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Date: February 16th 1916
Harold Dean

Maple Leaf Club
11 St. Charles St.
Berkley Square W
London. Eng.
Feby 16/1916

Dear Mother –

This is Wednesday and I am in the great city. I am on a six day pass which ends Sunday 9.30 pm Our camp is only 10 miles from here and can get there for about 10 cents. I can come to London every night if I want to but there is nothing to see after dark around this place in war time. The street lamps are darkened to just a glimmer and all windows are darkened in stores and private houses so it is a dark time.

Well I guess I partly told you in the card about being at Grove Park but now I will make

[postscript added at top of page referencing the stationery letterhead with motto "honi soit qui mal y pense":] (This Crest is the one we wear on our cap. It is English “Army Service Corps.”)

[letter continues] it a little more explicit.

We went to Bulford camp at first on Sunday and moved from there the next Saturday morning Feb 5th. We took train to Grove Park which is where we are now stationed. We arrived at Grove Park on Saturday afternoon about 3 p.m. and found part of our first bunch there. The rest were billeted out in houses in the villages near.

We immediately had to pass doctors examination that p.m. then they gave us supper and took us to our huts for sleeping which is in a field near the barracks. The huts are like ready made houses bolted together, are made of wood with rubber roofing. They are not draft-proof exactly but are comfortable enough as they have a fire in them. The huts would hold about fifty but as they have lots of them they only allow 24 men to a hut.

They marched us back to barracks early Sunday morning where we had breakfast. I might as well say here that the barracks is an old workhouse consisting of five or six large brick buildings joined with covered archways and surrounded by a high brick fence. They have their own water plant and electric which is all run by steam. The water is pumped out of a well into a tank and from there supplies the barracks and camp. They cook by steam in large copper kettles. And set in steam boxes which are covered tightly. The kettles are moved around and lifted by blocks on an overhead track which runs all over the ceiling of the kitchen.

Of course this kitchen was not fitted up for the war but is the fixtures of the workhouse. The food here is good so we have no kick coming.

Well to continue my story. After breakfast Sunday morning they tested us on trucks which lasted till noon. After dinner they told us who passed as first class drivers and then dismissed us about 3.30. I went down to the soldiers club at Lee and spent the evening where we had sacred music

On Monday they put us on cooks duty etc. which lasted all day. The funny part here is breakfast 6.30 Dinner 12.30 Tea 4.30 and supper 8 pm. I usually quit after the third and don’t take any supper but some of the boys do. We didn’t do much the remainder of the week except get our regimental numbers etc and change huts three or four times. On Sunday last they took us on a march for about six miles on account of not having room in the chapel for all of us. Sunday afternoon I went for a walk again to Lewisham, Catford, Bromley and some of the other surrounding small towns. I had supper at Catsford and went back to barracks early in the evening. On Monday morning we had another route march and after dinner we got our passes and about 3 oclock we started for London. We came in on the train part way and then took the underground railway which runs electrically through a steel tube all over London and vicinity. They travel very fast as they cant tip over, the tube being just big enough for the cars. Well we came up to the Club here and had supper and after that wandered down the street. We went to Piccadilly st which is only 2 blocks away and went down Piccadilly as far as Leicester square. WE went to a moving picture house and then came back to the Club to bed. Gee but that bed felt good. The first spring bed since I left home. Of course since in England you know we have no straw ticks, nothing but blankets on boards.

We had to get up however before ten oclock so we went up town and had breakfast about 10 am. After breakfast we took in Trafalgar square, King Edwards arch, Duke of York’s monument and steps. Buckingham Palace and Victoria’s monument, the War Office Admiralty office, Premier Asquith and Lloyd George’s official residences on Downing St, Lord Derby’s house where he worked out his scheme, the Indian offices and Home offices and Education building which has been under construction 12 years and is not yet complete, St James Park which is in front of Buckingham Palace, and Westminster Abbey. I haven’t been in the abbey yet but expect to go in tomorrow. I was in the British American museum for about three or four hours in the afternoon so had quite a busy day. The museum building was on the corner of Whitehall St. and Downing St and is known as Whitehall. (All these places mentioned above are in the center of London in the City of Westminster so every sign I read sounds like home) The building was built in 1619 A.D. in the reign of James II so you see the building itself is quite old. It was the banquet hall of Charles I, James son and was the place he was beheaded. He walked down the room of the museum passed out a large window to a scaffold which place in now the street to be beheaded. In the museum were thousand of interesting things form all parts of the world even to a cup from B.C. which was presented by the city of Victoria to the Imperial troops when they left Esquimalt in 1906. They were all kinds of swords, spears, revolvers, guns bayonets, armour and helmets from all parts of the world and as old as the world very near. The most interesting part I thought was the uniforms worn by Duke of Wellington the bones of the horse rode by Napoleon and the plan of the battle of Waterloo. This is made up about 12 feet square, is made from actual survey and has every gun and every man both infantry and cavalry lined up in their proper place (They are small iron images standing on the sod) It shows every tree and every house that was on the battlefield. The attendant told us it took six months to survey the place before the exact imitation could be made up. We also saw everything belonging to Lord Nelson. The small image ship of the Victory was there and the original main mast of his old ship, about seven feet of the berth end, was there with his bust on the top. The mast had shot holes in it one which was 6 in in diameter was clear through the center. We saw his fork which was made with a knife on one edge on account of his having only one arm. We saw his cabinet and washstand off the Victory and also a very expensive writing desk presented him by his friends and which is priceless at the present day. The writing desk is just a round stand about 5 feet high with a flat top when you first see it but when opened up is the finest thing in hardwood I ever saw. It is full of drawers of all sizes each one with a secret lock and almost all worked differently. It is so perfect in workmanship that when the drawers were closed you couldn’t tell they were there. We also saw old flags captured in different battles, guns captured ages ago from all nations of the world even back to an anchor taken from one of the ships of the Spanish Armada

I can’t describe it all of course but will mention the hand painted ceiling painted in Charles I days and valued now at 1 million pounds or about five million dollars. These paintings are something grand. The old clock is still keeping time that was built in the building.

Well I will tell you all I saw some day but if I wrote it here I would be a week writing and it would cost about $10.00 for postage so I will have to be brief.

When I came back to the Club for supper I entered the dining room and when somebody said Hello Harold I turned and saw Wilson Patchell from Sapperton who left Vanc with the 29th Batt. He is over here for a two weeks leave which he got for doing one of those feats, that of going into the German trenches, that dad wont believe until Wally comes home to tell him about them. He was only slightly wounded and was in the hospital one day. You can hardly see the marks on his face now. The scratches were caused from an exploding bomb thrown by his own men. He told me of Walker Sangster and a lot more Westminster boys and says they are feeling fine and fit. Just to impress on Dad the dangers of these attacks on the German trenches, his own pals refused to shake hands with him on the ground it was certain death.

Well I must close this letter now and will relate my sights and experiences of today in the next one. Tell all the folks the news and don’t forget to take the letter out to Grandma and Harrison etc. as I cant write letters to all. Well I send my address with this one so you can send the mail along as fast as you like. Just hand the address to everyone and tell Aunt Del to send it to Toronto to the boys as I forgot to write down their address. I dont know how long I will be in England but I dont expect it will be long. (I could afford to stay in London for a while after each pay day as it only cost me 72 cents per day here at the “Club of the Maple Leaf” for room and board. This Club is run under the supervision of a Canadian officer for Canadians only on leave.) The first draft boys from Vanc haven’t left England yet but expect to leave any day. We will therefore be a month or so in getting to France. Patchell says the Army Service is a good job over there and the fellows like it so I expect I will too.

Well I will close for now mother with love to Dad and all the rest.

Your far away son

My address is for all time
Pte Harold A Dean
no M2/153285
No 1 Section, Driver.
Grove Park.
Lee, S.E.

[postscript] I wrote to Wally today so expect to hear from him in a week or so

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