Tuesday, September 24, 2013

2 May 1916 France

Dear Mother, Father and the Rest:
This is Tuesday afternoon and I have a few minutes to write before supper time so will get a letter started anyway. There was a Canadian mail today but none from home. It will likely be along tomorrow. Got one from Mae however. I am doing night duty in one of the tent wards so that is how I can write during the afternoon. I can generally get a few winks sleep at night and do not need to sleep all day. I have a bad attack of spring fever I think, for I am just so lazy that I haven’t enough energy to do anything.

The weather here is simply great and has been just like Canadian May weather for over one week. The fields are getting green and the roads are all dried up. It sure is a treat after so much mud and rain and we can stand lots of this kind.

Have had a pretty easy time since coming here and have been to a band concert nearly every evening and one night a concert party from England that is touring the front giving concerts came to the YMCA marquee and gave us a dandy concert. I believe I sent the programme to Ettie. They had a violinist who was great and played a selection of the best pieces. I have been very fortunate in being able to go to so many concerts lately. I try to go every chance I get. 

Had to stop there and now I am on duty and have a full ward but nobody very sick, mostly sprained knees and ankles and some mild cases of trench fever. I had one very sick fellow last night and had another man to help me out as it was necessary to sit up with him all night, so we took 2 hour shifts. His temperature was 105 degrees and we had to keep cold cloths to his head etc. He put in a bad night but by 7 this morning we had his temperature down to 103 degrees. He was sent on today to a hospital further back.

Did I tell you I had seen Clare Brink? Saw him the other day as he was passing the hospital and went over to his quarters with him and had a chat. He is looking fine.

We were awakened the other night about 1 am by the gas alarm and had to get up and dress but were not called out. The gas alarm is a screeching siren and can be heard for miles. It sounds It sounds something like a steamboat whistle and when it sounds in the middle of the night it has such a weird spooky sound that you expect something dreadful is going to happen. We have had two alerts this last week but in neither case did they amount to much as our artillery stopped all the infantry advances and with our gas helmets, we are not troubled with gas even if it should come in this far.

There has been no word yet about a transfer and I’m beginning to think that Gen. Logies’ order has been squashed, the bringing men back from the front. I understand that the Bruce Battalion (160th) is up to strength now. They did the trick in short time alright. Where are they going to train?

I have not had any word from Bill since a day or so after he landed so do not know what he is doing.
What is the opinion of the people over there about the rebellion in Dublin? They were soon squelched however but I guess a lot of damage was done to property etc.

There has not been a great deal of fighting on our front in the last 2 weeks but previous to that, there was some pretty stiff scrapping as I suppose you would see by the paper a/ccs. Some of the Battalions lost so heavily in officers that several privates were promoted to Lieuts. on the field. It looked odd to see a couple of stars stuck up on an ordinary service tunic.

So you have gotten rid of the cow. That was a pretty good price to land for her wasn’t it? It will mean a lot of work cut out and you won’t be tied down so much now. You will all have more time to knit etc. ha!ha! Teeswater is surely going some pace when there are so many festivals and concerts. The new hall is being put to good use.

I must stop now and get my patients tucked up for the night. I’ll write again when I get your letter. Hope this finds everyone in best of health.
Harold Skilling

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