Tuesday, May 7, 2013

16 January 1916 Somewhere in Flanders

Dear people at home,

I got mother's letter of December 19 several days ago and should have answered it sooner but I'll get it done now. The mail coming from Canada is very irregular and it takes at least three weeks for a letter to come through. However I guess it is about the best we can hope for just now as nearly all the fast boats have been commandeered by the government for transports and only a few of the old slow boats are left to make regular trips across.

In your letter of December 19 you spoke of getting the first of my Christmas mail. I guess in the next letter you will be telling me all about your doings at Christmas. Things have been plugging along here just the same. An occasional artillery duel is all that ever happens and they do not bother us much. You spoke of our hospital being shelled. Well it wasn't exactly our dressing station but only the village where it is situated. There were three men killed but they were artillery men who were where they should not have been. There was very little damage done and their marksmanship was very poor. They have the built a big shell proof dugout for the patients who might be in the hospital if it ever was shelled again. It is about as safe place as we could get for unless a shell dropped right on to it (which is practically impossible), nothing would be hurt.

Well we are going to get our leave at last and the first batch started yesterday. There were only three went but I expect after a few weeks it will be increased. They had decided to run it alphabetically but after the first batch had gone it was decided that lots should be drawn. Well they did that and I got number 191 out of 210 who drew. I think I'll go up to Scotland for a few days. We get six clear days in England eight days altogether, two for  traveling, and a free pass to wherever we want to go. I think when I get away that I'll get my pass made out to Greenock and stay a few days in London. While I am there I can get some decent clothes out of my kitbag at Jeff's and also draw some money which is not allowed us till we get to England. It is a little far ahead to make plans yet since at the rate they are going now, I will get my leave in approximately 100 weeks ha! ha! In drawing lots, the fellow who came after me drew number 13. He was a Smith.

Last Sunday when we were coming back from a bathing parade, a small squad of us stopped at in at the house by the side of the road and got a woman to take our pictures. She had gotten hold of a camera somewhere and she makes a pretty good job of it. She took two exposures but I could only get one kind. I'll try and get some of the others sometime soon and send them too. I didn't look quite such as simpleton in the other one as I do in this. You will notice those straps I have coming over my shoulders. They are not from my braces but are the straps of my waterproof cape.

I sent a box of souvenirs the other day but more as an experiment than anything else. There was a casing from an 18 mm shell nose and a shrapnel bullet also and a French bullet. The rod with the disc on the end was part of an anti-air gun shell and fell close to where I was working one day. The shell fragments are pieces that came from high explosive German shells that bombed our village that time I referred to in the first part of this letter. I sent my diary to England by a fellow who borrowed my haversack and he is going to mail it from there. I did not like to trust it to the mail here.

There is a patient here in our hospital who comes from Kinkardine I believe. His name is Major (?) Commerton and he is in the 18th Battalion. Do you know him?

Monday morning

Just got the start of another Canadian mail this morning. There were news came up to December 23 but no letters from home. I expect there will be more next time and as we only get mail once a day it will likely be along tomorrow.

I see by the news that the 160th Bruce Battalion is nearly an accomplished thing now and when it gets over here I think I'll try and get a transfer into it.

I'm glad they soaked to the hotel keepers at home and am anxious to see what they got. I also see that Jim Little and Bill Hiscox are Captains now. I wish I could get into the infantry or some other corps than the ambulance for there is such a petty bunch of NCO's here that they are continually stirring up trouble. One sergeant what even went so far as to have another up in the orderly room for a very trivial offense. They just seem to be itching to get one another up on the carpet every chance they can get.

Well news is about the scarcest thing around here just now and I only wish we would get out of this ch√Ęteau. I think probably we shall next Saturday and I hope by then we will have our new Webb equipment with packs etc.

Well I guess I better ring off for this time and get at my work. Hope there is a letter tomorrow to answer. I am feeling fine and hope everyone at home is too.

Harold R.Sk.

PS I See by the news that the school play went off fine. Tell Norma to write and tell me all about it. H.R.S.

1 comment:

  1. What a disappointment for his to draw such a high number on the leave dates. It's interesting to learn about their plans for leave, which I'm surprised lasted for 8 days.

    Funny comment about the sour NCOs.

    I also felt he was diminishing the danger he was under with the shelling. His souvenirs imply that there are lots of war artifacts, almost underfoot.