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Date: October 30th 1917
Dad & Mum - (Arthur & Jennie Winterbottom)
Sydney Winterbottom

France (Passchendaele)
Oct. 30, 1917

Dear Dad and Mum:

This is the first letter I have written home for goodness knows for how long. I have had every opportunity for writing but just could not write that was all. However to make up I’ll try to make a decent letter out of this.

First of all thanks ever so much for the pipe which arrived all right. I think it will be all right after a few smokes. I hope you will send me some Velvet Joe tobacco as Old Chum almost burnt my tongue off.

No. I am not starving for boxing. I have not boxed for some weeks and don’t expect to for some time. Our time is taken up these times with a lot sterner fighting than that of boxing. Also I am not the lightweight champion behind the lines. I was the brigade champion for a couple of months after which another fellow won it from me.

Keith was right in a way about the bread. We have about half a pound of white bread per man a day. This bread is baked in ovens by a staff of bakers many miles behind the lines. It is sent up in sackfuls to the respective battalions each day. The bread I might say is generally very good and substantial. Our usual daily fare consists of - bacon, bread, tea and at times porridge for breakfast - stew and tea for dinner while for supper we usually get cheese, tea and bread. Besides these there is a daily ration of jam also margarine is issued twice a week. We often get hard tack which although hard is very good food.

That report about poor Dal. Slavin is fake. Norman did not write about him at all. It was all a mistake. From all accounts poor Dal was undoubtly killed. Of course it isn’t up to you to tell his folks so pretend you don’t know anything about him. Comprenez -vous?

Uncle Barney sent a very enjoyable package of cigars which by the way I enjoyed very much. Not long ago he sent me a warm sweater. From now on till spring I would like you to send me a couple of pairs of warms socks every week. They are so necessary. Also please send a tin of chink ginger will you?

My boils all healed up weeks ago. Also don’t worry about my eating powers they are unlimited.

The part of the country we are now in reminds one of the fairy stories. Every little knoll has a quaint windmill on it which is no doubt hundreds of years old. They still work full speed whenever there is any wind - that is they can always work as it blows steadily here. The farms are occupied by quaint looking people who look like the pictures you see of people in Holland. The farm implements are as usual a century behind the time. The wagons are awfully clumsy affairs weighing hundreds of more pounds than our light serviceable wagons. The double trees are connected on to the tongue of the wagon and are about eight feet from the box. On to these the horses are connected by long chains. By heck you would laugh to see them. One thing these quaint people have is good horses. It would make a fellow in B.C. stare to see the size of some of these horses. I saw one of them haul a heavily loaded wagon through a muddy piece of ground. In B.C. it would take a good team to do the same stunt.

The country is as flat as a pancake and very wet. Here and there are small hills dotted over with windmills. At present all the farmers are busy threshing wheat and carting in sugar beet and mangels. Believe me they know how to grow the latter here. The mangels often look like small stumps in size.

We were in a small pasture the other day in which were a couple sheep with long brown fur. One of them was a ram. Well the ram was very tame and we fed it several pieces of chocolate. Then we started to walk for the gate with the ram following. I was feeling pretty good that day so I started off in a trot. I soon stopped however as the darned ram charged me as soon as I started and gave me a deuce of a butt in the seat of my trousers. Not satisfied with that, the beggar next charged a calf near by and would not stop until the calf became sore and almost knocked the wind out of it with a good butt in the side.

Write soon and be sure and send me some candy.

With heaps of love from


[Editor’s note: Transcription provided by collection donor.]