The following letters were submitted and reprinted with the permission of Don Tracy. They are now in the National Army Museum, U.K.
Vimy Barracks, Ont.
So you’re mad at me for not writing to you, eh? Well, here is a letter so that so that you won’t be mad at me any more.
Did you play any tricks on April Fool’s Day? I didn’t have much chance here but I bet you had lots of fun.
I did my washing last night and now it is hanging up in the drying room. You should see me trying to wash in a wash basin.
Don’t wear out my radio before I get home again. Is it working better now or does it still take a long time to warm up?
That was a good picture you drew but you put too fancy wallpaper on the wall. It is so loud that it would keep the people awake.
Don’t fall and hurt yourself when you are roller-skating.
Vimy Barracks, Ont.
Well, here I am again. I received your letter to-day.
I have just got back from a scrubbing job. A group of us had to scrub out two mess halls. I was just going to start writing when the corporal told me that I had a little job to do. I was all through at eight o’clock.
I wrote my tests yesterday and to-day, and finished up this afternoon. I don’t know yet how we made out, but some of the rumours aren’t very good. I should know in a couple of days.
The chap who sleeps below me put some chocolate bars in my blankers for me when I was away and I can’t find them. I’ll probably uncover them when I make my bed.
I had a letter from Jim’s Mother as he couldn’t write and she said that he had had either strep throat or scarlet fever. Their doctor said that he had the former, the Army doctor said he had the latter and she thinks he had both. He should be feeling better by now and I’m going to write to him again.
I had a letter from Doug too. He is developing into a musician of sorts according to his letter. I just noticed that I addressed the envelope upside down.
I am going to have my insurance premiums taken off my pay and I need some form from the Company. Will you send me the address of the London Life and Canada Life? If Dad should see Larry Donaldson sometime soon he could see if he has any of the forms on hand.
Mr. Cond exaggerated a little when he said that I am as fat as a pig but I do weigh 160 lbs in my walking-out uniform. The uniform weighs about 8 lbs. which leaves me at 152 lbs, a gain of 20 lbs since last September.
There was a stage show in camp on Sunday. It was presented by the B’nai B’rith, a Jewish organization. It was quite a good show and I think another of the same kind is coming soon. There was a movie last night in the drill-hall “A-Haunting We Will Go” with Laurel and Hardy. The show didn’t start until 9.00 p.m. and got out just before lights out. I was wise, I had made my bed before I went.
So Betty has started to dance, eh? It’s hard to imagine her growing up. She’s starting at a bad time, with very few boys around.
I saw “Hitler’s Children” and “In Which We Serve” in Kingston on Saturday. They are both good shows but they are intended to cheer you up. They present facts, some of which aren’t too pleasant.
The weather this morning was quite cold, but it warmed up somewhat during the afternoon. I hope that even a hint of Spring weather comes soon. Instead of April showers we’re getting April snow.
Is the picture of me in Turner’s a good one and where did they get it? I took some pictures of Glen when I was in Toronto and I just got them back today. I think they are developed in camp as I leave them in the building just across the road.
How much should a good towel cost? I want to get one but I don’t know what I should pay for it.
No, I haven’t developed whooping cough yet, and I guess I won’t now.
Doug didn’t say anything about his picture being in the Star. It was in connection with a scholarship, wasn’t it?
Jim D. isn’t in Kingston, he is in Hamilton Military School.
Don’t bother to send the continued story as I wouldn’t be able to keep up with reading it.
Vimy Barracks, Ont.
Well, here I am back again ready to start the grind again.
I left Toronto at 4.00 P.M. and I got here at about 7.45 P.M.
The train from L.C. got into Sudbury at 7.15. Jean Stewart and a Miss Baker from Clapperton Island and I had supper together. She was going on to Texas. The train got into Toronto on time and I had to get Jack out of bed to let me in.
I got down to see J. Ogden on Bush St. It took me 2/1 2 hrs. to go from Nellie’s there and back. He can’t convert the Coleman because the construction of the heaters is controlled by the H.E.P.C. He had one in his fireplace and it threw quite a heat. The price, controlled by the W.P.T.B. is $15.00 and is $16.00 including shipping charges and a length of heavy cord. The heater would throw enough heat to take the chill off the front room without any fire in the stove. I didn’t leave the specifications with him so when you write you will have to give them to him again.
I’ll gradually get this letter finished. There is so much to do and straighten up, and I’m not caught up yet.
I didn’t get my stuff out of the storeroom until 10.00 and the lights went out at 10.30. I was afraid for a while that I was going to have to sleep on the springs for the night.
Will you look around my room, in the drawers of the dresser for two keys joined joined by an elastic band?
There is no freight put off at West Toronto station on Sunday so I had to go down to the C.P.R. Express office at 134 Bay St. to get it.
Nellie, Jack and the two children came down to see me off.
I got myself a watch in Toronto. It is supposed to be non-magnetic, shock-protected, and waterproof to a certain extent. A watch that is guaranteed waterproof would cost about $45.00 plus tax. Mine has luminous hands and figures and a sweep second hand.
I haven’t got my mail yet. I went over at noon to get it and the clerk said it would take a little while to get it ready as it was filed away. I’ll try to get it to-night. I have to get my hair cut to-night also.
Vimy Barracks, Ont
Well, here I am again. I have been doing practically nothing but I haven’t found time to write before. My pen is feeding ink too fast to suit me but I’ll have to put up with it. I wish I could get my old pen back, it was the best I ever had. Did you get the pen back from Currie yet, and if so, how is it working?
Did you see Art W. when he was home on a week-end several weeks ago? I went over to see him last night to find out any first hand information about home but I couldn’t find him. He wasn’t in the hut he was in before and I don’t know whether he has left camp or moved to another hut. I haven’t been able to find Doug W. yet either. I have what block of huts he is in but that doesn’t help very much.
I was in Toronto last week-end and I had hoped to get away again this week but it doesn’t look as if I will. I got to Nellie’s at about 6.00 o’clock. Doug didn’t have supper there that night. On Sunday Doug S. and I went over to Centre Island. The Island had just got into the summer stride that day, I think. The booths and refreshment counters were open, and the canoes and bicycles were in evidence. We missed the 4.45 ferry by about two minutes and we had to wait until 5.15.
We were out on a route march to-day and did it ever rain! The crease in my trousers, which wasn’t very good before, is practically extinct now.
I had a letter from Glen yesterday. Evidently the letters are actually censored because part of it was cut out. I’ll have to write to him and ask him what he said.
If you have a square of cotton cloth, about 12 x 12 will you send it to me? I want to make some small squares to sew on my clothes so I can write my name on them.
Will you look through my pictures and find those of Lloyd Pickering and send the negatives to me?
I am enclosing some stamps which I carried in my pocket until they stuck together. You will be able to steam them apart.
Ask Mrs. Cond about the negatives you can’t find.
It is now about 4 minutes until lights out so I’ll have to get to bed.
Vimy Barracks, Ont
Well, we can’t complain about the weather anymore. Anne wrote to me and said that it had been 82 0 in Winnipeg. I don’t know how hot it has been here but it’s plenty warm. We began wearing trousers and shirts (with the sleeves rolled up) on Tuesday. I have been outside most of the time since and I have a very nice case of sunburn. I have been putting Noxzema on it which helps a little. We have had two route marches this week, 6 and 8 miles. Boy, was it hot! We had a 9 mile march last week in the rain. I don’t know whether I prefer the rain or the sun.
Jim Dunnet has got back to camp. I saw him at the station in Toronto and we rode back together.
I don’t remember for sure when I wrote to you last so I hope I don’t repeat myself too much.
I has a letter from Glen which had been censored. In fact, part of the letter was cut out.
I sent in the form for my tax refund as soon as I got back, but I haven’t heard any word about it yet. It will probably take quite a while.
I had an airgraph from Harry this week. He didn’t have a great deal to say. He mentioned that he was going on leave to the “civilized land”.
I have applied for a pass this week-end but I don’t know if I will get it or not. Do you know Anne Williams address? I might go down there some week-end. By the way, are there any relatives or friends on the West coast or in England I could look up?
Some of the boys were out on a 3 day scheme and they just got back to-night. One fellow said he was going uptown to get the biggest steak he could find. I was uptown last night for the first in many weeks. All I did was go to a show , but it was a change.
There is a dance in the Drill Hall to-night. No stags allowed, everyone must have a partner. That won’t be hard to arrange though, as most of the CWAC’s will be waiting at the door for someone to take them in.
I am enclosing two cheques which I have made out to Dad. I think the one drawn on the Dominion Bank will go through all right.
We had to turn in our walking out uniform and we weren’t issued with summer ones. Whenever we go uptown we have to wear our battle dress.
I forgot about both Doug’s and Mary’s birthdays. Tell Mary I’ll try to remember hers next year,
I left my watch at Nellie’s hoping I could parcel it up and send it home some week-end I am there. So far I haven’t been there when the Post Office is open. The pen I referred to was the one I had bought in Brampton. Yes, I got the parcel Anne sent me the day after I got back.
I haven’t been able to find Doug Wagg yet. I was over a week ago to look for him but I couldn’t find him. I haven’t seen Art either since he got back.
Vimy Barracks, Ont
You should be well enough acquainted with my letter writing habits to not have worried about the slowness of this letter.
There were two good shows in camp on Wednesday night- “Dowers’ Girl” and “Desert Victory”. I particularly wanted to see the latter because it is an actual movie of the war in North Africa. It was the last to be shown and it wasn’t over until 11.05.
On Tuesday night we had a parade after supper which spoiled most of the evening.
Yesterday I was out driving all day. Actually I drove out in the morning and back at night. I didn’t get back into camp until 7.30 because I was stranded out on the road with a flat tire. I was supposed to go on duty at 4.30 and I didn’t report until about 8.00. I was on duty until 10.00.
When I was out on the all-day drive I got myself a swell sunburn on my legs, back, and chest. My chest and back aren’t very sore but my knees are very sore and tender. I didn’t think I had much of a burn on my legs but they seemed to turn red even after I was out of the sun. I have been putting Noxzema on them and it helps a lot.
I have looked for the envelope which Dad sent to me some time ago but I must have mailed it to you. Were there some badges on it?
The Sunday School which Norine attends had its picnic on Sunday. Doug Stringer and I went over and wandered around on the island for a while in the afternoon. The picnic was at Hanlan’s Point in one of the picnic grounds. There were quite a few other picnics there on the same day.
I sewed some of my badges on my summer outfit to-night. I couldn’t get any long trousers because they didn’t have any long enough so I will have to wear my shorts when I go out of camp. I got my summer outfit last Fri. just before I went on a week-end and I didn’t have time to put it on. I haven’t been to town yet this week. One of my badges is on a little crooked but I didn’t have the ambition to take it off and sew it on again.
There isn’t any hot water in our hut to-night so I couldn’t shower or wash my dirty clothes.
I got my mail at noon today for the first time this week and I got two letters from Glen. He is going to Toronto this week-end but I haven’t a pass so I can’t go. He has been moved to St. Hyacinthe, Que and so I may possibly be able to get down to see him.
I don’t know where the idea originated that I am taking an additional course. I don’t believe that I gave anybody that impression.
It is nearly time for lights out so I’ll finish this to-morrow.
I expected that I would get this finished at noon but I was out again all day.
I found that envelope I was asking you about and I’ll try to remember to use it next time. I am enclosing a railway ticket, a postage stamp and a War Saving stamp.
Will you tell Dad that he might as well transfer my account after depositing that refund cheque. If I have to write a cheque Dad can sign it again when it comes to the Bank. Did the cheque on the Dominion Bank at Brampton go through allright?
The Expositor is coming to me regularly, I got the 24th issue to-day. I already have a copy of the June Reader’s Digest. If you want to you can send me a subscription to the Reader’s Digest as I may be around for a while yet.
Has my assignment cheque come from the D.N.D. at Ottawa yet? It was quite a shock to me to get only $10.00 last pay-day.
We had to give the hut a little cleaning to-night. It wasn’t very much, all we had to do was wash the windows and dust our shelves. I spilled a basin of water on the floor. It was a waste of water as we didn’t have to wash the floor.
11 July, 43.
If I had had any choice I wouldn’t have picked this place in which to celebrate my birthday, but I didn’t have any choice. The chap I chummed around with at Vimy and who came down here with me, went out on Thursday morning. As a result I am temporarily wandering around by myself.I saw two shows, walked up and down the main street, and spent some time in an amusement joint. It is run by the fellow who used to have the Club Esquire in Toronto. There are pin ball machines, skill games, etc. I spent a dollar’s worth of nickels before I left.
The other night one of the chaps happened to mention Espanola and I asked him where he was from. His home is at Massey and he has worked on the island. He knew Fred Sagle and had worked with him.
I am pretty certain now that I am going to stay in Halifax at least for a while. We are supposed to move to different huts but they are still occupied.
Yesterday afternoon I saw the Public Gardens. I had heard of them but I found them by accident. There is a large pond and a few ducks and several models of sailing and steam ships floating in the water. There are trees around the edge which give quite a bit of shade, and benches to sit on.
Anne sent me two 1 lb. boxes of chocolate which arrived yesterday. One box is gone, but I am going to save the other for a while. They were in good condition for having travelled from Winnipeg. I also got a birthday card from Grandma Tracy.
I got your letter the same day as an air-mail letter from Anne which was mailed on the 5th.
If you can find my pen-lite around will you send it to me? I am going to try to get some of those spring clothes pins here but if not I may have you send some to me.
On Thursday I saw the place where the two boats collided in 1917 and blew up half of the town. I was on the side of a hill where there had been houses at the time of the explosion. There aren’t very many there, even yet?
Was my last letter censored?
B132384 Sgmn Tracy, D.A.
RC Signals No 6 D.D.
22 July, 43.
I got a letter from Marion today and she mentioned that you had received my letter. Apparently you hadn’t got it when you posted the letter to me as my old address was on it. It was forwarded to me allright.
I guess Betty will be in Port Elgin by now. Is she planning to stay all summer, or only for a short period? You should get Doug up for a week or two to get the garden in shape. It rained all day so we stayed inside the hut and slept most of the time. I did a little washing and I have it on a line over my bed. I haven’t done any work for over 3 weeks and I’m afraid a day’s hard work in the garden would lay we up for a while.
I ran into a fellow who came down with us whose wife is a cousin of Melvin Van Horn. His last name is Rush.
I got a swell birthday present from Anne– two 1 lb. boxes of chocolate. There aren’t any chocolate bars in the canteen and candy tastes good.
I was in a canteen on Tuesday night which is operated by the Canadian Jewish Congress. There was a free Bingo and I played and won a bottle of Bay Rum hair tonic.
I have received only 4 letters since I got here and only one was addressed to this camp. The rest were forwarded from Vimy. I wrote to Glen soon after I got here but I haven’t received an answer yet. Probably he is like me, hasn’t got around to writing yet.
Over our mattress we have a cover something like a pillow slip, and the other night somebody got the idea of putting one of the fellows in it. When they did that they weren’t satisfied and they carried him in and turned the shower on him. He got wet before he finally managed to crawl out.
I haven’t got any dress shoes yet and I don’t know when I will get them. So will you send me one of my pairs of brown shoes? You had better send me the newer pair, if you can pick them out. If possible have them dyed black before you send them, as it will probably be harder to get them done here. If you can find my clothes pins with the spring in them will you send a dozen or so? Also my penlite which I believe I mentioned in my last letter.
I bought some canned sardines the other day at a little place called “Dutch Village” and they cost me 10c per tin. They used to be cheaper than that at home. The same day another chap and I bought a whole apple pie, halved it and ate it.
There was a street dance in town last night but I didn’t go – I went to see “Frankenstein meets the Wolfman”. It was interesting to watch a man changing into a wolf on the screen.
The last couple of days have been cold and damp and so we can expect hot weather any time now.
There was a band concert in the Public Gardens on Sunday but there was a light drizzle all day and that spoiled the afternoon.
The hut here looks like it used to at Brampton on a week-end. There are four of us in here, two are in bed, and the third is sleeping with his clothes on.
I had a letter from Nellie last week. Two week-ends had gone by and I hadn’t showed up in Toronto, and she was wondering what had happened to me.
Don’t be surprised if some of the following is cut out as the censor may not let it through. It should be allright to mention it now that she has left though. The Queen Elizabeth was in dock here over the week-end. There was a bunch of us on her all day Saturday putting blankets on the bunks. We went on in the morning and ate dinner on board. A lot of the fixtures are taken out but it still looks pretty nice. I couldn’t see all of it as parts were out of bounds but there was plenty of walking in the places we could go.
Somewhere in Northern Quebec
26 July, 43.
I started a letter to you on the train but I didn’t get a chance to mail it until I got here so I didn’t bother.
On Friday morning we were told that we would be leaving for Arvida, Que at 3.30 on Saturday afternoon. It was quite a shock after we had expected to stay in Halifax. Arvida is about 220 miles north of Quebec City, away up in the wilderness, which is bad enough, but we are 30 miles further on. The country is hilly and wooded, and the road here reminded me of the road to Espanola, although it wasn’t quite as bad. The camp here is quite small, only 5 buildings, and it is brand new. It is built right in the bush, and there is sand around here. There are plenty of blueberries and wild raspberries. There are, from what I can see from the camp, a large factory of some kind and a large power plant right near here. There are 3 towns right close and we can see 2 of them from the camp. They are, of course, mainly French, but I hear that a lot of the people can speak English. I’m afraid that there won’t be any English shows though.
At 7.15 on Saturday evening when we were near a little village in N.S. called Westbrook we were held up by a train wreck. Several cars of a ballast train had gone of the track and we didn’t get going again until 9.45. The town consisted of a railway station, several small stores, a hall used for dances, meetings, etc, and a few houses. We had them cleared out of ice-cream in a short time, and they did a rushing business in everything else. There was to be the regular Saturday evening dance but the train pulled out too soon.
We got into Levis, opposite Quebec, at about 5 o’clock and then we went across on the ferry to Quebec. We had our supper and then were free to look the town over from 7.30 to 9.30. That was Sunday when we got into Quebec City. If we hadn’t been detained by the wreck we would have had most of the afternoon in Quebec.
The train pulled out of Quebec for Arvida at 10.30 and we got there at 9.20 this morning. The distance by rail is 220 miles and someone said that there were 57 stops. At a small town near Arvida a trainman had his legs cut off somehow by the train. I didn’t see it but a couple of the fellows did.
For part of the way down on the train I stood in an open doorway with goggles and watched the scenery go by. When I finally decided to come in my face and ears were dirty except the part of my face protected by the goggles.
After spending nearly two days on the train it was nice to get under a shower here. There was a lot of water went down the drain to-night.
After we got into Arvida we were told that we would be going 30 miles further on. We had dinner at the camp and after we came here. There were three trucks to bring us and our equipment. When you write to me at the address below put your return address on it in case it isn’t quite correct.
B132384 Sgmn Tracy, D.A.
17th A.A. Bty, R.C.A.
Lac St. Jean
St. Joseph d’Alma
I don’t think we get any passes until we have been here two months when we get four days. It takes nearly that long to get out of here.
St. Joseph d’Alma
2 Aug 43.
I hope my letters are getting through to you O.K. because mine apparently are being held up somewhere. I haven’t had any letters here yet, and I haven’t had a letter from Glen for over a month.
Did you get my letter asking you to send me my brown shoes? i would like to get them as soon as possible as I haven’t got my walking-out shoes yet and I am missing some good dances.
Will you also dig up my High School French grammar and send it to me with the shoes? I would like to brush up on my French a little as I think it would be a help to know a little. I was with a French girl Saturday night who couldn’t understand or read English. What French I could remember I couldn’t speak very well, so I had to write it.
Will you have Dad get me some 120 films? I have tried to buy some here but I haven’t been able to get any. If he sees a small English-French and French-English dictionary have him get that too.
There isn’t a barber in camp so I guess I’ll have to spend 40c downtown and get one.
It rained this afternoon and so we didn’t have to work. We make up for it though by having to work on Saturday afternoons.
Our pay books haven’t been sent up from Halifax yet and so we didn’t get paid on the end of the month. Our sergeant seems to have plenty of money and he has lent quite a bit to the boys.
Have you had a letter from Harry lately? I haven’t had a reply to the letter I wrote him some time ago and I’m wondering if he got it.
I washed my shorts Sunday morning and hung them out to dry. It was very hot and they were practically dry when I went downtown in the afternoon. That afternoon it rained and they aren’t dry yet. I took them in this afternoon and hung them up to dry in the hut.
I guess Betty will be down in Port by now. Has Doug come up to the Island yet? Tell Mary that I think she owes me a letter and when she writes I’ll answer.
B132384 Sgmn Tracy, D.A.
17th A.A. Bty R.C.A.
Lac St. Jean
St. Joseph d’Alma
Don’t forget to include a few of those spring clothes pins.
7 Aug 43.
Well, here I am back in this damp place again. I had expected that we would be in Alma for quite a few weeks more, and it was quite a shock to have to move.
They had a farewell dance for us on Tuesday night before we left. I got up enough courage to go and I had a swell time. I sure wish we had stayed longer. I took the toe plates off my big boots and danced in them.
We were on the train from 5.25 on Wednesday until about 8.00 on Thursday morning when we arrived in Quebec. We were there all day and got on the train at 5.30 that night. It was 7.45 when we got into Halifax last night.
I had a letter from Doug a few days before I left. I also received a letter from Glen. I suppose you know that he is in Toronto again.
I don’t know how long I’ll be in Halifax but I think I may be able to get in touch with Harry sometime soon.
If you write send it to the Halifax address you had before
11 Aug 43.
I have a few minutes before supper time so I’ll start this letter anyway.
I got two letters from you since I got back here, one addressed to Chebucto Barracks which had gone up to Arvida and come back again, and the other addressed to St. Joseph which was forwarded to me here.
I don’t think you had better send me my shoes until I get settled down again.
I expect that the small bank book which you found in my desk is one I used for my own bookkeeping system. In it I had entered the names of the people to whom I had issued cheques, and that would distinguish it from the other book. I had a small bank book with me for a while but I must have left it at home as I haven’t it with me now. I had it written up to date when I was home. I wouldn’t mind having another pair of brown socks like the ones I have now.
Marion took pity on me because I didn’t have any chocolate bars and she sent me a small box with bars and toffee in it. I got the Reader’s Digest for July.
I don’t know where that negative you want could be except with my other negatives. I may have given it to someone and forgotten about it.
To-morrow is supposed to be pay-day and I sure hope it is. I am flat broke now, all I are two street-car tickets.
There isn’t more I can think of to write so I’ll sign off.
If you write send it to the Halifax address you had before
17 Aug 43.
I didn’t think that when I wrote my next letter to you that I would still be in Canada, but here I am yet. We got into here last Friday morning but I didn’t write before because I though we would be moving again soon. We haven’t, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we spent the rest of the war travelling around Canada.
Your parcel caught up with me yesterday, after being forwarded from Halifax. I finished the chocolate bars before I went to bed.
There is something wrong with our hot water system. There is plenty of hot water in the tank, but no water comes out of the taps, There is cold water but that isn’t much good for washing and shaving.
I was one of the three hut orderlies who was on duty today. I wasn’t sorry, as it was raining this morning and it has been cold all day, The land around here is a kind of red clay and when it gets wet it is slippery and sticky. It just barely gets dry around here and it rains again. It rained on Saturday and again today. The drainage isn’t very good around the camp, and as a result there is usually a lot of water lying around. There is a creek running through camp which is nearly dry, but the land around it is marshy. They are building new roads in camp and they have a bulldozer which they use to push out the trucks which get stuck.
There isn’t a building in camp large enough to hold us so we went into town for church on Sunday. The town itself is a nice little place. The population, someone said, is about 4,000. I have been trying to get a leather writing case for Glen like the one I have and I got it in one of the stores here. There are quite a few stores here for the size of the town. The only thing I don’t like about it is the price of the meals. It cost me 60c for supper on Saturday night. I had sausage and even in Kingston they weren’t that expensive. There is a small Service Canteen in town which serves good light lunches. There isn’t any room in it for any games, or a reading and writing room.
I got the July issue of the Reader’s Digest but I haven’t got the August issue yet
17 Aug 43.
You started a letter to me, Mary, but you didn’t finish it, but I think I can finish this one.
It’s nice that you passed into Grade 11. You must have studied hard to be able to pass all your exams.
It will be kind of lonesome for you now that Betty is away. Doug said in a letter that he might go up to the Island for a while before school, and I suppose he will be going up there soon.
I got the pictures that Mother sent in her letter. Is the picture of you and the lamb taken over at Gil’s place?
Are you taking good care of the garden? I wish I was there so I could eat some of the peas and carrots and raspberries. Have the plum trees got any plums on them this year? If they don’t have plums pretty soon, you will have to cut them down.
I had the name of the ship but we can’t use it so I scratched it out. Can’t mention dates either.
Dear Mother: :
Well, here I am finally on the way across. We have been kicked around the country so much lately waiting to get onboard that there is no thrill in it now. It just seems like any other boat trip across from South Bay to Tobermory. We can’t go all around the ship, we have to stay in our own section. I am in the stern part of the ship, and there are 3 canteens handy. I bought a box of chocolate bars today and I’m going to try to get another to-morrow. I had to wait in line over an hour to get that one. it cost me $1.30 for 12 bars, twice as large as an ordinary bar.
We sleep in bunks only every other night. I started out last night by sleeping on deck. it wouldn’t have been too bad if it hadn’t rained during the day. It didn’t rain during the night though which was in our favour.
I am in a top bunk again here so my record is still intact. I have been sleeping in a top bunk now since nearly a year ago.
We got oranges at our dinner to-night but I dropped it on the floor when I sat down and I didn’t see it after. We get only two meals a day, but they are enough because there is lots of food to eat. We eat breakfast at 10.30 in the morning and supper at 7.00 at night.
The ship is blacked out every night which means that all the portholes are closed. Cold air is forced into each cabin through a small pipe, which can be shut off if wanted, and it lets in quite a bit of cold air.
I got a life preserver before I got on board and it will be my constant companion until we reach land
I left a film in Windsor to be developed and it wasn’t done when I left so I left instructions to have it forwarded to you. Just a note of warning- there is one picture of a fellow in his birthday suit taken in the shade. I don’t know whether or not it will turn out.
I was told by someone who saw my name in the paper list in the Post Office that there were some papers there for me. I wasn’t able to get them before I left. They may be forwarded to me, I don’t know for sure.
I brought two books with me to read to pass the time away but I haven’t got settled down to it yet. To-morrow I will be on deck again and I may while away a little time in reading.
It just came to me today that it wouldn’t be any use telling you about the pictures because you will have them before you get this letter.
I got my book finished today. I read most of it this morning after I got up after sleeping on the deck. I slept with another fellow and it helped a little to keep both of us warm. It was pretty chilly this morning though.
To-night I am sleeping in the cabin again and although it is warm I would rather be here than on deck. I haven’t been on deck since 1 o’clock this afternoon but those who have been up said it is raining.
As I said before we have only two meals a day but they are good meals. We had pork chops, corned beef, beets, peas, new potatoes, and bread and butter, jam, and tea. With a meal like that we don’t need to eat very often.
(Censored) had written the first part of this letter we had instructions as to what we couldn’t or shouldn’t put in our letters so mine may be censored more than usual.
I had felt a little woozy a couple of times but I haven’t been really sea-sick yet. I bought another box of chocolate bars again today. I wish I had known before I got on that I could get all this stuff and I would have packed to allow room for them.
I shaved to-night for the first time since Wednesday night. It sure feels good to get my whiskers off. I should have let them grow, they were getting long and silky.
We are off the boat now and have come down to our camp.
Another day, another addition to the letter. I thought I would be able to sit down and write a whole letter at once.
When you send me the pictures will you keep the negatives until I have told you of the safe arrival of the pictures. Also, send me my penlite, some batteries and a bulb. I haven’t tried yet, but I think that batteries will be hard to get here. We are rationed here in regard to soap. I have enough toilet soap for a while but I could use some laundry soap.
We are eating margarine here but it seems no different from ordinary butter except that it hasn’t any taste.
The locomotives look like something we would expect to find owned by some person for his own use. Beside some of our big engines they would look like a toy. However, they have used them so far and they must find them serviceable. One flat car I saw was rated at 10 tons weight. That will give you an idea how small they are. There are larger ones but they aren’t common.
There are small gardens planted in the most unusual places. I even saw one right beside the track. The stations are neater than our own, and frequently there are flower gardens planted along the side. I have seen only one wire fence, the rest of the times the fields were separated by stone fences or hedges. There are a lot of hedges in the town we came through on the way to camp and they are all trimmed.
I haven’t much money to worry about as I’m nearly broke, but just the same I’m trying to learn the English money. It is going to be confusing for a while.
I saw a chap the other day who was at Brampton and Vimy with me. He came over in the spring. Will you see if Caldwell has any Willsonite sunglasses, green shade, with metal frames? I could have got some in Halifax with plastic frames but I would like the others.
I am enclosing 2-4c stamps which won’t be of any further use to me.
You might as well send my brown shoes to me now. Even if I have moved when they come the parcel will eventually catch up with me.
I am going to write to Harry to-night and see if I can contact him sometime soon. I am also going to see if I can find if Fin Hood is still around.
The kids will be starting back to school soon, won’t they? I was just thinking to-day back to what I was doing about four years ago today. Sometimes I wish I were back there.
I have seen one house with a thatched roof. Most of the others have a tile roof. They (the houses) are all built on the same style, and they are lined up on a street almost in a straight line.
B132384 Sgmn Tracy, D.A.
#1 CSRU RCCS C.A(A).
Can Army Overseas
Some information about our crossing.
Don’t forget to include a few of those spring clothes pins.
The ship was the Queen Mary and there were about 15,000 persons on board.
We left Halifax on Aug. 31/43 and crossed the Atlantic, unescorted, in four days. The entire crossing was in a zig zag pattern to present a poor target to submarines. We landed at Greenock in northern Scotland.
B132384 Sgmn Tracy, D.A.
#1 CSRU. R.C.C.S. C.A. (A)
Can. Army Overseas
3 Sept. 43.
Well here I am, finally over here. I finished a letter to you today which, due to present lack of funds I will have to send by ordinary mail. If I get paid soon I’ll send it airmail.
The crossing was very, very uneventful. There wasn’t even a small storm to liven things up.
I am going to try to get in touch with Harry as soon as possible. We won’t get a leave for some time but I would like to know where he is.
We were told that a cablegram is no faster than one of these airmail letters so that is why I am using it.
Our mattresses are filled with good old-fashioned straw. Will get used to it though, just like everything else. One thing I don’t like is the scarcity of hot water.
On the train we got lunches twice from canteens in the stations, and a third time we got hot tea. One of the lunches was put up in a paper bag – a meat pie, two tomatoes (small), a small jelly roll, a chocolate bar, potato chips, and chewing gum. The meals here are very good. I like the potatoes better than those we got way back in Canada.
#1 C.S.R.U. R.C.C.S. CA(A)
No. 1 Coy
Can Army Overseas.
23 Sept. 43
The other airmail I wrote to you should have reached you by this time. I hope it got through. We have been busy all week and we don’t even have much time off at noon. There is a show at the theatre to-night and tomorrow night but I won’t be able to go. We have a night march to-night and we are also busy to-morrow night. We were out on a night march on Tuesday night for about 3 hours. It sure is dark, especially in some of the country roads and it was hard to follow the person ahead of us. It is impossible to see any mud or puddle in the road so you don’t know they are there until you walk in them. I haven’t had any word from Harry yet and it is over 2 weeks since I wrote to him. I am going to drop him a line again, perhaps my letter has gone astray. If you see Betty Trimble tell her that Bob Hartley is over here now, he came in at 2.30 in the morning a couple of days ago. We are wearing our coveralls for the march to-night and I had better get my webbing on.
25 Sept 43
Well, here i am several days later. We had quite a march on Thursday night and we didn’t get back until 12.30. We are going over the route again on Monday in daylight and so we will be able to see where we went. Last night we were busy until 7.00 and then I went to a show in camp and I didn’t have time to finish this letter when I got back. I got your letter yesterday afternoon. I’ll try to drop a line to Harold Rowe and see if he is still around here. This afternoon I went down to Aldershot with a couple of other chaps. We went to a show in the afternoon, which is about all there is to do around here. I thought I saw Leonard Campbell on the street but I didn’t have a chance to talk to him. This chap was in the Postal Corps and I think that is what Leonard is in. I tried on Wednesday to rent a bike for Sunday but they had all been reserved. If you have some granulated honey will you put a small jar or tin of it in my shoes. If it is granulated there will be less chance of any leaking out.
They have been keeping us busy all week and they promise us worse next week. A couple of days this week I haven’t had time to wash for dinner or supper.
We can buy peanut butter without points (I have been told) but I imagine any kind of jam or marmalade will be rationed.
We went down to Aldershot on the top deck of a double decker bus. They are quite high and it feels funny to be riding way up above the road. There is no swaying motion, only a forward and backward jerking motion.
It gets chilly here at nights but the days are quite warm. One night a couple of chaps slept with their coveralls on. They said that it helped to keep them warm. I haven’t had to do that yet and besides mine are too dirty. Yours is the only letter I have got yet but others should be coming in soon.
We had eggs for breakfast this morning. The first I’ve had here.
B132384 Sgmn Tracy, D.A.
#1 C.S.R.U., R.C.C.S.,C.A.(A)
Can Army Overseas
The East Coast, England
3 Oct. 43
Well, I have been in England only a month and I have had one move already. I was taking two weeks’ basic training back at camp and I didn’t expect a move until I had finished that. However, they took me off it with only 2 days to go. I am taking a Driver Mechanics course here, and if I pass I will get Trade pay. It is a six week course and when we are through we are supposed to know something about taking care of a motor vehicle. Albert Trudeau is here taking the same course. He is on his 4th week and will be leaving in a couple of weeks. He spoke to me on the street yesterday, and I would never have recognized him as he has gotten a lot fatter.
Andy Hannah was still in hospital when I left but I should see him when I get back. I haven’t had an answer from Harry yet although I have written him two letters.
There are no barracks here and we are billetted in private houses. Another chap and myself are staying with a family by the name of Brown. They have two boys, about 7 and 14 years. It sure feels good to be sleeping between sheets again. We are only a 10 minute walk from the school and we don’t get up until 7.15. We have all our meals here and so we don’t have to depend on trying to eat in a restaurant.
I am eating four meals a day now, tea at 6.00 o’clock and then some more at about 10.00 o’clock. Contrary to what I had expected there seems to be sufficient meat and jam. Of course, you can’t throw it away but you don’t go without it either, There is not much candy around, we are rationed with that too.
We are getting a lot of homework to do and I spent most of last evening copying notes. There was an air raid warning and the rest of the family went to the shelter but I continued writing notes. There has been quite a bit of bombing but none lately. The Canterbury Cathedral has been hit and they still have some scaffolding around some of the spires and they must still be repairing it. The churches around the town seem to have been hit as much as the other buildings. The Cathedral is open to visitors and there are guides there at certain hours.
I got a parcel of bars and candy from Marion when I was in Halifax. I expect that is the one you mean. I haven’t yet received my letter written by Grandma, Marion and you.
We are only about 300 yds. from the main street (we are on a side street). There are two dance halls within 5 minutes’ walk from here and also a theatre quite close. Norman (the other chap who stays here) was looking at a purse the other day to buy his wife. There was a nice looking one in the window which was priced at 10/7/6, nearly $50.00. Everything is expensive and very few things aren’t rationed.
17 Oct 1943
I received your letter several days ago which was addressed to me at Windsor. It took over a month to get to me, but I had a letter from Port on Friday which took only about 12 days to get over. Did you get letter # 2 which I sent to you by ordinary mail? Have you received my pictures yet from Windsor? They are probably on the way over but they haven’t got here yet. I got two parcels from Port last Monday. One was a pair of stockings from Grandma and the other was a box of candy from Marion. I have also received the letter which was written by Betty, Marion, and Grandma. It didn’t get here until the first of this month. I also got an air mail letter from Grandma T. which I must answer today. We get only one air-mail form a week, so it makes it hard to write many letters by airmail. I got an airgraph letter from Doug. It was written about a week before Grandma’s letter but they both got here on the same day.
I got in touch with Harry but only by letter. He was on leave during most of September and he didn’t get my letter until he got back. He said he wouldn’t be able to see me so I suppose he has left for some place out of England.
I’m afraid today is going to be rather dull. I didn’t get up until 10.30 and it was raining then. It is still raining and it looks as if it will continue all day. I had a long letter from Marion with an account of her visit to the Island.
Albert Trudeau passes his course here and has gone back to his unit. I saw him the day he was leaving but I didn’t get a chance to talk to him.
Is Glen still in Toronto. I have written to him twice but as yet have received no reply. I don’t think both of my letters could have been lost.
We had some planes over here about a week ago and I went into the shelter. Some of the A.A. guns which opened up seemed to be practically in the back yard.
We are taking electricity in our course now and I’m learning a lot I didn’t know about it. I can remember some of the experiments we did at school and it helps me a little.
Grandpa said in his letter that you are planning to go up north for a holiday around the 15th. The weather should be nice now and the scenery certainly will be at its best.
I broke a small piece off my front tooth on a piece of hard candy and I’ll have to get it fixed. Have you been to Dr. Alston yet about getting your teeth fixed?
There was no church parade for us today but I think I will go to church tonight. There is no United Church so I think I will go to the Baptist church. There is a social hour there after the evening service.
B132384 Sgmn Tracy, D.A
#1 C.S.R.U. R.C.C.S.
No. 1 Coy
Cdn Army Overseas.
7 Nov. 43
I have just got back from church and done a little homework. I stayed for Communion after the service and the usual social hour which they have every Sunday night.
Six other Canadians and myself were invited to tea at the minister’s house this afternoon. Five of us showed up. Two stayed and had tea with the minister, and two others and myself went into the other half of the double house where he lives and had tea with Mrs. Hooker. We met Mrs. Kirkland, the wife of a Navy chaplain who has been attending the social hour. She invited us to her place any time we are in Edinburgh.
I was in Dover last Sunday to see what is left there. There are very few civilians there and they remain only because their jobs compel them to. On a clear day it is possible to see over to France but it was cloudy last Sunday.
I was on fire guard duty last Monday night and was supposed to stay there all night. However, I was lucky enough to be able to get home at 10.30.
We wrote our final test last Friday and we go back to camp this Thursday. I think I got through O.K. but will know for sure on Wednesday.
I didn’t get Dad’s letter until last week. Something unusual must have held it up as they usually come over in about 3 weeks. That cheque I left is drawn on my account which I had in Brampton.
Here are a few things which I wish you would send me some time soon- some Gillette razor blades (the strop on my Rolls Razor is cracked and as I can’t get a new one I may have to start using a safety), soap, both laundry and toilet, a note size writing pad, and a couple tins of shoe polish.
I could also do with about a dozen khaki handkerchiefs. If you could put one or two in a letter it would help a lot as I am down to my last shirt-tail.
I hope you got away on your holiday without too much of a rush, and managed to enjoy yourself. I hope to get a few days off when I go back to camp. The weather here is a little colder than it was six weeks ago but it is still not near freezing. The temperature is supposed not to go below 20O above but the damp weather will probably affect us.
The bond drive will be all over now. Hope you bought one even though you didn’t hear from me.
Received the Expositor you sent to Windsor, also some Times from Anne
1 CSRU RCCS
No. 1 Coy
Cdn Army O’seas.
13 Nov 43
Back in camp again, and I’m appreciating more and more the time I spent away from here. The first meal I had when I got back was beans. About the only good thing is that when we hear an aeroplane we don’t expect to hear the air raid siren also. Where we were was supposed to be one of the dry spots of England and I’m beginning to think it was. Even when it did rain down there it didn’t seem to be as wet as here, if there can be any difference in the wetness of water.
We got back on Thursday afternoon and spent the rest of the day and Friday getting straightened around again. Oh, yes, I passed my course O.K.. There was only one failure from the bunch who went from here. We weren’t told our marks but I managed to get a quick glance at mine. I got either 70 0/0 or 75 0/0.
The blackouts go up now at 5.50 and don’t come down until 10.30. The blackout hours will get longer too as the days get shorter.
I’m writing this letter on my bed as it is cold and wet and I didn’t feel like going out again. I was uptown this afternoon with another chap and we didn’t get back until 6.00 o’clock. It is a fairly long walk and our hands were cold when we got here.
I bought and mailed all my Christmas cards in Canterbury. That is all I am going to send this year, as it is a lot of bother to find something suitable and then try to get something in which to send it.
I expect, although I’m not looking forward to it, to be in the kitchen all next week. I am supposed to be getting a 48 hr. pass on Tuesday and I was told I would be able to leave on that. I will be an expensive dish washer now that I am drawing my trades pay, I suppose I will go to London on my leave, although I won’t be financially able to do much running around. If I can get acquainted with their transportation system, I may be able to get around to see some of the landmarks. I wish now I had gone down to the writing room as I am in a cramped position and my leg is going to sleep.
Armistice Day went past without my notice, in fact we were travelling most of the day. I bought a poppy in Canterbury before I left and I hope I can buy my next on in Canada.
Have had several letters from Glen. He is working at night now and has the days free. That won’t be much good to him as he will want to sleep. I’m tired to-night myself and I’ll be in bed before lights out.
The first night here I slept with only two blankets over me and I felt cold. Last I slept on one and had three over me and I felt a lot better.
I haven’t as yet read all the “Times” I got from Anne. I managed to look through one today and I’ll try to get the rest read soon. It won’t matter if the news is a little older as the papers are over 3 months old now. I got the Expositor and Digest you sent to me. I saw in the Ex that Mildred Williamson is an officer in the C.W.A.C.. I didn’t even know she was in khaki. Is Albert still in Canada, or have you any idea where he is?
I still haven’t read the books I brought over with me to read on the boat. I’ll have to do that and then get rid of them and so lighten my pack.
I met a fellow last night who was at basic with me and whom I hadn’t seen since, several months ago in Vimy.
Haven’t had any word from Harry since he left. Perhaps I should drop him a note to his old address in hopes it will catch up to him. Fin Hood is back in Canada again. He is an instructor in Petawawa.
There was a Bond drive in camp. I missed it as I was away, and a record was kept of each company’s purchases. No. 1 Coy was in the lead at the wrong end, but the camp as a whole went well over its quota.
Are many of my letters censored? You haven’t mentioned whether they are or not.
19 Nov. 1943
Well, it is finally getting colder over here now. There was no fire in the hut last night and it was rather chilly. I have been moved from 1 CSRU to what is called the “field”. We get more practical experience and less drilling, so I’ll probably be out on a scheme one of these days.
I was the only one who came from camp to here and I expected I would be kind of alone until I got to know the ones in the hut. I was in the mess hall at noon and Norm Patterson came up and spoke to me. I never expected to see him here and for a moment I didn’t recognize him. He had been here since May.
Had a letter from Glen and he said he had been home on a 48 hr. pass. He said he saw Dad leaving for North Bay with
Devon towing him. Art Wilkinson said in his letter that he expected to be over here soon. I hope I have better luck seeing him than I did with Harry and Fin. There are only nine beds in this hut and they are all small ones. I have the bottom half of one and it is so low that I can’t sit up without hitting my head. I am comparatively near the stove though so that when there is a fire on I should get a little heat. I have four blankets and three of them are nice and thick. I’m going to need them, too, before the winter is over.
There is a Naafi here where we can buy cake, pie, etc. tea, coffee and Coca-Cola. There is also a W.V.S. canteen down the road a piece, and also a reading room in camp. The Naafi and also our mess are in a large house which has the appearance of being quite a place at one time. It is set back from the main road and there are large lawns around it, so I guess some fairly well-to-do person owned it before the war.
i haven’t been out this afternoon at all. I just got here yesterday afternoon and I haven’t got worked into a job yet.
I didn’t see Andy Hannah when I was back at camp so I don’t know whether he has gone out or is still in hospital. He should be out by this time though, and he is probably out some place the same as I am.
I have a crack in the first joint of each forefinger and they don’t seem to want to heal up. They are like Dad had, and hurt every time I bend my fingers.
I was supposed to work in the kitchen at camp but I put in only one and a half days before I came down here. I was cutting bread by hand and that was long enough to grow a couple of blisters. I cut 42 loaves of bread for each meal, and each loaf was cut into 24 slices. The bread slicer was out of order and so I had to do it all with a knife.
The mess-hall is about 200 yds. from the hut, and the place where we wash and shave is past that again. It’s going to be fun some of these cold mornings running over there to wash. We wash inside though, and there is hot water, I wouldn’t like to have to break the ice to get water to wash in.
There is a dog lying by the stove and seems to be a permanent fixture in this hut as it was here last night too.
B132384 Sgmn Tracy, D.A.
B Sec. No, 1 Coy
2nd Cdn. Div. Sigs
Cdn Army O’seas
Somewhere in England
28 Nov 43
I have finished my tenth day here and I am gradually getting acquainted with the routine as well as the people. I see Norm from time to time although he isn’t in the same section as I am.
I was on duty from 4:30 yesterday afternoon until 2:30 this afternoon. I worked for two hours and was supposed to sleep for four, but I didn’t always get my four hour’s sleep.
We are having quite a bit off rain now and as a result there is plenty of mud. There have been some cold nights but on the whole they haven’t been too bad. I suppose you are wading through several feet of snow at home now.
I had a letter from Anne during the past week in which she enclosed a snap of herself and Peter. They apparently have moved again and I had just written a letter to her at the old address.
I was on a night drive last week and covered a distance of about 35 miles. It was my first but I got along O.K. Even what we would call back roads are paved so there is no danger of running into a hole in the road. It gives you more confidence when you aren’t expecting to drop into a rut.
I received two parcels during the past week, one from Marion and one from Louise. I hope you enclosed some soap in my parcel. I never expected that I would be afraid of running out of soap.
Where is Roy Becks now? If he is over here now I would like to get his address. I have had several letters from Harold Rowe but I haven’t seen him yet.
I spent over an hour trying to start the fire this afternoon with coke, and finally got it going by using a blow torch.
I have finally been given a truck and so now I have something to worry about. I washed my hair this afternoon and I hope I don’t wake up in the morning with more cold than I have now. I haven’t been able to shake it yet and it has become worse lately. The cold, damp weather probably has caused it. Glen said in his last letter that he expected to be leaving Toronto soon. Wherever he does go he won’t have as many conveniences as he had in Toronto.
I wasn’t able to buy a birthday card for Betty in time to reach her and we can’t send telegrams from here so will you tell her I haven’t forgotten her and wish her a happy birthday.
B Sec No. 1 Coy
2 Cdn Div Sigs
7 Dec 43.
I received your letter of Oct. 14 last Thursday. It had been to two different addresses before it finally reached me so that would account for the delay.
I had a letter the same day from Harry, postmarked Azores. He said he had written to Dad so you will probably have the letter by now.
We left camp yesterday morning on a scheme and will probably be gone a week. Last night I slept in the cab of the truck, which is even smaller than the ordinary cab. A little rain had fallen or I would have slept on the ground.
I slept with my gloves on, but my toes were cold. It doesn’t get as cold at night as it does at home, because there is still some green grass to be seen. I saw some boys on bicycles yesterday wearing short pants.
There was a little fog last night when we were driving, and it didn’t help any. A real thick fog would really be tough to drive in.
I passed the school again yesterday that was hit when all the children were in it.
Another stop, some more to this letter. We haven’t been going steady all day, just going a short distance and stopping. I saw the infantry going past in the rain and I was glad I was in a covered cab. The English trucks have only a canvas covering for the cab, and no doors.
We are parked now near where some Italian prisoners were hauling logs. They went away in a truck a little while ago.
I doubt that our mail will be sent out to us as the trucks from B. Sec are scattered and it would be hard to find them all.
I received airmails from Anne and Nellie last week. Anne has moved again and I wrote to her at her old address. I posted my letter in the morning and received hers in the afternoon
Andy Hannah pointed out Percy Collins to me when we first got to CSRU. I never got speaking to him but I occasionally saw him in the mess-hall.
Harry said in his letter that he hoped to see me this winter so apparently he expects to get away from the Azores for a while. He spoke also as if Roy would be over soon. I believe I have asked you about his whereabouts.
I received a bunch of Expositors and Times which had been sent to Halifax. i glanced through them before I left, and I’ll have to read them when I get back.
The grass will be wet to-night so I’ll have to curl up in the cab again to-night.
Mary will be in the second room now, won’t she? I have to stop and figure out how old she is. Anne enclosed a picture of Peter in her letter, he is getting quite big now.
I was away from camp last week from Tuesday until Saturday but I was sleeping in a hut. It was quite muddy there too and I hadn’t got my rubber boots yet. I didn’t bother to clean them until I got back to camp when I went at them with a brush and some water.
I had a very nice Christmas card and letter from Jim Dunnet’s parents. They said that he had returned to Kingston from a furlough so I guess he will be on his way over soon.
I was at church on Sunday in that town nearest our camp. It was Methodist, and the congregation was smaller than ours. There were about 15 there, and only one soldier other than myself. The preacher was quite good, and I think I’ll go back again when I have the chance. They have meetings during the week which, I think, correspond to our Young People’s meetings.
11 Dec 43
At last it is beginning to look like December. It snowed a little this morning, those large flakes which seem to float down. It has practically stopped now and it will soon go away and leave mud.
I have slept in the cab so far and I haven’t had to sleep on the ground. We were near a strawstack last night and I was going to make a bed of straw. However, they told us we would be pulling out around 4 and as it was after 12 when we turned in I didn’t think it was worthwhile for only 4 hours. We didn’t leave until nearly six o’clock . They had breakfast at 4 though and we missed it.
There is a small gasoline stove in the truck and also some food, soup, canned meals, tea, etc. and we didn’t have to go hungry. The only hard thing to get is water as we have only a 2 gal. can to carry it in. I had to get some this morning from a house nearby.
On Thursday night we were parked about 1/2 mile from town so another chap and myself walked into town. I had to come back alone and it took me over an hour. The streets all looked the same in the blackout and it took me a while to get my bearings.
13 Dec 43
Got back to camp this afternoon. We didn’t do much on Sunday, and slept most of the afternoon. I had 3 parcels waiting for me, one from the Overseas Comforts Comm., one from the B of M Head Office and one from Mr. & Mrs. Turner.
I saw a show on Saturday night as we were parked right in town. Slept last night on straw in the cab as we were parked near a straw stack.
Haven’t received your parcel yet, it should be here any day now.
B Sec No 1 Coy
2 Cdn Div Sigs
14 Dec 43
Well, I just got straightened away after getting back from the scheme. I have a lot of washing to do, and as it is only 7.15 I may do it yet. The lights were off in the washroom early this evening or I would have been up there by now.
I just got your letter of Oct 29 on Monday, the one with Mary’s letter in it. Did she ever get the cards I sent to her about the middle of November? I suppose you haven’t had time to tell me yet. Did you get the picture cards I sent from Canterbury.
When I got back yesterday I had three parcels waiting for me, one from the Overseas Comforts Committee, one from the Head Office of the B of M, and 200 cigarettes from Mr. & Mrs. Turner. As I consider that I am old enough to smoke I am able to use them. I also got another parcel from the Comfort Comm. today of chocolate bars to, as the note said, take the place of cigarettes as I don’t smoke. The B of M sent me a very nice box, shaving stick, hot chocolate powders, maple sugar, and two handkerchiefs. The latter were especially welcome as I didn’t have any clean ones left after the scheme.
Your parcel hasn’t come yet, and I have a parcel from John Rushton on the way yet. One of the O.C.C. was sent the last part of October.
Glen told me about Leonard Lehman getting killed over here. It sure was tough to hear it, especially since I had known him for quite a while.
The bread we get here isn’t white, but it is very good nevertheless. It is quite a lot like our brown bread.
Doug Weeks has answered the letter I wrote to him, but I have had no word as yet from Tom Foster.
I see Harry has finally got his promotion. It may not be as much as he would have liked, but it is better then nothing. He must find it quite different to wash and shave in champagne.
Well, since you wrote a letter to me, I guess I had better answer it. I guess you will have lots of snow over there now. We had some snow last week, those nice big fluffy flakes that seem to float down, but it stayed for only a day. When I went on leave we had one dog in the hut and when I came back we had nine- the mother dog and eight pups. They aren’t in the hut now but I think we are going to get one of the pups. We used to have two kittens in the hut too but now we have only one, which is all black. We called the other one Tiger because it looked a little like one. When we were out on scheme we were parked beside a farmhouse and the officer told us that there was a two-day old baby in it but I didn’t see it as I wasn’t in the house. At another place I got some drinking water and they had white Leghorns in the backyard. I didn’t see any eggs around though. I think I have had two eggs since I came over here. How are our hens laying?
Letter # 12
B Sec No. 1 Coy
27 Dec 43
Well, another Christmas has come and gone. It was the most un-Christmaslike Christmas I have ever seen. There was no snow on the ground, and I saw only one decorated Christmas tree. That was in the W.V.S. canteen on Thursday night. There was a little Christmas party there that night. First there was a general sing-song followed by an amateur programme. Everyone present received a present. I got this writing paper, envelopes, two chocolate bars, and a cake of soap. We have had no snow after that one day out on the scheme.
I was at a private house on the 19th after church service. A corporal and I went with this chap up to his home. He lives with his parents on a farm just at the edge of town. For our 4 o’clock supper we had bread and honey, and milk cocoa. Boy, was that cocoa good! They asked me to come back any time. They didn’t have any tree or decorations, and I guess they weren’t going to put any up.
I answered Grandma Tracy’s letter to-night. I received it a couple of weeks ago but I haven’t done any writing lately.
I got your parcel O.K. just before Christmas, but I haven’t eaten any of the honey yet. It seems to have stood the trip fairly well.
Glen is writing to me fairly regularly once a week, bur I’m afraid I’m slipping in the answers. I got a pair of socks and three packages of cigarettes on Christmas, everyone in camp got the same.
Each of us got two chocolate bars with our Christmas dinner. We had a fairly good meal- pork, turkey, dressing, brussel spouts, potatoes, gravy, pudding, beer and tea. Most of us went to see an Ensa show in the afternoon. It was late in starting and we didn’t get out in time for supper. We had a bite at the W.V.S. canteen.
Haven’t had any word from Harry lately about his getting to England this winter. Sure hope he can make it.
I saw a double feature and a hockey game yesterday. The rink has artificial ice and there is skating there all year around. The game started at 5.15, and the skating at 7.00. By the time we got back after eating, there weren’t any skates left which were small enough for me. Usually have the other trouble.
I expect that I will get my leave sometime the first of the year. I should be able to scrape together £(English pound) 9 to go. I won’t know all the joints where I can spend money so I should manage; I’m going to try to get up to see the people Harry stayed with several times.
I didn’t get up until 9.00 on Christmas and then only because I had to work in the kitchen for the morning. On Sunday I made up for it and didn’t get up till 11.00. I wish every morning was like that. I was in the pub on Christmas Eve and you could barely turn around. Everybody from camp must have been there. There were only about half a dozen civilians in it.
I’m glad you and Dad finally got away on a little holiday. Dad probably had to do all his work in advance as usual but at least it would be a change.
B Sec No. 1 Coy
2 Cdn Div Sigs
4 Jan 44
According to my records the last letter I wrote was on Dec. 14. I thought I had written since then so you may get two letters with the same number and I may repeat a few things. Nothing important had happened in that time, except, of course, Christmas and New Year’s.
We had a very good Christmas dinner-turkey, pork, potatoes, gravy, brussel sprouts, stuffing, pudding, beer, and tea. We didn’t have to line up for our meal as the officers and sergeants served us. We ate off plates, too, which was a welcome change. On New Year’s we had pork chops, and they tasted good. As both Xmas and New Year’s were on Saturday we had two days off each week-end.
I was supposed to meet Harold Rowe on Jan.1 in Brighton but I didn’t get his letter until today. After I get back from leave I hope to see him.
Harry gave me the address of the people he stayed with and I think I’ll go up and see them. They are on a farm and I may be able to at least see an egg with a shell on it. I have had about two so far here.
I was on duty last night and I got about 3 hours sleep so I am a little tired to-night. I helped to peel four big kettles of potatoes, and did one of carrots by myself.
I met a chap at church 3 weeks ago and went to his home after the service. I haven’t been to church the last two Sunday’s but I saw him on the road last week.
I saw a hockey game two weeks ago in a town about 18 miles from here. It was artificial ice and they have skating the year around. By the time I got there, there weren’t any skates left small enough for me or I would have gone skating. I received your parcel O.K. but Doug’s hasn’t come yet.
I have received a letter from Art W. He got over last month some time but I haven’t seen him either. He may be near here but as he can’t give his location I don’t know where he is.
I hope my shoes are on the way and get here in time for my leave. Harry said he left some clothes behind but his shoes, if he left any, would probably be too small for me.
Here is a list I have compiled of things which I could use: salted peanuts, 300 cigarettes per month (MacDonald’s, Export), sardines, several cans of shoe polish, toothbrush (hard), soap (laundry and face), hot chocolate. I see jam is rationed so that will be hard to get, camp coffee, wrist watch strap, films (120), sandwich spread, flashlight (prefocused), skates (10E). Quite a list, isn’t it?
Take some money out of my account if you have to.
Letter # 13
B Sec No. 1 Coy
2 Cdn Div Sigs
22 Jan 44
Well, my leave has been and went. I went up to that place in Essex where Harry spent most of his leaves. I was there for six of my nine days so you see I must have enjoyed it. There was an Airforce sergeant there at the same time recuperating from an appendix operation. The farm is about 4 miles from Dunmow, and I was in only once, on Monday afternoon. The last bus left at 7.20 so I couldn’t even stay to see a show. I stayed in Dunmow for one day before I went out to the farm, and I met an English chap who was on a 24 hour pass from his camp nearby. I went with him to a show that night, and that was one of the 3 shows I saw on leave. I saw the other two in Horsham. We usually stayed up after midnight playing cards and Charlie (the Airforce chap) and I didn’t get up until nearly 11.00. The night before I left I stayed up until 1.45 finishing a jig-saw puzzle,
I did get up one morning at 8.15 to take Janet to school. She rode her pony and I went along on the bicycle to see that she got there O.K. She is only 7 and Mrs. Gowlett doesn’t like her to go alone on the road because of the traffic.
I spent only about two hours in London, going to and from Victoria and Liverpool stations to catch the trains. I got around the stations fairly well, just followed the signs and asked when I wasn’t sure.
I got quite a few letters when I got back that had come when I was away. I am getting the bulk of my Christmas cards now. I also received two letters from you, one airmail Jan. 10 and an ordinary mail Dec. 13.
There was a little ack ack activity over here Friday night but I was in the kitchen peeling potatoes and I didn’t hear or see anything.
I haven’ t been able to contact Harold Rowe yet. I was supposed to meet him in Brighton several weeks ago but his letter telling me where to meet him came too late.
I got Xmas cards from Woodrow and Alice Muir, Miss Twamley, and from D.L.& Mrs. Strachan. Tell Mary I’ll try to write to her again soon. Right now I’m a little behind in my letters and it will take a little while to catch up.
The chaps who have been in the army 18 months and overseas for two get a ribbon with a maple leaf on it to wear on the left side of the tunic just above the pocket. It will be two months more before I get mine.
I haven’t had an answer yet to the letter I wrote Keith and I haven’t seen Norm since I got back.
In camp we burn coal when we have it, and coke when we haven’t. Most of the private homes burn wood.
The weather now isn’t very cold. it isn’t even cold enough to freeze the mud in the morning. It rained quite heavy last night.
B Sec No. 1 Coy
2 Cdn Div Sigs
6 Feb 44
How do you like my new ink? I am writing in the Naafi and my pen went dry and I had to borrow some. (The original letter was in green ink)
In addition to sending me some 120 film, will you try to get about 4 films no. 620?
Harry is in England on leave, is supposed to go back to-morrow but will probably get an extension, and he came out to the camp on Wed. I was on duty until 5.30 but we went into town after that. I got a week-end from 4.30 on Friday until 4.30 this afternoon and we went to London. Got in there in time on Friday to see a show and wander around London after. We had supper on Friday at the Beaver Club. We stayed at the Lexham Gardens YMCA near Earlscourt, 2/6 a night for bed and breakfast. (Converted at the then rate of exchange, that was approximately 52 cents Cdn.)
On Saturday we managed to get around and see some of the famous landmarks in London- Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the park, Trafalgar Square and the pigeons, Whitehall and some of the government buildings. Buckingham Palace disappointed me a little, it doesn’t look like the name implies, and the windows are all boarded up. It looks more like a large office building than anything else. I didn’t see the changing of the Guard as it changed at 10.20. There are a lot of waterfowl in the park, but I suppose not as many as before the war. The sparrows around there are quite tame, they will come right up to you and eat bread crumbs. The pigeons in Trafalgar Square are the same way.
The Beaver Club is a very nice club. They have practically everything in there- Post office, bank, barber shop, shoe shine parlour, good food, and a place to send cables. I tried to get a hair cut but the barber shop was full. I did get a shoe shine though. Norm Patterson told me to-night that Howard Wilkinson is in the hospital with spinal meningitis, and that there are several cases in town.
I was across one of the bridges over the Thames, but I don’t remember which one. From it we could see about four other bridges over the river. I didn’t see much bomb damage but I suppose we weren’t in the right district.
So you beat my percentage in Second Form, eh? Well, you just keep that up all through High School and you’ll be a very smart girl,
I saw part of “Stage Door Canteen” in Horsham, and I liked what I saw of it. I saw “And the Angels Sing” with Harry in London. Dorothy Lamour and Fred MacMurray were in it, also Betty Hutton.
I’m glad the pictures finally came. I wrote to the druggist the end of October and I guess my letter stirred him up. One roll of film I took over here turned out to be a perfect blank.
We had some snow on Friday for almost 15 minutes. It wasn’t long but we were out in it which made it feel longer. It soon went away though. There are some flowers coming up around the Naafi. I don’t know what kind they are but it looks as if they will have a yellow flower.
I just caught my train out of London and that was all. Another minute and I would have missed it.
Letter # 15
B Sec No 1 Coy
2 Cdn Div Sigs
26 Feb 44
I hope you haven’t forgotten to write as I haven’t received any letters from you for some time. I don’t think I have received any letters this month. I wrote you when I was in London and you should have the letter by now.
Have you sent my flashlight and shoes yet? If they don’t get here soon I won’t be able to use them.
I got a parcel from Marion and Nellie just lately. Marion enclosed some Kleenex and I sure can use it. I washed my hair on Monday and right now I really have a cold. My head is all plugged up and I get a tickling sensation in my throat that won’t stop.
Have you arranged to send me any cigarettes yet? I received some from Mrs. Turner in December but haven’t received any since. Louise has sent me a carton of American cigarettes but they haven’t reached me yet.
As soon as payday comes I’ll send a wire for money but in case this reaches you first don’t wait for it. I’m not counting on my next leave and I’m going to take all the week-ends I can. If my account can stand to have £5 taken out of it I could use it.
I saw Harry in Horsham the Wednesday of the week after I got back from London. I had another letter from this week and so I may see him again. I expect to go to a different section soon but I think I will still be able to get up to see him. I expected to go on Friday afternoon but I’m still here today. I think I will be down south of here, probably right on the coast.
I was down to Worthing on Sunday, the first time I have been down there. That and Brighton were popular summer resorts before the war. They are still lively towns, with plenty of amusement places. They all have good theatres, and Brighton has a nice skating rink. I saw a hockey game there a couple of Sundays ago.
We have had snow and cold weather the past week. It was mighty cold in the mornings but the afternoons usually warmed up. The huts are well ventilates even when the windows and doors are closed and it was kind of chilly during the night.
Don’t forget to send me some handkerchiefs in the next parcel.
I had a letter from Glen today. He is planning on getting his two weeks’ leave some time in March. Maybe if I had joined the Navy I would still be in Canada too. I wouldn’t like the idea of finally going on the water though.
We have a church parade to-morrow. I haven’t been to church this month yet, always been too busy.
Letter # 16
HQ 6th Cdn Inf Bde
15 March 44
I guess it is about time I was writing. I see by my record that the last time I wrote was on Feb 26. Since then I have changed my address, as you will notice. I received two letters from you on Saturday and one from Dad yesterday. Your parcel came this week too. The handkerchiefs came in handy and I can use the socks. The package of soup mix had broken and the contents were all through the parcel, even in the chocolate bar boxes. I have bought only two bars of soap so far and I won’t have to now for a while.
We have to get rid of our excess kit and I am going to send mine to Mr. Ray Sparles, Joles Farm, Partridge Green, Sussex. He is the chap I met while at the other camp.
I got 200 cigarettes from Louise the other day, and another 300 from the Ski Club and 300 from the Port Elgin Saugeen Cigarette Fund. That’s enough to last me for the next four months. I can always sell some if I am short of money though I think I will send some to the chap I met while on leave. He is in the Royal Artillery and was up around Dunmow when I saw him. I have been going to write to the ski club all winter but I’ll have to make a special effort to do it now.
I hear that Farquhar’s have another baby. Stan must believe in large families.
I haven’t had any Expositors or Times for some time now and there and there should be some more along soon.
We had an inspection parade for General Montgomery two weeks ago.
We all had a chance to get a good look at him. He is a small man, about 5’6′. He seems to be able to accomplish what he starts though, and that is the main thing. There was a similar parade for the King last week but I was in the kitchen that day and couldn’t go.
I was to London last week-end and on the way down on the train I met a chap who had just come back from the 8th Army in Italy. He went to Africa in June 1939 and hasn’t been back to England since.
The billets I am in now are a lot better than the ones I left. We are in a large hotel here, practically in the centre of town. The room I am in faces out over the channel. There is a sink with hot and cold running water in each room and there is a bathroom just across the hall. There are real tubs in it too. There is a radiator in each room too. There are pictures here every Tues. and Friday evening. Last night it was “Stanley and Livingstone”.
There was a Canadian Army Show downtown last Friday evening. The cast, CWAC’s and men, was all Canadian.
You had better forget about sending my skates and shoes. I won’t be able to use them.
Had a letter from Harry last Sat. written on the 2nd. He was leaving that night to go back.
I got 17 letters on Saturday and 5 on Monday so I have a lot of writing to do. The letters I got from you were dated Jan.23. Feb. 6, and Feb. 20. I got a letter from Mrs. H.E. Turner too. I was surprised to get it, as I don’t think I would even know her if I saw her. It was very nice of her to write and I’ll have to answer it.
It seems funny for you to be talking about snow. Even In Jan. it wasn’t cold here. I took my winter underwear off then and haven’t had it on since except for one night when we were sleeping outside. Incidentally, we have no beds in the hotel, but it’s not a great hardship sleeping on the floor.
In your next parcel could you send me a writing pad (notepaper size) and some envelopes?
Tell Mary thanks very much for her letter and I’ll make a point of writing to her as soon as possible.
We haven’t a radio here and the only way we have to get news is in the paper. Some of the canteens have a radio though.
I saw in the Canada Weekly that Tom Britton had been given his commission as a navigator. I guess that was the course he was on. He had been with Harry for quite a while but had left just before Harry came to Eng.
We can get Canadian gum and chocolate bars in our canteen, also Planter’s peanuts.
There was an alert here last night just before I went to sleep but apparently there wasn’t much doing as I didn’t hear anything.
I was up to the old camp on Monday but I didn’t see anything of Norm Patterson. Art Wilkinson sent me Sampson Abtossway’s address.
B132384 Sgmn Tracy, D.A.
HQ 6th Cdn Inf Bde
17 April 44
Letter # 17
Well, I think it is about time I was writing as I see by my record that it is over a month since I have written. I have slipped badly in my writing in the past month but I hope to catch up on a few during this scheme. I have only 15 to answer now. I have received two ordinary mail letters posted in March and an air mail posted in April.
I received a letter a couple of weeks ago from a chap in Brampton whom I met when I was taking basic there. I had sent him an Xmas card and he wrote me from the hospital where he was during Xmas and New Year’s. I’ll take a chance and write on both sides of this and hope the censor doesn’t have to cut too much out. I got this paper in a box from the Overseas Comfort Comm. but send me some in my next box as it is hard to get any airmail forms now and lately I have been writing all ordinary mail letters.
I just got an issue of a bar of soap. I guess they expect us to do a little washing while on scheme. My towel is getting a tattle tale grey look and one of these fine days I’ll wash it. There haven’t been many nice days this past week, usually it has been cloudy or raining.
I haven’t received a copy of the Expositor for some time so I haven’t heard any scandal via Borge’s publication. I got a copy of the Times a couple of weeks ago but I didn’t see Doug’s name in it. I hear he is doing all right in hockey. I got your parcel O.K. with the handkerchiefs and socks in it. Marion has sent me several boxes of Kleenex and I am saving on handkerchiefs as much as possible. My cold hasn’t got any worse, but it hasn’t improved either.
I got a parcel from Aunt Mizie with a nice cake in it. It was certainly nice of her to send it and I have written her and thanked her for it. Mrs. Geo. Rowland from the Soo sent me a parcel a while ago too. There was a small Xmas cake in it with icing on top. It really was a treat to see a cake with icing on for a change.
I met a girl at a dance a week ago Saturday who comes from Yorkshire. Her speech is practically the same as ours, no long “a”s or dropped “h”s but she could also give out with the native Yorkshire dialect. The local dialect is quite different from anything I have heard so far.
We are on two hour’s daylight saving time now and it makes quite a difference at night. Even now at 9.30 it is quite bright. Yes, Louise writes me regularly, very nice letters too. I’ll have to watch myself or I’ll be building a home when I get back. I don’t think you will have to worry for a few years yet though.
I received the cigarettes about a week ago. Harry said he told Dad to send his cigarettes to me instead. He might as well do that as I can always get rid of them.
I received the money about March 22 and had a week-end in London with it. You can get rid of a lot of money there even if you are alone but with two it is twice as expensive. I met this girl when I was in London with Harry. She is engaged to a chap in the RAF and plans to be married in June.
My second leave was due on the 13th of this month but I didn’t manage to get away. I would like to think that I am going to get it but I don’t know.
We have a small gas stove in the truck so we can heat water with which to wash and shave. Our hands soon get dirty again though but we feel clean for a while.
We are having cocoa to-night at nine o’clock so will go over now and get in the queue.
Letter # 18
B132384 Sgmn Tracy, D.A.
HQ 6th Cdn Bde
Cdn Army O’seas
21 May 44
I’m afraid you will have been wondering what has happened to me but I am O.K. except for a slight tendency to neglect my writing
I had a letter from
Leonard Davie the other day, written from the hospital where he was. He expected to be sent back to Canada shortly. He didn’t say what his illness was but apparently it was serious enough to warrant his return.
I also bumped into Leonard Campbell in town the other day . He was on his way to catch a truck so I didn’t have much time to talk to him. We have been in tents for some time now but as the weather has been fairly nice I haven’t minded it. We have had some rain but so far haven’t been flooded out. I woke up one morning to find a heavy frost on the ground and even a little on my blankets. Most of the fruit trees were in blossom and it hit them pretty hard. With lots of warm weather and rain they hope that the loss won’t be as great as they had first feared.
Quite a lot of cigarettes have gone down lately and I lost some too. I think they are the ones for March which you are sending. If the total of what you are sending me now and the ones Harry told you to send doesn’t amount to a 1000 a month will you arrange to send me that many? I received 300 from the Port Elgin Cig Fund last week.
I haven’t as yet received my leave which was due on April 13 and all our other leaves are severely restricted. Harry said in a recent letter that he expected to be in England soon and it will be tough trying to meet him when he does come.
Did you ever start sending me the Reader’s Digest? I was wondering if you had as I haven’t received any copies. I received two copies of the Times and one of the Expositor the other day but they were both old ones. Will you check up with Jarnel and see if he is sending them to this address?
We were out on a short scheme last week and for two days we had to do our own cooking. We were given our rations which included fresh meat and porridge (or rather the wherewithal to make it) and we cooked it to suit ourselves. I managed to get three eggs (one of which was double-yoked) and we had ham and eggs one morning for breakfast.
Ordinary mail letters usually come over in from 10 to 14 days. Airmail comes over in approximately the same time although some get over in seven days or so.
There is a NAAFI canteen in camp and also our own Canadian Legion which is open several times a week. The latter has some Canadian stuff which we can’t get in Naafi. They have had 1/4 lb. boxes of Neilson’s chocolates, chocolate covered dates, and Planter’s peanuts. It is not very often that we get those as they don’t get them in regularly. I got a box of bars from the Overseas Comfort Committee last week also,
P.S. Will you enclose some Gillette blades in my next parcel and have you sent my wrist watch strap?