[Ed. note: The Collection donor provided the following note in reference to the name “Perce” in paragraph eight: “this is the brother of Hilda Lailey, recipient of this letter”.]
[letterhead: “Offizier-Gefangenen-Lager, Holzminden”; (approximate translation from German: “Officer-Prison-Camp, Holzminden”)]
July 7th 1918.
Of late, I have lost all faith in myself as a weather prophet, for although the sunsets have been red indicating fine weather the days have been dull & wet. Perhaps there will be some real summer soon.
Since my last letter I have seen something of the camp for I came out of jug over three weeks ago and am now quite settled in my new surroundings. The camp is situated less than a mile from the River Weser. Perhaps we learned something about it in school many moons ago; but, if so, I for one have forgotten. In any direction one looks out on the hills. We live in two large barracks. My particular little corner is on the top floor up three flights of stairs. As I go up and down umpteen times a day there is plenty of exercise. There is a rather good spielplatz [translation from German: “playing field”] (a little swank) inside the wire where in normal times we play indoor base-ball, foot-ball etc. For the more literary or argumentative members of the camp there is a Wranglers Club where such subjects as Free Trade, Educational Systems or a Bachelors’ Tax are discussed. A dramatic society B.A.D.S. flourishes, but the accomodation is not as good as it was in Schweidnitz. As for cooking, I shall not go in to details for it would only be a repetition of what I told you of the last camp.
July first was made the occasion of celebration for there are more than a hundred Canadians here. One or two I knew in my palmy days on the other side of the lines. A big dinner was planned but fell through so we had to content ourselves with a number of smaller ones after which we swaped yarns until it was time to turn in for the night. About fifteen grads and under grads of the U. of T. [University of Toronto] sent a letter to President Falconer. I came about third on the list representing ’12 so feel quite an old timer.
On the fourth of July just for the benefit of some of the Englishmen I was pro Yank. I heard a story of an Englishman who went with his small son to live in the U.S.A. On the Fourth, the father saw his son carrying a banner and parading the streets with the other youngsters of the neighborhood so he said “Hello Sonny what you doing.” “Oh,” said the kid, “we’re celebrating the day we licked you fellows.” Have you heard the other yarn when the boot was on the other foot? An officer in the army of the U.S., who was in London was complaining to his fair chauffeuse because she was three minutes late. “Ah, go on,” was the retort, “you’re three years late.”
On the walk yesterday morning, we passed an old woman with a flock of more than a hundred geese. She carried a mauve flag on a long pole. Whether the flag is used for driving the geese or warning passing vehicles to be careful, I don’t know; but she used it to bring one straying gosling back to its fellows. In one cottage yard there were some beautiful red roses which I should have liked to pick and bring back to the room, but —– . There are around here some fields of purple poppies which now that they are in full bloom are lovely. I am told that the seeds are used for making an oil for table use.
You may be interested in the enclosed picture of the aeroplane which brought my mess mate into this country. It is the same type of machine as that which brought me here.
Many thanks for your letters written from New York and the one dated April thirteenth which came a day or two ago. Two months is very good time for Canadian mail these days. It was mighty good of you to send a parcel. It will probably roll up in a week or ten days if the coupon system which started last January does not hold it up. Anyway I thank you and will let you know when it arrives. You may remember that you sent me a hussif [note: “hussif” is an archaic English term for a sewing kit] last year. It has been wandering about with me ever since and more than once has been “worth its weight in gold.”
So Perce is going in for chemistry, it is a good line these days and I am sure he will enjoy it. I should like to spend the summer in a lab myself. Probably I have forgotten most of the little I was supposed to know once upon a time but after my experience in dish washing I should be able to clean beakers and test-tubes.
I had expected to be in Holland before this but my exchange was held up and now rumour has it that Holland will take no more so perhaps I am here for the duration. However I am optimist enough to think that in another year the end will be in sight. After all a year one way or the other is a small thing in a history making period such as the world is passing through; provided that in the end we have a satisfactory and lasting peace.
The appel bell [translation from German: “roll call bell”?] is ringing and I have exhausted my little supply of news and just about finished the six pages allowed. Three good and sufficient reasons for bringing this scrawl to a close.
From Lieut. A.H.M. Copeland No. 1122