Friday, August 5, 2016

18 Dec. 1916 C.C.A.C.Hastings, England

Dear Folks,

It seems a long time since I wrote a letter home, but when I was on leave, it just seemed impossible to get a letter written to anyone. It was rather a remarkable coincidence that Bill's leave and mine should each be exactly 4 weeks and end within a day of each other. It certainly made  it much more pleasant.

We stayed at Mitford's most of the time we were in London and they seemed glad to have us and made us feel very much at home. We just came and went as we liked. We had Millie and Edith out several times to hear two Grand Operas, Faust, and Aida. Also, Edith came down to Bramshott with us to see the 160th (Bruce Battalion).

During our stay in London, we got around to most of the principal things that neither of us had seen. We got to two afternoon sessions of the House of Parliament. The first time we missed the Question Hour which was what we particularly wanted so we came earlier next day and heard Mr. Asquith, Sir E. Carson, Mr. Tennant etc. We did not hear Lloyd George. Mr. Asqith can keep the House guessing. He shut up nearly every one of his questioners without giving them the least bit of information.

I think we spent most of our first week trying to buy a few Christmas presents for the people at home. It is a worse job here than at home because it is so hard to get suitable things that could be sent by mail easily.

We finally ended up in Robinsons & Cleavers, the big linen house, and found the best things there. We sent a draft to Mother. Thought she could make better use of it when away from home than a few articles of linen.

After about 10 -12 days of tearing around London, we decided to go on up to Scotland and drop off at those people in Yorkshire that you know, Mr. Balmer (or Bulmer). On inquiring, we found that we could not travel on the line going through their town on our up journey but could come back that way. We notified them , and also the Munros as to when we would likely come.

We left for Glasgow Friday midnight and arrived Greenock 10 am Sat. Mrs. Munro was at the station to meet us and we went right over to the house. That was the day Bill was gazetted. He cabled as soon as he found out.

I should judge Munros to be typical Scotch working people - except that they don't booze. They live in a 3 story building on the top floor and are crowded. They all seem very happy though and were glad to have us visit them. Their hospitality is very superfluous and they wouldn't let us eat at the same table as themselves or the kids but stuck us off in our own rooms and fed us there, with the door closed. They made us feel kind of uncomfortable by doing things like that all the time. They bought things to give us to eat which I don't think they could well afford.

They have a dandy ...right family and they all seem to be doing as much as they can to help in the upkeep of the house. The eldest boy , about 18, is a boilermaker's apprentice and earns 30 shillings a week for 72 hours work. They work overtime 3 nights a week. He doesn't look strong enough to stand it and when he comes in at night he looks "all in". The eldest daughter is a dandy singer; she is about 14 and has a good voice. she sings in one of the city school choirs. Mae would like to get hold of her.

We had them all singing one night and the youngest, Molly, about the same age as Gracie, said she could sing. We said "let's have it then". That made her shy so she said she knew one " in me ain hymn book". We said " well, sing that one". She squirmed around a bit and then said " oh, but I must have my hymn book wi' me".

There isn't much to see around Greenock , especially at this time of year as it is so foggy all the time. They only have about 7 hours of daylight on clear days, but on misty days , it is never really light. We rented a Kodak to take up with us but we couldn't get enough light to take more than 3 or 4 snaps. We saw nearly all the friends of the family during our stay but there were so many and such flimsy relationships that I couldn't begin to tell you who they were.

Mrs. Skilling, Mrs. Munro's mother, came over to see us a couple of evenings. She is 65 but looks older. Just the same, she gets up every morning at 5:30 am, gets her own breakfast, and takes a car at 6:30 am for Port Glasgow where she works at a hemp mill. she doesn't seem to mind. she is a Catholic and seems quite satisfied that our ancestors came from Germany. It doesn't make her like the Germans any more however. Frank Skilling ( her son) was away to sea, so they thought, so we didn't meet him.

We decided that we would go on to Glasgow Wed. pm and spend the rest of the day and all day Thursday there, and go on to Edinburgh after dark. When we got up on Wed. am, we found that neither Mrs. Munro nor Charlie had gone to work; they said they slept in but if they did, I think it must have been on purpose. The rest would not hurt them if they could afford to lose the time. We got away on the 2 pm train. Mrs. Munro and Charlie came to the station to see us off.

I had an idea that Glasgow was something like Greenock but it didn't take long for me to change my mind. it is a dandy city and we had a dandy day there. We went to see an exhibition of war relics at night and went through a large art gallery in the same building. We had tea under the wing of the monoplane in which Warneford V.C. brought down the first Zeppelin.

Next morning we looked through the City Hall. It is a gran' place and also the University and the civic art gallery. It has a lot of the masterpieces of the London galleries which have been removed from London for fear of being destroyed during some of the raids. We intended going out for a car ride along the docks but left it too late. We went but the darkness prevented our seeing anything.

We caught a train for Edinburgh just about 6:30 pm and got in there at about 9 pm. We looked up a hotel and then tried to find an eating house. There didn't seem to be one open so we wandered back to the station and got there just in time to be too late for the dining room. Nothing was left but the free buffet for soldiers. We went in but they wouldn't serve Bill because he was an officer. We managed to get them to give us something in behind the scenes but only after talking quite a while.

Edinburgh was enveloped in a mist all the time we were there and we couldn't get a view of the city at all We (took) the bus one day out to see the Forth Bridge but could only see one span of it. The fog hid all the rest. We had a good look at some of the interesting places though, Edinburgh Castle and part of the old town.

We left on Sat. pm for Yorkshire and after a very exasperating journey got into West Rounton  about 11:30 pm.  We missed connections at Darlington on a/cc of being delayed by an accident on the line. The last train stopping at our nearest station to West Rounton had gone so we had to hire a trap to take us out, about 9 miles. Fortunately, the people were not in bed and gave us a hearty welcome. They are Mr. and Mrs. Hazeltine. We stayed there until Tuesday afternoon and then came on to London.

Their place is quite near Middlesboro and if I had had your letter telling about Mr. Yeo's people I would have had a chance to go over. It has not arrived yet but I think some of my mail is down at the CCAC Depot here and I might get it yet. Send all mail to 609 Finchley Road, Hampstead, London c/o Mrs. Mitford. I'll likely be changing my address quite a bit during the next few weeks so I can always send there for it. I'm afraid I'll lose most of my Xmas parcels especially those that go to France.

There is not going to be any Xmas leave from CCAC at all as all railway facilities are being reserved for soldiers on leave from France. The Presbyterian church here is going to entertain 150 soldiers on Xmas day in the church and I'm going to try and get an invitation. It is going to be a sort of tea meeting or as nearly one as they can get in this country.

Well, I'm getting run out of news for this time so will ring off. We are in dandy billets here and have nothing to do but wait for a board. I'll write more often now that I have come back off leave.



No comments:

Post a Comment