[postscript added at top] I wish for you to consider this letter as personal and hope for an answer in the future. The part enclosed to be read to church people.
Dear Mr Irwin:
I hope you will pardon me for not answering your letter to the boys while we were in Barriefield but the excitement of leaving made it slide completely from my mind.
As you know it is difficult to get the Norwood boys to-gether owing to the fact that many are N.C.Os in other platoons and often are on duty, therefore, I did my best to get it to them by reading it to groups of two or three at a time. I think in this way the men received and appreciated in full the kindness of your letter.
We are stationed in Otterpool camp about eight mile from Folkestone and near the station of Westenhanger on the South Eastern Coast of England in the county of Kent. The boys are all well and enjoy many pleasant memories of services and social evenings in your church and among its people.
Personally I have never forgotten your kindness and gracious cooperation in my work while in Norwood.
Norwood during the past winter became very much the home to me and the pleasures I experienced while there will always be upermost in my mind. For I should say we are thankful.
The following I am sending to you that you may read to your people in order that they may understand the condition of their sons, brothers and husbands while in England.
(From here) “The boys of Norwood are at Otterpool Camps on the South East Coast of England in the County of Kent. The camp is very healthy and sanitary and now that we are settled the boys have begun again to enjoy the quiet routine of work.
All look back with pleasure on their training in Norwood, to the kindness of the People of the Methodist Church and to the many other things which gave them such a good start.
After when speaking to them I mention the Methodist Banquet and the memories bring out a smile and a look of pleasure. I cannot say that the boys have forgotten home in the excitement of travel for in their conversations with me they continually refer to some home enjoyment in which I have been a participant.
To the people of your church I say that their dear ones are happy in the confidence that their friends at home never forget them before the Throne of God”
It will not be long before we go forward to take our place in the firing line in France and Flanders and I hope that if it is possible I will be left with my men whose pleasures have become my pleasures and their troubles mine.
[indicates end of “(From here)” section]
Again Mr Irwin thanking you for your kind address at the farewell to the soldiers in Norwood in support of my action re the Havelock Platoon I might say that never in my life have I felt so humiliated and crushed, it is indeed the only cloud hanging over any pleasant memories of my stay in Norwood.
Your Sincere Friend
Walter C. Thomson