Ward 9, North Evington War Hospital
July 14, 1916.
It is 6 weeks ago today since Fritz branded me, and it was 7 weeks ago since I heard from you until yesterday, when three of your letters arrived dated May 7th, 14th, and 17th respectively. After such a long time without any news from you, it was with very tender thoughts of the little girl that wrote them that I read their contents. I hope soon to hear from you directly. These three letters of course have been to France, back to the Record Office in London and then have come to me. The envelopes are pretty badly marked up before they reach me .
Yesterday was "My" day in the mail line. I got no less than 27 letters, 7 parcels, and 3 or 4 bundles of papers. They were sent from France, so you see I have a great deal of writing to do for the next week or so.
First I must thank you very much for the socks and chocolate. It is so good of you, in fact you have been so good to me for a year that I can never thank you enough. I think I told you once if you were really my sister I would show you how much I think of you, when I meet you. The socks are perfect. I am so glad you used soft, light wool, for I am very much partial to lighter socks than most of the good ladies knit for soldiers. If Miss Patrick could see them I think she would come to the conclusion that her efforts were not entirely futile. The only reward for your patience in spending so many hours knitting that I can give you, is the promise that I shall do my best to end the war, so that you will not have to spend very many hours more at such a tedious job. The next pair you knit must be for Merril though. I know he will appreciate them too. I hope you have heard from him before this. You said you were sending Merril and I boxes of candy. I think the one you sent to me must have looked so tempting that the boys kept it in France. They need it worse than I do anyway. You may be sure it will bring pleasure to some fellows anyway. Again I say, thank you, Edna.
I am not able to sit up yet and I won't make any more rash promises about when I shall get up, because only the doctor seems to know that. I could sit up, but the doctor thinks that a piece of the rib might go through my lung, as it is pressing on it, so I have to content myself to stay flat. I did not think I could stand 6 days in bed, to say nothing of 6 weeks but now I do not mind it at all. The flesh is healing up quickly and the ribs are completely covered now so I shall be as well as ever when I do get around.
I heard from Steve and Brown both yesterday. Steve has had to go back to bed again, as his back is bad again. He was blown up by a shell, though not actually struck and his back was twisted. Brown has been in the trenches again since we left, in the same place where we were before, and there were only a few casualties.
You have probably heard that Bob Hughes of the ‘16 class died of wounds. Bill Harkness is also wounded but I do not know where he is.
Did I tell you about the Toronto lady who comes to see me? She is a young woman who married a wealthy Leicester man, and she knows a lot of the Toronto boys in the 4th Univ. Co. She is quite musical being a graduate of Tor. Conserv. of Music and last Monday night she brought up a very talented concert party who gave us a concert. Among the artistes was a girl from Wales who has become quite famous during the last year for her wonderful singing and Mrs. Morton at her own expense brought her from Wales to sing for us. I don't think I ever heard better singing, and the boys were greatly pleased. I was taken to the concert on a stretcher. Mr. & Mrs. Morton have gone to their summer home in Scotland now, and have asked me to spend my 10 days sick leave with them, and I am not sure yet whether I shall go or not, as I have promised to go to Cornwall for a few days at least.
I wrote the above few lines this morning and since then I have received your letter dated June 5th. You say I have probably heard all about the battle at Ypres. Yes, little girl, I heard too much of it. While you were writing that I was in the hospital at Boulogne. I have to write my letters in instalments now, unless they are very short ones, as I get so tired after writing a page or two that I can scarcely hold the pencil. But when I put down a letter to you it is only pleasure deferred until I am able to finish it.
How can I every answer four letters all at once? You will have to wait until I get up before I can write anything like an interesting letter because I cannot seem to get my ideas connected up properly while writing in this position. But here goes!
Oh, by the way, did you know I was dead? I did not know it until a wire came asking me about it. It seems that some of the Eastern papers made a mistake and reported that I had died of wounds and my Mother had telegrams of condolence and sympathy from Eastern people. I was very much grieved to know that my mother should have received such news, but am glad she did not believe it as she was getting word from me every few days saying that I was getting along fine. I could not help but have a good laugh though when I was told I was dead.
So you have a Ford! You do make such a cute chauffeur. I would give a good deal to be in that front seat with you. If you could only drive over! But sometime I hope I shall have a drive with you. You have certainly learned to drive very quickly, but still I know you have been at it before when Dad was not around. A car has come to be almost a necessity on the farm hasn't it? And the pleasure it gives pays for it many times over. It would be a delightful drive to your sisters school on Friday evenings. The way of the world though is that we are very often out of touch with the things we most desire, so many pleasures will not be realized until the war is over.
Your description of a summer evening almost makes me homesick. You made it perfectly real, even to the prairie chickens cooing a thing we would never hear in a thousand years in England or France. I had heard of Hopper's wedding and appointment. Bill Shearer is also an officer now with a North Battleford battalion. I suppose I should be better posted on the whereabouts of my future brother-in-law without having to wait for the Free Press to tell me, but Bill and I have never corresponded at all.
That reminds me that the brother with whom I am in partnership was married (at least I expect so) the day before yesterday - and to a very fine girl too. It makes me feel that I am getting old myself.
So June 20th was your birthday? Although it is pretty late, accept my heartiest congratulations and the wish that you may live to be a hundred. Now you want me to guess how old you are. That is a very ticklish proposition to guess a girl's age. If I go too high you are liable to be offended, and if too low, you may think I consider you just a kid. I must confess that I think you are just about the right age anyway, if you understand that. Supposing I say 19! Now I have made a plunge anyway. Throw over a trench mortar quick! You probably know my age, for it is common property the ages of most of the fellows who spend 5 years at the M.A.C. But in case you do not, I shall tell you I have reached the age of wisdom and discretion, namely 24. Isn't it fierce, how a fellow crawls along in years? Now will you tell me how many years' mistake I made in your age?
July 15th Saturday
The mail has just come in and another letter from the golden-haired girl from Ninga is among it. It is dated June 11th and it has also been to France. Evidently at that time you still thought I was enjoying Trench life, but instead of that I was occupying this bed at the time and had been for 5 days previously. I am very glad to hear from you, and I hope there are a few more on the way. Do you think we should open a branch P.O. in England to handle our mail?
I am not going to attempt to answer all 5 of your letters now but will write again in a few days when I hope I shall be sitting up.
I am glad you got the badges. If I had known you really would have liked them you would have had them long before, but I was not thoughtful enough. Don't hesitate about reminding me of such things or anything that I overlook. It is a great pleasure to me to give you even the slightest bit of joy if I am able to do so.
We have trainloads of patients coming in all the time now from the new offensive. There were 1100 came into Leicester in 4 days this week. They are all badly wounded apparently, some of them terribly wounded. It is hard to sleep in this ward now as there are one or two that are continually moaning. Three of the patients in this ward are deaf and dumb from shell shock and one of them was blind also, but he can see a little now. It is really pitiful to see them.
My B.S.A. friend of Macdonald College went away this morning to Epsom Convalescent Camp. I shall be going there from here, but not for a few weeks yet.
I am very sorry to hear that your Mother is not well and I hope she may soon be as strong and fit as ever. I think I told you that my Mother has also been very ill, but am glad to say she is able to be around and is getting strong again.
While I think of it, you said you might have to be careful what you say or send in a letter to France on account of censors. I can assure you that no letters from Canada to France are ever opened by the censor, although those from the States or other foreign countries are censored.
Will write again soon, for I have a good deal to answer in your letters yet. I cannot but admire your enthusiasm for Red Cross work but though the Red Cross people are very much loved by the soldiers, do not work too hard.
With all good wishes, As ever,
You have probably heard that