My own dear wife,
I have just received the photo & paper & words that I can say cannot express what I think of it, every opportunity I get I am taking it out to look at it, I think it is just splendid the children & you just look like your own dear selves as I saw you last, George looks such a manly little fellow & Eileen is so pretty, I think they must have known that they were being taken for daddy, every time I look at the photo, a lump comes into my throat & tears will come in spite of myself, when I think of how far away we are from each other & how long a time it will be before we see each other again, let us pray God that the time will not be long. I have had a very hard week of it, besides having to give instruction in bayonet fighting, I have had to go out with the company & every day except yesterday we marched 18 miles in heavy marching order, that is we marched over 90 miles all week & not satisfied with that they took us for a 7 mile march this morning, instead of taking us to church, when you remember that we do two hours Bayonet practise & physical drill besides, all this marching, you may guess that we are all feeling pretty tired, to make matters worse, measles has broke out in camp & we are all quarantined, that means that none of us can leave barracks to go down town for at least 14 days from now, of course that does not prevent those of us who are well from going on these marches & drilling, at any rate it does not affect me very much as I do not go down town much anyway, except to get a hot bath or a hair cut.
I suppose you have heard of the German air raids on this country, we had them very close to us this week, in fact they were only 20 miles away, they did not do much damage, just wrecked a few cottages & killed a hen, nobody was hurt, which was very fortunate, we are expecting them over here every night & are keeping a very strict watch of the sky at all times, at night here, all the outside lights are never lit & when we light up inside barracks we have to cover all the windows with blankets, so that no lights may be seen outside, if any room shows a light after dark, everyone in the room is punished, we also have aero machine guns mounted round the place & they are kept ready all the time in case of attack. Strange to say, just as I am writing this, a British airship is right overhead & very low, I can see the men in her she is so close, she must have just come over from France as she is flying the Union Jack and the Navy Flag, we saw her this morning a long way out at sea, but did not know then whether she was German or British, but once she got close enough to see her shape we knew at once, The Germans are shaped like this & the British like this so you see there is quite a difference.
We see some very pretty country round here on our marches, one day this week we stopped at the Queens Canadian Hospital, it is situated in a beautiful park, it is a large residence lent to the Queen by some lord, I forget his name, for the use of wounded Canadian soldiers, I had quite a talk with some of them, they told me their experiences in the trenches & according to their story the trenches are not so very bad, they say they would rather be there than be drilling like we do, they say they have it much easier over there, of course, some of them are very badly wounded & probably wont go back, but the percentage of wounded & killed is very small compared to the number of men engaged, most of the wounds are caused by shrapnel & shell fire bursting over the trenches, I was told that sometimes there would not be a rifle fired in the trenches for two days at a time, the artillery fire would be so bad that they durs’nt show their heads, they stay in the trenches three days & then have a weeks rest at the base & every ten days they get a new outfit of clothes, of course they are not a fit, but they are clean & that is the principal thing as they have to fight disease & dirt more than anything else out there. Another day we stopped at an old ruined castle, it was in a splendid state of preservation, I did not get a chance to get inside, but I would have liked to very much, if we stay here much longer I am going to take a walk out there some Sunday & have a good look round. As you will see by the heading of my letter, we have not gone to Lyminge yet, but expect to go there this week, we marched through there the other day & it is really a very pretty place, & I think I will like it there very much, it is just an old fashioned country village, there is an old church there which is said to be the second oldest in England, most of the cottages are from 3 to 400 years old & taking it altogether it will be a most interesting place to stop in, there is still no word of getting to the front & I am afraid we wont get there for some time yet, but of course, one cant tell, we might get orders any time, there is one thing, when they want us they will send us in a hurry & when they do, they will find this battalion all ready, we have the name of being the best drilled & the best all round soldiers in this district & there are over 40’000 troops in training round here, most of them belonging to Kitcheners army, we also hold the record of having the least crime of any regiment in the South of England, our colonel had a letter from Kitchener congratulating him on this fact, you can tell anyone that the 30th Battalion is going to do credit to BC & nearly half of them come from the Okanagan, you may think that I am blowing a lot, but I am not, it is a well known fact according to the papers here, that we are the best all round regt. that has left Canada yet. Well, dear, I guess I have told you nearly everything, there is not an awful lot of news to tell, but as long as you know that I am all right and in good health you will feel better satisfied. I am feeling splendid just now & my face & arms are burned brick red with the sun & wind & I dont know when I felt so strong. I see by the papers that Bob Harwood & J. Mann & A. Edwards have gone to Victoria also a lot of other boys I knew in Vernon, well, I wish them all kinds of good luck & hope that they will get over here soon, it seems to me that they run a better chance of getting away than the old B.C. Horse, who, I believe are still stuck in Victoria. Give my love & Kisses to George & Eileen, dear, & with all my best love & affection for you, my dear wife,
Your loving husband
I will write again in a few days. am expecting one from you soon.