Somewhere in France
21st Bttn, France
Aug 20, 1916
My Dear Parents & Bros,-
Here goes for a trial at a few lines before bedtime in answer to those 4 letters received last week all upon one day at Sawaritou[?] Plains Camp, Thorncliffe. Yes and let me assure you that they were heartily appreciated – read and re-read. They were yours, mother of July 18 & 25, yours Ev of July 28 and yours Wat of July 27.
Now it does seem stingy of me to say "keep up the good work. Keep them coming" and then always answer a whole weeks budget via one hastily scribbled note and it must be difficult for you to understand why I cannot use at least a few minutes extra time, occasionally, to drop a personal letter to you in turn. I won't waste time attempting to explain for I could only do that via a "chat". Just please believe me when I say that I have so far found it impossible. It is not by any means owing to lack of desire. I would sure love to answer each of you every time with a good long letter.
Well, we came across, at last, a few nights ago and are at a base in France for a few days – may be engaged in actual warfare now at any time after a few hours notice. I do hope that we get to the actual front this week as I am tired of this [?] and anxious to help do our share and aid in ending this awful carnage. I am not at all anxious for the "experience", but to get there and do all I can to aid. As far as my fate is concerned it does not worry me a particle more than if I was at home. All anyone can do is their best and be as careful at the same time as possible. Worry would only tend to make one forget precautions and hinder doing his duty properly thus endangering not only his own, but his comrades welfare. I believe that it will end [?] long and we will certainly all be happy when it does.
We have enjoyed splendid weather here and for quite a long time before leaving England. The grain in England is practically all harvested, but the trees, hedges, etc. both here and there still maintain a wonderful green and very heavy foliage.
I was sorry to hear that a portion of the west was hailed out and hope that it was and will be not very extensive.
Sorry to hear of you losing your position Vern and hope to soon hear of your holding a better one. Am glad to know that you and yours, Wat are all doing so well and would love to visit you for a couple of days. I do not remember the Beatsons, but I have forgotten so many of my old friends and acquaintances owing to my trouble. Possibly I would know them when I meet them again. My best your folks when you write, Lib.
Your were expressing anxiety in both your letters, mother regarding the fate of those ginger-snaps, but I trust that long before this you have received my letters telling you of how much of a treat they were and how some of my fellow privates enjoyed the brand.
I received a pr. of sox from Millie Mitchell about 2 weeks ago. It was good of her to send them and she knit them herself. I also received Miss McKenzie's letter quite a long time ago and wondered why I did not get her parcel. Since you sent it for her only recently I will likely receive it soon. I have never been able to answer her letter. If you get an opportunity please explain to her and thank her for me.
And say – look out for squalls when that parcel of oatmeal cookies and snaps arrive.
By the way – I may send you a slight alteration in my address later but be sure and never change it on anything from the original I gave you unless I tell you.
I also received Mrs. Robb's letter quite a while since, and she told me she was sending a parcel, but I have not yet received it. It will likely come along soon. Some of my mail has been rather slow of late. It got mixed with another Donnelly's at Thorncliffe. It was good of Mrs. Robb. I don't think I ever knew her.
Ha! Ha! Don't worry about the vermin [?], mother. They are not awfully scarce, but are only in battalions usually which are unclearly. The French-Canadian regiment at Lydd had plenty of company, so we did not visit them at all. But that [?] regarding the salt and water might someday come in good and handy. Many thanks, mother, for it.
I am glad that they got Geo. Buer, W. of May Le and Donn. Dawson both get their just reward very soon.
According to all reports, prohibition is proving itself to be just what everybody needs. hurrah for all Canada – for all the world (some) day soon!
I must send you that money for the News Telegram as soon as possible Frank now since I know that it is for three mo's. I do not know how much extra is required for postage overseas, but will either find out of guess it. I have not received it for about a week now, but will likely get a bunch, soon.
Say – I cannot write decent letter any more for some reason. I am ashamed to send this, but am afraid it must go. Censorship does not help any either. We cannot tell you of our position, or of intended movements and this hinders a great deal from even describing scenery, etc. I do hope to do better next time.
Sincerely trusting that his finds you all as well as I am thankful to say it leaves me, I remain with LOVE to all.