My dear Cousin:-
As you see I am now in France and have been here just ten days i.e. since we left England. I want particularly to write to you because I was sure I saw Willie the other day on a horse. It was raining and he had his coat collar up and so I just caught sight of his profile, but I was so sure it was he, I, who was with the front platoon of our company (we were coming from a parade ground about a mile from this town and turning to the left along the main road so these Artillery men on horses had to halt on the left side of the main road till our company had completed the turn) ran up to my company commander and asked him if I could drop out to go back to speak to him. I did so, but when I got back they had galloped out of voice range so I did not see him. But I am sure I could not mistake his profile and the expression on his face. Please write as soon as possible and let me know his Battn. No. etc. I am now with the 38th Bn. Address me care 38th Battalion Army P.O. London, Eng. We left Camp Bordon on Oct. 28th, sailed on the 1st. November, arrived in England 11th and went to Seaford Camp on the South Sussex coast, on the 23rd. Five of our officers including me were named for France, so we immediately went on our six days leave to London and got our equipment. We returned to Seaford Camp on 29th and spent the following day packing. We sailed from England on 1st. November and arrived in France on the next morning. We stayed three days at point of embarkation and then two days and nights train trip brought us here. This is a town of about twenty thousand population, a coal mining town about twelve miles from the line, but we can hear our guns booming in the distance quite plainly.
The 38th to which we are now attached is an Ottawa Bn., was nine months in Bermuda and came here i.e. to France in early summer. They just came from the Somme six days march from here. They were badly cut up there and lost heavily in men and officers. We expect we will be here for a few days in billets till we are fully reorganized, when we will go back to a much quieter place on the line, for which I am very thankful. As the stories told of the cutting up the 38th got on the 18th Nov., i.e. the day they "went over the top" (as they call making an advance here), are too lengthy to even try to tell you about I will only give you some figures. There were about eighteen officers in the "show" and only one escaped unharmed, of the others five were killed. About five hundred and some odd men were in the action and three hundred and sixty-nine casualties in all. They took, however, four hundred and eighty prisoners and figure that the casualties were in the proportion of three to one in our favor. So that is not so bad altho' it is a terrible sacrifice on both sides. Of course this was before I joined and I have yet to see the rear line trenches. I will try to get a photo and let you see what a live infantry officer looks like in war paint.
We are very comfortable here in billets; more so in fact than I have been since July 1st when we went to Camp at Camp Borden.
With love to all at home. Would be glad if you would enclose this on to Mother after you have read it. I rec’d a letter to-day from Tina dated Nov. 15th. By mistake the travelling bag was put in the baggage car and I could not get it out so had to lug it on with me. As I told Mother before my luggage i.e. trunk, suit-case & travelling bag, is with or being sent to Mrs. J.S. Herson, 34 Russell Gardens, Golden Green [Golders Green?], London N.W. She was a Miss Firtvoy of Montreal and a sister to my former platoon Sgt., W.A. Firtvoy.
Wishing you all a Merry Xmas & Happy New Year.
Your aff. cousin,