Jan. 13, 1917
Dear Mother -
I received Will's letter dated Dec. 5, two days ago. It serves as a connecting link in the news between the last two letters. It shows that a letter comes to France and I would get it just as soon as if I was in England almost. They will likely be a along soon but I am still looking forward to the home parcels. Some of the fellows are getting them so I think mine will soon show up.
We have got moved up into dugouts closer to our work. I am on the night gang just now. We start for work at four o'clock and get back about nine or ten o'clock. We just have time to see to get started before it gets real dark and after that till the moon gets up you just have to keep shovelling. Three of us were set to fill a piece of trench which had been dug through a shell-hole. We had two bigger holes dug one on each side before we were through. We sleep till 8.30 a.m., have breakfast and rations served out at 9 a.m. We have dinner at 2 p.m. of mulligan and tea and then supper at night when we get through work. We have a pretty decent dugout to live in. There are eight of us living in one about 10' x 16'. It was pretty damp when we came in but the fires we lit have dried it considerably.
We just have room for the eight of us to stretch out straight to sleep with a small stove in one corner. A stove and a fire is alright as long as it doesn't smoke us out altogether, our chimney doesn't draw all the smoke out always. There is a sheet-iron roof supported by posts. There is about a foot or two of dirt piled on the roof but it is above the level of the ground outside. The earth on top makes it more shell-proof. It has been dug out of a sort of chalky limestone so the sides are quite dry. The roof drips a little at times just like the stable in cold weather.
We are getting used to noise now. We can sleep now whether the batteries are in action or not. It is rather interesting to watch the German shells exploding about half a mile away at times. They bother us considerable at nights by sending up their star-shells. They light things up all round for a minute but when they disappear it seems darker than ever. The weather seems to have taken a turn for the colder here. We have had sleet and snow here for the last two days, of course the snow does not last long; they say it very often is cold here in February and freezes up.
[inserted a top of page by author] P. S. I am glad the Draft came through alright. [end insert]
We have an Exeter paper here just now, and the boys are quite interested in the news although it is a little old. Mr Scott is leaving for Toronto this winter is he? Have the family moved yet, I suppose he is keeping on his job is he? What kind of satisfaction are you getting from the Exeter Cremeary this winter? That was real kind of Hannah Keddy to remember the neighbor boys. I sure will write a letter to her if I get a chance when that cake comes my way. I know they would appreciate it. My feet are keeping good so far the cool weather helps.
I think I told you I have had two baths and changes of socks and underwear both times since we came up to the 3rd Can. Entrenching Batt. I don't think there is any change in the address this time so I needn't write it this time. I don't know how long we will be here but then I needn't trouble myself about that. I am getting along pretty fair here and so far can hold my own with the rest of them. I am pretty well over my cold and I hope you are all keeping well at home. I think this will be all this time
From your son