February 28, 1940
I got your letters today and boy, was I glad to hear from you. The mail is a little irregular and the letters arrived together, which gave me a lot of pleasure reading. It made my mouth water to read about turkey and trimmings., even though the old bird may have been overdone to a turn. Tell Alan not to be discouraged as several of our army cooks get stripes for such feats. The grub here is rationed closely, though we get all that we need and I expect t we were fed too well in Edmonton.
We have a dart board and a radio which we have every other day, the next hut sharing it with us. I made 2/6 playing darts with Les the other night, so I guess the game is all right at that. The Government saw fit to withhold half our pay, so we went on leave with two pounds, which made us all very happy.
When McNaughton heard of this, he was very angry and said it was one of the silliest things he had ever heard of, sending a man on a five-day leave with so little money. However, I had no need for much cash, beyond my fare and now have the balance to my credit and will add to it every month, at the rate of fifteen smackers.
Well I got my first chance to drive an English car the other day and got along fine. I found it a little awkward at first, as clutch and brake pedals are very close together, with the gas feed between them.
We are training hard now and expect to get out 25-pounders by Monday of next week. Today, we went through the gas chamber again to test the respirators and after we had proven to the Sergeant that they were tight, were forced to remove them and have a good cry, and believe me, the man who named tear gas meant what he said.
The weather has been fair and warm the past few days, although today it returned to form and sprinkled us all day. I had a job of fire picket last night and found it a very pleasant fatigue. I went on duty from eight till ten and from two till four, and as one fire was in the officers’ mess, I did quite well, thank you. The cook gave me the key to the larder and told me to help myself, which I did, making a lunch of tomatoes, fresh milk and fruit cake, which I topped off with a tin of peaches (all in a day’s work).
Another duty was to fire the furnace in the Navy, Army and Air Force Institute, which is operated by girls, and had a lot of fun kidding them before they closed shop at nine-thirty p.m. Well, tomorrow is pay day, so will be able to buy some stamps and mail this letter. The boys discovered yesterday that they could buy goods at a little store and leave any article of value for security. You would have thought that a gold strike was in full swing., to see the line-up and the variety of articles would startle you.
The little shop-keeper soon found he had really started something, which may become a great nuisance, and will certainly make a lot of bookkeeping. I would like to answer each one of the kids’ letters individually, but his would entail too much writing, so will try to answer them all in one. Tell Lorna that I am chewing the gum now and think her idea very novel, that of sending gum sticks though miles and miles in an envelope. I am glad the girls like their new parson and hope he will prove satisfactory. Well, kids, I can’t say much more, except that I am always eager to hear from you, so please enclose your notes in Mom’s letter whenever possible.