Canadian Convalescent Hosp.
Dear Father & All.
Received your letter of Sept. 4th yesterday and was sure glad to get it
I was glad to get the $10 as well. I had a little money in my pocket but not enough to get a pair of boot which I had to have. I can’t wear an army boot on [?] bum foot even size 10 so I had to wear a canvas shoe all the time. As soon as I went outside my foot was wet and I have a nasty cold.
Just as soon as I got the money I went down town to see what I could get to wear. I tried on all kinds of shoes but couldn’t get any to fit me or that I could even get into until they brought me a shoe that opens up down how even then I had to get a no 9 but I get a little comfort with it so that means a great deal. The other foot I had to have two insoles put in so that it would partly fit.
One would think that the government would try and get something for us fellows that have been crippled out in France but about all they think of here is to get one fit to go back there again. We just seem to be so much useless stuff now
It is rather discouraging when the boys have come so far voluntarily and then when they are broken to let them go but if they just send me back to B.C. I won’t ask very much from them
I walked down to Epsom and intended to get a cab to bring me back but when I was ready to come back there was no cabs to be had so I had to walk back. It is 1 ½ miles down there so that made three miles walking for me besides walking around town, That is by a long way the farthest I have walked since I was hit and I can tell you I was sure tired. I was stiff in every joint. My foot swelled up quite a bit so that it bothered me some but I guess it won’t do it any harm in the long run.
I got mother’s $5 O.K. about a week ago
Now you want to know what a girder is in the army. Well it is just the same as a girder in civil life. The one that hit me was much the same as a railway stud rail only lighter. It was just a common I (I) beam.
It was put in this old French cellar to reinforce the brick
Now I will tell you just how it was.
We were taken out of the front line because it was so crowded and as we had no real support line to go into they put us in the ruins of an old French town. Of course the buildings were nearly all knocked down so we were put in cellars. Now these cellars are arched over with brick supported by the stud rails
In the one I was in it had been strengthened by props.
The room was about 10x14 a shell weighing about 110 lbs what we call a 5.9 (nearly six inch) came over and come in at the corner of the roof. The walls and the floor of the house over the cellar must have exploded the shell or none of us would have lived to tell about it but the force of the explosion carried right through breaking in the cellar and sending in some of the shell and shrapnel.
I was sitting up against the well with one leg drawn up. The other, the left was drawn up the same only the leg laying on the ground with the sole of the shoe against the ankle of the right foot only a little in front of it.
The girder came down and hit the foot and the only thing that saved my foot was a very heavy sole on my shoe. The shoe was split from heel to toe. Ray jones had his leg out straight so it took some of the shock and he lost his leg.
A piece of shrapnel must have come in a head and went into my foot at the rear of the big toe and traveled right across my foot only working toward the instep.
The girder must have hit my right foot too and twisted it for it was shined a bit and gave me a little bother and is weak yet but will be alright.
You are quite right Edgar is pretty level headed and will come out O.K. if he gets half a chance and things are not so bad as they might be.
Of coarse it isn’t comfortable or a place for one to go for his health.
I am sorry you took sick over on the mainland and hope you are better long before this.
That bit shouldn’t be very hard to clean and should grow a good crop.
Hope I am home in time to help plant them but one never knows here.
A man who can instruct on anything has a hard job to get back.
I am sick and tired of the whole business and am ready to go home where the Whizz-Bangs don’t Whizz and the shells don’t Roar.
I am getting along fine now. I use the stick bit don’t need it on level ground in fact I left it in the hut when I came up here.
I cant bend the front part of my foot so just use the heal. As you say we will have the satisfaction of doing or best but I can tell you if I ever thought we should have conscription in Canada I wouldn’t have been here. I think it a rotten shame when Canada has done so well on the voluntary system to force a thing like that on us.
We have sent nearly 500,000 men and when we have to import labour to harvest the crops and keep the country going it sounds rather foolish to send a lot more men out of the country.
It seems to me what we want is money so why not conscript the money so that when we get home we won’t have to pay for this as well as do the fighting.
As to keeping the divisions reinforced at the front. We have a division in England. Why not break them up and fill the other four up with them? Then why make jobs so that they can hold fit me here or if they must have those job why not give them to men who are not fit or to girls who could do the work just as well.
If things were done on that scale we wouldn’t need conscription for another two years of war, which we won’t have.
Of course we know there are men who should come that don’t but there is no proof that it won’t be the same after conscription as it has been in England.
Well I must quit hoping you are all well at home and that I will see for myself before a great while I am
Your loving Son & Brother