Letter to Kate, Otto and the Little folks from Witley South Camp

Witley South Camp
Oct. 13, 1916

Dear Kate and Otto and Little folks:–

We are still having good warm weather here, it is just as warm when it rains here now as it is in Sask. in June or July we have a little night duty out in the trenches that are out about a mile and a half from camp the trenches are up on Thursby common and there is the best place you could want to learn to fight in, the last night we were out, it was bright moon light and fine we were out from 7.30 till 10.30 P.M. we had a good route march this A.M. for 3 hours we walked about 8 or 9 miles and had a great time the scenery is surely a treat to me. We saw one fine bunch of red short horn cattle all fat steers and the pastures are still as solid green as they ever are in Sask. in June.

This P.M. we had musketry and I have started my coarse in musketry that we have to take before we can qualify for a machine gunner. I like the machine gun work it is interesting the time just flies. It is the Lewis M.G. Otto may know it is an American make the gun weighs 26 lbs with tripod ready to shoot we have to carry it and a revolver, there is 6 men to each detachment we all have to know the gun so that any one of use can take any of the other places. It takes a long time to get this whole coarse down good but I think will take the most of it after we get to France for I think that the first draft of our Batt will go inside of a month from now they are out shooting these two weeks coarse now, we go next in about two weeks, Well I am going out for a little walk around to see how every think around the camp is.

Oct. 14th

1 P.M. I went out last night and got with Stanley Deason we walked around and talked of the different things that confront a soldier, and we wondered whether a soldier in our position in this day and age should make any plans for the future such as getting married or expecting a girl to remain true to one if he became wounded at the front, and in his case he is engaged and has not property at all. The question was how would he support a girl if he did get married, well I said if I got badly wounded I didn’t think that I would try to win the affections of any girl. I think that would be the best way to not get disapointed. but if the girls would chose a fellow after he was crippled up like they will here now he would have to get married I think or have a very strong will power. Altho I have not been roped in yet, I have been out with two different girls but was badly dissapointed in one of them the first sunday that I met them they showed use the pictures of there fiancees who are fighting at the front and I thot surely they would be true to them when we got the starte of that game use, so I had no idea of trying to flirt at all but say the next sunday, the one we call Lilly who’s fair and has a complexion like our painted and powdered girls of canada and the U.S.A. only with out a bit of any thing started to flirt with me and I wanted to take the other one to church but I hadent any chance after she started so I took her well I found out that she was just like a lot of my old girl freinds a big flirt, so there is nothing doing next Sun. I will go with the other girl or walk with the boys who are there with use, we soldiers have a happy home down here about 1 ¾ miles from camp and we appreciate it to the fullest extent. but it is not use soldiers home alone but about a dozen girls make it there home to. I don’t know why they all come there maby for the good time.

This old man and old lady have made there home a home for 400 boys since the war broak out, we are welcome any time of the week or sunday The old lady told me that she could tell what a pleasure it was for her to be able to do even as much as she could for use. about seven of use go there for tea sunday nights and we can’t get away from it we have the invitation and she will be offended if we don’t go, I am going out for a walk now and will write some more tomorrow or to night as things come about.

10 A.M. Sunday.

I have just got in off church parade. There is about half of our co’y away on fatigue work at ranges some miles from here these 300 of the boys are on the ranges shooting a 2 week coarse so there was not very many on the parade.

Well yesterday I got with Stanley Deason and Tom Miller and we started for Hindhead, but there was a guard on the “ [ditto under Hindhead] road so we could not get by, they had put the bars on this road out of bounds we could not pass, Well we tryed to go around to come back onto the road down farther but found that it was about two miles of a walk and there was lots of rip blackberries so we killed a lot of time and when we got to the road again we decided to come home instead of going on to Hindhead. So I will go out there an other Saturday

I have to take a young boys Sunday school class this P.M. at Milford. It will be the first time I ever tryed to teach a class but I can not tell you folks half of how bad the boys are, They just talk and laugh all the time thru prayer or thru any part of the sunday school but I am going to try and get them to behave if I can. Well good by to to you all from your brother brother in-law and uncle