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Date: October 17th 1916
To
Mother
From
John
Letter

17 Oct 1916

Dearest Mother and the rest at home.

These days, opportunities are few for letter writing and find myself getting more into the habit of sending a field card now and then, thinking to write later.

Eudoras, Agnes and Marion and your own letters have been arriving regularly, the parcels too, were good and am looking forward to the arrival of No 3.

I also have something to send Marion, which is the silk apron Ive been carrying around since we were at Ypres. I humbly ask her pardon for the delay but will send it at the first opportunity.

Mother, you were asking for souvenirs. They are here in plenty to be had. German helmets, rifles, bayonets, dirks, bombs, gas helmets, etc, so far I havent bothered to collect anything. Leave appears as far off as the end of the war and to carry these things or send them by mail is almost impossible. If prospects for leave were bright I certainly would carry a German rifle to England and mail it in pieces to you from there. I will certainly remember that you want one.

I was sorry to hear of the breaking up of the 201st although I predicted such an ending when I first heard of it. The army is too big to bother about the morals of a few who happened to belong to a certain school. The idea is to get the men ready quickly, to be brought here if needed, and Im afraid you’ll see the same thing happen to a few more, yet uncompleted Canadian battalions.

You can laugh your heads off at that underwear you sent. I mean the stuff you made. All of me, really could get into one leg of it. However, I wore it, and eventually cut it up into rags to clean my mess tent with. Agnes, with her germs will surely cry aloud and long at that, but that is a starter, I hope you get this letter in the morning. Im really getting so sick of bugs and lice that when I catch them in the cracks and crevices of my clothing, I bear them no malice, even if I do crack them and find blood. The khaki socks Marion sent were “jake” (an army term meaning O.K.)

Logan, poor poor Logan was wounded, what a tale of woe he must have told at home, and men out here going through hell forty times worse than he had it, and saying nothing. When I was in Manchester a year or so ago, I took a dislike to him and time wont change my opinion. Uncle Robert is a real man, but he has had little to do in bringing up Logan, the dear old boy.

I never thought for a moment youd come across that flashlight taken at Wards. However, thats long long ago and Ive learned a lot in that time, even since Ive joined this outfit and you need have no worry over me as far as such continued carryings on are concerned.

Mothers letter of the 24th just received yesterday. I am so sorry to hear that the onions are going up in price and everything dear. Yes they’ll soon have to call the war off to get the men back in the farms. What a change and pleasure. Im sure I dont know where all the Fritzi’s came from either. Since I came here Ive seen more dead than alive, dreadful, ghastly sights that I’ll never forget.

The day the tanks went in was a gala day. That day was one of the biggest advances up to then and would be from about Euclid or Manning to a little past Bathurst St. The tanks went straight over, over shell holes, trenches, tramping or rolling over bomb wire, spitting fire and lead. All the prisoners could say with bulging eyes was “no bon no bon.” The noise and din was something terrific.

Dick Parkin, who enlisted from the office at the same time as I was killed. You have his picture in that group of the section. He was the last man of the group in the original section.

Orvil was wounded, but very slightly. I have seen him a couple of times since and he is still on duty and as well as ever. He told me it was a mistake his name was reported, his wound was so slight. Do phone his mother if she still has any doubt, wont you?

Caterpillars would be a better name for the tanks, the English never get things or names right.

Whats all this I hear about William and Emma? Emma who? and what does it mean Id like to know. Oh well, let it go. I guess Im getting behind the times, Ive never seen a girl for over a year now and if it wasnt for the pictures I see in the papers now and again I wouldnt know what they look like. However good luck to the boy, I wont tell on him.

Now I re-read Eudoras letter. Yes it was nice of you to write but of course you should have done it long ago instead of gadding and puttering about the way you do. How interested I was to hear of Lucy and the Beltons. The girls I want to hear about is Marie and that other girl, Laura Anderson. If they ring up for my address you can tell them if they dont write oftener, I’ll be darned if I dont call the war off and go back and see whats the matter. So you like Marie, eh some class. Am glad you are with the bank, dont act the kid and con yourself, get that. Getting short of spondulicks too eh. I have about $370.00 army pay which I’ll try and get a finger around some of these days and then we’ll all have a blow out, compri. new boots and silk stockings and gloves for you and you can send me out a pipe a corn cob one. That’ll be jake. Oh saw Bill Hutchings, and how is Eudora, why not send him a card, Gunner, in the 21st Batt. CFA just like me. That Girls Basketball team will do you good. Let me hear about it later eh.

Well peoples, good peoples, dear peoples, one and all, must bring this awful rag to a close.

With kindest love to all

John

Original Scans

Original Scans