Sep 24th, 1915
I got your letter of Aug. 17th the day before yesterday. You say you have only got one letter since we left Montreal. I haven’t been writing every day but there should be more than one letter. I got papers only once from you.
Charlie Cameron is going to post this letter. He has got his commission and is going to the War Office tomorrow. I haven’t applied yet but I may.
This will not be censored so I can tell where we are. We are in Picardy where our division has taken over some of the French line. We were down near Armentieres just on the Belgian border. The trenches there were over 300 yards apart, here they are as close as 20. We are in the outskirts of the Argonne forest here and the country is more like home than anything we have seen yet. We are in huts and bivouacs on the bank of the Somme.
They are using bombs & trench mortars here more than anything else, naturally. We have seen two German aeroplanes brought down in the last two days and one of our own. They fire hundreds of shots at them but very rarely hit. They are disabled by machine gun fire from other planes.
We are in one of the best divisions in the British Army – with the Camerons, the Royal Scots, the Leicesters, the R.R.R’s, the R.B’s and some of the Indians.
I have never felt better in my life than I do now. I have slept in some queer places but I haven’t even a cold, - only a few of the pestilence that walketh – and biteth – in darkness. The common flea and the body louse are no respecter of persons and I just saw Capt. Barclay earnestly inspecting the seams of his shirt. The bugs here are French ones and are very large and ferocious.
Whatever happens to me here it will be better than staying around home, doing nothing. My time at the University was absolutely wasted and I don’t see how anyone could help seeing that. There are certainly things here that aren’t exactly pleasant but the physical troubles don’t worry me at all. I can stand the marching and the wet and fatigue and the grub but there are other things I don’t like. I was disappointed in Capt. McDonald for one thing. I am not going into it now but he certainly was not the man I thought he was. Then I thought all the P.P.C.L.I. officers would be men who had proved that they were soldiers – and they all are not. Some of the D.C.M’s were given out in a queer way here too. There will be some revelations after the war if anyone is left to tell of it.
We are likely to spend a much better winter than the Pats did last winter. The trenches are better drained and some have even board walks in them. They expect another gas attack here and we have helmets and respirators ready.
Thanks very much for the socks. They are very good. Socks and candy, especially chocolate, are about the only things that I would like if you are sending again. You asked me if I was sure I had enough supplies when you saw Jim’s stuff. Remember there is a big difference between an officer and a common soldier and the soldier has to carry all his stuff.
I am sending a letter to Dr. McGibbon which I may enclose in a further one to you.
I have to close now as it is time for roll call
Your loving son