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Date: July 1942
Mother and Father

July 1942

Dear Folks:

This is written at 11.05. I am on duty at the phones during field exercises. Luckily I got good hours for this one. Today was quite warm and I am enjoying it immensely. My spirits rise and fall here with the weather. Wet weather here is awful, sunny weather unbelievably nice. We were not too busy this afternoon and the boys were helping farmers here load grain. I pitched a load myself. It felt rather good. The grain is all stacked. The hay racks are awful. They hitch the horses tandem and use two tined forks which are straight as pike poles and about as useful. One thing they can't teach us here is farming, although they keep some swell cattle and the pastures here are marvellous. One Canuck is worth 6 natives here during haying and harvest.

I am now battery captain over here. The same job as back home but the work is considerably different and I arrived at it after taking the lowliest subalterns job (troop leader) so have gotten considerable out of it. I am no expert however and sometimes think I am pretty dumb. I am convinced that modern soldiering can only be learned like any profession in about six years or a lifetime if you have that long to put in.

Had a parcel from Barb yesterday and the other officers and myself are eating it today. That is the way they go here. The army is a great sharing affair. There isn't much mine or thine in it.

I am hoping to get up to Scotland sometime but I can't get away on leave until October and I may or may not be with the regiment then. Maybe old Jim will be over here then. Bill is looking forward to that. So Jim may get married. My advice unless she is too good to take a chance on is against it. He is pretty young and he will find life as a married man over here pretty dull, while as a single man may be more interesting. Also he will have a lot of temptations to step out in his way and after a year over here it will be hard to resist for a kid like him devoured with boredom. However nothing I can say would be of any use anyhow and in a risky business like he is going into he is entitled to all the pleasure he can get and if marrying a swell girl will give him any happiness he sure is entitled to it. I don't regret my own marriage before going in the army and think it is pretty swell to have a girl at home to inspire me (to say nothing of parcels she sends).

I think we will break Hunie's back next year and then start to make the world fit to live in. It is amazing to see the attitude of the common soldiers who are all raring to get at Fritz. They have completely forgotten themselves in the service and their own safety is their last thought. It is thrilling to see this attitude among fellows here for 2 1/2 years. There is a nobility among these fellows that makes you want to take your hat off to them. I guess Canadians have to get away from Canada to really produce what is in them. I didn't see that spirit in Canada before I left. They have something over here, they groan, kick, swear and raise hell and high water but they are the best Christians I have seen.
Tonight I saw great flashes which indicate the enemy is catching it. They must have been tremendous explosions to be visible as I reckon they were fifty miles away. I often think of pa and ma working away hard on the old farm growing the feed for the soldiers. I hope you don't overdo it and I am sure the family will relish the day when they can heap the groceries on the table Saturday night again. We are pretty lucky though. It would be tough to be too old to get in the army when Canada needed men and to be in this country's service is a privilege not lightly to be prized. I heard one of our gunners the other day say he wished he had two lives to offer to his King. I thought that was tops. He never had anything and the war offers him nothing but he has a spirit that makes the empire great. As long as that kind of fellows exist (he is Irish) we have something. It will put a great obligation on us well favoured ones to make the homeland a country worthy of boys like that who fought for it. 2,000,000 unemployed will not be an answer or bread lines either.

I see this letter is fast developing into a political speech. I get those streaks of histrionics once in a while. Well here I go off dirty into a nice warm sleeping bag until morning. Good luck to everybody.

Elmer D.