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Date: November 13th 1916
Beulah Bahnsen (wife)
Ralph Watson

— Battalion Canadians B.E.F.
13 November, ’16.

My very dearest Laly —

This morning we arrived at our destination behind the lines. We didn’t do anything but loaf around today after we arrived, and tonight I discovered this Y. about two kilometres from our billets, so I could write to you. First, dear, you will be glad to hear I am particularly well — couldn’t be better. Things seem to improve all round as the days go by. We are billeted in a school, have two blankets — quite ample — each, and the grub is first rate. Havre is like a bad dream already. The train journey also improved. There was more room after each change, and the weather is lovely. Boulogne, on looking back on it, seems more of a slothful existence every day; no contrast could be greater than the life there and here. Of course no fit man, not having special training for particular work necessitating his staying at the base, has any right there at all, in my opinion. This is most certainly my place.

All along in the journey, I tried to collect impressions to give you, and I cannot help but smile when I think what they were. . . .  On the whole trip, I don’t think I ever heard the war mentioned. There was a poker game at each end of the box car which seemed to be the greatest attraction. The conversation was mostly kicking on the room, the grub, the army in general — every one in the army kicks all the time. As we approached the line, the guns became audible and I am half ashamed to say I felt a thrill. No. one else even mentioned them. Even right here in what is, in manner of speaking, only a stone’s throw from the firing line, life is more peaceful than in Boulogne. Kids play in the streets; the shops are lighted up — dimly — but still lit; this afternoon I heard “school” going on in part of the building in which we are billeted. The only difference I can see in the traffic — to that of the base — is that the A.S.C. drivers have a steel helmet strapped somewhere near the seat. . . . 

I shall anxiously await every letter from you — I am so worried as to how you will bear up — you positively must not worry, dear, a lot. You know in the first place how it upsets your health and again you must be brave for Billie and me. She must not see you not being brave — and I want always to think of you with your head up, taking whatever is God’s will, like the brave woman I know you so well to be.

What deep satisfaction will be ours, when this war is won, that we both did all we could. . . . 

My heart and mind are with you always, dear — literally always — more now than ever do we understand and appreciate our great love.

Never be downhearted — never gloomy — God must be on our country’s side.

Kiss our Billie many, many times for me.

Original Scans

Original Scans