Friday, October 13th, 1916.
Rev. M.A. Irwin.
Dear Mr. Irwin:
Yesterday I received your most welcome letter and it goes without saying that I enjoyed it very much. It was full of interesting things from beginning to end.
I hardly know what kind of letter to write to you this time as I haven’t anything to tell you that I know of except a few scattered facts pertaining to everyone.
The 93rd Battalion is no more as they left Otterpool Camp a week ago to-day for West Sandling to live in huts for the winter. They also have been all transferred to the 39th Reserve Battalion. Capt. Thomson is left in charge of the rear party to clean up the grounds and every thing else that must be done on leaving an old camp grounds. I am one of his party along with about a dozen other men. Capt. Rollins the quarter master of the Battalion is also here together with a Sergt. Thomas with whom I am very chummy. He was a lieutenant at Kingston but not attached to any Battalion there in particular until he was with the 93rd. He desired to come over seas with them but on account of pull for another officer which was a relative of one of the senior ones of the Battalion this said Thomas could not come over with us. So sooner than go with any other Battalion he reverted and come over as Transport Sergt. and has been unable to get his commission back again so far. I admired his willingness to come and the way in which he has acted ------- different from a whole lot of officers that I have known. He is in charge of the transports and the carting of cases while I am doing the work on the typewriter. I had to make lists of the cases and when one itemized all the articles in 150 cases it is no easy job. Then the other men are taking down tents filling up the trenches around them packing up the articles in the stores etc. and so we all have our part to play in winding up the camp. And when it is under such good hands as Capt. Thomson the thing is sure to be done right without a doubt. You will also be glad to hear that he has been promoted from junior Captain to senior captain. I for one am glad to see him get this step up as I think that he thoroughly deserves it. He never neglected his work and can always do what is put to him and as officer that can handle everything that comes to him no matter what notice he gets is the one that makes the best.
Most of thr boys of our platoon have gone to France already in fact I will go farther andsay the best of them are in France to-day; best in physique and in favor with the other fellows. They will be, by now in the trenches. I received a card from Ed Decou some long time ago and he informed me then that he would be going up in a few days.
A week or so before the Battalion left for Sandling I was working in the Medial Officers Office. The orderly room staff was a trifle large in comparison with the work there was to be done towards the last so I was given a job. He wanted to keep me on with him and go to Sandling but the other order for me to stay here was given by higher officers so I was unable to accompany him. We got on well together and although I was only there a week or two I enjoyed the work very much.
Last Sunday and Monday Sergt. Thomas and myself went to Kenley and spent the day with his uncle and aunt there. On Monday morning we came back into London and spent the day there. We were in Westminster Abbey and were fortunate enough to hear the organ playing and I can tell you that the music was beautiful. The chapels were closed and we could not get in so we didn’t see very much. We also tried to see through the Parliament Buildings but were told at the entrance that they were only open to the public on Saturday afternoons.
I the afternoon we went to the theatre and heard a song which was written on the event of a group being called up in this country. It ran somewhat like the following:
We’ll all have a holiday in the summertime,
Left left I had a good home and I left,
That’s the way the song is going to be.
We wont kick at Mothers pastry any more,
When we start to eat the bully beef again.
Forming fours among the clay,
From the dawn to end of day,
Down on Salisbury Plains etc. etc
I could almost imagine I saw some of those conscripts at their work and the awful look of agony on their faces.
So they are going to give a commission to the one who can raise a platoon in Norwood again. Well the man who undertakes it will find it much harder than Capt. T had for there is not the croud to draw from. However there are enough left to fill a platoon. I know of several fellows who upon our departure, said that they would join the next Battalion that was raised in Peterboro. But they were the kind that had already backed down on their own word and are therefore capable of doing the same thing again. I have heard that Sergt Albert Wellman is one of the bidders for it. Well if he gets it I wish him every success but I hardly think he will make it.
I was sorry to hear that Dean was sick but hope ere now that he has fully recovered and I hope that he has not lost any strength and will still be able to handle the notorious Jean O’Correl as I have seen him do in days past. All the boys in the Battalion that you know are all well in fact D Co have had fewer men sick and fewer men in hospital than any other company in the Battalion, which, I think, can be easily accounted for. There is a whole lot in what the Co. commanders do and where you find that a Captain is always “poking” around the lines and looking after the interests of his men they are [?] and helped and feel better than they otherwise would. That I can say for Capt. Thomson that he never forgot his men.
Yes I was interested in your account of the boy scouts and here I want to ask a little favor to be carried out when I return. That sounds rather vague (when I return) but I feel that with all those people at home both relatives and others and your prayers offered up at each service for the ones over the water we will never be forgotten by The One who finds a little corner in your scout squad for me. Some little place of not much importance but from where I can watch their movements and help them along in their good work. The scouts in England are worth a lot of money to the British people. They are doing every kind of work that is possible for them to do thereby letting the eligible man take his place in the ranks. I wish you and them every possible success in your work. I suppose by the time you receive this letter you will probably be ready to go to Jack’s Lake for the annual deer hunting. I hope you find the game plentiful and meet no accidents.
Capt. Thomson is sitting here playing that little game of “Jacks” with Sergt. Thomas and from what I hear of them they are enjoying it too. One has to get away from the ordinary run of things when night comes and I think that he has got from it about as far as it is possible.
I think that I have told you all the news that there is here. The season is well on here and in fact some of the fields remind me of Ontario. Burnt down and faded green have taken the place of the rich colors that abounded whenwe arrived three months ago. In places the leaves have fallen and others have taken on that beautiful rich autumn tint that makes the Fall appear so grand to us. Retreat is now sounded at 5.00 P.M. and in an hours time it is dark.
I will close for now and ask that you follow us with your prayers and especially those brave chaps who are in the country to the east of us. No one can imagine what it means to them unless they themselves have been through it.
I will be pleased to hear from you at any time but would ask you, knowing that you write to some of those in France, to let my letter slide a day sooner than any of those chaps there.
Your sincere friend,