August 17, 1941
Please excuse the pencil as I lost my pen and haven’t replaced it yet. I received a letter from you last Thursday and was very glad to hear from you again. This particular letter was more welcome than usual, as I was out on a three-day manoeuvre at the time. This manoeuvre went off smoothly in spite of inclement weather. Of the three days, two were very wet and, of course, we were all glad to get back to our billets. One night was especially wet and, as we were sleeping out, we followed suit and got wet too. I was on sentry on the gun from 12 a.m. to 2 a.m. and had just nicely settled myself in my blankets when the downpour started. I had my ground sheet under me and a “gas cape” over me, but the blasted rain sneaked in around the edges and made puddles, where you might have found them when I was a “young artful.” The worst came when the Sgt. Major came around at four-thirty to boot us out of our blankets, as it was still raining.
On the last day, we were attacked by enemy infantry, whom we repulsed with heavy casualties according to the “umpire,” which made the officers very pleased with themselves. This enthusiasm was short-lived, as we learned shortly afterwards that we had been liquidated an hour earlier by a rival battery of artillery. We did have fun rounding up the infantry though and relieving them of their blank ammunition, which they carried for their rifles. One of our boys, a real clown, put a dummy round in one of the rifles and shot another chap in the seat of the pants from a distance of two yards. Of course, no damage resulted except to his pride and, judging from the height he jumped, it must have stung like an angry bee.
On the last day, we had a rum issue, which we all appreciated and resulted in higher spirits for us, and a charge laid against one of the cook’s assistants, who swiped a bottle and got gloriously drunk. The trip back to town was uneventful, though anything but dull, largely due to our quad driver (Moon Robertson), the clown I mentioned a moment ago. Our No. 1 is a fuss budget type, so Moon gets a big kick worrying him. For example, he will take his hands off the wheel and pretend to be gazing at the scenery, or talk like a “hair lip.” In short, he is a real fool, but relieves the monotony of the long trips, which can really be deadly, as the average speed is fifteen miles an hour.
Well, so much for the manoeuvres and now down to the present. I am taking an artillery course and finding it pretty tough, as it involves “trig” and high school math. It is interesting work though, and, if I pass the tests, I will get personal satisfaction out of it. Tomorrow we have a battery smoker with plenty of beer and cigarettes, so we should have a good time. Oh, by the way, I got your second box of Oxo cubes yesterday, thanks. I also received a nice packet of cookies from Mr. and Mrs. Stinson and family, and would appreciate it very much if you would thank them for me, just in case my letter goes down.
I am glad to hear that Shirley did so well and only hope the other kids do the same. Last night Mr. Ravenscroft and I had a real snooker session, with the ‘Boss Man’ proving too much for me. I forgot to mention that I spent Sunday afternoon and evening in Streatham (London) and arrived back Monday morning. As usual, there was no air raid and to all outward appearances, I might just as well have spent the evening at the Cecil Hotel in Edmonton.