slim rations till 9.30 that morning. There were whole loads of the men fell out along the road and had to be brought in by the Red Cross. Will and I came in all right but I had an awful pair of feet and when we were lined up to be dismissed to fix up our tents Will fainted. He was all right again in an hour, though, and now is ahead of me in his shooting score. We are both away above average so far. Have to get up at 2.30 a.m. to go on the range which is about 3 miles from camp. We get back to camp about 10 a.m. and then go out marking targets in the afternoon and get in about 10 p.m. Breakfast and supper when we get back if we can rustle any.
Here it is Sunday and this letter not off yet. Our class finished shooting last night and we passed our First Class Shots I think. We are not sure yet though as it is the score kept in the butt that counts and mistakes are sometimes made when we are taking signals.
We were out on church parade at 9 a.m. and a biplane came right down close to take a look at us—made so much noise we could hear nothing else. We see lots of them every day and sometimes we see big dirigibles. At our last camp we had to line up in the middle of the night on account of the proximity of German Zepplins. The same camping ground was bombed last year and 12 men were killed. The tents are now all painted dark green on the outside so they cannot be seen at night. Also there are no lights at night.
We got word here of a brilliant German naval victory on Wed. & Thu. but now it seems that the Germans did not get very far from their hole. They did not stay out very long and lost as many or more ships than we did.
Had to stop here and go and get dinner. It is starting to rain again so I don’t know whether to go over town or not. Two weeks ago today I went to a church—or rather Sunday school near our camp. Soldiers were not invited but another fellow and I went and hung around till they asked us in. Then they asked me to give an address, which I did. Then, the Sup’t. asked us home with him for tea and we went to church afterwards. I was inoculated with some kind of anti typhoid stuff in the morning so was pretty sick all day and my arm was very sore. Could not lift it up to my mouth. I went to bed soon after I got back from church. Everybody else was in bed too in our tent. Will was not in as he was on Guard Duty. Then a guy from another tent came in drunk and started pulling one of our men out of bed and making a big fuss generally and after stamping around on my feet & legs for a while finally fell right across my sore arm, so I got up and threw him out of the tent. He jumped up and hit me with his fist but did not hurt me, but it made me go for him and I finally knocked him across the street and he fell in the tent on the other side. He did not come at me again but had a lot to say. In fact he was still talking when I went to sleep. Next morning he came around and claimed he could not remember a thing that had happened. The beer in this country is certainly doing a few of our boys lots of harm and there are more saloons here than I ever dreamt of before.
Will and I got off from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. last night and went to the only movie here. It cost us 11d. each and was not as good as the worst $.05 show in Victoria. We nearly choked with the smoke and there were only two reels of pictures with lots of stops in them when someone would come around with a rig like your plant spray and spray every one with some stinking stuff. I asked one of the fellows sitting in front of us how much he paid to get in and he said “7d.” So there you are. That is a sample of how the wonderfully “honest” Englishmen are stinging the Canadians whenever they can.
Well, the rain has stopped so I guess I shall close and mail this. Hope you are still all well and that you have had a good time with Uncle Will and Aunt Hattie.
Your Loving Son,
Bte. 101749 C.W.A. Drader,
3 Coy. 66 Battalion,
British Expeditionary Force,