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Date: May 16th 1941
Jill Leir - (girlfriend)
Denys Beames

No. 2A. Mann. Depot,
Penhold Alta.
May 16, 1941.

My darling Jill;

Having sat down and read your letter three times since I put it away after supper, I figured it should be answered. I don’t know where to start sweetheart, because your letters always fill my feeble nut with so many chaotic thoughts and memories. I shouldn’t tell you this, as you’ll probably put on a few pounds from to much self satisfaction, but I was so darn glad to hear from you, or rather to get your letter, that I had a lump in my throat and childish as it sounds, a couple of good sized tears sneaked up on me, but I managed to stop short of serious dementia. When I sat up on my bunk, (an upper), a little while ago and read your letter through time after time the boys started making nasty remarks such as; “The guys been left a fortune,” – “Naw his dad just sent him a coupla’ fins” ($10 = 1 Fin) – ‘Its the cops again’ – ‘Probably wrote it too himself – he’s so ugly he couldn’t have a girl’ – ‘His teacher wants him back at school’ etc., “ ” “ ”. The only lucid remark came from Peter Denbigh of Victoria, my bed mate, in the laconic remark, “Shut up we got wives.” Pete is eighteen and a darn nice fellow.

Having recovered from our vaccinations we expected to go back to routine drill yesterday, but the bloody old Corporal had other ideas. Last thing Wed., evening in he strolls with a rapacious sneer on his face and calling off a list of names, (mine being one of them), he said in a honey-sweet tone of voice, “I have a surprise for you lucky lads.” Having tasted the bitter cup of disillusionment, I sat back rather cynically, expecting the worst. Dropping the mask the banal beast snarled, “Report to the mess sergeant at 5:30 A.M. tomorrow for kitchen fatigue. Any of you young -?@* sleep in and you’ll do double duty. Sweet dreams children!” Nice guy. N’est ce pas. We all got their and did our days work, which isn’t really so hard.

The kitchen is equipped with the very best modern devices for sanitary cooking in large quantities. The stove is at least twelve feet square with a central chimney. The top can be used to cook on and there is adequate oven space. For boiling there are three steam heated vats, each having a capacity of about twenty-five gallons. When everything is cooked and ready for the meal it is served from a large steam table such as you see at the coast. If you don’t know the workings of these and as you are not in contact with I’ll suppose you don’t, let me try and explain the system. The steam table is a long metal box with holes in the to top to set metal, box like, food containers in. Being about the size of an apple box or slightly larger, these containers have a heavy ridge around them about two-thirds of the way up their sides to support them when set in the holes. This leaves a practically airtight box into which the bulk of the food hangs down. From pipes at one end, live steam is forced so that it heats the box and keeps the food warm, so that it can be dished up and pushed across the counter to the men as they pass by. To the left of the steam table are two coffee or tea urns such as you’ll find on a smaller scale in any restaurent. All this cooking and service equipment I have spoken of is made of this new monel-metal steam-heated kitchen ware and costs a terrific price.

There is also a bakery for the pastry cooks and a big meat shop for the butcher plus two big refrigorators and various store rooms. You will understand the neccesity for this when I tell you that we have over a thousand men here and are far below capacity. This by the way is for you only – so don’t mention it (the figure) elswhere, please dearest.

Despite the way we all moan, the drill is quite refreshing and although I have drilled all day I find it not in the least fatiguing. It would be hard not to enjoy a place with the company and accomodations which we have hear. The climate is quite favourable and I am on the whole quite happy although a trifle impatient to move on a bit more. The only real trouble is loneliness for home and all it means, but it is no use harping on this.

I must get to bed now dearest wife, but will finish this tomorrow. Good night mavoureen – the word love is very feeble but as it is the best we have – I love you with all my heart and soul sweetheart.

Hello Jill! How is my wife today? It is now 1:30 P.M Saturday and I’m just getting ready to leave for town – or rather I’m waiting for Pete to get ready. We’ve both got a lot of little things to get in town and want to get in so I may finish this later on in town. At any rate I’ll scribble till he’s ready.

About the horses. I think Alan H. would do a reliable job, and he’s pretty good with a horse, so by all means give him a try. At the same time watch her and if the shoes seem to turn her feet at all take her back right away and have them changed – No feet, no horse!!

I’m sorry if Dad is having to go to a lot of trouble over Goldy, but really it will do him all the good in the world and I’ll bet he quite enjoys it even if he doesn’t say so.

Where abouts are you going to get the pasture, or do you know yet? I’m awfully sorry that I had to leave everything up in the air as I did, it seems rather rotten to leave you and the folks with two hay burners on your hands as I did, especially as Roy seems to have let you down. I guess it’s no use crying over spilt milk though.

It has been a great surprise to me to find that saddle horses are very scarce among the actual farmers out here. Anything under fifteen hundred is considered quite rideable and horses such as we have are the legendary mustangs of the past. This of course is not absolute, but the average farmer out here has five or six percherons ranging from sixteen to eighteen hundred. Percherons are the preferred bred in this district and they are a very good type, with very few exceptions.

This is being elucidated in a rather low environment I’m afraid, but you’ll have to excuse my delinquency as it is really the only available place in town. I’m in the one and only beer parlor with Pete and a couple of the boys and am writing while they talk. This seems rather an insult to you darling, but I know you’ll excuse it in view of the circumstances.

The first draft of men went out today for new training classes, so I guess I’ll be moving along in a couple of weeks.

I just dropped a window on my thumb and I’m not sure whether it’s broken or not so Pete and I are going up to the local hospital now. It’s my left thumb so I can say good-bye at least dear. I’ll write soon. All my love.

Yours always.

Original Scans

Original Scans