I don’t think I have heard from you since writing you last, but as that is some time ago and I have cast my lot amid new scenes and surroundings I will write now. Mr. Donkin, the other Canadian officer who was attached to the tunnelling Co. with me, and I, together with all the men we had with us, were moved to the 4th Divisional Training School where the men will be refitted and given a little training as they did nothing but tunnelling work when they were with that Co.
You will have heard about the great advance we made where I was and in other parts of the line. I was not in the show but my battalion was, and I am anxiously waiting for particulars from those I know in the battalion. Mr. New, whose picture you had taken with mine and who was with me since I first took my preparatory course in Toronto and was transferred from the 159th to the 38th and was rooming with me when first we came to France, was killed just a few days ago. He and some of his men were instantly killed by a shell. Poor fellow, I feel so badly for him. I saw him shortly before he was killed and he told me how sick he was of the whole business. He said he expected to be in the line for some days and then "go over the top" as they say, meaning an advance or a "Show" as sometimes expressed. Poor follow he never lived to get into the "Show". I gave him your address and he gave me that of his parents and we agreed that if anything happened either of us the other would write and let the parents know what we could of the particulars. So as soon as I can get some more information as to where and how he was killed and where he was buried, I will write them.
We took a great many prisoners and on the way here I saw five hundred being marched along the road. And mostly quite happy as the war is ended as far as they are concerned and they will be well treated. We are in a very nice place, both the country and our billets. The latter is in a nice clean place, and a fairly good fire place, and all the people here seem to take a personal interest in the soldiers quite different to some places. The 4th Div. school is in an old Chateau, the owner of which I am told is a Count. Altho' it is in a more or loss dilapidated condition just now I can imagine that in former days it was very beautiful. The grounds are magnificent and on such a large scale. Woods and trees planted in rows like flowers in a well arranged garden and such immense ones.
We are having very bad weather, snow falling nearly every day and the ground cold and wet. However we should be glad to get away from the line at all. The artillery bombardments were terrible the last two tours I was up, but where I we had thirty-three feet of good old Mother Earth over our heads and the only danger was coming in and going out and moving about while there. It is a strange sight to see the place where we were when severe shelling was going on. Like a small town in a sever snow storm when no one will venture forth but perhaps some unfortunate compelled by necessity is seen making his hurried way through the streets.
On the last tour up I went a strange way and when we got near our dug-out they were shelling the vicinity. There were two other men who said they knew the way, so after having waited in a sheltered place till we thought it was quiet we ventured out on the run. The place was deserted, the only sign of a human being was a dead man lying on his back, face up, on the walk. We hopped over him and on and then we found that we had taken the wrong way. We had gone nearly a quarter of a mile out of our way, so had to run back and over this dead man again, and finally we arrived at our dug-out. A friend told me I was as white as a sheet and puffing as if my heart would come out of my mouth.
I came out on the 6th and it was my special good fortune to have a good vantage ground to see a little special bombardment our artillery was putting on. I could see the line for at least a mile (or the vicinity) and it was wonderful as well as very pleasing to see our guns blowing the earth and hear creaking and roaring of the shells and to see the Huns sending up distress signals to his artillery in his rear. The Somme has always been spoken of as being one of the hottest spots in the whole war as far as artillery was concerned, but they say there are more guns where I was than on the Somme.
I understand the course we are taking is a six day course, so we will be here that long at least, perhaps longer, then we will likely go back to our Battalions. Please send any letters to 38th Bn. and if I am not with them, they will forward then on to me. I suppose I will not get any letters for some time now since I have moved and they will take some time in being forwarded. We feel much more at home now being among Canadians, also very proud to see in the papers that the victory is considered one of the greatest in the war and the Canadians are greatly responsible for it.
We are all hoping the Hun will have enough sense to ask for peace now that the U.S. is in it, also Brazil seems to be practically in it too.
With love to all. Tell Rhoda I got her parcel and thanks very much.