Ina's letter of Dec. 28th and yours of Jan. 5th rec'd when in the trenches on my last tour which ended on 28th. Yesterday I was orderly officer as I always am on the first day following that on which we return to billets, so was busy and had no time to write. Your letter took about three weeks to reach me which was fairly quick work. Ina's letter almost made me laugh. It was in answer to one in which I had said we were within sound of the guns, and she said: "it must be an awful experience". We were at that time 10 or 12 miles from the line and in a peaceful town as far as actual hostilities are concerned. My duties have not yet called me to the front line of trenches, but I have known what it is to be quite near them, and to hear and see the shells and trench mortars and all the other varied forms of life destroying missiles flying and bursting around me. Compared with the infantry my present occupation is easy and safe, but in the trenches one is never absolutely safe.
Since the 16th we have had regular Canadian weather, a snow-fall of a few inches, and then frost enough to freeze the mud and moisture, and bright cold sunny days. They say that it is colder than it has been for some years in France. We have quite a time trying to keep warm. We buy coal in bags, soft, at our own expense when in billets. I am quite lucky; I have a crazy cracked little French upright stove in my room and it costs nearly a franc (equal to about 18cts) per day it keep it in coal in the extreme cold weather. Am glad to hear that all in Ottawa are getting on well and that Tina does not find her work very hard. I have not yet rec'd any parcels but think they must be with my battalion and so I will get them when I return to them soon. One thing the St. Cuthbert Church sent me is very much appreciated, a sort of laundry bag made by J.J. Turner & Co. of strong light brown canvas, in which I keep all my underclothes, overshirts, ties, collars and sox, in fact everything but outer clothes and toilet articles and boots.
I intend visiting Capt. Blackwood again and giving him Mother’ news re the Blackwoods.
2/2/17 - Was in bed yesterday with "flu" as they call La Grippe here, a short name for influenza, and am feeling better to-day but did not go to trenches on my tour yesterday. May go to-morrow. It is very cold here and the coldest it has been in years both here and in England. With the exception of pain in my eyes and in my back I feel quite well and hope to be "right as rain" soon. Will try to save you a continental edition of the Daily Mail soon.
With love to all,