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Date: April 22nd 1917


Dear Ina:-

Your letter March 12th just rec’d a day or two ago, so you see the Canadian mails have been very much delayed recently. I got Donald and Ronald's letters about a week ago or so and wrote Donald at some length, also wrote you and sent a cheque to you to help finances generally at home, and said I would send a like amount each month or else have it assigned from Ottawa.

By a strange course of events Col. Sparling, who formerly worked for Mr. Beach in Winchester and afterwards in Ottawa, is in command of this battalion just now while Col. Edwards, the O.C. is away wounded. I never saw him before, but Mr. Beach gave me his name and address and told me to look him up. The men had a concert last Friday night and I recited "The shooting of Dan McGrew", the only thing I knew, so Col. Sparling, who did not catch my name, asked me something about it, then asked me my name. When I told him he said not Alex Rowat. I said yes, then he said not T.A. Rowat, to which I again affirmed, and then we had a little talk and he was quite surprised to think that I should run across him after having his address given to me to look up.

Since I wrote Donald telling of my wanderings, we i.e. the officers have been moved into billets in private houses, and we are about a mile from the men and the orderly room and mess, so that we have to travel about six miles each day. There are lots of lorries (motor) going between the places, so we get rides quite often. We may be moving into the line soon, and to tell the truth I dread it as we will be doing real infantry work. We have had sunshine for two days now and the roads are getting quite nice and dry altho' it is quite cold to-day, and in my room I have no fire. We had Church Parade this morning, the first since the one I at was at when we first joined this battalion last December.

I hope you like the new house. I understood that it was just new, so that will be something in its favour. I only hope I may be spared to see it. I don't like to write such things, but it seems to relieve my feelings some. One realizes what it is to face being snuffed out. I was on a salvaging party in No Man's Land, i.e. what was No Man's Land before we made the advance, and it simply passes description. Green water filled shell holes so close it is almost impossible to walk through the place, dead men's bones, men who had died when out scouting, no doubt, before the advance, and killed, and perhaps no one knew about it, or perhaps they were unable to get the body in. There was one mine crater which I think will remain as long as the earth remains, it must be two hundred or more feet across the top and at least a hundred feet deep. Thousands of pounds of explosives were used to blow it, and it looks like what I imagine a volcano crater looks like. I got several Hun souvenirs, but it is impossible almost to send them home. Hun rifles, steel helmets, bayonets in great quantities lay around. The Hun trenches were practically obliterated, and I could not see any communication trenches at all. How his men lived in his front line or how he brought them up is a mystery to me.

Altho' we are some miles from the line now he drops an occasional shell even here, and am told he killed seven here last night and wounded twenty in this vicinity. The church is just outside my window a little to the right, and he put a shell in a field in front of my window about 200 yards from here. It was at 8 a.m. and you should have seen the people scurrying from the church. No doubt he was trying to hit it as they are well known land marks and he knows just exactly where they are by his maps.

Well I must close. I am perfectly well except that it is impossible it seems to keep my feet dry and warm, but when we get a few days sunshine like this no doubt the ground will dry up and things be better. Let me know what the house is like. Love to all,

Yours afftly.,

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