No. 20 Can. Special Employ. Coy.
Can. Army Overseas
Dec. 30, 1944
Dear Uncle Bill:
What a pleasant surprise to receive letter from you yesterday dated Nov. 29, and hear that you & all the family are keeping well. Naturally at this time of year my thoughts are with you more than ever as I will always remember the grand get together we used to have every Xmas. Although this is now my second Xmas away from home, I feel pretty certain when another one rolls around I will be among those present. And believe me I hope so, as although it is not too bad where I am, and the people very friendly, there is still no place like home!
As you know by now I was wounded slightly a short time ago and in hospital for two weeks. I must admit it was very nice to sleep in a good bed with white sheets for a change - some thing I had not known for months.
My wound was not really bad, just a small piece of shrapnel in the lower left leg which became a bit infected. However it is absolutely as good as new again, for which I am very thankful, many others as you can well imagine not having the same luck.
And speaking about luck Uncle Bill - I sure have had my share or else the Good Lord has kept an eye on me. It's almost impossible to explain - three times I had had miraculous escapes and believe me there is no such thing as an Atheist in the front lines! They pray out loud up there, it seems the one & only thing to fall back on sometimes and I've herd a few wounded Germans doing the same thing. They don't want to die anymore than we do, for Hitler or anyone else, and the Gerries I've seen streaming back as prisoners (plenty of them too) are certainly no chosen race of super men! However they have a big advantage, always retiring to prepared dug in positions while we do the attacking. Although they can delay the end of the war for awhile they can't possibly win and if you could see the tremendous air fleets the Allies send over practically every day & night - you'd wonder how anybody could stand it! They make a beautiful sight high up in the sunshine and the roar of the engines often lasts for hours. As we often say when we look up - "Thank Goodness they are fighting for George" - meaning King George VI!
At the present time I am well back of the front line and naturally not sorry. It's really hell up there Uncle Bill and nothing in the World is too good for those fellows who are up there facing death in a dozen different forms every day. Even when you are not actually fighting you are constantly on guard, living in slit trenches and getting very little sleep. When I see those fine young Canadians going forward when ordered, into what may mean certain death - well I sure feel proud of them.
Personally I don't think I will be sent back to the front as I am getting past that age for active duty, being 37. However I certainly know something of it & it's definitely no fun!
Luckily I am in a fairly large city just now enjoying some comforts of life. The food here is quite good and there are numerous picture shows with English Talking. Underneath each picture are words in French & Belgian, which language is called Flemish.
Many Belgians can speak some English and they all can "parlay the Francaise" meaning speak French. I can speak a little French (un petit peu) and have a lot of fun asking them questions now & then in part French, part English and gestures! They are a very clean and intelligent race, but so far most of their good food must still be bought on the black market.
The stores here, very attractive too, have almost everything you would see in Canada (outside of food) but the prices are terrific. For instance if you would like to buy a ton of coal on the side - maybe you could get it for 3000 Francs or $75.00! A good pair of silk stockings costs at least 300 Francs or 7.50 & a decent cup o coffee can be had for 30 Francs or .75! Naturally money does not last long over here, so we generally stick to our Canteens, which are quite reasonable.
And now Uncle Bill that is about all the news from this end. All the boys over here have been following the "Conscription Issue" in Canada with great interest, and I can tell you from discussions, I doubt if McKenzie King gets a single vote from the soldiers now serving overseas. We all feel, as I know you do, that this is everybody's fight, and that all the young & fit men should be sent here if necessary. It's not fair that some should accept their responsibility to their own families and their country - while others sit back and take it easy, completely out of danger. I also know there are many boys like young Bill, willing & eager to come Overseas at any time, but for some reason or other are kept in Canada. Of course all able bodied men can't come overseas, but if King had put in a system similar to that in the U.S.A; then nobody could have a finger pointed at them after this war & be called a zombie! Enough said on that subject, as I know you feel the way I do, but it's a darn shame a great country like Canada should get so much bad publicity just because of a stupid, cowardly politician.
And now as I think I've said more than enough for one day I will say Au Revoir for I hope only a short while.
My very best wishes to you, Aunty Ruth, Mary & Bill for a Very Happy New Year and all the luck in the World for 1945.
Very affectionately yours