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Date: July 15th 1916

15 July 1916

Dear Mother:

Received your letter to, saying you expected to hear from me this week, thus reminding me that it is a long time overdue. Have been writing to Marion Agnes and Eudora recently so they can say they got a letter from someone at the front, thoughtful, eh?

The two parcels came. They were good too although the butter had gone bad. A ½ inch layer of salt will keep it better should you send any more. The underwear was perhaps a little too big oh much too big. However its better than nothing and I had peace and quietness for a day at least. You have gone to quite a bit of trouble in making it up hemming it etc and so many buttonholes. I really didnt expect anything so complete but I appreciate it very much indeed. The cakes Mrs Caulthord sent were grand. You never make anything like that, do you?? Do you know, I think it would be possible to send out a pie an apple pie. Get two of those wooden pie plates and wrap it then, or if thats no good make little pies but out of the same stuff and those could be easily sent.

Father tells me the papers contain glowing accounts of the artillery especially the Canadian in the recent actions. It certainly is true, they no doubt did wonderful and accurate shooting. Its organisation is also truly wonderful.

Saw Orvil last night again. He is looking well too. Went to see what was left of the old machine gun section while they were out on rest the other day. Of the crowd in the picture in the mantelpiece there is five left in it.

I had not heard of Harry Ardie nor Gale Hagerty. I suppose they were both killed but I would like to hear what happened to Harry. Recently the air activity has increased to a great extent. I have actually watched thousands of fights and have seen many brought down, some forced to descend and others turn a few somersaults dive and turn and fall to earth like a stone. Harry should have made good, he had the right stuff. No doubt he met with unfortunate circumstances.

Im glad the soldiers at home, whom come of fighting stock, are having such a good time. They certainly wont get it out here and they would be foolish if they did not enjoy themselves when they could. At the same time Im glad my number is no higher than it is. There is a feeling and it is noticeable whenever the bunch get together, that those who are still in Canada dont want to come out here. They have been referred to as the eleventh hour heroes, men who have held responsible jobs or positions and who are giving up much to fight. The first and second Divisions are adventurers, men out of employment glad to get the $1.10 at the risk of their lives. All this has been in the papers.

Now if the fighting ever opens up they will never know what trench warfare is. It is one hundred times worse than opening fighting ever will be.

I’ll take off my hat to the first Division and Im proud of being in the second but after the third I wouldnt turn two steps from my path to see them parade in drill order. The recruiting as it is carried on in Toronto streets at present is a crime. Again I repeat Im glad Im not there. As each day goes by I long more and more to come through it alive and to be able some day to tell you what I think of it all, but please dont express my opinions to any of my boy friends in Toronto. I know there are exceptions and I am not making sweeping condemnations, just expressing a feeling of some, who perhaps have not thought as much as I about it.

It is only within the last month or six weeks at most, that it is noticeable we have at last got the upper hand on Fritz for heavy guns and trench mortars. He is getting in turn what he gave us for so long and his life is being made a regular hell yes, really, I cant imagine hell being any worse.

When I heard our first twelve inch shell go over it actually scared me pink, the roar of it travelling, and although it exploded half a mile from me, pieces of it fell within 20 yards of where I was standing. The explosion is a sight to behold, such an upheaval I had never before witnessed, but there is fighting yet to come that will make that appear as child’s play and I know it. And when our new trench mortar gun was turned on him, they actually stampeded up and down their trenches, squealing and yelling for us to quit. They only gave the show away for we sent over all the more then, and so it keeps up, day in day out, and all night, sometimes its quiet but more often the other way.

We have the daylight savings bill here to. It works fine except for the first night following the change. The motor transport was sent along the road at the same time as previously the commander not taking into account the hour additional daylight. The result was that they were easily observed and shelled like the very dickens. They beat the best retreat possible and come back after it was dark. Experience is a teacher, also the transport drivers learn by hard knocks, the same as most of us.

Oh yes I must tell Agnes about the horses. The only time Ive seen them show any spirit is at meal times. Marion wants to know what I call it. Not yet am I repeating army adjectives for your benefit, suffice it to say Ive called it every thing I can think of. Why do you know Ive got up in the morning at 5:30 given him exercise and water and grub and cleaned him good you know, spend an hour cleaning him, just get finished and walk away to see him lie down in all the mud and slops and every thing, roll around for a while, and then get up and laugh at me. Gee that took the heart out of me, after trying to do him a good turn to but I am away up to the guns now and the horses are the least of my worries.

I was at the medical hut when I was down to see some of the old boys the other day but at the time neither Anderson McLaren nor Orton Anderson were around. Gord Harding was on duty. Probably Miss McLaren knows him or has heard Anderson speak of him. The last trip in the battalion had quite a few casualties mostly “Belgics” deaths, wounds are Blighties.

Poor Marion, thinks Ive gone off my head on the twins. When will you ever learn that old story I repeated so often about jumping at conclusion. For your benefit I enclose the snaps. I surely had a good laugh when you tried to come across with that and I can imagine the way you’d say it to. And you might find 32 ₵ in one of my old trousers pocket for which send another seven pounds of stuff and just let me tell you that there is more newspaper for packing than there is stuff to eat. You can use cake and stuff for packing the crumbs are good to eat but nobody wants to eat newspaper. Id like to start up a competition between all you girls, to see who could make up the nicest parcel. I havent forgotten Aggie Cauttie[?] yet. Them were the good old days. If I cant get your goat with the veteran stuff when I get back it will be funny.

Well here it is 5 minutes after four in the morning, and I am tired so will close with best of love to you all.


P.S. In eleven days I wish Marion to accept my best wishes for many happy returns. Dear Marion, if I get paid before then I shall buy and send you an apron, made of champagne colored silk edged with hand crochet lace made by a buxom belgique woman of 2 score years and five I should say. I hope this will square me on the parcel controversy.

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