18 Jan 1917, Field Post Office [Postmark]

France 15/1/17

FEB 6 1917 [Stamp] 21 days [delivery time]

My Dear Pater:

According to Hoyle we should be in midwinter, and though it is pretty cold, it does not look much like winter. I had a letter from Marion last night, talking of snow shovelling etc. It certainly sounded nice. Also on the table under me there is a paper with advertising for skates [next page] and snowshoes etc. They seem like things of another world. But just wait till this business is over we’ll make up for lost time. I wonder what will come of these peace terms of England. If Germany really wants peace she surely won’t refuse this.
I am writing this in a front line dug out and it’s pretty chilly. We can’t [next page] light a fire because Fritz on seeing it is liable to do as we do with him, drop a nice trench mortar or shell in the direction. On dull days we can keep one going, but when it is bright we have to go cold.
Things are pretty quiet just now, though they nearly came to blows the other day.
I got a bundle of papers a couple of [next page] days ago, and they were very fine.
Tell Hester and Walter I shall write them soon, but I have been very busy, and whenever I get down to write something comes along which keeps me away for quite a while.
So Christmas is over and done with. It was funny the Christmas greetings here. They would say “Merry Christmas and may you never [next page] have another one like it.” I don’t suppose we will either.
Martin is pretty well, and also to be remembered to you. The last Sunday I was out, we went to communion in the YMCA hut. We had quite a nice little service.
I am glad to hear that you are president of the Curlers this year. I only hope they don’t work you [next page] too hard.
I sent you a German water bottle not long ago. I don’t know whether I told you before. On the Somme the first time we captured a German trench, there were lots of souvenirs and things to be had. This one I picked up where some hardy Bosche had dropped it, full of coffee.
I drank the coffee and [next page] kept the bottle. I carried it around a long time before I had an opportunity to get it home. It served a good many purposes since I got it. Mostly for rum, as you can probably tell by the odor. Not that I am such a confirmed toper as to carry the stuff around with me, or that it is often enough available for us to be able to, but [next page] it held rum for a good many fellows.
As you say, it would be nice if I could get leave for a while. But I am not counting on it for a month or so yet. It comes pretty slowly. It is nine months or more since I slept in a bed or even had my clothes off, except for monthly bath. But when it does come I shall appreciate [next page] it all the more.
Well Pater I think I shall close now and get under my blanket to keep warm.
Best love to all
your loving son


13 Feb 1917, [Letterhead]


Mar. 9/17
24 days [delivery time]

My Dear Pater
Another long wait, I am afraid. This time I have not been quite responsible.
There was another epidemic of Bronchitis going around and as luck would have it I catched ‘um.
It has been quite a nasty attack, and rather deep, but of course nothing more that a bit painful. I am at the Corps Rest Station in a *** village.
We have a [next page] fairly comfortable building and lots of blankets, so I am all right on that score.
The only thing is that for all the methods, as usual I firmly believe that with our own home methods I could cure it a good deal quicker.
I can remember Hester saying the same thing one time when she was sick of [at?] Chicago San.
Other than this, everything is going all right. I got parcel XXIX just before I came [next page] down here. The pudding was fine. The pickles had spilt a bit. The tin bends you see away from the cover and breaks the wax. I never told you, I think about the walnut pickles. They came in just right.
I was wondering just how Sgt Jones got his shell shock. His job is generally considered a first-class “Bomb Proof”. Maybe he had pull or maybe he really had. Pull and a slight one oftens land a [next page] “Canada.” But I’ll bet I could show him just about as good a brand of S.S. as he has.
Did I write about the pictures? I have rather forgotten where I stand. I got the Christmas ones, and they were absolutely great. With those, your letter and Walter’s I put in a regular Christmas over again.
Well Pater, I must close now for this time, more later, love to all.
Your loving son


30 Jun 1917, Epsom, Surrey [Postmark]

Epsom 29/6/17

(Stamped JUL 24 1917)

Dear Pater;

Well, I am in new circumstances again. On Monday I left Barry Road Hospital, and came here to the Canadian Corps Camp, making my address

Hut B, Canadian Corps Camp, Woodcote Park, Epsom [Surrey, UK].

The idea is to give up Physical drill, and generally put us in shape to go back to France. But I am not counting on following the general routine for a while yet. For all I look healthy, I know I would never stand the racket. They marked me Physical drill, but so far I have got out of it and will as long as I can. I wrote to Colonel Oliver yesterday, and I ought to get a job there of some kind. But I still have my ten days leave ahead of me before I go any where.

This place is about sixteen miles out of London, but at that, it might be sixty, we seem so far out of the city. Quite open country all around, with only [next page] a few villages dotted about.

It is a large camp of tin huts and we all have beds, and quite decent beds. So we are pretty comfortable. We are allowed out of camp from four till nine thirty and into a three mile limit. But there is nothing to do or see when you get there.

Jenkins was down to see me the day before yesterday, from London. He wants me to come up as soon as possible to see them. You remember I was up there when I was in England before.
I shall probably go up for Sunday afternoon, and then get a pass for a couple of days later on. They are very decent to me, and are anxious for me to come. For the time being, and for the purpose of ‘visiting relations’ they are cousins of mine. It can’t do any harm, eh?
I sent home the field glasses the other day, I hope they arrive all right.
Has a date been set for Ken’s wedding yet?
Best love to all.
Your loving son
Woodcote Park Camp circa 1915

30 July 1917, [Letterhead]

Seaford 30/7/17

(Stamped AUG 14 1917)

My Dear Pater;

It’s rather a long time since I wrote you, and quite a lot of things have happened since then. I think I told you about my little special leave to London when I stayed with my “Uncle”. If not, let me know, and I shall elucidate.
Well shortly afterwards, I was given my ten days sick leave. July 16th to be exact.
I left Epsom in the morning and went to London, where I put up at the Strand Imperial. I spent the afternoon doing some shopping. I bought a pair of riding breaches, and decent cap, books, and putties. Just to make a little change from regular army clothing for my leave. At night I went to see “Seven days leave” [next page] at the Lyceum. I(t) was very fine, and I enjoyed it. Next morning I went to Aunt Minnie’s Hotel, but she was at the hospital, so I went over there. Uncle Alfie is looking pretty thin, and seems to have had quite a serious operation. Gallstones I think. But he is getting better quite rapidly, though is pretty restless at being in bed. In the afternoon I went to the Jenkins’ and went to see ”Theodore & Co” at the Gaiety with Gus and his sister. It was very funny all the way through. In the evening, I went to dinner with Aunt Minnie at her hotel, and stayed there for the night, and had breakfast with her.
At noon, after going around to see Uncle Alfie, again, I went out to lunch with Mr Jenkins, and, as they were all busy I went around alone, and saw a little revue [next page] at the Vaudeville theatre called “Cheep”. Only fair.
I went in the evening back to the Jenkins, and stayed there for the night.
Next morning I took the eleven-twenty train to Stroud, and Ettie met me at the train. I stayed there till Sunday night and had quite a nice time. It was very quiet, but that was a good deal what I wanted. One day we went to tea at the Pacey’s friends of theirs, and had a capital game of tennis. There were four girls. Two Paceys, and two friends, all of whom played a strong game, and Mr. Will Pacey (Rev.) who also played well. I was pretty much out of practice, but I held my own pretty well. And I certainly enjoyed it. That night we [next page] went to tea at the “Thrupp.”
The eldest one of the Chambers was staying with Ettie and me at the Elms, ‘Cousin Annie.’
Another day we walked up the valley a couple of miles to Douglas Chambers place, for tea, and them he and I went down to the stream and fished for trout. It was my initial experience of fly casting, but I soon got on to it, and was doing fairly well. To be sure I caught nothing, though there were lots of trout, but then, neither did he, and as it was pretty around there, I much enjoyed the day.
Sunday morning, Ettie and I went away to the top of the hill behind [next page] the house and enjoyed the view, though it was pretty hot.
Sunday night I stayed at the Euston Hotel in London, and next morning I went up to Northampton where I spend [spent] a lazy day looking up people I knew.
Canadian War Photographs© IWM (Art.IWM PST 13731)
Tuesday I came back to London, and went to the Jenkins. I went to see the Canadian War Pictures at the Grafton Galleries. They were very fine, though I had seen them before in moving pictures, called the Battle of Arras [Note]. Imagine one picture about 20 feet by 12 feet, enlarged from a movie film of 1 ½ inches by about 2 ½ inches, or less. They were well worth going to see, and are of course absolutely authentic. There were not very many places that I [next page] recognized, as most of the places were held strongly by Friend Fritz when I was there. That night I went out to tea at Gus’s brother’s place, in a flat close to Hyde Park.
The next day Gus and I went to the Alhambra to see ‘Round the Map.’ It was nice, but as before, for the size of the production, I was rather disappointed.
Thursday morning I came down here to the 3rd Canadian Command DepĂ´t which is a convalescent camp, in which we get physical drill for a while to make us fit again.
I was put into the receiving company the first day, and had nothing to do. Next day I was inoculated, and had a medical and dental examination. The M.O. [Medical Officer] marked [next page] me class Four, Physical Training, till August 21st.
For two days, Saturday and Sunday, I was free from drill as per regulations, after typhoid inoculation. During those days I wandered around to get the lay of the land.
Seaford is a small town set on a small bay, with a beach, with high cliffs, cut off as with a knife, facing the sea, and sloping green to Seaford, and back to a valley behind them. We are on this green back slope about ¼ of a mile from the cliffs and a mile and a half from the town. We are in quite comfortable huts, and the meals are fair with occasional jaunts to town to augment them.
When drill is over I go up to the cliffs for a while, and then down to the beach in front of the town. [next page]
The beach is quite nice, but pebbly, rather than sandy. I have been in a couple of times there. A great many soldiers, and quite a number of towns people go there, both male and female.
Seaford is between Brighton and Eastbourne, and I am going to try and get to those places to see them.
I am feeling pretty fair, but not fit yet. Though this is a pretty good place to become so.
There goes cook house, so I must stop.
I received two parcels that I nearly forgot to acknowledge.
Best love to all
Your loving son
No more drafts have turned up.

Note: Footage of the film 'The Battle of Arras' (1917) can be found here: BFI Screenonline and here: NFB.