YMCA and Canadian War Contingent Association with the Canadian Forces
Aug 27 1916
My Dear May,
Perhaps I can do a little more justice to your letter of August lst now that I am settled down to a 2 hour shift on the orderly room phone. I did justice to the box of eats immediately it arrived. Upon its delivery to the signal section MacCommon seized it and a wheel and came down to DCo billets about a mile away. I met him on the road while mending one of the 10,000x breaks and we sat down in a shady spot and proceeded to attend to the urgent business on (MacCommon’s) hand. Who should chance along but Ted so we fed him as much as he would eat – very little. I guess he’s a bit off his feed. The remains, about ½ the box, were distributed to Bob, Art, Web & the 2 sig’n’s on our duty. Guy had a bit too. We had a quart of milk each and enjoyed a mid-afternoon meal.
We are now in another location and we have only our phone to attend to instead of 3. Last night we were asked to put a phone in the Adjt . tent and right a bell up to wake him during the night. Imagine the clover I was in when I managed to get the job. It was some little job to get the bell to work on a long line and I had 90 minutes of lurking about in the dark with matted-in-a-mess wires before I quit for the night. Then today I got a box (Habit) and put things up rightly. I wouldn’t mind if we had the same job every time we struck a camp as its like old times to be tinkering about with wires and batteries again.
This afternoon the 12th Brigade favoured us with some fine music – “Somewhere a Voice” and such tunes on our parade ground. It was good to hear these once again. There are 32 pieces in the band.
More musical treat and perhaps more acceptable skill came our way last night about lights out. Someone suggested that each one of the 40 in the hut 13’ x 24’ either sing a song or give us a good battle yarn. The show began and we had everything from Yankee Doodle to God Save the King (the two extremes). MacCammon gave us, as usual, the climax, by singing Perfect Day & When you come home. Did you ever hear the latter? It’s a peach and “the land of my dreams” is another. Whenever anyone sang anything with a chorus we all joined in and made some (more or less) harmony. The end came with Little Grey Home and the D.G.D. Anthem. “Oh when I die” and we went to peaceful slumbers broken only by the occasional running of a rat across someone’s face, or the regular pulling of a great coast off someone in someone else’s attempt to get another blanket.
This life is great. We can live anywhere at all for we pack everything we own in our packs and carry out ROSS?!!? (image) rifles and beat it out to wherever we are sent. There’s nothing to worry about so long as the field kitchens come along.
The country about is a perfect sample of well tilled land. Hardly an inch is wasted in the cultivation and all the crops are indeed splendid.
At present the hay is in ricks and the harvest is stoked while vegetables of all sorts are in the pink of perfection. As one stands by our windmill (there are a great many in N. Frances and Belgium so my mention of it need not convey any idea of where we are. Never look for any references as to where we are) he can see splendid scenery in the hollow on all sides with an occasional windmill situated on the top of a hill, green woods, yellow fields of grain and various coloured vegetable patches. All would scarcely believe, on being told, at this camp, that within a very few miles, 3 or 5, (I’ve made enquiries about it since writing it first) the great war was on.
The harvesting is done here by women, old men, and boys in a very old fashioned way with sickle and hand bound with straw for twine. Then they shook the sheaves in big shooks which are built up almost waterproof.
With fondest love to everyone. I am
Your loving brother