Dear Parents & Bros;
Those three letters received I received last week, yours', mothers (I forget the date of it as in some manner I have mislaid, or lost the first page), yours', Harold of the 9th from Rosetown and yours', Frank of the same date were all such a treat that I must needs get busy and try to answer them in my deficient way, at least.
I was glad to learn that you, Jack had another visit home. Gee! but wouldn't a day, or two at home with the bunch taste good now! Well, I had better not discuss such luxuries or I may try to hire one of these aeroplanes and soar over.
We have had the most strenuous week of my life, anyway, I believe. Monday and Tuesday we spent at long hours at Otterpool having also worked all the Sunday previous. Wednesday morn we were reveilled at 2:30, had breakfast at 3:00 and left camp for here at 4:30 with our full harness, bayonet, an eleven lb. Ross Rifle and a pack consisting of one blanket, a waterproof bed-sheet, great coat, towel, pr. socks, suit underwear, housewife, mess-tin, water-bottle, haversack and twenty-four hours rations each – about fifty-five to sixty pounds. Oh mamma but didn't we sw-! no - perspire. We arrived here at 9:45 AM; having marched 17 mils. up and down hills. The first reinforcing draft of the 88th from Victoria B.C. were behind us and at Romney a little town about two-thirds the distance we had all our men on their feet, still, but one. The 88th had 53 fallen into the ambulance. I think the number with heads still up when we arrived were all but twelve in our #1 reinforcement. But on the quiet I believe that another 80 rods would have put us all down and out. I was just thinking at the time that if an auto had run against our rear, the whole bunch would have played an old-fashioned game of dominoes. You remember how we stood them all up and just touched one at the end. Ahem!
At 1:15 P.M. we shouldered our load again and stood up for an hour or so for inspection, having cleaned rifles, boots, brass, etc. in the meantime. Every morning since we have arisen at 2:30 and left for the ranges at 4, about three miles, shot until about nine and returned, shone up and drilled and received lectures during the P.M.
I have made rather a low score yet, but am getting on to my rifle now and believe I can catch up to the average this week. We have only shot up to 500 yds. so far – will keep on to 1200 and then have different classes of shooting all the way up from 100 yds. again.
All sizes and classes of guns are shooting all day and we can also hear the guns from the trenches, here.
This morning we were reveilled at 6:30 (the latest since I enlisted) breakfasted at 7:30 and about 1500 men (many battalions from all over Canada being here) marched 6 mils., took a swim in the sea and dittoed back. Only one breaker about twelve feet high turned me on my head. Ahem! I jumped through all other for about a half hour.
Yes, the war news of late are more encouraging than for a long time. We heard this morning that the Allies had taken one line of enemy trenches for an entire frontage of sixty or ninety miles. All here feel that the time will be short until it is ended and may God grant it. In all probability even should it end immediately we will go, anyway – those who have borne the brunt of the fighting being sent home and the later contingents kept over there until peace is signed and sealed and everything made safe.
I was sorry to learn of Fletcher Elliot being killed. It will sure be a sad blow to his parents, especially having lost both boys. I will drop them a line if possible, but be sure and send them my heartfelt sympathy, anyway. It may seem queer to you that sufficient time to drop any friend a line cannot be found by me, but I hope none of you will ever think that this is merely an excuse. A minute here is a long time off for quite a lengthy period, sometimes and often.
Congratulation Harold on your monthly increase. Workers always make good; am also glad to know that Jack is doing so well and hope that Ev likes his change. I know he will do well.
Am anxiously awaiting a letter form Ab & Vern; guess they are also good and busy. Say Watt & Libby – you also please remember that I need a letter telling me all about Dorothy Jean and yourselves, you old-timers. I sincerely trust that you are still well and happy.
Am still keeping fine myself and mighty thankful for it. I find it rather difficult to eat too much on account of being a vegetarian, but am doing well at that on what is left, purchase a little downtown and at canteen occasionally! Gee! when those snaps arrive watch me. But the cost of sending them must have been high. Don't be so extravagant.
I met a fellow of the 88th from Victoria last week who knew of Fletcher and George Elliot but was not acquainted with them.
Well I must close and say good-night for today as reveille comes early and sleep helps shoot straighter. Hope so for tomorrow. I made a grouping at two hundred yds. the whole five shots inside a 4 in. circle, but one of the boys put one of his shot in my target away above and spoiled my score. They may give me a chance to shoot it over again.
Loads of Love to all from,
Ever Most Affectionately,
P.S. Say Alma do you think that those snaps will pay for my pose with you in that snap-shot? Well, well! W.