My dear Mother
Well at last I’ve got a minute or two to let you know I’m alive and kicking. Kicking to beat “ell in fact.
And now for the history of me sweet young life. Had a dandy good time on the train going down to Montreal. Met Effie and spent two days “wrestling with the angel”. Have Jacob skinned to death however because I won out.
After we got things fixed up, we started out to see the town. We saw it. Some of our officers began blowing in and they had relatives who helped us. Time was too precious to spend sleeping and I’d kiss Effie good night any old time between 2:30 am and 4:30 am and we’d start in again at 10 am. Well on Thursday March 30th the Battalion arrived and we pulled Bill off to make Halifax with us over CPR.
The CPR as you know runs thru the state of Maine but we fixed it up with the conductor to go right to bed and the porter would stow away the uniforms and by the next morning we would be in Canada. (As the USA was not at war, Canadians in uniform could not be seen there.) Well to make a long story short we ran into a wreck in the State of Maine and spent one miserable day dodging immigration officials, finally winding up with Bill and I in the diner kitchen, dolled up as waiters in white jackets and aprons – got into Canada about 5 pm. Canada never looked so good to me. Effie got off about 6 o’clock at some junction to catch the train for Boston. She was a very much faded little girl.
We caught the troops at Monkton, arrived at Halifax April 1 and immediately embarked the S.S. Olympic. There were 6000 troops on board and 250 nurses. I think I told you about that. We stuck around the harbour until April 5th and arrived at Liverpool April 11th at 6 am. Not bad time. We disembarked at noon and were hustled into a dinky little English train. The tinpot engine and toy coaches looked so darned funny the boys burst into a roar of laughter the minute they saw them. They lined up and tried to blow them off the track. But they go like the dickens and we now have a wholesome respect for them.
Troop trains here have the right of way and we made as high as 70 and 75 miles per hour. We hadn’t the faintest idea where we were going. We had no rations and we just blazed thru every town. We landed at Bordon about 11:30 pm, marched to quarters and didn’t get off duty until 2:30 am and all this on the one egg and piece of ham I had for breakfast at 6 in the morning. There were no preparations made for us and we had to sleep in a filthy old empty house on the floor and tables. In the morning I rooted up some bread and jam and stale tea, and immediately took sick – poisoned. It was raining and cold as the dickens. What I thought of England mustn’t be put in writing to you dear mother. This morning it was bright and I felt better. We had a couple of good stiff route marches and now I feel fine – but tired, sleepy and sore.
And now listen – the Germans were sure laying for the Olympic. The last day out they were reported all around us and they “got” four ships that day right in our path. One was nailed just a couple of hours after she passed by us. Well, it was reported here that the Olympic was sunk and they had a fine time around the Canadian camps. A bunch of them were over to see us today.
I think this brings us pretty well to date. Still sleeping on the floor and generally darned uncomfortable but we move to Bramshott Monday.
Address: 61 Overseas Bat’n CEF, Bramshott Camp, Hants, England
Give my love to Grandma and let Vern and the Boss read this. I can’t write individual letters. Ooddles of love from your sleepy little boy.
Ps Love to everybody else.
Send addresses of Zella, Verna, Reites, Ethyl Pybus. I may send them a card sometime.
There are 9000 South African Troops here (Bordon) a very large percentage of them Boers who fought against us in the South African War. I’ve only seen a few of them but they look all right.
I just heard we get 6 days leave on Monday so if you don’t hear from me for a week or so you’ll know it’s -- London.
Oh! I forgot! I expect to get married sometime in June --- can you beat it?