Saturday Dec. 23rd/16
Dear Mr. Irwin:-
“We know that when the battle flags furled and God’s own peace is settled on the world forgot will be the slaughter, love the dream, the hurricane of war in which they [?]”
The wind is strong, cutting and cold, the day is dull; since morning it has been cloudy and the rain beats in torrents upon the windows in the ward as I sit on my bed writing this. Two days before Christmas but by weather one would say it was October. Today I have thought a lot about Christmas and of all the people both sides of me – you all in Canada and those chaps in a far off trench. Another “Christmas at Arms” but according to London paper reports they are trying to make it the most pleasant Christmas yet spent in the trenches. I have sat and wondered how many (outside of those actually effected) would think of the chap away over in the mud clinging tightly to a rifle, while his clothes are drenched and his hands numbed. But I know that I surely will remember them and especially on Monday.
From the heading you will learn that since writing you last I have been transferred from Moore Barracks Hospital to Orpington Hospital.
Orpington Hospital (Canadians) is situated about 10 miles from London City was built & fully equipped by the Ontario Government, including beds furniture & linen as well as the Doctors and Sisters. There are 20 wards each ward containing 53 beds so that over 1000 patients may be attended to at a time. And I understand that the order is out for 20 more wards to be completed by April 1917. Each ward is now decorated with Holly wreaths and trimmings and some of the wards look very neat and show signs of good taste while others look somewhat like Woolworths during the Christmas week.
I had expected to have been out of hospital by now but unfortunately I am not. However I do not think I will be here long now but I am to spend my first Christmas, away from home, in hospital.
Well I shall endeavor to answer in full your lovely letter received last week. I was looking forward to your description of your hunting trip but the “Cadets of [?] Day” came as a surprise but must say a most pleasant one, and it was with deep interest that I read of their maneuveres and especially of their making & breaking Camp, something which, I bet made the spectators open their eyes. Then to think of the size of the lads would make it all the more interesting. They certainly must have done well to have one half of that longed-for-Prize which has for so long past gone to the Cadet Corps. I see Karl is Captain this year so I guess it was another case of father against son with the “older head” evening out which is often the way. Yes I’ve seen the Brigadier General and I am told too that your appearance in the Khaki was somewhat like that too.
I surely enjoyed your description of the deer hunt but sorry to hear that they were so scarce. It seems to be the same all over. A chum of mine who is over here at Shorncliffe tells me that he heard from home that they were scarce there too (that is in British Columbia) We meet some wise chaps occasionally in our roamings.
I am glad your sacramental service was a success in October. There isn’t a Sunday goes by but what I think of you all both in the house & in the Church and I sometimes long to be there. I look at my watch which for instance tells me that it is 3 oclock Sunday afternoon so on adding seven or subtracting 5 I am told it is 10 oclock a.m. there and you are all getting ready to go to that church on the corner. I would like to have heard your sermon on that date for I am sure it would have been impressive. I sometimes think that the people there are really beginning to realize a few things (thanks to you for the way in which you speak to them from week to week).
I am also glad to hear that you had a good league and I hope that during the winter months it will still increase. I don’t doubt but that the slackers were absent but as you say their league service is on the other corner where the “smoke if you like” rule prevails. And I have seen fellows in there who should have been at the League or choir practice and who were, at various times, informing these people that “they only play because so-and-so plays” while the said “so-and-so” had not been inside the place but had to take the blame never [?]. I wonder how many of those chaps who said they “would join the next Peterboro Battalion” will stick to their word. I have 3 in mind at present and I keep listening to hear of them but ---.
No I have not broken my clothes yet. Yes as mother said I weighed 154 lbs and in fact I went higher than that but on being weighed last week I had dropped back to 148 but hope to gain up again if possible.
Well I guess I have told you all the news this time so will close for now.
Hoping to hear from you again soon,