Dear Mother: -
Your letter of Feby. 6th rec’d bore on 12th inst., a little longer in transit than letters from Canada have been lately, but no doubt the sailings of the mail boats are more suitable at times, and some letters are written just in time to catch a mail boat, and others may have to wait a week or so.
I told you about getting the sox from Grace Cameron; well on the same day that I got your letter (of the 6th Feb), I got one from her written two days after she had sent the sox telling that she had sent them. It was dated 4th Feby. She said Rhoda gave her the address.
You mentioned that Feby. 6th was Ethel Tully’s birthday. I remembered the 8th of March was the Dr.’s Willie’s birthday I think, and I remembered quite distinctly the day I met Molly and the Dr. at Huntingdon on his arrival there. The older one gets the quicker seems the flight of time.
I do not know if I told you that one of the duties of an officer here is the censuring of all letters written by the men, and in reading some of them, especially the married men’s letters, one cannot help but be struck with the enormity of pathos that must lie along the whole western front. The men are expressing feelings which perhaps they had felt for years, but never expressed before, about home and native land, and friends and loved ones, and some are feeling feelings which were dormant, and now the war has awakened then to a sense of appreciation of those blessings and comforts which they enjoyed for so many years but did not at the time realize that they (the blessings) had been bought at the price of blood spilt as a result of firm convictions held by their ancestors.
One married man (the most of the letters are to England and Scotland, as this is an Imperial Company), wrote to his wife, evidently of the good class laboring people, and reviewed his life in the letter and told what a change had come over him since he had married her, and how perfectly happy he had been. He told her how sure he was that he loved her now more than in the days of his courtship, the only thing he regretted that marred his happiness was the loss of a little child, a girl, but he wrote that the bright days would soon come and they would all be together again soon.
There is no doubt war broadens people's views of many of the problems of life, and it is a pleasure to read the letters of the men and to think that love, the paramount essential of the Christian religion, lies in the hearts of perhaps the roughest class of men in the British Army (for most of these men are coal miners), perhaps dormant, perhaps very much alive, may be expressed, may be unexpressed, but nevertheless there, as proved by reading the letters of such a portion as write.
On the 12th inst. the mess here had an anniversary dinner, commemorating the arrival of the Company in this Village a year ago. We had quite a good time, and I being the only person who was not a member of the 182 Co. (being only temporarily attached), proposed a toast to the O.C., officers and men of the Company, and after sundry little speeches, to and fro, so to speak, the Adjutant proposed a toast to the Attached Infantry, and in reply I made a little speech referring to the feeling of the Dominion beyond the Seas as felt by Canadians in general, and myself in particular, as to our Status in the present conflict in which England is engaged. -------- (censured). I made reference to the sentiment which I thought, and still think, exists to a certain extent, (notwithstanding the protestations to the contrary made by members of the mess afterwards), which had been often expressed around the table belittling the Canadian troops in the line on this front, or rather making statements insinuating that they wore inferior to the British Ile troops. I said that the Canadians deserved a great deal of credit for having come as volunteers to the help of England, and explained that as far as family relationships were concerned between Canadians and Englishmen (Scotch and Irish), the Canadians were separated by several generations, three, perhaps as a good average four, from their relations in the Motherland, and that the motive which prompted them to enlist was not such an immediate or direct one as that which prompted Englishmen living in England and the British Isles, or Englishmen living in any of the Colonies who had left within recent years, in fine that Canadians were prompted more by an ideal, and sense of duty, than Englishmen who were fighting for their very homes, relations and own lives.
Several members of the mess spoke (and one very feelingly) protesting that anything they had said about the Canadians in the way of criticism was only as a manner of speaking, and that they had criticized every kind of troops which had been in the line in these parts, whether they were English, Scotch, Irish, Colonial or otherwise, and that the fact that the Canadians had been in the line at the same time that I happened to be here was responsible for the fact that I had heard the Canadians to be the subject of more comment than they otherwise would have been. There were several other speeches and "stunts" as Uncle Alex used to say. I recited The Shooting of Dan McGrew" by Service and afterwards read "The Cremation of Sam McGee", and the affair closed after a very pleasant evening "had been had".
I think I acknowledged the socks and kerchief. The sox were very nice, especially having the name on. I also told you I had plenty for the present. I am to go to the trenches on the 17th. I was on the new job I spoke of for a month, and now the other Attached Infantry Officer has to take it. It means that I will have three days absolutely free out of every eight, so that is a consideration.
I have noted your information re the relations in Scotland and if I am spared to get leave I will make an effort to visit them. Will look forward to getting information re your relations. Would
it be possible for you to write them and tell them I am here and sort of pave the way for a visit there.
Must close now as it is getting late. Got the Montreal Star you sent dated Feby. 10 I think.
With love to all.
Sent you some English papers, also to Donald's house and Willle’s; hope you got then. Have had no opportunity of getting any French papers yet.