January 13, 1944
Many thanks for your letter of Dec. 22 which arrived last night. Yes, Dad, it was a great disappointment to all of us that the campaign “bogged down.” When we started the Gothic Line campaign we all had high hopes of winding up the Italian Campaign before the Fall weather halted operations. However, as you well know, this we failed to do for various reasons, the weather being one. The thing that makes most of the boys feel a little bitter down here is that we are expected to do a man-sized job on a shoe string. I read Col. Ralston’s report recently and must say my opinion of the man is much higher. It made my blood boil to see the way Mr. William Lying Mackenzie King twisted Col. Ralston’s honest report on conditions to fill his own particular needs. There is no doubt about it, Dad, Col. Ralston knew the situation here with regards to reinforcements.
His last tour of the front was a very stormy one. Some of the “hot heads” really told him what they thought. I’m afraid the poor chap took the blame for a lot that wasn’t his fault at all, as his last report seems to bear out. The whole position from our point of view is very disgusting. Certainly, we volunteered and most of us would do it again under similar circumstances. However, we don’t feel that our treatment overseas has been fair or just. From a strictly military point of view, we have fought short-handed while our government debated the conscription question. Another bone of contention is the leave question. Every other Allied Army has some sort of home leave rotation scheme except Canada. Many of the boys have wives and children they haven’t seen for over five years.
For the good of future Canada, it would seem to me to be policy to allow married men to return once in every three years at least. Because of this long absence, many of the men will go home to find their married life wrecked beyond redemption. Then too, in the back of the average chap’s mind is that leave could become possible if all Canadians were willing to do their share. The home leave as it now exists is a complete farce. The truth is, Dad, that under the present system of reinforcements, it would be impossible to send more than a handful because they cannot be spared. I realized this from the start, so am not the least disappointed. ------ We are still in action but there seems to be a chance that we will be released soon.
The weather here is much like the Alberta climate, although the temperature doesn’t fall so low. -----Our heavy S.P. guns are quite a problem in soft ground. I haven’t been stuck yet in this last show but have been very close to it several times. You see, Dad, when we engage targets which we can’t cover with our <censored> degree traverse, we must move the tank. After this has occurred several times, you may well imagine the condition of the gun platform. ------