#838674. 8th Res Bn 3 Coy C.E.F.
St Martins Plains Shorncliffe,
March 21, 1917.
I rec’d your very welcome and newsy letter today, it was one of four of the first Canadian mail I have had for over three weeks, (owing to a vessel being quarantined I heard.) We have been looking for mail every day and always the same fortune, so you may be sure everybody is in the best of spirits today. There’s nothing like a letter to cheer a person up.
I suppose the weather will be getting warmer now and pruning and ploughing will soon be in full swing then everybody will be busy again. They are seeding here already, some implements and modes of working here too, you wouldnt think there was any labour scarcity if old men and boys are considered, always two men to a seed drill or plough and you should hear the jokes that are sprung when we get out on a march near where they are ploughing. There is a good farming country all around here, and a few gas-tractors are in use, but there is lots of sheep pasture around here on the hillsides but it keeps the old shepherd and his two dogs busy keeping the sheep away from the trenches where we use live bombs and rifle grenades. Say, I only wish we were allowed to take pictures here, I had my camera at Shoreham but had to send it home. There certainly is some great sites, but what I would like best is the corner of the Garrison cemetery that all the Canadian boys from this camp or who have died in hospitals near it are buried in, there is about one hundred graves, each marked with a little white wooden cross bearing their number and I think their name too, the fourteen that were killed in a guard-tent by a Zepp. bomb about a year ago are buried together. It is on a sidehill, only about two hundred yards from our bombing ground. I havent been into the cemetery yet but intend to go the first chance I get. I saw a military funeral from Ross Barracks hospital one day. It was a full military funeral in every way even to the gun carriage and two teams of black horses but everybody seemed to act in such a quiet, everyday manner that I thought it was a common occurrence.
So the 248th is getting a few eh? A lot of the fellows that we gave a hot chase last winter in Meaford are in the 248th (“Greys Last Hope” as we call it) and they are doing a lot of recruiting talk. I dont think they have any privilege to talk after evading it so long themselves. It is very unlikely that they will ever see active service. At least we hope they will never be needed. Good advances have been made during the last three weeks on the Western front but the papers tonight indicate stiffer resistance by the enemy rearguards, so the Huns will likely try to make a stand near St Quentin. We watch the papers closely over here and have lectures twice a week in the YMCA so we get a pretty good knowledge of the British line.
We have about five hundred men in France now, some will be in the frontline now I guess but I havent heard of any casualties among the men. Lieut Stan Campbell was killed about a month ago though, but I heard tonight that Corbett of Durham got one leg off and three bullets in the other while practising machine gun work. They sure will climb somebody’s frame for that accident, but firing four hundred rounds per minute would soon take a foot off, I suppose you heard that Lieut Reg. Ferguson had done some good work when he led a raid and took 107 prisoners besides inflicting heavy losses on the enemy. Is Reg Fawcett home yet, I heard that he had a hand off. I saw Ezra Fawcett from Kimberly the other day, he has a police job here now But he says its too quiet here he wants to go back. He can tell some great experiences, and Jack Turner, he works in the Military Hospital here, has a wound in the knee but does not seem to bother him much. He spent most of his time (fifteen months) around Ypres and Dichebush [Dichebusch]
Most of the boys say the base in France is better than England, not so much ceremony or brass-cleaning. They seem to think you should look like a Christmas tree here, over seventy pieces of brass on the equipment and then your buttons and rifle to look after, while over there they say you just do what you consider necessary.
We had a Zepp raid here a few nights ago, lots of noise and shaking of the huts about midnight but no other damage done. I heard a machine in the air about ten oclock but no bombs were dropped till midnight You should see some of the triplanes that are used for scouting purposes, they certainly are speedy.
We get more interesting work here than we did in Canada, less drill an more trench-building and barb-wire work, bombing and firing rifle grenades made of a bomb with a rod in it to put down the muzzle and use blank ammunition,it is very interesting work but you have to handle them carefully, or theres likely to be a little white cross. “No Flowers” by request,—“Daisies will grow in the spring”
Well I think it is nearly time I was bringing this to a close and get my bed made. It certainly was sad about Ettie wasnt it? I felt very sorry for the old folks when I heard it. Sand Hill surely must be booming this winter when the Box Social was such a success. Say Annie, you should see some of the outfits that are worn here especially by concert parties coming to the YMCA to give concerts, a lot like the Canadian girls wear on wash day. I have never been sorry that I enlisted, a year in the army is a great experience, a fellow sees things that he would never meet with in ten of civil life.
So Everybody has a cold at home eh? Well I had a bad cold for a while and went on sick parade, “Swung the lead” to the M.O. pretty strong, and got off parade for three days but feel good now. I got a letter from Fred today but will surely get a lot more tomorrow, there three weeks mail someplace.
Well I’m hut orderly for tomorrow so I had better look after the stove now. So must close, Best regards to All, and hoping this finds you in the best of health
P.S. How is your Uncle this winter?