4th University Company,
P.P.C.L.I. ¨ This stands for gPrincess St. Martinfs Plain Patriciafs Canadian Light Infantryh
St. Martinfs Plain
Shorncliffe, Dec 9 f15.
You will probably have my address before this reaches you, as I mailed a card with it on today to go on todayfs mail. This does not go until Tuesday. This is Friday and we have been here since Monday morning. We are in a camp of about 2000, not a very large one but all around us are other camps some large and others about the same size. There are, I hear, about 50000 troops somewhere around Shorncliffe, which in itself is only a small town. There are villages and towns all around us about 3 or 4 miles apart. Folkstone is the nearest one of any size. It is about 4 miles away.
There is another of my classmates here in the same battalion and will probably be going over with us. That makes 6 of us from the M.A.C. here together now. There are also about 6 or 8 others in other camps close by, that we can see often. I donft know whether Jim Reeve is here yet or not as I have not had time to go to Somerset Barracks where he is or was. I shall try to get over on Sunday though and find out. You probably know his whereabouts better than I do. It is only about 2 miles over to the barracks but we do not have time to do anything outside of the drills here so far. I expect after we get on to things a little better though it will be easier to get away.
They are not working us half so hard as they did in Montreal but the hours are longer. While we are drilling it is very easy but they keep us at it standing around, and listening to lectures etc., for a long time.
It has been raining every day since we landed and the grounds are ankle deep in mud. They say this weather has been here for six weeks so things are very dirty, and it is hard to keep boots and buttons shined. However we are getting used to it and expect it now. The weather is very warm. It is very much like spring in Canada for the grass is green and the water is running down the streams among the hills which are found everywhere. I would much rather have the dry snow and cold weather though than this.
We are living in huts, 40 men to a hut. These are long buildings about 60 feet long and 20 feet wide and are only intended for 25 men but as they are short of room they put 40 in them. We eat and sleep in the same building. There is a central cook house and the meals are brought to each of the huts from there. The meals are good and well cooked. They are plain though, but are much better than we got on the boat. For breakfast they give us porridge, bacon or fish, bread & butter and tea or coffee. For dinner we get potatoes and beef, a vegetable of some kind, soup, bread & butter. For supper it is generally bread & butter and cheese and jam and tea.
There are reading and writing rooms refreshment counters, and a Y.M.C.A. building, where concerts and lectures are held. This makes it pretty convenient after hours. However we have to be in at 9 P.M. every night so have not very much time for going anywhere. It gets dark here at 4 ofclock now.
There is not much to tell about the trip on the boat. It was something new for most of us, but after a day or two the novelty wore off and we were glad to see land again. I was not at all sick and always appeared at the table for meals. Our company was quartered in the best staterooms on the ship. They were like rooms in a first class hotel. Some had 4 beds in them, others two and others one. I had a room to myself with bunk, washstand, writing desk, wardrobe and chair in it. Except for the slight rolling motion a person would never know they were on a boat when in his stateroom. The officers had the same quarters as we did and the other troops were in 2nd & 3rd class cabins. There were 2700 troops on board altogether. When we got within 3 days sail of England we slept with our life belts on in case we were torpedoed. I was on guard one night on deck all night with 24 others. The last night we all slept in the life boats up on the top deck. We had drill every day and co life boat drill as well so we each knew our places in case we were attacked. We saw a few British cruisers and torpedo boats in Plymouth harbor but they were the only ones, except the cruisers that are guarding the Channel here which we can see from camp. We are only about a mile from the sea here.
Will try to write every week and hope somebody from home will do the same. It takes so long for mail to come that I do not expect any for a week or so.
Love to all,