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Date: December 26th 1915

4th Universities Company
St. Martin's Plain,
Shorncliffe Dec 26 [1915]

Dear Mother: -

This is Sunday, the day after Xmas and I survived safely. It was certainly a very different Xmas than I have ever seen before but we had a good time. Of course we were all wishing we were in Canada but under the circumstances made the best of it.

At present I am on guard for 24 hours at a place about 2 miles from camp. It is the waterworks headquarters that supplies all the camps around Shorncliffe as well as all the towns within 10 miles or so there are 8 of us here during the day and 24 at night. They are very particular about this spot to prevent the resorvoirs being poisoned and we have instructions to shoot any trespassers so it is not a very safe place to be around at night.

I am sitting in the boiler room now, which is where we sleep when we can, though we do not get much, as the sentries are changed every 2 hours. All the light we have is a little candle and our table and seats are planks set up on boxes. However this is one of the best guard headquarters we have ever struck. Often the only resting accomodation when on guard is a shed or tent with some straw in it, so we are pretty comfortable here on the cement floor. By the way I have slept in a real bed only two nights since I left Toronto in October. These two nights were when I went out with my friend Stevens to his home near Montreal.

However I expect to have a pretty good time for a few days at New Years' as I have a pass to go to Scotland. I had intended going to see Old Uncle Joe but I have not heard from him since I wrote several weeks ago, so I am going with Brown to visit some of his relatives & more especially to see London on the way and the highlands when we get over the border.

I can hardly see what I am writing as the little candle is supplying light for about 10 of us and it does not seem able to do it properly. I saw Jim Reeve last Sunday. He is only about a mile from here so I may see him often. I had a hard job locating him though as he has moved into better quarters since becoming a sergeant. Harold Cumming is also about a mile from where I am and I met Roy Browndrige last Monday night. I did not know he was back from France but he arrived a few days ago and is waiting for transportation back to Canada to finish his course. I just met
him accidently in a café in Folkstone. He recognized me when I came in and sat down at a table
next to him. I was very pleased to see him. I made arrangements to go over with Roy & see Harold Cumming today but being put on guard spoiled it. Sam Duprais is here also in our camp,
I believe but I have not seen him. Jim saw him one day.

I also met another M.A.C. boy yesterday who just got back from France the day before as is being sent back to Canada as unfit for service. He has been 8 months in the trenches and has been under shell fire so long that it got on his nerves and the doctor ordered his discharge. Also met him accidently in a bus.
We are having an "M.A.C. Reunion" on Jan 8th of all ex-students in camp at Shorncliffe. We have located about 25 now and hope to have them all together for one night.

The weather continues to be wet. It is pouring now. Our parade grounds are ankle deep in mud. However we are not doing much drilling but are taking musketry and target shooting inside instead.

Your letter written on Dec 6th only reached me yesterday the 25th making it 19 days on the way.
The parcel has not come but I hope it will soon. I am getting pretty well supplied with socks and have promises of more from every direction. The girls at College are knitting and sending us some. Mrs. Molson of Montreal sent every man in the company a pair and Mrs. Blackwell knit me 3 pair so with the pair your are sending I have about all I need for awhile. Thank you for both cake and socks for they will both be well taken care of.

Received Belle's & Albert's letter with yours and was interested to hear the result of the crop, but it looks as though our expectations were hardly realized. I hope some way will be found to get the house finished and more congenial home life on Sec 3 may be the result.

We took a 15 mile route march a few days ago with full marching order and saw quite a bit of the
country. It is very pretty around here. Every thing is green, and cabbages & cauliflowers are growing in 4 & 5 acre fields every where. This is a great sheep country and Kent is often spoken of as the Garden of England. All the hedges are green and beautifully trimmed and brooks and streams are flowing everywhere. But with all the scenery, the people as too slow to appreciate it or to do much else. They are 100 years behind the time so far as progressiveness is concerned. There are no telephones around these towns and no street cars and the streets are as narrow and crooked as they could be. Some of the streets in Folkstone are so narrow the the wheels of the carts rub against both of the sidewalks on either side at the same time.

But the main body of residents around here now are soldiers. One sees 20 soldiers to 1 civilian and they are all Canadians for this is the Canadian base.

This is my last sheet of paper so I must quit and the candle is so short that the table is starting to burn. Write once a week, somebody at least, and I shall try to do so too.


PS. Letter from the League arrived yesterday and I will answer it soon.

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