Monday, May 20, 2013

24 January 1916 Somewhere in Flanders

Dear Mother, Father, Norma and Vern:

Harold Skilling (rt)with the Lickley Brothers

Received a big consignment of Canadian mail last Thursday and it was the first decent batch I have had since a long time before Christmas. The letters had all come through in good time and it just seemed like Christmas all over again even though it was 20th of January. Everyone was full of Christmas news and I was so glad to know that you all had such a good time. You would have nearly as big a crowd at home as ever and I guess you would be all tearing around as usual. I was sorry to learn that you were sick on Christmas day, Mother. I was in the hospital then too, but not very sick. Santa Claus was as good as usual I see and he certainly was to me. I sent a card to each of the ladies who packed my box from The Patriotic League thanking them for their part in preparing it. Also to Mrs. Hughes, Colvin etc. who put things in the parcel you were sending. Everyone must have been very busy at home with so many entertainments and dinners coming off. So the school play was "some ripper", eh?

How is the (160th ) Bruce Battalion coming along? I hope they get it going well and make a success. Be sure and let me know all about it when you write. Are Norman Farquharson* and Donald Stewart** going to be in it? Surely they are not going to give those two youngsters commissions! They will have the time of their sweet young life over here if they ever get them.

I am glad the skating is going alright. Tell Vern to write me all about the hockey team etc.

I was out this afternoon to get some photos that four of us boys had taken together and when I could not get them because they were not done, we went over to see Billy Redburn. It is the first time I have seen him since last October. He looks fine and is having a pretty fair time. The good spell of weather we are having is materially decreasing the sick list and neither our place here or there are very rushed. He has some very nice souvenirs that he makes in his spare time. I have not been able to get very many but I guess there is lots of time yet before the war is over.

Say Mae was telling me about some wonderful cures she had for constipation. I wish you would send it. Maude was saying that Bill expected to be leaving for England by the middle of the winter. I hope he gets over here before I get my leave, for then we might possibly arrange to get our leave at the same time. Tell him to let me know when he expects to get over here. Billy Redburn is number 17 on the leave list and expects to get away shortly.

Say I wish you people at home would have some snaps taken of yourselves. I believe Bill had some photos taken. I guess I'll see him in England before long. There has not been a Canadian mail in for almost a week and so I have not had any letters to answer except those telling me about Christmas and there is really nothing in them to answer and there is absolutely "nil doing doing around this joint". I think I'll keep this letter until tomorrow and and enclose those photos of the boys and perhaps there will be a mail in then with some letters from home. The news comes regularly and I like to get it. Say Orville, write and tell me all about the "biz" . They say there is all kinds of demand in England for Canadian eggs etc. How did you make out on your storage stock? Have you much difficulty getting men? If you get time, write and tell me all about things. I must write to Floss so will ring off for tonight and get it done.

Photos are not finished so will not wait for them. Ask Orville if Dr. Fish has joined the Army. He can tell me where to write. I am real well and hope everyone at home is.

Harold R Skilling

*Norman William Farquharson, a friend of my father-in-law Edward Ray Jackson, died in France March 22, 1918 on his first night night in the trenches. See photographs and more on Ray's blog
**Donald Wilfred Stewart joined the Bruce Battalion in August 1, 1916 and later served in the Royal Flying Corps; in 1941 he joined R.C.A.M.C. and served on the hospital ship "Lady Nelson" (M.D).

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