11th Dec. 1915
My own darling Wife -
As you will see by date above, this is my birthday & I consider it a very lucky one, as I have just received a letter & my Xmas parcel, How good of you it was, dear one, to send me such a nice parcel, I am enjoying it very much but at the same time I cant help thinking how much more enjoyable it would be if I were only at home & we could enjoy all these good things together, it would be so nice. The Pudding & cake & shortbread were lovely & they arrived perfectly sound, so did the brandy, & the mitts were the very thing I wanted, I am glad you sent the kind without fingers, as any other kind are not much good in the trenches for handling a rifle, I was also glad to get the Sabadilla, as I cant get too much of that, I drank the brandy & I felt it do me good, at any rate it warmed me up, you see it has been raining steady for the last three days & I am soaked to the skin & my feet are wet & there is no chance to get any dry things now for four or five days as I am in the trenches again, so you may guess how miserable it is, but it sure put new life into me when I saw your parcel, it was better than a dose of medicine for me. You cannot imagine what an awful state the country is in at the present time, I think for the last two months it has rained nearly every day & the mud is awful, in places it is over the knees & it gets right into the skin through our clothes & very often it is in our food, wagons & motors are up over their axles in it & even a light rig has to have at least six horses to pull it along, as for the trenches, words would not express how bad they are, they are full of water & we have to wear hip boots, even then the water gets in at the top & most of the time they are full of water, & the dug outs, those that are not washed away are full of water, but we have to stay in them all the same as they are the only shelter we have from shell fire, & we are being pretty heavily shelled these days, taking it all through we are having a pretty miserable time of it out here & we will all be glad when the winter is over & the sun shines out again, at night it is so black that one cannot see his hand in front of him & it would be awfully easy for anyone to get lost that did’nt know his way about. The Rats still keep us company in fact they are worse than ever, now that it is so cold & wet they cant get food & they are starving which makes them absolutely ferocious, it is a most fearsome thing to see them prowling & swimming about, I would rather face the germans any time, they at any rate are human even if they are devils. How ever, dear, I guess you must be tired of hearing me complain so much, but I really cant help it, if there was a bright side to it at all one would never complain, but there is’nt, it is the awful monotony of the thing which makes it so hard to bear.
The last time I was out in billets I went over to the C.M.Rs transports & saw Jimmie Rankin & he was asking about you, he was looking remarkably well, he has a pretty good job & stays with the stores all the time, & he never has to go near the trenches at all, the rest of the regiment we up in the trenches so I did not see any of the boys I know, except Percy Routh, he is a Lieutenant, I dont know whether you know him or not, but he invited me into his shack & gave me a good shot of rum & we had quite a long talk about Vernon & people we know there, Rankin is going to give me his wifes address in Glasgow & wants me to go & see her when I go on leave, he is talking about getting leave himself & he was saying how nice it would be if we could go together, but I think I would rather go by myself, at any rate it doesn’t matter whether he goes with me or not as I intend having a very quiet time anyway, I dont know when I will get my pass now, I thought I would have been able to get it before this & I am afraid I wont get it now till after the New Year, however, as long as I do get it, that is the main thing, but I feel that I would like to get it soon, I need a change badly.
I got a bunch of post cards before we came into the trenches from a chap who had been at the base & I am sending one to different people in Vernon, I guess they will be surprised to hear from me, I sent one to Vallance, Hawthore, Boyd & Foster & Crowell & Sandy McAuley & Mrs. Dodds, so dont be surprised if they tell you about it, there is also one for George & Eileen & I am enclosing one for you too, dear, the wording on it is, “Remember Me,” I know I dont have to ask you to remember me, dear sweetheart, but I thought it kind of appropriate, for I know that you are thinking of me all the time as I am of you, we are always in each others thoughts, ar’nt we dear. I am so sorry to hear about your hair turning white, but never mind dear, I will love you just as much no matter what the colour of your hair is, I know it is not old age, & at any rate you will never be old to me, you will always be my sweetheart, so dont worry, dear, for I am afraid that is what is turning your hair, that & those nasty pains, cant you get anything for them, dear, surely the doctor could give you something to ease your head a bit, Oh how I wish I was with you to nurse it for you, I think I could help to make it better, if I was only there I would cuddle you up in my arms & I think you would be nice & comfy & would go to sleep & forget all the pain for a while.
I am sorry about poor Georges nose, I hope he is all right again, if he would only keep from picking it it would soon get better, but he is only a child & does not know any better, it was very nice of Norman Bell to give you the dog & it is a pity you lost it so soon, it would have been nice for the children to play with as Santa is too rough for them. I see by your letter that Mrs Yeoman is still with you & that she wants you to go to the coast with her, why not go, dear, if you want to, I am sure the change would do you good & as long as you were with someone you know, it would be different from staying at an Hotel or lodgings, I really think you should go, dear, as I am afraid it will be very lonely for you in Vernon.
You say Dear Heart that I must think your letters very stale, I dont know why you think so, because they are what I am always looking for & I feel absolutely miserable when I dont get one, I would rather get one letter from you than a dozen parcels, because when I am reading it, it is just as if you were talking to me, so dont think dear that your letters are stale to me, because the’re not, Now, Dear love, I am going to close as I want this to go out on this mail, dont worry about me, I am all right & I am still in good health, although I am late in wishing it, I must wish you many happy returns of your birthday, dear, & I hope that you & I may be spared to enjoy lots more of them, Forgive the scrawl dear, as this has been a very hurried letter, as I dont know the minute I may be called out & then I would’nt get a chance to get it away for some days perhaps. Kiss the children for me dear & hoping that by the time this reaches you, you will be all right again, I remain the same as ever to you, my dear darling wife.
Your loving Husband
P.S. dont send me any more tobacco, dear, as I am getting too much now, but you might send me some cigarettes instead, I am getting out of the way now of making my own smokes as my hands are always wet, at any rate I would rather have the cigs as we dont get near enough of them & we get lots of tobacco now. J.