France, nr. Lens
Aug. 22, 1917
Thanks for your welcome letter. At present I am something like twenty kilometers from the fighting line on a ten day L. Gun course. As our Batt. has had one of the worse fights this year, in my absence, I am glad in one way to have escaped it yet sorry in another way as no doubt many of the boys are at present casualties.
I received a letter from Adrian today. He said his wounds were healed and that he was in a military convalescent hospital where the grub was poor but the treatment excellent. He said he had seen and spoken to Mrs. Longbourne (Miss George). He is taking painting lessons at present and is painting up an improvement of a ruined church which he drew out here. I received Keith’s welcome letter and hope to answer it soon. .
I have a book of verse “Songs of a Sourdough”16by R Service and am trying to memorize a couple of its pieces, one called “Grin”. The other “When you pay the Bill” did you ever read one of his latest entitled “Tales of a Red Cross man”? It is worth spending a few cents or even dollars to purchase it. The verses of it are exact to life of the experiences of hundreds of men out here.
Now if your are ever crazily inclined to join up for the Lords sake don’t join or allow Keith to as a private or you will rue the day. Be an officer it is easy to be one for a man of your experiences.
However if you would listen to reason wait about four months before thinking of anything so foolish. As regards to living in town why the deuce don’t you simply move on to any practical piece of land and talk about living out of town afterwards. You could still do your job and I’m darned sure Keith is capable of keeping things going until we can all be together again.
What really is the matter old man is that you all at home forget maybe that precious time is being wasted while you all talk of taking up land etc. that is the way it strikes me. Of course old man I don’t pretend to know anything about it. What set me thinking was a letter from Harry B. in which he said he was arranging to take up land in his absence to-gether with his brothers and finished by asking me if I was going to join them. I of course couldn’t take up land unless Keith and you do likewise. Now is the time to do this because so many chances are left untouched in the absence of the other fellows.
I suppose the papers are all talking about the Canadians. I am rather dreading to return to the boys for fear some will be missing after this dashed fighting.
Say old man you seem to have a queer idea that it is only old country fellows that join up. I know there are a greater percentage of the troops out here in the Canadians are old country men. That is only natural because is not B.C. for instance populated mostly with men from England. Also don’t think that your old country men are the only fighters because the most daring, unquenchable fighters the Canadians possess are their French Canadian men over here. There are a few Batt. of them over here and they seldom take any prisoners. Believe me Fritz. doesn’t like them.
All the French farmers about here are busy harvesting the most beautiful crops of oats, wheat, barley, alfalfa etc. Most of them still reap their crops with a short looking scythe in one hand and a sort of hook in the other. They do about four times more work than we would do with up to date appliances. The apple and pears seem to be plentiful about this part but they can’t hold a candle to our beautiful fruit.
Keith made me laugh when he wrote about H.’s bloated cow. I wonder why H. Didn’t try letting the air out with a knife. Surely it was worth the risk.
We all still have a sneaking hope for a nearby peace. Fritz still has lots of artillery and can use it with good aim at times. However the Allies seem to be simply swamping him lately and we only hope the darned fools will soon come to our terms. The quicker they do it the better for us all as we shall surely win in the end. A quick peace would save many precious lives.
Your loving son,
[Editor’s note: Transcription provided by collection donor.]