Hut 17, No. 1. Company
2nd Canadian Command Depot
Sept 16, 1916
It is only 3 or 4 days since I wrote to you, but had just finished writing and had come from the Y.M.C.A. to the hut to discover that fine big parcel containing the delicious fruit cake waiting for me. I cannot thank you enough, my little friend. You seem to have done so much for me. Give my kind regards to your Mother as well as my thanks also, for I think she must have had a hand in making the cake. I am sure Merril and the other Ninga boy will also cherish very kind thoughts of you for this little touch of "home".
I enjoyed the illustrated sections of the Toronto Star Weekly too and all the others in the hut were greatly interested in them too. After we had finished with them here, I took the liberty of mailing them to another of the boys in hospital for I know he would appreciate them very much.
In spite of the fact that the cake had been to Leicester, Epsom and Shoreham, it was perfectly fresh and was certainly fully appreciated. Every one in the hut sampled it and the verdict of approval was unanimous.
I heard from Steve yesterday. He is still holding down his staff job at the hospital in Berkshire and has no intention of leaving it for the trenches until it is absolutely necessary. Jim Brown writes that his back is still bothering him considerably, so I shall probably be the first of the trio back to France yet just in time to enjoy the beautiful winter weather, mud and slush. I expect to leave this camp in two weeks or less for Shorncliffe and then it will probably not be long until I shall again be "up the line with the best of luck", as they say over there.
This time it will probably be to the Somme region where the offensive is, that I shall go, for I hear the first and third divisions of the Canadians have gone down there. We shall soon know for certain when the casualty lists commence coming in again.
It was very good of you to send the map of the Ypres salient and the description the paper gave of it. It certainly looked very familiar, even though I was there such a short time, but I was on working parties to practically every part of the salient during those few weeks. I think that is the best map I have seen of it.
And I must not forget "the last rose of summer". It brought with it memories of those days when the prairie rose was passed by with little notice, but how some of us would like to see them again! I wonder if we shall be in time to pick the last rose of next summer. It is within a couple of weeks of a year since I last saw the prairies, and incidentally nearly went to see you but our plans miscarried. I had a letter from Miss Coney not long ago saying that Thanksgiving dinner would be ready again soon, and she was keeping a couple of places for Jim Brown and myself. We were there last Thanksgiving day you know.
Did I tell you that I met Jack Reid one day in Epsom? He is Miss Lyon's cousin and was at the M.A.C. for 3 years. Since I met him he has been sent over to France. Another cousin of the same young lady was with me in the P.P.'s and was wounded the same day as I was.
It is certainly very disappointing to hear of the ravages of rust in Manitoba and Sask. Just at this time when the cost of living is so high it makes it doubly hard. I think the rise in prices is felt even more in England than in Canada. It is several weeks since I heard from home so I do not know how our own crops are affected. I have been moving about so much lately that I think some of my mail must have gone astray.
I am delighted to hear that you have been elected President of the Hiawatha Red Cross Society. I shall have to be careful what I say to you now in that exalted position. I congratulate you heartily, and if it is any satisfaction to you, I may say that I believe the Red Cross Society is the most thoroughly loved organization of any war institution yet devised. I have had a chance to know, and the attention the Canadian branch gave to me and to all other Canadians was far beyond anything I had every imagined they did. I wish you every success. I know it is often discouraging to find such indifference to a cause of this kind but for your efforts you will get the personal satisfaction that comes from knowledge that you did what you could.
I was glad to hear of your trip to Sewell or rather Camp Hughes. It would give you an idea what a real camp looks like. The only camp of that size I have every seen was at Havre (pronounced Haw). I think I told you about it when I was there, but I don't think I mentioned the name of the place unless when I used a green envelope.
That reminds me that I owe Leslie a letter too in reply to one he wrote after that trip to Sewell. I must answer it soon. It seems hard to keep all letters answered. I received 7 yesterday and this is the first I have written today so you see I shall have to hurry.
Will you excuse me if I write another page? I have a lot more to say yet and I see I cannot get it all on this one.
I am sorry to hear that your stable on another farm was struck by lightning and burned. Even where there is no war, the buildings do not seem to be quite safe, do they?
You were quite right in guessing that I was at a Convalescent Camp when you wrote that last letter and it was the same "blinking moon" alright.
Oh, you asked me what we do in France when Sunday comes around. Well, my little friend, we just do the same as on any other day. There is not very much information in that is there! I did go to church once in France though, within sound of the guns, and heard Ralph Connor preach. I went with Hawthorne that day. Poor old fellow, he was dead before the next Sunday came around.
If I told you all we do on Sunday though you might be shocked but I guess there is no harm in confessing though. So I will tell you that I played in the battalion baseball team against another battalion team every Sunday I was up behind the lines. I also played lacrosse one Sunday against another regiment so you see how terribly misbehaved I am away from home. It might be of interest to you to know that every member of our baseball team was either killed or wounded on the 2nd & 3rd of June. Five of them were killed.
I hope your Mother has fully recovered from the effects of her accident. It will probably be painful for awhile. Was it "Old Mag" that ran away? I used to laugh at your humorous descriptions, of you and the kiddies driving Old Mag to S.S. By the way, how is that S.S. getting along?
Dairy maid one day, washwoman the next, haymaker another day - what is the limit of your ability? I can see that a certain farmer is going to be very lucky some day!
I really must close now. I think the envelope will be pretty fat this time. It is so good of you to ask if there is anything you can do for me. The very best thing as I said before is to send along a letter just as often as you feel like it. I enjoy your letters very much.
Perhaps if I told you the whole truth always you would not care to write to me. You have been so open with me, that I am going to risk it, and make a confession to you, that I should have made before, so be prepared for the worst next time I write.
As ever, Your friend,