Feby. 15 '17.
My Dear Ones at Home.
The last letter I wrote, I put in a green envelope & sent to mother. I mailed it just a couple of days ago. We are afraid that our mail will not come so regularly now, nor as frequently. That is if Germany is able to carry out her threat of blockade, and manages to get some of our Canadian mail boats. I have been getting a letter from each of you every week. Generally the parcels come some days after the letters that they were mailed with
I have not yet received the parcel of socks & chocolate bars that mother spoke of - I received another parcel from London today. A beautiful home knit balaclava cap, gloves, and a tin of fish paste. Also a nice letter. Rec'd a letter from Miss Whitelaw yesterday & mothers of Jan. 17. I sent my watch over to Frank's today to have it repaired. It has not been running since I came to France. I wrote to London for gloves, but have not got them yet. Miss W. is also sending a pair of mitts. I am afraid that I will get them all about the time that the weather moderates, as it shows signs of doing so now. While I think of it, will you send me two suits of cheap, summer balbriggan underwear. It will get here about the time the warm weather starts. I will be able to to keep it washed myself, & will have it to put on whenever we got a bath - The underwear that we get at the baths is half-washed & generally lousy & I hate to put it on. Do not send any more socks for a month or two, as I have more than I can carry now. If you can get a few tins of congealed alcohol for heating, & put a tin in each parcel, I wish that you would It is great for heating up Oxo, coffee, etc in our mess tins. Do not buy the whole outfit - only the tins of alcohol. We only get 30 Francs ($6.00) a month over here, & if you could put a $1.00 bill or so in a letter or parcel once in a while, from my cheque it would be very acceptable Our rations are very slim & we would often go hungry if we had not a little money to buy biscuits jam, etc. We can exchange Canadian money at the Y.M.C.A. and a currency bill will be the best way to send it. Money orders we cannot get cashed. I think that I told you that I sent the other one to Cam & got the £3. O.K. I don't know what I would have done without it when we were back on our rest. I would love a little tin of honey or maple syrup once in a while too. What would we do without our parcels!
Our march back to our present billets behind the lines took 2 1/2 days and was a very hard one. We received orders one morning to fall in with full marching order on - that is everything we possess on our backs. We did not know where we were going or how far, but just started off in the early morning, over those long winding, hilly roads of Northern France. That is the way on Active Service. All day Saturday and Sunday we marched, and at noon Monday arrived at our present billet, four miles behind the lines. We can hear the heavy artillery & machine guns pounding away incessantly.
We see a great many aeroplanes, - dozens, every day, manoeuvring in the air. Often we see the German's machines, but they are so high always that they look like tiny specks. I have never seen a mid-air fight yet, though I have seen our shells bursting all around Heinie's machines & have seen ours chase his. Our planes are beautiful machines & seem to have a perfect mastery of the air.
In marching thro' the country, one never knows who he is going to meet. Always Canadian troops are moving here & there & you see so many people you know. On one march I saw Clarence Reed from Stony Mtn. He called & I called, but we were both on the march in opposite directions & so had to pass on without further recognition. In the same bunch we saw young Ford from Arden - Mae McKenzies's husband. Another day we saw Harold Rowe from Arden In our own battalion a few days ago I ran across Winstone, from our Normal Class. He is a nice fellow, & makes very congenial company. He is a genius in Literature, & all this afternoon we lay in our bunk & discussed literature - every one from Ralph Connor to Thackery. I also ran across Tommy Tyson again this morning down in the village.
Now my fingers are too cold to write any more, and I have about exhausted my 'news'. My cold is all better (did I tell you I had one?) & I feel fine. I had a very bad cold all the time that we were 'resting' but knew that you would worry if I told you, so did not do so. It ran it's course however, and is gone completely now
We are going to have very hard fighting this spring, and we expect to finish it up. We must fight our way through. It is our only way to home - our dear Canadian homes - so far away and yet the nearest thing to every soldier's heart
Goodnight, dear ones
Lovingly, your boy