October 11, 1916
Updated: Sep 18, 2019
Dear Mother & Father,
Well I have had a streak of luck today. A letter from home and a letter from Agnes. Those snaps of the girls are simply great.
As you know there is no more 93rd Battn. We are the 39th battalion now under Col. Preston. Everything is well organized here and everything is done properly. We are doing some real soldiering now. I was in London last week for three days which I spent in seeing London. I saw most of the most interesting places, St.Pauls, Westminster, etc.
I got back to Otterpool just in time to get my stuff ready to go to West Sandling to the
39th and when I arrived here I got warned for France in the 18th. I immediately got three more days leave to London and got back last night, so you see I have been on the jump all the time. I am confined to barracks now so time hangs kind of heavy on my hands. I was certainly glad to hear from home. Will cable when I am leaving.
I am feeling fine, have everything ship shape except my trunks. I met a friend of Hitchins in London, a son of Sir Edward Chive or something like that. He very kindly offered to store my trunk and I think I will send it to him. I said he was going over to Canada next spring and would take our trunks across with him without much trouble. He is a very decent sort of chap and is a great friend of the Hitchins. He has visited them several times in Canada and stayed there for a couple of months. His address is, or rather I am enclosing his card.
Agnes says in her letter her back bothers her. How did she get it hurt? I hope it isn't serious.
When up in London this last time I happened to be at the same hotel as Les Stevens. He promised he would give me a flight in his machine but we did not get time to go there as the aerodrome is eight miles out of London.
I am pretty well equipped but my heavy my heavy underclothing I will leave to you mother as you know what is best. I think that the two piece underclothing would be best as we need lots of warmth around our waist in this dampness. The underclothing that Jack wore last winter I like the best and you know I am very persnickedy in anything like that.
I have in the line of a enamel boot a big pair of black oily Canadian pershings or shoe packs knee high with a thick studded soles.
I got a Burberry trench coat with a fleece lining.
There are five casualties amongst 93rd men already. It looks as if they were not going to let up at the front for the winter. War news looks favourable. Doesn't it.
I haven’t seen Jack or Bradshaw around and I don’t know where they are located. Bob Neill is same place over at Shornecliffe but I haven’t seen him as yet and I lost his address.
You seem to be rather unfortunate with the tires on the car. It must keep you working to keep the tires in shape.
The new battalion I see is gradually coming along. They will soon have enough to form fours any way.
Well Jack must have had quite an experience when he rolled off the culvert. Lucky nothing serious happened. He told me all about it in his letter.
I don’t know when I will be having as much time on my hands as I have at present so I will write soon again.
Well Love to all and you may be sure I think of home constantly. The snap shots are a little closer link than the letters and the letters are fine.
Well goodnight and kisses to all.
Your loving son,
So it has been a while since I have posted one of these letters, and I apologize. This letter doesn't have a ton to research in it so I am just going to point out a couple of things and let you enjoy the reading.
The first is that he finally gets the word that he will be going over to France to join the battle there. In his wording I can't tell for sure whether he is saying that he is leaving to France on the 18th, or he is leaving with the 18th battalion, which he does end up joining when he sees action. I am leaning toward the latter as his next letter is dated October 17th, and he is writing from France. I am excited for the letters to come as they will bring us closer to what it would have been like to be a Canadian soldier on the front lines during The Great War.
The second thing that I would like to point out is that he mentions the aerodrome. I'm assuming that the friend that he met in London is a pilot from the way he spoke of him in the letter. The aerodrome was an air field used from around 1908 up until the 60's that during war times was a training ground for the army's pilots and during peace time was used by pilots of all kinds to train. It was called the Hendon Aerodrome and as Vincent stated, was located right outside of London. If you would like more information about this I found a good article here.
The last thing I want to bring to your attention is his shopping list. He talks about the boots that he has which I believe he states are pershings, but I am not 100% sure about that. The picture of that word will be below so you can take a look. The big thing that surprised me was that he bought a trench coat from Burberry! This day and age I don't think I could buy a button from there but apparently they started out outfitting the military. Here is an interesting article about that and the rise of the trench coat.
Below I have a couple of pictures of words I am not sure about and the Officer Declaration for Robert Neill, or Bob Neill as Vincent calls him. This is his soon to be wifes brother. I know this because my Grandma used to talk about how she wasn't too fond of her uncle Robert.
*I know believe pershings to be right, still not % certain on the two other words listed above.
Anyways, I hope you enjoy! I should have another one, this time from France, ready for next Tuesday.
Thank you for reading and be sure to share and let me know if there is anything that I should add!