You speak of changing Eileens name to Aileen, you can please yourself, dear, but I think I would rather have the old way, it is the way I always think of her, & the new way seems strange after being used to the other.
My dearest wife -
I just got back last Friday from Aldershot where I have been for the last fortnight, I & Sergt Kempston were sent there as representatives of the Battalion to take a course of bayonet fighting exercises & our work from now on for a while will be instructing the different companies of the battalion, we were both highly honoured by being picked to go, as there were nearly 100 applicants for the posts, the only thing we did not like was being sent there without any money, it was pretty miserable as we could not spend anything or go anywhere, of course all our living expenses were paid, but we had to bum tobacco nearly all the time, however, we will get paid to-morrow & I will have back pay coming to me, I cant say that I like Aldershot very much, of course it is a very military town & you dont see very much but soldiers, I saw the King & Queen & Princess Mary there, they reviewed some troops that were to leave shortly for the front it was a beautiful day & they got a great reception, the King & Queen of course look much older then when I saw them last which must be over 20 years ago, Princess Mary is a very nice looking young woman, buxom, & favours her mother quite a bit.
The most interesting sights to me, though, were the Aeroplanes, the windows of the room that I was in looked out on the plain where they rise & alight, they were coming & going all the time, they are all shapes & sizes & they make a a most terrific din when they are flying, it is one of the prettiest sights in the world to see them light, just like a bird, they come down so easy, there was one that came over from France & its wings or planes as they call them was just riddled with holes from bullets & the driver was never touched, he came down laughing & seemed to think that it was a great joke, but I could’nt see where the fun came in, one of the Airmen offered to take me up for a short trip, but I very politely declined, old mother earth is good enough for me, I would very much rather look at the sky from the ground than look at the ground from the sky, now that I have seen them at close quarters.
When I got back here I found two letters from you & three papers, dear Heart, you have no idea how glad I was to hear from you & to hear that you were all well & had arrived home safely in Vernon, I told Howden that you had left his Violin with Mrs Ryan & he was very pleased, I think he must have thought that you would forget it. I am sorry I did not see Annie Shaddick that day we left, I never said Good bye to her & I am glad that you went up to Magees I knew you would like them, Johnnie is a bit foolish at times but he has a good heart, Sarah is the best of them all, she is a very sensible girl, in fact if it was not for her Johnnie would have gone to the dogs long ago, you need not be afraid that I care anything for Sarah now, dear, except as a good friend, as long as I have you & the children, nobody else will ever have a place in my thoughts. I have not had time yet to write to anyone, but I will have to make an effort to write them, also Hawthorne & Harlow, if you see them, you can tell them that I have not forgotten them by any means.
I see by the Vernon News that they are going to cut down the Patriotic fund, I think that is a great shame & if you can get it transferred to Victoria, I should certainly advise you to go there as I dont think that the fund will be cut down there, so far as I understand it, the fund is collected all over Canada & is evenly distributed, that is, a small place like Vernon, that is not getting in enough money to keep up full payments, can draw from the general fund & so keep up the full benefit. You ought to get the $1750 that I assigned to you before we left Canada, this month, along with the 2000 Govt money; they only allow us 4 shilling on the dollar here & they keep the extra 2d till after the war is over, when we will get it in a lump sum, there is other money that we will get in a lump after the war, there is 50₵ a day from the Canadian Govt & 1/= a day from the British, besides what they call Blood money which may amount to $100 or more, so you see we will have something to start with when I get back.
They are working the boys pretty hard here, it is drill & drill, from morning till night, & long route marches in all kinds of weather, it does’nt matter whether it rains or not we have to go out & the wind is always blowing, you should see my face, it is a brick red, & everyone else is the same, we expect to be leaving here in a few days to a village about six miles from here, where we will live in tents, we will be sorry in a way, to leave this place as we are just beginning to get used to the barracks, but it appears that all the hospitals are full & they are going to convert this place into a hospital, there are 50 doctors & 300 nurses expected here before the end of the month, so of course, you see we have to get out, I forget the name of the place we are going to, but just address your letters in the usual way & I will get them all right. There is about 50 men from our company down with measles, they are all isolated & will be kept so till they are all better; I am glad I did not catch them, I never was in better health, I feel as fit as a fiddle & the more training I get the better I feel. There is no word yet of going to the front, of course we may go any time now, but we cant find out anything for certain, there is quite a lot of rumours that we are going to the Dardanelles, but it does not matter where we go, it is all the same to me; the only thing is that I wish it all over & that I was back home again in Canada.
I am afraid my chances of getting leave are very slim, I have applied for leave to go to Glasgow, but there are over 300 names in, in front of mine, so I guess I will have to wait till I get back from the front, as only 10 men are allowed off at one time & then only for 6 days; I had thought that we would have got longer leave, as I wanted to go over to Ireland as well, but they wont grant it, & I could not go to Ireland & Glasgow too & be back here in six days. I think, dear, this is all I have to say just now, I am anxiously waiting to hear from you again, to hear if you received my last letter & if you are all well, I am very glad indeed that you are sending the papers, I see quite a few names that I know in the list of men who left Vernon, I never thought that Stevenson would make a good soldier, he is too stringy, & has got too much to say, which is a bad thing in the army, he is a man who would never take discipline.
I must close now, love, as I think I have told you everything I have to say, kiss George & Eileen for me, dear, & help them to remember their daddy, who is always thinking of them & you & is longing for the day when he will see you all again, if I have not written to you very much of late, forgive me, dear, it was not because I did not want to, but for want of time, but from now on, dear, you may expect a letter from me every week, I am in good health & hope you are all well too, so, dear heart, I still remain.
Your loving Husband:
Kisses for my darling wife and George and Eileen
Remember me to all my friends