Sep 4th, 1915
I am writing this from what they call the rest billets. We have been here since Sep 1st. Some of the men are in tents but we are in a hay loft. The most of the French farm buildings here are in the form of a square. The entrance is through an archway on either side of which are sheds for hay, oats etc. On one of the sides is a shed for machinery, wagons etc. and on the other is the house. At the back is the stable and above that is a large hay loft. We are in this hay loft. There were 83 men in the first night but there are only about fifty now. We have to climb a rickety ladder to go home and we have quite a job getting out to parade in the morning.
We are about five miles from the line here. There are big guns right near but there is very little firing going on just now. The aeroplanes are always overhead and are always being fired at with shrapnel shells. We saw the first one brought down yesterday. It was a German one and was right over us. Two British planes came after it and one opened up on it with a machine gun. It flopped a couple of times and then came down, not like a dead bird but in long swoops. The two men were killed by the British soldiers of another battalion in the fight that followed.
We have been digging up trenches back of the line a couple of times. There was very little danger although some men of another battalion were killed a couple of nights later.
Capt. Barclay says there were about forty minister’s sons in the first company. There are quite a bunch in ours too but I hardly think there are that many.
I have had several fine opportunities to get asthma but I am feeling fine yet. It gets very dusty here especially when cavalry or transports are passing and we have to swallow a lot of dust. I think I forgot to say that in the sort of courtyard inside the farm buildings here they throw the manure and refuse of all kinds. They are cleaning this out now and the smell is great. It doesn’t seem to affect me though.
Several of our men have got commissions in Kitchener’s Army, but I don’t think its good enough. [censored ]
Bill Moyle sends his regards. I hope you get them.
There is a theolog here called Lightbody who knows father. He has a little service every Sunday night.
We are going away somewhere today but we don’t know where. I will write when I get another chance. The mail is going now and I have to stop.
Your loving son
Alec R. McQueen