Nov 21st 1915
My darling Wife.
I have just received one of your parcels, also a letter & paper & the Popular, so you see my mail comes in bunches. the parcel contained Razor blades & soap, tobacco & candies, the one with the lobster & sardines that you sent before this one has not arrived yet & I am afraid that it is lost, however I am thankful for small mercies, the boys tell me that I am lucky to get any at all, I was sure glad to get this one as I was just wishing for some candies, I see by your letter than you have sent me another one with Lobster & Sardines & Sabadilla in it, I hope I will get it all right & get it soon as I need the Sabadilla pretty bad, the tin I got in the Kamloops parcel was either stolen or I lost it & I didn’t get a chance to use it. The weather has been pretty good for the last few days, but awfully cold, there is a sharp frost every night & a fellow has to keep moving around to keep warm, I wish we had our underwear which has been promised to us, we could do with it all right, but I suppose we will get it when we go out of the trenches this time.
I have not got my pass yet & I dont expect it now for two or three weeks yet, by that time I will probably have got the addresses from you that I asked for, my how I am looking forward to that pass so that I will have a few nights rest in a decent bed, you ought to see these dug outs of ours, Price Ellison pig stys are palaces compared to them, we have to crawl into them on our hands & knees & every time we go in we take a lot of mud in with us on our boots & clothes & of course it gets on to our blanket & keeps it in a pretty mess, & the floors are wet, we cover them with sand bags, but the damp works through & they are lousy, oh so lousy, I think I would rather see a million bed bugs as one louse, they get all over one, & rats, I never saw or heard tell of so many rats in my life before, I believe there is a plague of them coming on in the trenches, some of them are as big as young cats & they are perfectly fearless, one cant get a sleep at night at all for them running all over one, I have an awful dread of being bit by the beasts they look so filthy & at night when I am on my rounds through the trench visiting the sentries, they will be running in scores in front of me & now & again one of them will turn & snarl at me just like a dog, a very funny thing happened the other night, I noticed that one of the sentries was firing off his rifle quite a lot, so I went to enquire what he was firing at, as it was very dark & I did not think that he could see the enemy, when I got up to him I asked him what was the matter & he told me nothing, he was only shooting rats & heres the way he was doing it, he had a chunk of cheese with him & put a bit on the point of his bayonet, by & by Mr Rat comes up & starts nibbling at it, all the sentry had to do was to press the trigger & then put in a fresh cartridge, Mr Rat had gone to the happy hunting grounds, it sure looked comical to see those rats coming to their doom & then they say there is no humour in the trenches, but taking this life in the trenches all through there is very little else that is amusing, it is mostly tragedy & tragedy of the darkest kind at that & when we go out to billets for a few days rest & look around us & find that we are not so many as went in, perhaps a comrade killed or wounded or others gone to hospital sick with trench fever, we begin to think that Hell cant be much worse than this inferno, but in a few days we go into it again as cheerful as ever, all discomforts forgotten till we are into it & then we start grousing again, & talking about discomforts, people at home dont realise what they are, here I am for over six months & have never slept in a bed, it has been the hard ground all the time, sometimes wet & sometimes dry, it is all the same, it is a great good fortune if once in a while we can get into a barn where there is a little straw, it does not matter if it is dirty, it is a positive luxury to us. I believe we are going to get a couple of weeks rest in billets very soon, away back from the firing line, well it is something to look forward to, as we will surely get a chance to get cleaned up for a while. Well, what is the use of complaining, it all has to be put up with & other poor fellows are going through it just the same as us, besides it is all in the days work, you say in your letter that you would like to share my hardships, my darling, it would kill you & I would not wish my worst enemy to share them, let alone you. If you see Mrs Taylor you might tell her that I appreciate her kindness very much for thinking of me, I am sorry to say that I have not received the parcel from her sister yet & I am afraid that I wont get it now, as it must have been a long time since it was sent to me, nevertheless I appreciate their kindness. I am sure you & the children will miss the Yeomans now that they are gone, I am afraid you will be very lonely, dear, after having such a houseful all summer, but I am afraid from the way you write that your experiment of keeping boarders, has not been very profitable for you, I hope you have not lost money by it, I am afraid you are too kind hearted for a boarding house keeper it takes one with a hard heart & a tight purse to run one with profit.
So Mrs Randall only gets 28 dollars from the government, well, I surely thought she would have got more, but surely the Patriotic fund will look after her, I think that is one of the principal things it was raised for, I am glad to hear that you got your fund money in full last month & I hope you will continue to get it, I cant see why they did not let you have it right along, others got it & so should you. I am glad you are going to send me another photo of the children, but dear, you must get in it yourself too, I want to see you again so badly & the only way I can do it at present is by looking at your photo, so please dear send me your photo too, I do hope the children are all right again, have you seen a Dr about them yet? You know dear, I am very uneasy about them as I should hate if anything was to happen & me not at home to help you, I am waiting very anxiously for your next letter so as to hear how they are, I am awfully sorry that I have not got something nice to send them for Xmas, but it cant be helped, dear, but I will sure send you all some thing from Glasgow when I go over there & I am sure you & they will not mind very much if you do not get it right at Xmas, after all, it is not the season of the year that makes a gift acceptable, it is the love that accompanies it.
I am sorry that you have not got a better photo of me for the enlargement, it is too bad I did’nt get some more taken when I was in England, if I have any money to spare when I go to Glasgow I will get taken again, I guess I will get taken anyway & I hope you will like them better than the ones you have.
dont be uneasy if you get an official looking envelope from the pay office in London, it will only contain the scrap certificates for the 50 dollars war loan stock I bought some time ago, I have written & told them to send it to you, you can get them cashed if you want to, any time, any of the banks will do it for you, or you can hang on to them, just as you please, they are yours to do as you like with. Well, dear heart, I suppose by the time this reaches you it will be pretty near Xmas & it is hard that I should have to send you greetings instead of saying them, God knows, darling, that I wish you a happy Xmas I dont know that I can say more, although perhaps you wont be very happy because I am not at home, still, try to be as happy as you can for the Childrens sake, let them enjoy themselves good & plenty while they have the chance in their own way & you & I will be happy too, dear, in our own way, in the knowledge that we have each others love, if it was not that I had your love, dear, I dont know what I would do, life would not be worth living, so although we are so far apart, let our spirits get together on this Xmas day & be Happy & Merry together, for we love each other & nothing else matters.
God bless you, my darling, this Xmas time & grant that this will be the last one we will spend apart, does it not seem cruel to hear about Peace on Earth & Good will to all men, with all this bloody carnage going on around us it does not seem right at all.
Well dear heart, I have come to the end again, kiss my little darlings for me & give them a great big love & lots of kisses & tell them that daddy wishes them both a very merry Xmas & hopes that they will have a jolly good time & get lots of presents & that daddy is going to send them something nice very soon, & so, darling, I come to a close, with all my love & all my soul to you, my own darling wife I remain every your own loving Husband Jack
a great big one for George & Eileen & darling Mamma.