July 5, 1943
It isn’t that I regret joining the army, it’s just that I’ve given four of the best years of my life to my country and I am becoming more and more impatient to get the job done and get away from the whole rotten mess. When I joined the army, I had rather high ideals regarding duty etc. To tell you the truth, I have lost most of these during the long period of inactivity. I fight now because there is no other way to secure the freedom we all love. Being in the army has shown me very graphically how impossible it would be to live under dictatorship. Actually, the army is the finest example of petty dictatorship and reveals all its weaknesses.
There is so much politics and patronage in this blasted organization that it sometimes makes me sick. There are no selective tests for prospective N.C.O.s and most of the promotions are made based on the recommendations of the senior N.C.O.s. The whole thing boils down to just this: if you are willing to lick a few boots and play ball with a cheap bunch of chisellers, you will probably do quite well. If, however, you still have a little pride you don’t stand much of a chance regardless of how much you know. This is one reason why I long for the day when the men and the lice are thrown into high relief by battle conditions. We actually have senior N.C.O.s on guns who know nothing of their jobs and hope they are never in action. Well, Mom, I am sorry to have made this outburst but feel better having let off a little steam to one who will understand my motives. All I have ever asked for is an equal chance to prove my mettle and I am conceited enough to feel sure I would rise above the majority. As it now stands, action is about the only chance I will get to prove my point to my own satisfaction. It isn’t that I’m jealous of another chap’s success; it is just that the best men aren’t getting promotion at a time when it is imperative that they should. I always feel certain that unless a change is made in this regard, and soon, the Canadian Army is going to take some very hard knocks before it finds itself. We have A-1 equipment and I feel sure that the rats I have mentioned will soon be shown up. When the guns start to bang in the field, the best men come to the fore from necessity.
Now that I have let off steam, I will change the subject. I am anxiously awaiting word from you that you have received the wedding photos. I enclose a few snapshots taken by an amateur to tide you over until such time I can send another batch, should the first fail to arrive.
The Canadians seem to be doing quite nicely all the same, which makes these schemes here all the harder to bear. The “grapevine” telegraph has it that I am soon to become a L/Bombardier, but I will only believe it when I have the stripes sewn up. We had a visit from Col. Ralston on Saturday last. We paraded in full battle dress at 1 p.m. and the said dignitary arrived at 3:30. I don’t think the old boy would bother us again if he knew how little the boys appreciated his visit and pep talk to us. An inspection of this nature simply means a great deal of work and personal discomfort. Imagine standing out in a field in a blazing sun for four hours on a Saturday, which is normally a half holiday, just to have the dubious honour of seeing a member of Mr. King’s government.