1st Canadian Trench Mortars
1st Canadian Division
My own darling Wife -
I have just received two letters from you, one of the 8th & the other the 14th March, I see you got my letter from London all right telling all about my visit, I am sorry that you should think that I was ashamed to meet your people, I was’nt, I am only too glad to know anyone belonging to you, it is not their fault altogether that they are in such poor circumstances, I think it was bad luck more than anything else, the biggest fault that I had to find with them was, that they did not try to better themselves, at any rate, dear, I did not marry them, it was you I married, & nothing that they could say or do or look like, would make any difference in my affections for you, I love you too dearly for that & nothing in this world could change that love. I really was sorry for them though, the conditions under which they live are awful, they have no comforts & they are so cooped up in those dreadful tenement houses, God knows how many people live in them, the sanitary arrangements are rotten & they dont know what it is to breathe the pure air that we are used to in Canada; as you know, I stayed with Etta & you may guess what it was like when I tell you that she has only two rooms, that is, a kitchen & bedroom, she had the bedroom fixed up for me, while she & the four children & the young woman who is stopping with her, slept in a bed let into the wall in the Kitchen, the very first morning at breakfast time I saw how things were & I told her that I was going to stop at a hotel as I did not want to put her to so much inconvenience, but she would not hear of it & I did not want to make a fuss, so I stayed, I soon found out that she had no money for I heard her borrowing some from the lodger to get something in for tea & that is how I came to give her some money, in the meantime she had sent for Kate & Georgina & some other people, I forget who they were, at any rate Kate came in the afternoon, she is a very stout woman & does not look very healthy, & then about 10 O.C. at night, Georgina came in, and I could see at once that she had been drinking for she started right away to quarrel with Kate & Etta & told them that they would never have sent for her if I had’nt been there & that she might be dead for all they cared, then she came and sat beside me & hung on to my hands for about an hour, they had a Gramaphone & started dancing, well, you know I dont dance & I did’nt care for it, while all this was going on, Kate was sitting nursing the baby & they had some oranges, they were sour & she kept on letting the baby suck at these, besides feeding it at the breast, I asked her if she was not afraid that it would be sick, but they only laughed at me, at any rate the child did get sick & took convulsions & they had quite a time with it, that broke up the party for that night, I firmly believe that that was the reason for the babys illness & if it dies it is all their faults, Etta started it by giving it a piece first & they all laughed at the faces it made, I must say that I did’nt see anything to laugh at, every other night was practically a repetition, but during the day I used to go out by myself & had a fairly good time, dont think from all this that I did not enjoy myself, dear, for I did to a certain extent, the only thing was, I was very sorry to find things as they were & if it had been possible to leave things better than I found them I would have done so, at any rate, I think I left them a little happier than they were before I went, so perhaps I did do a little good after all; dont be ashamed of your relatives dear one, they are all right, but all the same they are not like you, I would rather have your little finger than the whole lot of them; you are my own darling, you ask me if I remember how you used to ask me to give you a good hug, ah don’t I just, how I wish I had a chance to do it now, & how you used to snuggle your head against mine when you were getting into bed & then you would climb in & we would be so nice & snug together, & keep each other warm, how I wish those days were back again sweetheart, you say you wont let me out of your sight when I get home, I wont want to, dear, I will want to be wish you all the time, we will both be happy in each others company & we wont bother about anyone else; there will be just you & me & the children & we will all try & live for each other & make us all happy.
You say the soldiers are coming back to Vernon, well, I guess it will be a good thing for the town as I suppose it is pretty dead just now, if the 11th C.M.R.s Comeback there it will be all right for A. Edwards, they ought surely to be well trained by this time, so Bob Stevenson has got his three stripes, wonders will never cease, I suppose he is very proud of them, but he need not be, there is not much honour earning promotion in a bomb proof job like his, I would rather earn it on the battlefield, there is more satisfaction, I’ll bet if he was out here, he would only be a rear rank private. I hope McEwan does write to me, tell him if he does I will be glad to answer him & tell him all I can, I notice he did not put any smokes in the parcel as he said he would, I thought Mr Vallance would have kept his word & put some thing in & I think it was very mean of him to charge you full price for the things. I dont see why Remnant should stop any money off you because I have been promoted, it might take months before the promotion got on the books at Ottawa & at any rate he should not stop any of your money until the Govt give you the increase that is due to you, you might not get that increase for a long time yet, as it takes a long time for some officials to get things settled, I dont mind them reducing your fund allowance if you were getting the extra money from the Govt, but until you get that money they ought to continue as they are; for all I know my promotion might not make any difference to your allowance till after the war, but I do know that it will make a big difference to my pension & it is quite possible that all your arrears of allowance will be paid in a lump sum after the war, but of course I dont know, but I would certainly tell Remnant that you are not getting anything extra just now, & that you are still entitled to your money until such time as the Govt gives you the extra, I would like to get my hands on that man & tell him what I think of him. It is too bad about George hurting his wee mouth the way he did, he must have had an awful smash & hurt himself pretty bad, poor little fellow, he is such a manly little chap, I am sorry that you are blaming yourself for that eye of his, you must not do that dear one, you could’nt help what happened & I am sure we will be able to have it fixed when he gets a bit older, as for George ever blaming you for it, I dont think it possible, he cant do it, at any rate you can make your mind easy about him ever growing up like the Kaiser, perish the thought, he is too good hearted a little chap now to ever grow up like that, I guess you will have to keep a sharp look out for him when the jitneys start running again, he is quite liable to see how close they can come without touching him.
I havent any news for you dear one, except that we are now in another part of the line & it is not nearly so nice as where we were, the booming of the guns is awful, day & night with never a stop, it is just like one continual boom, of course they dont come near us but we can hear them plain, I pity the poor fellows in the front line, they are having a rough time of it just now. You say in your letter that I must think you are a very silly little woman, dear, well I dont, I just think you are the dearest & sweetest & most lovable little woman in the whole world & I just wish I had you near me now so that I could tell you so, I am very lonely here, most of the time I am by myself & have no one to talk to, so naturally I think an awful lot, & mostly my thoughts are of you dear, it has just gone 10 O.C. & I will have to turn in soon as I have to be up very early to-morrow morning, how I wish I could see you again love, just to look into your dear eyes & read your love for me in them & to hold you in my arms & feel your dear warm body pressed against mine, oh dear one, if you could only know how much I love you, I cant put it into words. Give my little darlings George & Eileen a great big love from their old dad, I will send them some cards in a few days, Good night, dear heart, & God bless you & keep you safe till I come home again is the earnest prayer of Your loving husband.
S.M. J McNeill