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,

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