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Friday, September 20, 2013

9 April 1916 Somewhere in Belgium

Dear Mother, Father and the Rest:
Rec’d Mother’s letter of Mar. 11 with Norma’s enclosed and was glad to get them and to know that everyone was O.K. This week has not been very eventful but for some of the other ambulances, it has been pretty busy. Our turn will come soon enough and by the rumors floating around, it will not be very long. At present I am in charge of a few cases of measles (that did not develop). They are sort of isolated but are not sick. I expect they will be discharged in a day or so and I’ll be given an outside job then I guess.
There has not been any word received here yet that I am aware of about going back. I am not very enthusiastic about going back to join the 160th, but I am not going to decide until I see what the offer from Col. Weir says. The chance of getting back to Canada is very enticing but the thoughts of going back and doing the same old grind of training with a bunch of raw recruits (you see I am a veteran now. ha!ha!) does not appeal to me very strongly, especially if it’s only to be a Sergeant!
I have not had any word from Bill yet. But I expect he is in England. It will be 3 weeks from tomorrow since he was due to leave Toronto and it should not take longer than 2 and a half weeks to make the trip.
How is the proposed trip West for Father coming on? I guess Will Guinn would want to take him back. He would just be in time to see Bill before he left for Toronto.
I had to stop at the end of page 2 as it was time to feed the patients. I have a few minutes to write before the night man comes on duty.
Did I ever acknowledge the papers you sent about the Ottawa fire and also the Sunday Worlds from Toronto and the Onwards? I got everything that was sent I believe. It was nice of Miss Sharpe to send me those things. I wrote her a short note thanking her.
Norma is blossoming out to be some poet. That one on the Bruce Battalion in the News, was it the one she composed? You were asking about those shirts. Well I got them alright but I have not tried them on. You can send some underwear (light if you like ) knee drawers and short sleeved shirts. I can get them washed alright and it gets pretty hot over here in summer time. It is pretty hot some of these nights, but it not from the weather but from the artillery fire. It makes you shiver instead of sweating. Some nights we can hardly get any sleep for the din and it fairly shakes the huts where we have our quarters. One of our battalions got a pretty bad cutting up the other night. We were ordered to stand to and 3 of our ambulances were ordered out to help carry the wounded. We had an inspection of iron rations, gas helmets etc. and were ordered to stay in our huts and sleep with all our clothes on. The artillery was making so much noise that it was almost impossible to sleep but we gradually dosed off. When we awoke in the morning things had quieted down.
It is beginning to look as if the French had the Germans pretty nearly stopped at Verdun.
Opinion is pretty well divided here as to when the war is going to be over. It seems to be more generally thought however that it will not last the summer. The statements of prisoners seem to be pretty well divided as to the conditions in Germany. Some say there are not great shortages of food and that they are all “fed up” with the war, while others say they are sure to win. A month or two ought to see something decisive happen.
Things look like prohibition in Ontario this summer alright. We have some hot arguments over here sometimes but there is enough of its effects apparent, from even Belgian beer, to make a temperance man out of almost anyone. The chief reason why the field pay is held to 30 Francs a month is just because most of it would go to the “estaminets”. Some of the infantry men claim that the rum issue is the only thing worth living for. We do not have it issued to us, but when we do work like we were doing at the A.O.S. last week, it is sometimes given to any who want it. I worked just as hard as any of them up there, and I got along just as well as any on a bite or two of bully beef. At the most critical times some of the fellows will trot over to the estaminet and get “boozed up” and on a pay night it is a corker. In a couple of days the same crowd are trying to bum a penny or two pence to get a drink. Same crowd every time.
Well I must ring off and get this posted and let the night orderly take over. Hoping everyone is well at home.
I am your loving son and brother,
Harold

2 comments:

  1. Very interesting blog, dear Ruth Jackson.
    Congratulations!
    My grand father fought between 1916-1919 as a captain in Romanian Royal Army against Germans, Bulgars and Austro-Hungarians at Turtucaia (Bulgaria), Transsylvania, Marasesti (a victory against German Army of Romanian Army, assisted by French Military Mission in Romania under the command of general Berthelot).
    From my grand father I keep also some medals and decorations and other small military objects, including a French medical set ("Trusa Ofiterului") destinated to Romanian officers and a diary with poems composed between battles by my grand father (1917-1918).

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  2. Dear Ruth Jackson,
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