Monday, March 25, 2013

30 November 1915 Somewhere in Belgium

Dear Mother,

Received your letter of 7th inst. on Sat. and was glad to get it. It was a little late but it won’t be so long to wait for the next one. The parcels came along ok. I got 2 in 1 mail (the ones in the tin boxes) and they sure were a treat. Thank you ever so much. The doughnuts were pretty well dried out but the other things were in fine shape and certainly were good. The boxes were not damaged the least bit and there was absolutely nothing wasted. I used the cloths that the boxes were bound up with to clean my dixie (Slang for British Army camp kettle) and the tin boxes we hammered them out flat and nailed them over holes in the wall. The fudge and beech nuts were ok. Several fellows who had not been out to Canada very long did not know what they were and had never even heard of them before. Most of the old country fellows in our unit had always lived in cities in Eng. and so of course stuck to the large places when they emigrated to Canada. It is surprising just the peculiar ideas some of them have of the country in Canada.

I hope Geo. is coming along alright. It would be great if his eyes would get better now. There have been a few eye cases come in to us occasionally and they always cause the patients more suffering than any other wound. I remember at Dranoutre one fellow had a small piece of steel in his eye-ball, and we could not do anything for him. The poor fellow just wriggled around all night with the pain of it the whole night.

Since I wrote last we have been getting more sick than anything else. On Sun. night we had only one slight flesh wound and none at all last night. One slight (ly) wounded case in 2 nights and 13 killed is a good deal different proportion to what we have been used to. The 21st (21st Battalion) have lost 12 men killed and 1 other Batt. got only 1 in the same period. They were nearly all sniped too, as the artillery has been pretty inactive just around here this last few days.

There have been from 10 –16 cases of trench feet and colds coming in this last few nights and the sick ward of our dressing station was pretty crowded. No very serious cases came in, mostly colds and trench feet.

Don’t bother sending very many clothes because we are not very likely to need much more than what we are issued with in the line of scarfs etc. It appeared on orders that there was a shortage of sox in the division and asking that all the dirty sox be taken to the bath when we go. Some fellows have been getting clean sox from the bath and not handing in the dirty ones so the supply was running out. We have been issued with woolen gloves the other day, the same as we got last winter in Toronto.

You hit it on the head when you guessed that we would like the war to end. There are no soldiers over here but wish that peace would be declared to-morrow. Of course not peace on any terms. What I mean is that they are tired of the war. I wish the Kaiser could be stuck in a trench half-full of water and made to do duty there for a 6 day shift, same as a Private, and then when he is just about dead with cold and wet clothes making him so stiff that he can hardly crawl when it comes time to change battalions, and just as he is getting out of range, for a sniper to put a bullet through some place that is not vital for instance his thigh or shoulder and (if) he could be granted the pleasure of lying in the mud for about 12 hours before being dressed and treated. If he had to go through all that – and it is not an uncommon occurrence for it to happen – I think the rotter would want to sign pretty nearly anything they stuck before him.

I guess there will be skating at home by the time this reaches there. There have been some real cold nights here during the last week or 10 days but it has been comparatively dry till last night when it started to rain. It cleared up this morning again but us very muddy now. There is so little news to tell that I’ll have to ring off now and send this as it is nearly mail time. It is always collected at noon. I am not in bed this morning because I had a good sleep last night because there was no work to do in our surgery, but those in the sick ward were very busy.

I guess that you will be sending these letters on for I do not write to the others very regularly and I guess they look for them from home. Well I had better ring off now and shave before dinner. Hoping everyone is real well at home, I am

Your loving son,

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

18 November 1915 Somewhere in Belgium

Dear Mother,

Received your letter ok on Tuesday & the tube containing the magazines came to hand on the same mail as well as a Teeswater News. I also got a Teeswater News again today again (Oct. 21) almost a month old but very welcome. I got the parcel from Toronto yesterday and yours containing the doughnuts etc. has not yet arrived. I had a letter from Gert on Monday and also one from a Mrs. Minnie Skillings of #1 Thompson Yard, Gorge Street, Castle Road, Scarborough, England. The address on the envelope was ok in every respect except she had Skillings instead of Skilling.

I made out from that letter that she was looking for a brother or brother-in-law whose address she did not know and she had written to the War Office for it and had received mine. I answered the letter and enclosed the one she sent. I told her about Bill being in a Batt. at Toronto and also that there were 2 other men in that same Batt. whose names are Skilling but of no relation to us that we could find. She did not seem to have a very good education and her spelling and writing were not very good. The letter was composed not too badly however.

Well, I was glad to get your letter and have been trying ever since to answer it but this is honestly the (1st) chance I have had to get at it. I have been on the sanitary squad ever since last Sunday and besides that work I have to work the rest of the day on making a barricade for the hospital. We had to fill 500 sand bags and pile them 10 high and 4 feet out from the wall & gradually sloping in to about 3 feet at the top and then fill earth into the space enclosed. It has taken nearly all of our spare time for nearly the whole week and none of us are very sorry because we have have been sitting around so long that we have been getting soft as clams.

It has been a fairly decent week as far as weather goes although it is muddy and I only got a new pair of shoes today. It was not before I needed them either for my feet were wet continually and it was mighty lucky for me that I had 2 or 3 pairs of sox. I had to take a pair of big 7’s as it was as they had not gotten any 6’s in but with a pair of insoles and thick sox I guess I can fill them. I can get my old ones fixed up and wear them if we have any marching to do.

There has not been very much doing here for some time. I got a few souvenirs from a few shell holes where a few shells had dropped a day or two ago and also a shell head from an anti-aircraft gun that fell close to the incinerator last week.

I’ll be in the hospital next week I expect (our section I mean) and will likely be there for some time probably a month. We not only have the wounded to fix up here but also the sick. Where we were last there were 2 different buildings for the sick and wounded. It will be a lot more work as it is now especially for whoever is on day duty.

This is on Friday night and I have just received a letter from Maude. She said there was one coming from Mae also but it has not arrived. But as there is a Canadian mail in again not doubt some more will be along tomorrow.
From her letter I learned that G.A. Mc. had been operated on for appendicitis and a time of posting was still in a critical condition. I hope that before now that he has recovered and is regaining his strength. He is certainly having his own share of troubles. I guess Mae would be pretty worried.

Say I think I must have been putting a terrible lot of emphasis on the “eats” for Maude says there is going to be a regular cargo of grub coming for me anytime now. I guess I’ll be able to get away with it alright but do not go to very much trouble about sending stuff for it is so expensive and it takes so long for things to get here. I only got the parcel on Tuesday and it was sent fully a month ago. There were a few of the apples enclosed that were spotted & one was all mushy. I was glad to get it however and there was nothing in it that was injured.

It came out on orders that we can draw 50 francs anytime between now and Xmas but did not say whether we could draw that much in addition to our regular pay or not. It is $10 in a normal money market but I do not think a franc is worth 20 cents just now. I do know that we cannot get 20 cents worth of stuff for it here – at present prices at any rate. Everything is an outrageous price here and our 30 francs a month does not last long.

I am pretty sure we will be taking charge of the hospital tomorrow and no doubt will be extra busy for a few days until we get used to things. I have been on the incinerator job all day and am grimy with smoke. We can only get cold water to wash in and it is so hard that it curdles the soap and we cannot get clean no matter how hard we rub.

Well say I think I’ll have to ring off now & get ready for bed as there is a big day’s work in the morning for me and probably all night tomorrow as well. We will likely have a better chance to write in the hospital than we have here so I’ll try and get another letter away by the first of the week.

I am real well and feeling fine. Hope everyone is the same at home.

Your loving son,

Saturday, March 16, 2013

10 November 1915 Somewhere in Belgium

Dear Mother,

Received your welcome letter of Oct. 24 on Sunday and was very glad to get it. On Monday I got one from Vern and was glad to hear from him also. Write often Vern and Norma and tell me all about what is going on at school etc.

I have been getting my letters fairly regularly but a parcel that Mae sent from Eaton’s has not arrived. She said it was sent the same day as the letter that she mentioned it in. I got the letter nearly 2 weeks ago. Also I have not received any Teeswater papers for nearly 3 weeks or those magazines you spoke of sending. Several other fellows have been having the same trouble so I guess the mail must be congested and they will be along in good order some of these days. If parcels are being held up now I wonder what it will be like at Xmas.

The address of Mrs. A. Jeffs is 34 Dalebury Rd., Wandsworth Common, Upper Tooting, London, S.W. Bill has the address and you can get it from him if you lose this.

(This pen needs a good cleaning out so excuse any extra blots. )

There has not been very much doing on the line for several weeks now and it is just a case of stay here and put in time for the field ambulances.

The rain that we have been getting lately has caused quite a bit of trouble in the front line trenches both on ours and the enemy’s. The fellows brought in from these trenches say the walls are so soft that they are coming in and all they get to do is to repair them.

We expected to take over the hospital last week, but it didn’t come off. I think probably it will be this Saturday instead. I wish we were there now for I am awfully sick of hanging around putting in time and not doing anything. It would not be so bad if it did not get dark so early. The sun sets here about 4 o’clock now and by 5 it is too dark to be outside and so it makes the evening pretty long. We must be inside at 8:30 and lights out at 9:30. We are nearly always in bed long before that time though, but when we do so little we do not feel much like sleeping. We cannot go more than 400 yards away from the hospital without a pass and there is roll call at 6:30 am, 11 am and 3 pm to see that we are all here and also to hand out small jobs.

On Sat. last we had  our first bath in 2 weeks. A bath out here is a very momentous occasion and even if it is done in record time and in a place where mud is the most predominant thing, we generally feel a little more like human beings. A new bath house is being constructed, and while it is being built, the only place that could be gotten anywhere near were some tents. There were 4 tubs in a bell tent and when a pail full of hot water was put into each tub it made so much steam that we could hardly see anything.

After we got our duds off and were into the tub, a man came around to the tents and collected all our dirty underwear and gave us clean in its place. After we were through, or rather after the attendants thought we ought to be through, the tubs were dumped right on the ground and we had to get dressed without getting any mud on us as best we could. Of course it was about as impossible as to walk on eggs without breaking them.

Say wasn’t that a great piece of work by the P. Society on Trafalgar Day. Teeswater did splendidly considering what she has been doing right along. The million that the Province raised will come in fine before the winter is over.

We have been issued with capes (waterproof) & sweaters. Also we expect to get long boots & waterproof coverings for our tops. I have never been bothered by the cold yet or the rain either, for that matter, as we have not had to be out in it very much.

Our grub is not too bad just now. If we manage properly and do not get too greedy, we can generally have butter for every meal and we get lots of jam and bread and biscuits. Fried meat comes nearly as often as stew now and by boiling the bacon instead of frying it, we can get a bigger piece each & it is better than being all shriveled up.

Well how does Bill like it in barracks? What part of the Ex. are they in? Do they have permanent passes? I guess he will be writing soon and telling me all about it. What do the people over there think of the Balkan situation? We do not get the papers regularly enough to follow things. When Kitchener gets over there he will likely start things moving in the right direction.

I had to stop this last night as my candle got too low and I want to get this finished before noon so that it will go on today’s mail. They have a new system now for outgoing mail. It is collected at 12 noon instead of 4 pm. By doing it like that, it can be censored in the afternoon and sent away to the rail-head the same day. It saves 24 hrs. by the new system.

It is a fine clear day and there are a lot of airplanes up this morning. Favourable weather is so scarce now that they have to make the best use of any day that the clouds are not too low. We got another one the other day - Taube I mean.

The sky had been very dull and dark all day but about 3 or 4 it cleared up rather suddenly. Almost immediately airplanes from both sides were busy. I counted 7 all in a very small area. They had several machine gun duels and the bur-rrrrrr of the machine guns could be heard distinctly. We did not lose any machine guns but the Germans had one of theirs winged.

I am on barrack room fatigue and have been nearly all morning sweeping and cleaning up. We can go over the floor every hour and get about a peck of mud. It is a day’s work and a different man is appointed each day. 

Well it is mail time so I will have to get this into the box. I am real well and trust you are the same. Send this on as I have not got any more green envelopes so will have to economize. I got 4 or 5 extra ones at the chateau and along with our own issue I have been pretty well supplied.

Your loving son,

Monday, March 11, 2013

4 November 1915 Somewhere in Belgium

Dear Mother,

Received your welcome letter of Oct 17 yesterday and also Norma’s and Maude’s enclosed. I had one from Bill and another from Mae and Maude on Sunday.

So Bill has gotten into the 81st. It is only a newly organized Batt. I understand, so it will not likely be sending over drafts for sometime. He will no doubt be relieved from carrying a pack in the band, but I don’t know whether I would rather blow a horn or carry a pack. I know I would a hariged (?) sight rather carry the infantry kit than that of the Fd. Amb. In the infantry the pack is placed on your shoulders where it does not bother your movements but we carry most of our stuff bandolier fashion and it presses on the chest and passes under one arm.

Well we have been doing very little this last 2 weeks and we are getting pretty soft. It has been very wet and so we have not been able to get out very often. I was up to a village about 3 miles away yesterday and when I got back I was pretty tired. I am getting awfully fat as all I have had to do was help keep the hut clean and after that there was not much to do but eat. We get all we can eat but there aren’t many frills. Mostly bread, stew, tea and bacon in the morning and jam at night. And to crown it all, we have been getting a tin (1 1/2 lbs.) of butter between 10 men nearly 3 times a week. We have a stove now that we picked up as we passed through “Wipers” (Ypres) and so we can make toast. We are living like princes and if it was not so wet and muddy we would be “jake” (ok).

We are being issued with waterproof capes (long ones that fasten closely around the neck and come down to the boot tops). They have a slit for the arms and so we can be dry and warm now. I expect an issue of new boots soon so we are alright now as far as the wet and cold goes.

Oh no, we are not in as dangerous quarters as the infantry . Of course when the infantry are in the reserve or line trenches is the only time they are in any real danger and when they are in the billets, they are further back than we are. In the trenches there is not much chance of getting hurt if you are careful and do not go sticking your head up over the parapet. There is more danger from civilian snipers than the German snipers. There are a few unscrupulous Belgians who snipe at British soldiers every chance they get. A young lad 16 years old was caught red handed and was shot after a court martial.

The Red Cross is not much protection and the ambulances go around with big bags hung over the red crosses painted on the sides of the car. The fellows who are issued with Red Cross arm bands soaked them in strong tea for awhile so they would not show so much because when they are new they show up too well and offer a good target for the snipers. However we have had no casualties yet and only one man slightly sick.

Say there are a terrible lot of words scratched out in this letter but it is very dark in the hut as we have no windows and I can hardly see what I am writing.

Everyone is asking me what they should send me. Even Uncle Will (William Skilling) and Aunt Aggie (Agnes Skilling Orford) have been very anxious to send me some things, but if everyone was to start sending me a lot of stuff, I would be overloaded. I’ll tell you something – not to bother sending what we can get here. Medicine like aspirin, court plaster etc. chocolate. As a matter of fact the small shops in the villages are much like those of the English villages except that things are very dear and we cannot buy very much before we are broke as 1 franc a day(20 cents) is all we draw in 2 pays a month amounting to 30 francs a month. Small bars of chocolate cost from 2 d. to 6 d. apples from 1 1/2 d. to 2 1/2 d. each other things very much in proportion.

No Norma, we do not have much of a chance to “parlez-vous” where we are now. The Belgians just here speak Flemish which is very much like Dutch. They say “nien” and “yaw” and go clacking around in their wooden shoes. I got a small pair the other day and am sending them home along with a painting I picked up at “Wipers”. We get fooled sometimes when we are trying to display our knowledge of French and get a perfectly good English reply from the woman in the shop. They all tell us that they learned English since the soldiers came last fall.

If you can get a good map with a small scale of Flanders and Belgium, you will be able to follow the places where we go from time to time as we are at liberty to tell our friends where we were a month from the date of writing. A month ago today we were running a Dressing Station at Dranoutre. In a letter to Ettie a while ago I outlined a few of the places we had been and she will no doubt let you know what they are.

Did I tell you that the King and Prince of Wales along with King Albert and Field Marshal French (Foch) had been to review the 2nd Ambulance Division a while ago. We only sent 4 men and a Staff Sergeant and all the other units sent the same proportion of their strength.

Congratulations Norma for becoming President of the ? out of such a large class. I guess the new (Teeswater) Town Hall will be quite an improvement. Does it seat any more? Where did they hold the Fall Show Concert?

I suppose you send these letters around to the rest. I will not have so much time to write after we take over the hospital as I have had this last week and I’ll address all my letters home and then they can be seen on from there.

I am enclosing a few picture cards of some of the places we have been at. I sent a few last week and will put the rest of them in this letter.

Well I think between this and the letters I sent to Orville and Bill you will have all the news of the week so I’ll ring off for this time. I am feeling fine and hope everyone else at home is just the same.

Your loving son,

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

2 November 1915 Somewhere in Belgium

Dear Bill,
Received your welcome letter today and I guess it is the ‘advance party’ of a new Canadian mail. So you have at last gotten rid of the bally books. Can easily imagine how war will be almost a picnic compared with a whole summer of book selling. So you are in the 81st Battalion band. Say it is rather an uncommon coincidence to have 2 other Skillings in the same Batt. isn’t it? I guess before this you will be back in Toronto and in barracks at Ex. (Exhibition Grounds Camp). I think you did well to fight shy of the Field Ambulance and whatever you do keep out of the A.M.C. for they are the most grumpy and grouching bunch I ever had anything to do with. I guess they get the same kind in every corps. I think ours is the worst because there is so little to do and they get sitting around doing nothing and kick at the grub etc. for pastime.

I believe the bands are acting as regimental stretcher bearers and some of them are in the ranks doing duty as riflemen. The regimental Stretcher Bearers are not protected by the Red Cross but wear a band around their arm with S.B. on it. There are no bands over here acting as bandsmen (musicians) near the trenches but they bring their instruments over and sometimes play their battalions on route marches or give concerts back in the billets.

The only objection to enlisting with the C.F.A. (Canadian Field Artillery ) is that they will not be as much chance of getting over here as in the infantry. I don’t know whether you would be able to get a quick draft over here from the band or not for bandsmen are apt to be scarce and they might want to keep you. Is there any chance of the Batt. coming over as a unit? If you could, get into the C.F.A. as a signaler or into the Signal Co. of the 81st. In the C.F.A. you would have a horse to ride and no pack to carry and there is more to learn than in the infantry and a good deal more interesting. (Harold is concerned about his brother as he knows he has a rheumatic heart.)

I have been trying to get a transfer out of the 5th Field Ambulance but it is too late for that I’m afraid. It is fine for you to be in Toronto for the winter. If you ever get over to France we will try and see if you could get a claim put in for me. There is some regulation to the effect that an older brother can claim a younger especially if the elder is in a senior unit.

There is a spell of rotten weather on here just now. It has rained nearly every day for about 2 weeks and is still drizzling away. The huts we are in have no windows and we have to either burn candles or open the door.We got a stove the other day as we passed thru’ “Wipers” (Ypres). It is a terribly racked place.

This is Thursday morning and I have been cleaning up the place ever since I got up until now and I want to get this finished before dinner. We have not been doing anything yet this week except the ordinary work around the huts. I think we are going to take over the hospital tomorrow.

There are not many surgical cases coming in, mostly sick last night for instance there were 2 wounded and 16 sick (mostly from being in the wet trenches). There was also a young girl about 18 years old brought in. The Germans had been searching the ground around her house for a concealed battery and a high explosive shell hit their house. Her father and mother were both killed and she will lose both legs and probably an arm if she gets better which is very doubtful. Her legs were just a pulp.

I am sending home an oil painting I picked up at ‘Wipers’ and also a pair of Dutch wooden shoes that I bought from a man who makes them. I also got a dog skin up at the dead city and am keeping it as a sort of cushion. It makes the floor just a little bit softer to sleep on.

Well I must ring off now and write home. Do they send my letters onto you people at Toronto? Tell them to send them for I’ll not have so much time to write when we take over the hospital.

Write and tell me how the 81st is getting along. what are your officers and NCOs like? I saw the photos of a couple of them in the Star Weekly. One seems to be a regular youngster.

Write soon.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

27 October 1915 Somewhere in Belgium

Dear People in Toronto,

I have an hour or two this evening that I will be able to devote to writing letters etc. I wrote home on Sunday but it was not much of a letter and it was so cold in our hut that I could not sit still and besides I had no table to write on so I just had to stop and went for a walk to a village further up the road that had received its quota of shells and was in a rather dilapidated condition.

On Sunday night it started to rain and been keeping it up ever since on and off, except yesterday which was a fine day till late at night. It is very muddy and everything gets damp but if it is possible to become accustomed to wet weather, we may as well do so , for we have not much good weather ahead of us till the spring , except occasional days of no rain.

I expect we will soon be issued with the famous sheepskin coats of the 1st Division, and also waterproof cloaks with new boots soon. We haven’t had any new boots since the 24th of May when we got our big overseas ammunition boots. That was the day we moved our camp from Sandling to Otterpool and everyone who wore the stiff beggars had sore feet.

I have been receiving all your letters, so I got Maude’s last Thursday and Mae’s on the Sat. preceding. Orville’s came quite a while ago but I have not heard from Bill for quite a long time. I guess he has been pretty busy with his books and getting his affairs all wound up before enlisting. What has he joined? He will no doubt be writing me all about it soon however I don’t think I would enlist in the Medical Corps if I were he. I wish I could get a transfer but I guess it is too late now. The Artillery is the best Corps. to join I think or the cyclists are good too. The infantry get all the dirty work and the most hard work. It has the most fighting to do. But in this war the infantry just finish up what the guns start and then the ambulance steps in and has to carry most of them back – those who have that much luck.

In that engagement Mae referred to being reported in church as being won by the British and French was on while we had charge of the dressing station in Belgium, and was a considerable distance south of us. We could hear the bombardment for 2 or 3 days and when the guns ceased their incessant roar, there was hardly anything left to oppose our infantry. Not until they had penetrated a long distance into the German lines and as you will have seen by the casualty lists, they apparently met with some opposition back there.

The 28th (Northwest) Battalion has been most heavily hit of any 2nd Division so far. They have had the name of being the hoodoo ? Batt. of the 2nd Div. all along and have certainly lived (or died) up to it since coming over here. They had 490 some killed in a section of trench that was blown up by a mine. The other units have been comparatively lucky.

Orville was asking in one of his letters if the report he had from Geo. Christensen about the discontent among the Canadian munitions workers (was true). As far as I can make out from the papers here they are not being used as well or getting as much pay as they were led to believe they would receive. I saw a case of one of them taking his case into court, but judgement was not given. It appeared from the report in the report in the paper that the future action of a lot of the Can. munitions workers depended on the result of that case.

That was a pretty rotten trick of Dennis’. How are you making out with him now? Is business affected in Toronto this fall? Eggs here are 60 f (?) a doz. or 2 1/2 f (?) each. they have been that price all summer and do not seem to vary at all.

There was an inspection by Kings Albert of Belgium and George V accompanied by French Field Marshal (Foch?) and hosts of staff officers of all tanks today at a small village about 3 miles from here. Of course it would not be very practicable to have all the troops of the 2nd Div. out at one time so just 10 (?) men from each 50 (?). We sent 4 men and a staff Sargeant from our unit.

We had a trip last night to a dead city. I will not be able to give you a complete description of our trip but it was an experience I will not forget very soon. We had been sending parties up for 2 or 3 nights back for the purpose of getting bricks and fire wood. etc. and I was lucky enough to get going up last night.

The moon was just rising as we entered the ruins. All the way along the road the fields on either sides were full of big shell holes a sort of prelude to the sort of thing we were to see later on. Every building of any size that we encountered showed some signs of being shelled at some time or other. As our waggons got near the entrance of the place, we were held up by a guard for a moment and then we passed on through into the most terrible evidence of what has been going on here since last fall.

Wherever we went through the whole city (he is talking about Ypres/Leper), there was not a house left that had not been ruined so much that it was just a heap of bricks. Some have 2 or 3 walls standing but a roof is a rare thing to see. I had seen a lot of photographs and picture cards of the ruins. They all looked pretty bad but I was of the opinion that they were taken from some of the worst parts of the city. These kind of pictures can be photographed in any part of the city. The big square in the centre of the city is strewn with bricks and debris from the surrounding buildings and the road itself is torn up in several places by the big shells falling there and bursting. The famous ‘cloth hall’ which I suppose you know of and where it is, has been wrecked completely and a Jack Johnston hole big enough to bury a couple of big motor cars is right outside the main entrance. The big convent college, several large hotels, cathedrals and a great big railway station have all been shelled time after time and even yet they occasionally drop a “coal box” down just to let us know they have a few to spare, I guess. We have a few batteries concealed there and probably they are the targets.

I had to stop last night as my candle was getting low and I had to put my blankets down yet. This is now Thursday afternoon and I want to get this finished before the mail leaves. I only have a minute or two to start in too.

There was a German aeroplane brought down near here on Tuesday. I saw the whole fight from the time it came into view, till the bally thing lighted near our trenches. It was attacked by an Allied machine and headed back toward the trenches again but when the Br. machine came close the anti-air guns were afraid of hitting it so they ceased fire but in a few minutes the Taube started back again and as they make better time than the Biplanes, he was getting away from our airman so he turned back and let our guns at him again. And didn’t they make him dodge. He began to descend in a very short time and was not long in coming down.

Well I got some more letters today. One from Orville and Rose, mother and Ettie. I am sorry Orville that Dennis is giving you such a hard rub.He won’t last long probably, if he gets a line of bum stuff. Doesn’t he ever get any trouble about the change of the wrapper on the butter etc.?

It is dandy snap of yourself and the youngsters. They sure are healthy looking and I can see a big difference in their size. have the other one too. You were asking about games etc. We don’t get much chance to play ball of any kind and now the rainy weather started we don’t get a chance to do anything in the sport(s) line. There is no window in our huts and only 2 small candles allowed a day so when it is wet and cold we have to keep all the places closed and burn candles. They cost a penny each to buy them and we can’t afford that very often on 1 franc a day. However I think we are going to get a lantern now but the difficulty is getting oil.

There comes the mail man so will have to ring off. Write often.