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Date: February 23rd 1917

B.E.F. France
Feb 23, 1917

Dear Edna:

Your very welcome letter of Jan 19 arrived last night and I read it with the thrill of pleasure your letters always bring as you have lately had good reason to give me a calling down for not corresponding very regularly. I cannot say much in defense when you say "I have not heard from you for a long, long, time".

Well I have not written very much lately. Yesterday I wrote my first letter home since I wrote to you last so you see how negligent I have been. Since coming out of the trenches for our divisional rest as it is called I have been busier than when in actual soldiering life and I have not done all the writing I expected to do.

I must thank you for the papers you so kindly sent me. They gave me a glimpse of the agricultural world that I am interested in. I also saw a "Managra", the first issue, that Jenkins had and was glad to read some College news. I feel though that I shall be a complete stranger when I go back to the old place once more, there are so many new names constantly appearing. The clippings you sent were very welcome too. I have heard about the National Registration system but until I received the form you sent I did not know just exactly what was required of each. The exam results were also very interesting. I always feel that I cannot express my feeling of gratefulness for the thoughtfulness you always show in your letters to me. You always pick out the news that I am anxious to hear and that I do not get from anyone else.

Now would you like to know where I am just now. I cannot tell you exactly but this is my present situation -

I am sitting at a table in the kitchen of a French family. There are two ladies in the room knitting. A pal of mine is sitting by the stove playing "Listen to the Mocking Bird", on the mouth organ. A little boy about 8 years old is dancing to the music and a little girl about 12 years of age is studying English with the aid of another of our boys at another table. This little girl is very clever and is learning to speak English quite well, and acts as our interpreter generally.

I enjoy the hospitality of these kindly French people who have done so much to make us feel at home. There are twelve of our platoon billeted here upstairs. We are a little crowded but this change is a rare treat to our usual manner of living. We try to help the family as much as we can for they are only working people and have suffered very much through the war, both by having brothers and sons killed and prisoners, and through the economic difficulties that have been part of their lot.

We are only a short way from where some of the fiercest battles were fought in the early part of the war and the Germans were only driven back with very heavy losses when the French held this part of the line.

This is a good sized city. If I were to name it you could easily locate it, but of course I cannot. We marched here on a Sunday and passed many thousand other Canadians going in the opposite direction for it was a general moving day. I wondered as we passed battalion after battalion if Merril was among them and others I knew, but the only one I recognized was Winkler and I just had time to say. "Hello Wink".

I had the good fortune to see the two greatest Generals the Allies have when they inspected us shortly after we came here. It is interesting to see if only for a few minutes the men who are controlling the French and British Armies. Again, we are not allowed to mention their names.

For some time after coming here I was in charge of the platoon as the other N.C.O.'s were away or sick and I had my hands full for there was a lot of extra work incidental to reorganizing the platoon and battalion generally. Besides we have to do so much shining of equipment, etc, that we don't get very much extra time to ourselves.

The "Day" we all look forward to whether in France, England or Canada is the time when victory, sure and complete, is ours and every effort is being put forward in our training and in other preparations to make that a reality in 1917.

There is no sentiment wasted here. It is a constant striving for efficiency, and no one realizes the immensity of the proposition more than those who are actually facing it. But I was never more confident that at the present moment that we shall finally be successful. The sooner it starts the better.

But this time my sister Cora and Bill Shearer will have followed the prevailing fashion and I expect they are now settled in North Battleford an old married couple. Perhaps you will know this before you read it here for news of ex-teachers of the M.A.C. seems to travel pretty quickly.

I was surprised to hear of the many weddings among M.A.C. people. I did not know that Salkeld & Miss Park were even thinking of such a step. Of course I missed the last winter there, so I am not so well posted as I might have been, even though you did keep me so plentifully supplied. I appreciate that more than you know.

I met another M.A.C. boy in the trenches one day. I don't think you knew [?] Abel of the ‘13 class did you? He is now an officer in an Imperial regiment. I was standing in the trench at the entrance of my dugout, shaving, when he passed. So we had a little chat over old times for a few minutes. Bill Stone was over to see me after I came out the last time. He is still with an [?] battalion and has not been in the trenches yet. It was from him that I first heard about his sister and Billie Mac's wedding. I shall not be very much surprised to hear that some other little girls I know have joined the throng. Well you will let me know when it is to happen anyway won't you? I know you will be very happy.

You have been having some very cold weather haven't you? I can hardly imagine what we should do in our business if it were 52 below zero. I am sure we should have to wear more than one pair of socks. The people in this part say that this is the coldest winter for 25 years and in England it is said to be the same. The fact that snow has been on the ground has made a great difference in many ways of life in the trenches as regards movements.
I cannot imagine what battalion Merril is with if he has been in the front line. I thought he was with a cavalry regiment. I may be able to see him sometime if he has been transferred to an infantry battalion. I should like to meet him.

It is probably nearly time for the M.A.C. Reunion again and I wish I could be there. I hope you are able to get there. Tell them to keep a place for me for 1918.

We shall soon be going back to the line again. We have been here more than half of our allotted time. Tomorrow is Sunday. It is only since I came here that I have been able to distinguish Sunday from any other day. Many a Sunday has passed without me knowing it. You will think that is awful won't you?

Well little "Snookie" (I am just trying it again to see how it sounds) I think I must close again for another time. I know this is not a very interesting letter but it seems so hard to make anything interesting out of what we are allowed to tell.

If you see anyone who is kind enough to inquire about me, give them my kindest regards. That reminds me that I have been owing Miss Edna Moore and Miss C. Allers for about three months.

Tell Naomi she would make a good soldier for she is patriotic enough to fill out her National Service card and show her willingness to change her present occupation if necessary. I think you have some pretty lively sisters.

As ever,

Sincerely yours,


P.S. Did you receive the photo I sent?

Lc/Cpl/C.D. Richardson