Pte David L Reekie
#838674. 8th Reserve Bn #3Coy C.E.F.
Shoreham By Sea, Sussex,
Just a few lines today to let you know how we all are and to thank Annie for the nice Xmas card which I rec’d about two weeks ago but you will have to excuse this scribbling as my hands are cold and stiff, we have just come in from pay parade and a clothing parade, to condemm worn clothes, so had to stand around outside a long time. There was no church parade today – too busy. Its an awful busy world. Well I always heard that there was no winter in England but know better now. The ground has been frozen solid for two weeks now and the cold sea winds seem just as chilly as Canada ever was, of course they say this is an unusual winter. I dont see how the people will keep their houses warm as most of them just use gas or a fireplace, and the churches are so cold that you have to wear greatcoats all the time. The English church is a very ancient building. It was built in the Eleventh century, of stone and stone floors, the roof is supported by heavy stone pillars and there is chairs for seats. I guess it has stood through some very stirring times as it is only about 40 miles from Hastings and five from Brighton which was once held by the Romans.
The country around here is very rough and hilly, and the hills mostly run in ranges winding in every direction so the roads do not run straight but follow the level but they are all good smooth ones only tiresome on the feet. I suppose you will be having some pretty cold weather now eh? There is skating up in the northern counties here and we are on a short issue of coke now on account of the trains being blocked by snow. We often talk of the good times when we were “tin-soldiering” in Canada. We sure had a good time last winter, living in private houses where we eat as much for one meal as we get in three now. We used to waste a lot of bread in Borden and it would go for the pigs but its not that way here. We only get five slices per day, so you may be sure that none is wasted. We get a lot of fish over here and margarine instead of butter, but it is very good. They used to give us frozen rabbits but everybody complained so we sometimes get beef now. You see the orderly Officer comes in at each meals and asked for complaints, then he is supposed to take notes and present them at the cookhouse. We generally get enough to eat but if it had been like this a year ago, we would have thought we were starving, it is all in getting used to anything though. They say you get lots of rations in France but it will be very easy to get used to the increase I think at least I can, Ha. Ha. Its comical to hear the talking thats going on now, “one says just let me off this Island” “A fellow doesnt have to go to France to die,” “I wont kick on anything at home now” and other bluff but it is mostly in fun. If we ever have any hardships somebody always sees the humorous side of it.
We are in the 8th Reserve Bn now, we have been reinforced to nearly double strength and have eight companies, all casualties and boys that are underage are in the No 8 Coy. We have a fine band now of 47 instruments, so it is the best in Camp. Two drafts have left Joe Seguin is the only Thornbury man gone yet. I suppose men will be leaving all the time now, I do not know when I will go as the last draft was picked in alphabetical order they do not let them volunteer
Beatrice said they were thinking of having a Box Social at Sand Hill. Has it come off yet? I wish I could be there for it. Things are pretty quiet here, I only go down town about twice a week because the town is so small and sleepy. How is the National Service cards taking? It is to be hoped that conscription is not enforced. Australia voted it down both in civil and military elections and Canada is doing here share. They have National Service here and call up men as they are needed. I think it would be a pretty discontented life for a fellow if he was forced into it. I wish we were all allowed to take pictures here and I would send you some snaps but they will not allow cameras in the camp so I had to send mine home. There is some nice scenery around here. But discipline is very strict and it dont pay to “stick anything over them”
Well I must close for this time and start another letter. All the boys are well. Remember me to all. Will be glad to hear from you at anytime.
Your old friend