October 8th 1915
My darling wife
It is a funny thing, but everything seems to come to me at once, I have received 2 letters, three Vernon News, one popular & the parcel with the socks & handkerchiefs & soap, all in one mail, that shows you how uncertain the mail has been lately, when I got them, we were just leaving billets for the trenches again, that was the day I wrote you last, & I was’nt feeling very good, I had a bad cold & was troubled with pains, but I did’nt report sick as I thought I could work it off, but when we got little more than half way to the trenches I collapsed & had to be helped into a field hospital, I was so bad that the doctor there thought I had appendicitis & had me put into an ambulance & rushed down to hospital further back, however, they fixed me up all right, I had two days of it & on the third day I was so much better that they sent me back here to my company in the trenches, I have just seen our own doctor & he has given me some medicine to take & has told me to take it easy for a few days just imagine taking it easy in the trenches, he also told me to be very careful what I eat, as if there was so much variety that a man would make a hog of himself, the hospital I was at was crowded, indeed there was not room for us all & we had to sleep on stretchers, but I can give you my word for it that it was a whole lot more comfortable than this place, there was one very sad episode where I was there, a little boy of about 5 years of age was brought in with half of his left hand blown off by a piece of shrapnel, the screams of the little fellow were awful to hear while they were dressing the wound & I could not help thinking at the time how glad I was that my loved ones were so far away from danger, you might wonder how a little boy could be hurt by shell fire, well it just happened that they were firing at an aeroplane & it was one of the pieces of shell coming down that hit him, then you might say, what are civilians with children doing so near the danger zone, well in my opinion that is the one of the wonders of this war, you will see them working in the fields & going about their usual business as close as three & four miles from the firing line, I was in a town a few days ago, more than half the houses were in ruins, the others were all inhabited, sometimes two or three families to a house, well when I was there the Germans started in to shell the place & you should have seen the people scatter, I saw three houses hit, but as soon as the bombardment ceased, they all trooped back again to their houses as if nothing had happened, this is an every day occurance & nearly every day some one gets killed or injured, but you cant get the people to leave their homes, I suppose they get used to it. There is a terrific bombardment going on at present just a few miles away from here, our guns, (there must be hundreds of them) have been at it now for several days, the noise is something fearful, it is just one continual boom, boom, boom, & it gets on ones nerves to beat the band, I would like to know what is going on, but one cant find out anything about what is happening in this place, our company is in the reserve trenches, we wont go into the front line at all this trip, I have a dug out to myself here & it is very damp, but it is the best I can get, & lousy, well I should say it is, it makes me wish I had some more of that Sabadilla, it is the only thing that is any good, & say, talk about rats, well you ought to see them, this place has any other that I have been in beat forty different ways & they are so familiar that you would think they had known us all their lives, they seem to think that they have just as much right to our grub & our beds as we have ourselves, however, this is all in the days work so we have to put up with it. The weather is still cold but it has not rained now for several days, it is clouding up again now so I expect we will have lots of wet before we get out of here, I do wish we could have more dry weather, it is so beastly miserable when it is wet. I wonder how the people in Vernon get so much news about Andy Campbell, he is no more wounded than I am, in fact he has not been near the firing line for over two months now, he got a job on the transports & his work is keeping the horse lines clean, all the same stable boy, he is stationed at headquarters all the time & as they are 5 or 6 miles behind us, I fail to see how he could get hurt, he must be writing a lot of fiction to his friends to make them think he is doing something good, I saw him about two weeks ago & he was looking as fat as a fool, some of the other boys have had letters from Vernon telling about Andy getting wounded, & they are all kind of sore, because they think that he is writing a lot of lies home, it is funny that you never hear about any of the rest of us getting hurt, it is always Andy, the boys here are going to tell him about it the first time they see him & I dont think he will like what they have to say. I think the Photo of the children you have just sent me is just dandy, the other one was a bit blurred, but this one is all right only that the sun was a bit strong in Georges eyes, my but they are looking fine, it makes my heart sore though when I look at their picture & think how far away they are & I begin to wonder when I will see them again, oh my dear, let us hope that it will be soon, I am sure if I could only get the chance I would soon get there, I would not waste much time looking round me. You seem to have got a nice place dear so far as I can see by the photos, try & send me a picture of it & get in yourself the next time dear, of course I like getting pictures of the children, but I would just love to get one of you, too, you are the one I want most of anything in this world at the present time, I want your love & I want to love you, it is you I think about all the time, it is you I want, & sometimes I want you so bad that I think I will go crazy if I dont get to you soon, Oh if I could only wake up some night & find your arms around me as it used to be, would’nt I be happy, the time seems so long dear, since we were together that sometimes I wonder if it was all a dream & if it is ever going to happen again, but I know it will, love, I have a kind of feeling that it wont be long till we see each other again & then, - well - we will make up for lost time thats all, & you & I & the children will be the happiest bunch in the country, wont we, dear old sweetheart. I see they put my letter in the news, I wish they had’nt, I did’nt want Simms to publish it, it was just a letter of condolance & I am sure Mrs Rendall would not care for so much publicity. The socks & Handkerchiefs were splendid, dear, only the socks are a little light for this kind of work, but I was certainly glad of them & I am wearing a pair now, & I was sure glad to get the shaving soap, I had’nt had any for over a month, so you may guess how I enjoyed it when I shaved this morning & the candies were a treat, I am now looking forward to getting the cake, I am sure it will be all right, dear, anything that you have baked always tasted good to me & it is a long time now, dear, since I had anything that you made, you say you send me a parcel every week, well I am afraid I must have missed some or else they are lying at the base in which case I will likely get a whole lot at once, which is very likely, as I notice there is a whole lot more parcels coming in now that there was some time ago & some of them are quite old, so I am not going to despair yet I see you are sending me some sardines too, it is a long time since I had any, dear, & I will appreciate them very much. I am glad you had such a fine day for the review, it must have been a fine sight & I am sure you & the children enjoyed it, I wish I could have been there to see it. It is a great shame that the P. fund people should cut down your allowance & I think you are perfectly right to make a fight for it, you did the right thing by writing to the head office & if they are any good at all they should refund you all they have stopped, Remnant is not much good, he is just an old woman & I would not depend much on him, he is the kind of man who would think it too much trouble to try and help anyone out, I cant see why they should reduce your allowance when others are getting their full share right along & probably dont need it near so bad, I am not surprised that Mr Vallance got out of it, there must have been some crooked work going on, or else he would have stayed with it, I hope you will be successful, dear, & get all that is coming to you & dont be afraid to fight them for it, you are entitled to the money & if they keep it from you it will be just the same as stealing, never be afraid to fight for the right. They must know they are in the wrong & if you keep at them they will just have to give in. You say that Boyd & Mrs Mann are going to send me a parcel, well, perhaps they will, then again perhaps they wont, I guess they will be like Harlow, talk about it for a while & then forget, by the way, when you take your parcel to the Hdw to be tied up, tell them to use strong string, you know they get very rough handling coming out here & if the string gets broke it is all up with the parcel, that is the way most of them get lost. I am sure you must be lonely now that all your boarders have gone, but I quite agree with you when you say you dont want any boarders with children, if you had a lot of strange children running about the place you would never have a minute to yourself or any peace. You are better without them.
Dont be alarmed, dear, if my letters are a day or two late, I always write to you when I get a chance, but sometimes I cant write, perhaps the noise is so bad for one thing or else I am on duty for a long stretch & have to get what sleep I can, of course I could send postcards, but I hate them, because one cant say anything in them, but I will certainly write to you every chance I get & as I said before dont be uneasy about me dear, I am all right, & as long as I know that you are all all right & I know that I have your love & your prayers I will be happy, that is, as happy as anyone can expect to be when he is so far away from all he holds dear on earth. You are the only one I love dear, you are the only one I have to think about, you are my life my soul, my only love, God bless you & keep you for me, my darling wife, for I want you so bad, I dont think anyone in the whole world could love you as much as I do, my whole being seems tied up in you. Give my little darlings a great big love from their Daddy dear, & lots of kisses & with all my love & lots of kisses to you, my own darling I remain your loving Husband