July 9th 1915
My own dear wife -
I have received your last two letters all right & am glad to hear that you are all well, I am very sorry indeed to hear that you had to go to the doctor, it must have been very painful, dear, but I am glad that you are getting all right again & hope that by the time this reaches you, you will be as well as ever, it is a pity you did not get it done when the children were born, it might have been easier for you then, you must take great care of yourself dear, & dont over exert yourself, for you can never tell what harm you may do, I am surprised to hear that you get the doctor free, I did not know that you would have that benefit, it is a good thing & if anything should go wrong with the children, should help considerably, as doctor Bills are no joke. Was Dr Mortis nice to you & was he asking after me? It is rather funny about Mrs. Edwards, it is a wonder she would make such a mistake after all her experience, I think she is a bit of a fool & ought to have her bottom smacked. I dont like the idea of you being tied up at her place so long, with all her tribe of children, I think it is time you were out of there, you have enough to do to look after yourself without being distracted by her noisy bunch. I suppose now that Arthur is in Vernon, he can run in & out pretty often & I would think that he could do pretty near everything for her, or he could get a nurse, which should not cost so very much, now that times are so bad. You do not say so much now about going to Victoria to live, have you changed your mind about it? do you know, in one way I would be sorry to leave Vernon, if I could only get a steady job I think I would as soon live there as anywhere else, besides, you know dear, we were married there & the children were born there & somehow I like to think of these things, of course there may not be much in it, but when a man is away from home, he likes to think of the place where his greatest happiness lies, & you know, sweetheart, that all my happiness is centered in you & where you are my love is. I suppose Vernon is pretty lively just now with all those soldiers, I hope they are behaving themselves, I think the Vernon people are making a great mistake to make all that row about their girls, soldiers are only men like other men, no better & no worse, & in a big bunch of men like that, there is certain to a certain element of immorality, but then clean minded men are always in the majority & keep the others in check, look at Victoria, there was very little vice there & there was no harm done to any respectable girls & in England, they raised quite a storm about their war mothers & war babies, all blamed on the soldiers, & what are the facts, according to the papers, the whole thing was a mass of lies, it has been proved the children born out of wedlock is no greater now than it was in peace time, you will find that the average soldier will go to the places provided for the purpose before he will go near a decent girl, I think it is up to the people of Vernon to give the soldiers there a good time & charge them reasonably in the stores, for perhaps those same poor fellows will be out here fighting for their lives & God knows there is no such thing as having a good time here, it is all hard work & no play & very little sleep, It is nothing unusual here to go for 8 or 10 days without taking our boots off & when we are in the trenches a wash is unthought of as it is too dangerous to go out for water, I am writing this in the trenches, in fact I am in the front or firing line, the Germans are only 350 yards from us & we can see their heads pop up out of their trench every now & again, even as I am writing this there is a British Aeroplane over our heads & the Germans are firing shrapnel at her, but she is getting away all right, she is too fast for them, artillery & gun fire are going all the time, but I am pretty well used to it now & the noise does not bother me so much as it did, the night before last, we had a very heavy attack made on our right & the Germans were driven back with very heavy losses, we had to stand to our rifles all night & it started to rain, it was pitch dark, only that now & again a flare would go up & light the whole place for a few seconds & then the darkness would close down denser than ever, what with the heavy fire & the rain & the darkness, it was the worst night yet, fortunately I had a good dug out & was able to get a good sleep the next day, last night I had charge of the listening post in front of our trench, this is a narrow ditch about two feet deep, dug out towards the enemies lines & I had to take sentries out there & bring in reliefs every two hours & several times I had to take messages out, it is a ticklish job, but there was no danger, as it was so dark that no one could see us, the object of this post is to try to hear what the enemy are doing & keep them from surprising us, we have had no gas this time as the wind has been in our favour & they can only use it when the wind is blowing straight from them to us, We are leaving this trench to night & going into the reserves for 4 days, which will make 8 days in the trenches this time, I would just as soon stay where I am than go in the reserves as we do not get shelled as much as they do, however, we have to do it & make the best of it, all work is done at night & during the day we get all the sleep we can, which you may guess is very little.
You might send me an odd bag of old chum or a packet of cigarettes, now & again, dear, if you can, as these things are awful hard to get here, & sometimes I have to go for days without a smoke & when one is in these blamed trenches without anything to smoke or read the time passes very slowly, of course, dear, dont run yourself or the children short, whatever you do. I think, my love, I have told you nearly everything I can this time, but I will write again when we go out, which will be sometime next week, I hope the children got their postcards all right, I will send them some more as soon as I get near a town. Trusting that this will find you all well, as I am, I remain, dear sweetheart,
Your loving Husband
Give my little darlings a great big love from their daddy, dear, & same to yourself with loes of kisses,
remember me to all my friends, dear, & tell Harlow to expect a letter from me as I will write to him to-morrow if I get a chance. J