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Date: July 9th 1944

July 9, 1944

Well, folks, here I go again. We have had a very hectic week with no chance to write a letter, so thought it a good idea to put your mind at ease. The weather is still very hot, with the odd thunderstorm. On a recent move, we stopped for twenty hours by a large watermelon field. You can well understand the rest. Talk about Coons eating melons, well, I think we held our own at least. That is one point in Italy’s favour, there is certainly an abundance of fresh fruit. In fact, if it were not for tomatoes, oranges, apples, peaches, melons and various other fruits, I think we would have a pretty tough time. You really have no idea how hard it is to eat canned meat week in and week out. It wouldn’t be so bad if it were of good quality, but it seldom is. I often think of all those delicious meals we had at home and took for granted. Right now, I would settle for a common garden variety Irish stew. I suppose, too, that the heat makes matters worse as we still eat much the same food, winter or summer.

Oh well! I expect to be able to say what I want for dinner, rather than to be told before much longer. Isn’t the war good news these days? The only dark spot is the “Doodle Bug” bombs, as Kay calls them. There seems to be very little defence against them and they cause so much misery. From a military point of view, I suppose they are called a flop, but from the point of view of the average housewife, they must be a real nightmare. Kay’s home has had the window frames blown out twice, though luckily, no one was injured.

You really have to admire the British spirit which can never be broken by a bully. I told you in a recent letter that Kay had gone to a quieter spot, well, in her last letter she told me she is returning to London soon. You must think of her when you hear the B.B.C.’s news of flying bombs on London. In this war, the civilians are almost as “battle worthy” as the front-line troops. It is a fine thing in one way: at least they will understand the soldier’s point of view much better than they did in the last war. I often think it would be good for certain Canadians to go through the same ordeal. I mean selfish civilians particularly. I’ll bet you all feel much the same as we do, when you see so many of our young men staying in Canada, when the forces over here in France need them.

You can tell those young sisters of mine that I won’t talk to them if I find they have anything to do with the soldier who refuses to volunteer for active service. I told you a long time ago about taking a course in land mines, well today I had the chance to put my knowledge to good use. There are Gerry mines lying hidden in our camp area and volunteers were called to clear them. I stepped forward because I knew more about the job than most and could do it with less chance of seeing St. Peter. We unearthed three mines during the afternoon and rendered them safe. It really isn’t such a dangerous job if you know the score and are careful. However, I would never touch the darn things unless I felt it was necessary and I might save lives by doing so. I just don’t believe in foolish heroics, but I won’t shirk my duty either and, if by some piece of bad luck, I should happen to get blown up, at least I would feel the sacrifice was worthwhile.

Old Gerry certainly knows all the dirty tricks in the bag. These mines are some of the dirtiest and cause pretty heavy casualties. I bet Hitler would be mad if he knew two Poles invented the device we use to detect these mines of his. Well, anyway, we cleared the field in question without mishap and it isn’t likely we will be called upon too much more of this work, as it really is the job of the engineers.

Well, so much for shop talk and now for your side of the pond. I’m glad to hear that the crops are good. I really would like to see those flower gardens of yours. It’s too bad the Alberta weather is so tough on flower gardens. You and Dad will certainly have to spend your old age in a better climate. Just think how nice it would be to live at the Pacific Coast where the climate is so moderate. No more cold winters and dusty summers. You and Dad certainly have earned a good rest. Any couple who reared a family of eight (and the two who died in youth) without financial aid, deserve a medal.

Well, Mom, it’s time to put up my mosquito net and apply my anti-mosquito ointment. These little devils are thick here and I certainly don’t want any malaria at this stage of the game. Our regiment has the best record in the Corps in this respect.