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Date: June 11th 1916

Otterpool Camp
Westenhanger England
June 11/1916

My Dear Parents,

It was indeed a treat to receive your (mother's) letter of May 17 a few days ago and I have been aching ever since for an opportunity to answer, but we have been busy almost constantly from 5:30 A.M. until 10 P.M. at fatigue work and I found it practically impossible to write.

I was indeed glad to learn that all is still going fairly well with you and sincerely trust and pray that better may soon attend. I tell you that not only your welfare, but also that of all those whom you both love best has taken a much deeper hold upon me than ever before, since coming here. May God grand us victory soon in this awful warfare, that poverty and old men, women and child drudgery many never exist in dear old Canada as it does here now as a direct result. And may He grant that such conditions may be lifted here. I won't attempt to describe them for it is impossible to pen. It is awful in comparison to what we ever though were hard times in Canada. Then when one thinks of poor Belgium and other portions of Europe he wants to get there immediately and try to help.

I have also just re-read your letter, mother – which you gave me upon leaving. You are mistaken. I have never been worthy of my parents. May God help me to be so and to yet be of some use to them in some manner. Do not worry about me appreciating all of your letter, your prayers in my behalf, etc, etc. I shall never forget your generosity of heart regarding my welfare, etc. You have both always treated me better than I ever deserved and it comes home clearer to me now. I am afraid that I have missed many opportunities to do my duty towards parents and brothers, all of whom have done so much for me. May you all forgive me and may God henceforth teach me His Will and help me to obey it in this and all other things.

I am very sorry that you both have evidently taken it so hard, and regret deeply that such pain to you was caused. But cheer up. I believe that I could not have done my duty in any other manner towards God and man. It will all turn out for the best and we will then see it in that light to be revealed.

Give Watt and Lib my love and tell them I am glad to know that they are all well. Tell them that though I may be a long time answering, I will deeply appreciate their letters. In fact I may very seldom write to any of the boys direct (much as I would love to do so, but it is practically impossible) but will be glad to have my letters sent the rounds from home. I will try and drop post-cards occasionally to each of you. This is for all.

I had a letter from Ev yesterday AM and though I had no chance to read it until about 4 PM I sure enjoyed it. I was sorry to miss another chat with Jack, Watt and him before I left.

Many thanks to Mekilibius[?] for their kind message and my very best to all of them.

There are many thousands of soldiers from all over Canada encamped here – the 89th arrived a couple of days ago and the 56th are here.

We have had very little training as yet, but discipline, etc. all over the country is very strict and we have to keep our eyes open. We have done a tremendous lot of hard work, but I am glad to say that it makes me feel better every day. Getting up at 5:30, jumping out of a tent and shaving at a trough in the open, (sometimes in the rain as it rains about every half hour, here), washing, cleaning English mud off our boots, shining our brass, folding and putting away blankets etc. then eating breakfast at 6:00 seems to harden a fellow. But we are now compelled to grow mustaches so will have less to shave, anyway. More second hand soup and porridge though at the following meal.

Our Encampment is rather poorly equipped and planned but we will likely move to Thorncliffe in a few days. By the way, I forgot to subscribe for a Calgary paper before I left and if you will have the News Tel. weekly sent I will remit to you when you tell me how much it is. The boys are all crazy for a Calgary paper. I will appreciate it very much if you – Harold or Frank will attend to it for me.

I cannot give you any conception of the different customs, etc, etc, of this country to Canada. They seem to me [?] fifty years behind the times. But the country is very pretty and there is a small town about every three miles in every direction. The roads are nearly all macadamized[1], hedged, and large trees hang over from behind the hedges. I walked with Mabel Forrze's[?] brother (Mabel used to work for D.W.&B. and he is in our Company) yesterday P.M. from camp to Hythe – about 4 miles - and had the first bath since I left Calgary. Gee, but it felt good. I think my belt buckled two holes farther after the dirt was washed off; hope since getting the hot water and soap to have a salt water bath at the beach there; will probably have a chance tomorrow at Folkestone as our battalion are taking a special holiday train down there for our really first lay-off. We had yesterday and the previous Saturday P.M.'s (that is – some of us did) and last Sunday P.M. after 3:30, but we had something of a personal necessity to take up every minute, if nothing else – sleeping. Ahem!

We may not get away as a unit to France but do not know "anything about anything" definitely. They may take the best trained first for re-inforcing. I think that they will try and segregate our companies as much as possible, anyway.

Well – this is a poor sample of a letter, but I am still a poor author, I am afraid.

I will try to write more regularly in future and will always be watching for letters from you all. Don't forget that there is nothing to worry about and that worry never helps anyway. A smile beats it a mile. Also remember that so far as I am concerned, I am enjoying myself fine and keeping OK for which I am good and thankful.

Loads of Love to dear father & mother & all my dear bros., from
Ever Affectionately

P.S. You grain-buying and other dub engineers should be here to watch the aeroplanes flying all over the country almost constantly; yes and listen to their roar. They sure show how speed is made. –Bill

P.S. Continue the same address until I come home again, i.e. c/o Can. Record Office. –Will

P.P.S. Give Verna, Lloyd & Jackie a good tussle and a big X each from Uncle –Will

[written at bottom of letter by Will's mother:]
Please save this letter and send back as I (mother) want to save his letters.


[1] A road construction method based on the work of John Loudon McAdam.]

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