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Date: April 9th 1916

4th Univ. Co. P.P.C.L.I.
West Sandling,
April 9, ‘16

Dear Edna:

When you read this you will learn that I am no longer alarmed at that long interval of 5 weeks in which no word came from you. It is relieving to me to know that by some mysterious way I have not got in altogether wrong as I was beginning to think I had. But I must not spend too much time on that subject for I have a lot to say.

First I must tell you that both your last letters, one written on Feb. 27 and the other on March 12, arrived here in the same mail April 6th. That will give you some idea of our mail system. So next time I shall be patient till the last, knowing that it is the post office department I must blame.

How can I thank you enough for the photo, for the snaps, the clippings, the programs of the banquet and Dramatic Club concert and everything else that your thoughtfulness has devised. They are all very welcome and I shall prize particularly that little picture that was made to exactly fit a soldier's tunic pocket. It is very good of you I think. You do look a little serious though, don't you? The snaps are perfectly natural and splendid. You look very cute under the snow shoe arch. It seems hard to realize such snow for we haven't the slightest sign of it here. Everything is green and the wild flowers are growing in profusion, buttercups, crocuses, primroses, tulips and many others I do not know the names of are out.

Yes, since you deny the accusation and since I have repeatedly made that charge that you are very nice, there seems to be little use of us spending much time in discussing it for we never seem to be able to come to an agreement. However you may think the same whether I say so or not. But, little sister, my other sisters never say it is wrong for me to tell them what I think of them as I often do, so as you write to me as to a brother why should I be denied a brother's privilege? Never mind if you get half or a quarter of the enjoyment out of anything I write as I do out of yours we should worry about little things like that.

So your brother Merril has enlisted! When I read that, I hardly knew whether I was glad or sorry. I would naturally expect the Chapman spirit to assert itself thus and I sincerely hope he is able to return safely before very long. There seems to be a pretty general impression that the war will be over before those enlisting in Canada now will get to the front, but of course no one knows.

I wonder if he would care to have me write him occasionally and tell him some things I have learned that might make it easier for him here and after I get to France. He might like to hear something about what one should take with him, etc. If you think so, let me have his address and I shall try to do that. I know if some one had set me right on one or two points regarding what to bring with me it would have saved a little trouble.

The 5th Universities Company arrives here tonight. They landed this morning. I am looking forward to seeing some I know, among them Ramsay's brother. We have been getting their huts ready for them today and hope to give them a better reception than we got.

Oh, since I started this two M.A.C. boys have come to see us, one from London and the other from Hythe, both in the motor transport service. They were Jack Reid, Miss Lyon's cousin, and W.J. Pollock from Virden. We were certainly surprised and pleased to see them. Reid goes back to London tonight. I showed him that snapshot of the group of girls in front of the main building and he immediately recognized his cousin.

That University Battalion is a splendid idea and I hope I shall see a good many of the boys over here. I was surprised to hear of little Walter Moore enlisting. He is such a lady like, dressy, young gentleman. Steve and I had a good laugh as we pictured him after a few months at Shorncliffe.

Henry Dennison is just about a mile from us at East Sandling. We hear he is very popular and doing exceptionally well. However we have not had time to go and see him but will do so this week. It was good of you to enclose that clipping about him.

By the way, do you know Erskine Ireland, the Manitoba Rhodes Scholar this year? He and Henry Dennison and I took a trip to Geneva, Wisconsin, about 3 years ago, together.

Did I tell you that Jim Brown has left us and gone to France? We were sorry we could not all go together but most probably Hawthorne, Steve and I will catch up to him in a week or so. Another draft of 10 left this morning. It was originally a draft of 50 and Steve and I were on it but when it was reduced, the names were taken alphabetically and of course we were down too far in the list.

I find it hard to picture you driving a four horse tram in the fields. I am afraid you would need a step ladder to put on the bridles. Yes I believe you would do it though, if you are needed. The girls in this country are doing a great deal of the men's work. They are bus conductors, train(men), news(boys), post(men), and even teamsters in the fields. People in Canada do not realize what it has meant to practically every home in England. Every eligible man is either at the front, in training or waiting to be called up. Those attested all wear khaki armlets with red crowns on them.

I heard yesterday that another of my schoolday chums from Grenfell was killed lately. His brother, also from Grenfell was killed last summer. The latter won the D.C.M.

I sent you a copy of a few cartoons that have found great favor in England lately. You might enjoy them.

I was glad to hear of the good times you have been having playing basketball. I think that, and your training table have kept you in pretty good condition judging from your snaps.

That reminds me that I promised to send you some more snapshots, but I am sorry that I have been so busy I have not had time to have any developed lately. Just at present we are working harder than at any time since I joined the army. But I shall not forget.

I would certainly have enjoyed being at the "Old Boys Banquet". We had to be content to think about it.

So you have finished for this year. I certainly hope it won't be your last. I think it would be splendid to take the full 5 years course, and the wider acquaintance one gains by meeting other people goes with a person all through life. I know for my own part, I am constantly meeting people I met during my 5 years at College and others who know some one that I know. It makes the world seem a little smaller.

So Manitoba is dry. There will be universal rejoicing. I don't know what the soldiers will do when they get back to a dry country though.

I shall be glad when we get out of here. I am getting tired of guards and fatigues, and this camp is isolated and dirty. Of course I know it will be worse where we are going but anything for a change. The day I leave for France will be the happiest I shall have spent for some time.

It is nearly bed time and as I moved into a new hut today I shall have to hurry away and get things straightened up.

Steve and I were on guard yesterday and we had the experience, not pleasant at all, of seeing a man hang himself, at least so nearly so that I almost wish he had finished the job. I think he will die yet from the effects of it. He was a prisoner in one of the cells and used his puttee for a rope. He comes from Calgary and was awaiting trial for desertion.

I shall not continue in this strain any longer but shall close and let you get your team out and go seeding. Be sure and tell me how it goes, and also about your exams, and the results of them. By the time you get this I shall be teaching a little French girl to talk English probably but don't forget, little sister, that I shall always look for those interesting letters in English.

For now, and the dim distant future, Brother No. 2,