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Date: October 31st 1944
Mother and Father

Oct. 31/44 Holland

Dear Folks,

Here I am in the land of the wooden shoes. We are doing a lot of moving these times. I have now been in three countries in Europe. Belgium and Holland are much alike, clean and a strange mixture of primitive ways with modern ones. They still manage to have the house and barn in one building but for all [that] the house appears to be clean neat and not smelly. In the towns the houses seem quite the latest thing in modern homes but in the country the houses are very old as a rule. I was only about ten miles from Les Donaldson [a neighbour from Drew] but didnt get to see him as I was in charge of the battery for about a month and a half and in that time hardly strayed from here. I imagine he had quite a time with the Belgian girls all right when the first entry into Belgium was made. My main worry was keeping the boys away from the girls for a few days as women and soldiering dont mix very well. I wouldn't say they are the prettiest in the world they just look that way to the boys who havent seen any girls for a while of any kind. The people I see in any country look all alike as far as I can see when you put the same clothes on them. The Europeans are as a rule flashy dressers if they have a chance.

I was able to snatch part of a day in Antwerp so had a good bath and slept between white sheets. I was in with Willis Hunstein and Bummer Stirling and we could only get one bed so all slept together. It was a little crowded. However it was quite a treat to walk down a peaceful city about an hours drive from the front. The shops are going strong but the stuff is fearfully expensive and there isnt much choice. Our boys bought about $59000 of Victory bonds this time so they are setting a good example to the boys back home.

It will soon be Pa's birthday again. I am afraid I missed remembering Ma's birthday [25th Aug.]. That was a tough time for us just south of Caen where we were in a terrific struggle to break through and trap the Germans. It was hammer and tongs and about Ma's birthday we hammered shut the door but what a battle it was. Our tanks and infantry really bore the brunt. It makes me mad every time I think of those fellows here who go on and on and on without a weeks rest even and 75000 Zombies [home-defence conscripts] in Canada. It is building up a hatred that wont be erased in a generation. It is criminal to keep those reinforcements at home. In the artillery we are very fortunate for we are under fire infrequently and havent that tremendous strain.

Our observation parties have a tough time and of course they are worse off than the infantry but they only consist of a few from each outfit and do get reliefs. One of our lads last night fired the regiment all night when his officer was wounded and evacuated and he escaped the Jerries only by a combination of running and the leopard crawl. I think he should get the Military Medal. However we always move forward and the days of the Germans are numbered even if they havent realized it yet.

Will you thank the patriotic society for the smokes I received. I havent learned to smoke cigarettes yet but I am able to trade them for pipe tobacco which makes it come out even for me in the end and I have a great consumptive power for the pipe tobacco. We seem to smoke an awful lot more here than in civil life. I don't know why that is but it is so. Well by this time next year we should be setting foot on the land of the maples again so be sure to have the chickens on good fettle then because I will be in good appetite. I have a beautiful school girl figure now and it will take a lot of heavy eating to get back in corporate shape again.

Elmer D.