February 23, 1944
----- Personally, I feel that farming will afford quite a good return for the next few years following the War. The chief reason why I believe this is that most of Europe has been bled or devastated by the Hun. From what I have already seen of Italy, I imagine it will take a considerable time to bring the war-torn countries back into production. Apart from this, our chief competitors in the European market, namely Russia, Denmark, Holland, and Roumania, will have their hands full supplying their own needs. For this reason, I believe agriculture will pay real dividends if you have your equipment ready to meet the new demands as they arise.
Well, Dad, I have to break off for supper now, and as I must take over on the gun while my Sgt. eats, will carry on at the first opportunity.
Well, Dad, since laying down the pen, I have had supper and acted number one on the gun while we sent old Gerry a few little parcels of H.E. to remind him there’s a war on. At the moment, we are standing “easy.” That is to say, we are through firing and are taking things easy. The “Dug-out” is quite a “Funk Hole.” We dug down six feet and then sandbagged another two feet, then, by means of heavy timbers constructed a roof, which we covered with more sandbags. This means that we are perfectly safe from anything but a direct hit. It is a very necessary precaution as old Fritz shells us every night. To date, we have been very lucky, most of his rounds falling wide of the mark.
I was on duty on the gun all last night with my half of the crew and had a quiet time. At 3:00 a.m. Gerry opened up with his usual, so we sat in the dug-out playing crib and listening to the shells whine over. I think the underground sabotage boys are doing a pretty good job because, of the twelve rounds that came over in one bunch, only three exploded. This is a very high percentage and rather higher than usual, but still in all there always seems to be at least twenty-five percent “duds.”
To return to our “Funk Hole,” it really is quite habitable. We have an improvised stove made of ammo boxes and benches of the same material. I arranged shelves around the walls to place our spare kit and mess tins and another for shoes. We also have a communication system connecting the guns with the Command Post, so you see, Dad, we really can be comfortable even here if you are willing to go to a little trouble. Our worst enemy these past few weeks has been the weather. It rains almost daily and the mud is terrific. Yesterday, we got high rubber boots so we are all set for a long siege now.
I heard from Liulf the other day. He seems rather fed up with his stay in England. Kay’s letters are coming through regularly now, also my Canadian mail. I received my Xmas cake last week. It arrived in fine condition despite its long slow journey. There is a bit of a joke about it too. We all got parcels that day so we planned a feast during our night shift. Just when the tea water was almost boiling and I had carefully unwrapped the precious cake, fire orders came down. Everything was dropped and out to the gun we went. I left one of the crew to make the tea and carried out the shoot. On returning to the dug-out I found my lad wearing icing on the seat of his trousers. The silly chump had sat on the cake. It really did look a sorry sight but the flavour was unimpaired, so we just laughed and dug in.
Well, Dad, I think this crazy war will be over before October, so I should be home in time for Xmas 1944. It certainly will be grand to be with the clan again.