Search The Archive

Search form

Collection Search
Date: October 27th 1943
James (Jim)

Oct 27. Wednesday 1943

H 195561 Pte. J. A. Watson

A Wing. # 2C1.R.U.

Canadian Army Overseas


Hello Helen.


Well I got your letter tonite and was just wondering when I’d get word from home again I’ve had three letters from home now. One from Dad and two from you. Letters are pretty scarce and all the fellas are just waiting to get word from their folks. I’m always over at the orderly room asking the corporal if there is any mail and he says no and I go out the door cursing a blue streak. But it’s a different tune when I get a letter. I was getting ready to wash up to go on duty with the guard when one of the boys came in and said there was a parcel waiting at the post office for me. Well sir, I dropped everything and lit out for the post office and whaddya know my cigarettes were there. Boy I was the happiest guy this side of heaven. They came just at the right time too. I had run out of money and was wondering where the next cigarette was coming from. The money over here doesn’t last a fella very long. I draw 3 pounds every pay day and inside of a week I broke so flat that I couldn’t pay the first installment on a free meal. A pound over here goes quicker than a dollar ever did back home, and a pound is worth $4.47.


Well you said in your last letter that it must be mighty nice over here but I’d rather be back home anytime. The towns[?] are very close together and the streets are as wide as the widest back lane at home and the side-walks are about as wide as the side-walk in front of the house. The houses are so close together that you can lean out the window and shake hands with your neighbor. The women here aren’t bad looking at all. There was a dance on in the N.A.A.F.I. for the fellas in A. Wing. The women were brought in from the towns around camp. I was on duty tonite but I went to the dance anyway because being on duty as a bugler gives me more privliges than I would have when I’m off duty. You see when I’m duty bugler I can go anywhere in the camp. I can go to the show for nothing go to the dances without a pass or any place at all and nobody can say a thing. Why I even eat breakfast in the sergeants mess but none of the sergeants know it. Sort of on the sly you know. In case you are curious what N.A.A.F.I. stands for it is this – Navy, army, air force institute- get it? okay now that that’s all cleared up we’ll get back to the dance, huh? Well we got a darn good dance orchestra in camp and I’m proud to add that the trumpet player uses my trumpet. You tell Uncle Andy that she is in very good shape. (I mean the trumpet of course) The orchestra plays all the latest tunes too. The girls here are pretty good dancers but some go a bit too far in the line of jive, especially one girl there, she twirls around so fast her skirt goes up pretty high and for a minute all the boys eyes are naturally looking down, including mine, and oh what I saw, why I saw _ _ _ _ _ _ _ and everything else when a skirt goes a bit too high. I haven’t yet learned how to dance. I went to a dance at an A.T.S. camp and I made up my mind that I’d get some dame to learn me how to dance. Well to get up enough nerve I went and had four pints of beer and got pretty well lit up I’ll have to admit. Well sir, I was sitting on the steps, leading up to the stage, and draining the last drops of the fire water of my last pint, when up walks a corporal from St. Wm with two A.T.S. girls cradled under each arm. They sat down on the steps below me and the steps were only wide enough for two to sit on. So this A.T.S. comes and sits beside me and we start talking. Well one thing led to another and finally I gets me courage up and asks her if she would show me how to dance and she politely smiles at me in a gruesome way and says she is sorry because she can’t dance herself. So I tell her we got something in common and go on talking. Well what made me mad was that I go and spend 10 shillings to get enough nerve up to ask her to show me how to dance and she can’t dance herself. Now I ask ya is that democratic? huh? And another thing I got hooked for a war bond by the padre here and I’ll never have the money again for another six months to buy me beer to get my nerve up again. I bought a $50.00 war bond.


So you’re in the money now huh? That’s sweet Helen. Are you still going to school? Or have you quit and started work at the Great lakes. You know 8 bucks a day isn’t nothing to sneeze out, no sir and for a women to my goodness what’s this world coming to anyway. You tell Esther for me that if she doesn’t do a little bit of work anyway, how is she gonna keep that hollywood figure she has in other words how’s she gonna keep that drape shape if she expects me to keep pulling out the picture I have of her and showing the fellas what a good looking kid she is. They all give out with a long whistle and say “who’s the bag Watson” then we have a good heart to heart argument about which girl has the best shape, best legs and everything and out come the pictures of the other fellas girl-friends. Boy we sure have some swell arguments. I showed them your picture too and all they say is that I’ve really got something to come home to. I think I have too. Maybe, Helen, you and I have had some heated arguments at times, I’ve always liked you and felt doggone cheap and darn well ashamed of myself when I was alone.


Well Helen I want you to promise me one thing. I don’t want you to join the C.W.A.C.’s or any other part of the women’s service. You are too young anyway. And it won’t do you any good at all. I’ve seen lots of nice girls who, before the war, were respectable women and then they went ahead and joined up. I knew some girls from Fort William who were in the quack’s at Shilo and they were swell kids too. I worked beside one of them at the Car-Works and she joined the C.W.A.C. and I never want to see her again. She swears like a trooper and only goes out with soldiers for one thing only and I’m pretty sure you know what I mean. So for your sake and as a favour to Dad and me Don’t join up, please. I hear the June Marsten and Lois Mathews and Doris Ross are going to join the C.W.A.C.’s. Well they are making a grave mistake and it won’t do them or anybody else any good. Dad has enough to worry about with me in the army without you going in. I know he really misses me because I know what he felt like when I left home for overseas. So don’t make it any worse for him as it is. So take my advice Helen and stay where you are. I have quite a few reasons why I joined up but I’m not saying here.


Well I’ve written Mervin and found out where he is and he has written me back. We aren’t very far from each other. He wrote and told me that he’d be up to see me last week end but he never came I guess he couldn’t make it. I’ve written to Bill Davies, Ted’s brother, you know who I mean. He is married now. He has asked me to come up and stay with him for a few days. His wife’s father owns a farm just a little ways from Derby in the Midlands of England. That’s pretty good of him to ask me up. I might get some beesting over here yet. By the way how is the hunting back at home boy I’m sure going to miss it. I didn’t like that crack you made when you asked me if I got seasick coming over. No sir I was fit as a fiddle all the way across. We seen a school of porpoises. There were about ten of them they kept jumping in and out of the water all the time. They followed us for 3 hours. We didn’t see anything else of any importance the rest of the way. We past a pretty big convoy going to Canada.


How would you like to ask Parkins if he found his other trumpet player for the orchestra yet. You know him and I had a little fight over a measly woth[?]. He said I was playing it to fast and I said he was too slow. So he said if I didn’t like the way he conducted the orchestra that I could pack up and beat it and he could get another trumpet player. So I packed up and walked out. But I was back with the orchestra the next day.


Well Helen I got to get some sleep to nite so I’ll close now. Give all my love to everybody at home will you? So good bye for now.


Your loving Brother


Original Scans

Original Scans