Dear Mr. Irwin,
Received your letter a couple nights ago and was indeed glad to hear from you once again. I am exceedingly sorry that I did not follow those field cards “whizz bangs” with something of large calibre but have been having a terrible time to keep up my correspondence.
Was away on leave at xmas times and so got away behind with my letters. Have been having a terrible time to get caught up with it. I suppose though that such an excuse doesn’t appear very plausible. But really when a chap has approximately fifty correspondents it sure keeps you busy trying to do justice to them all. And so if any has to be neglected a little it must not be my relatives. For all there are often times when it is very hard to get letters out but since they come in, the mail gradually piles up.
But now that’s not of very much interest to you is it? Had a letter from Karl a short time ago and he was fine then. He hadn’t joined his battn. as yet but expected to in the near future. He was still at the reinforcing depot school. Have never been in one myself but what I can understand from the boys who have been I would rather be in the line with my battn. I believe its all shine and form etc. Such as that is certainly torture to s chap who has done a good turn up the line. I suppose we shouldn’t grumble at anything but a great amount of the soldiering seems to be nonsense. Of course its all done for the betterment of discipline but the discipline of today is vastly different from that of the old peace time army. They try to instill the same but it is hopeless. The boy with experience know that shining brass does not make them stand in mud to the hips and experience all kinds of iron factories falling around you. Now I suppose you will think that is a ‘fed up’ spirit to write in but it is not in a way. Of course I am getting somewhat tired of things as well as ever one else. It is not for myself though but the conditions my people and everyone else are living under. I am in the army and must expect hardships on active service but those are only fortunes of war. But I cannot stand to think of my dear old parents at home having to suffer in any way. Which of course they must be according to all the regulations etc. as set forth by a military government. Of course they reckon it is not military and that militarism holds no place in the British Empire. Personally I think militarism has a large hold at the present time on even our fair Dominion that never knew war before. Then since they are so ignorant of war they don’t know how to conduct things military in a proper manner. But who am I, to criticize? Well I think I am in a position to do a little. I voted for the Union govt, because I knew we had to have reinforcements as long as we kept an army in the field and we certainly could not withdraw it if for nothing more than shame-sake. But now is the Union govt going to live up to its principles as laid down while carrying on their election campaign? Of course time will tell for a surety but I have my doubts because I can see already that things are not as flowery as depicted. They are exempt A1 men because they are large farmers sons. Now not one of perhaps two or three sons are fighting for that home perhaps across the road is a small farmer who has two volunteer sons in France and only one left. Then they reckon that farm is not large enough to keep him home so away he goes now in the first conscript draft. The one home is childless, at least as far as sons are concerned, while the other home is as happy as ever. No sacrifice has been made and they are making more money than ever, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Don’t you think by a thorough investigation they could find that they could replace those A 1 men by unfit men from France and England? All this is not supposition Mr. Irwin. I wonder do the people at home realize it that way? I have a foster brother in England now who has been there since the battle of the Somme 1916 having been wounded twice and is not fit for France again. Why not send a number such as he home to replace a man? They can easily dispense with many much men as he from Blightly and France. Still they admit a great shortage of labour at home. My father offered $2 to get a cord of wood cut in comparison to 75¢ in pre-war days and couldn’t get a man. I think such as those are fairly forcible arguments?
But I didn’t start this letter intending to prepare a speech re military law and conditions arising from such so had better change the subject before I offend some one. This sure is a beautiful day and the last few days have been the same. So far the winter has been much easier than last but of course its not over yet.
At present I am in an isolation hospital. Have been here now almost three weeks but will be leaving in another day or two. Came down with trench fever and something else and then they thought I was developing mumps so was put in isolation. Are glad to learn that Capt. Thomson is home on furlough. I saw Will Andrews a few days before he went home.
Must close now trusting you are all well. Wishing you all success and trusting to hear again soon.