December, 12, 1944
Well, gang, I’m thirty years old now, could you believe it? I had a very quiet birthday in Action and in the mud. I had planned a bit of a celebration but a big attack went in and, as we were all called upon for support, the celebration went by the board. Oh well, it isn’t everyone who has a barrage support on his birthday. The weather has been a little better this last week, though very raw and cold. We get bone-chilling fogs every night which penetrates the heaviest clothing and leaves everything heavy with frost by morning. The gun crews are on duty twenty-four hours a day. I divided the crew into two shifts, I taking one and my L/C taking the other. Each shift does six hours at a time, the one in the morning until seven a.m. is really the toughest. We have been in action just two weeks today and all indications point to a Xmas spent in the lines. We don’t get nearly as much enemy shelling as before, largely due to the fact that Gerry has no O.P.s from which to observe his fall of shot.
The worst feature of this winter fighting is of course the mud and cold and the long hours of guard on the gun. After a long period of action, you begin to feel so weary. I shouldn’t complain though, because we all realize that our lot is much better than the infantry. We watched a long line of Gerry prisoners being marched back behind the line to a cage. They certainly didn’t look like any “Master Race,” in fact, they were a very seedy-looking lot.
Whenever the weather permits, our air force goes all out to make Gerry’s life miserable. It is quite a sight to watch our bomb-carrying Spits dive almost straight down to release their loads. When the bombs have gone the planes rise like rockets and form a circle to go down again on a strafing attack. This sort of thing goes on from dawn to sunset, so I guess Fritz knows only too well that we have an air force.
Well, Mom, I had a nice long letter from Con the other day. I think I told you of receiving a lovely parcel from our two nursing sisters. They really are a fine pair of kids and I’m very proud of them too. I suppose you at the farm are getting ready for another fine feast. Every Xmas I spend away from home makes home seem dearer to me. I honestly think that this will be my last Xmas away from home and then what a celebration we will have.
Winning the M.M. give me an edge on the other boys in regards to Home Leave, but at the rate they are going home, I don’t entertain any false hopes. In my opinion, this Home Leave was just another political trick to appease public opinion. If such, it was a dirty trick because it raised false hopes among the wives and families of troops back home. A friend of mine got a letter from his wife a couple of weeks ago. She had been holding a Xmas parcel for him because she was sure he would be home for Xmas. As a matter of fact, the percentage amounted to about one man in every two hundred. Old Andy sure stuck his head into a hornet’s nest, didn’t he? The Zombie question is very disgusting from our point of view. It must be very hard for people with sons overseas for four or five years to read of Canadian troops at home, waiting because they are asked to help at this late date, when it’s all over but the shouting. When news of home leave was first announced, we were all very excited, but now that the facts are known, the boys are so disgusted that they don’t even mention it any more.