The following letters were submitted and reprinted with the permission of Don Tracy. They are now in the National Army Museum, U.K.

This page last updated on Tuesday, 11-Sep-2018 01:32:26 MDT




Letter # 19

B132384 Sgmn Tracy, D.A.
HQ 6th Cdn Inf Bde
Cdn Army O’seas

14 June 44

Dear Mother:
Just a quick note before I go to bed to let you know I am still in existence. I believe it was Betty who said you had lost the badge I had left with you so I am sending another. It is one which I bought myself from a store and is similar to our issue.
Got another parcel from the O’seas Comfort Committee, bars and gum.
Weather has been quite chilly for June. In fact we had better weather earlier in the year.
Saw Charlie Beaudin a week or so ago. Haven’t seen him since although his camp is just down the road. I think I told you I had seen Leonard Campbell. Also had a letter from Leonard Davies written from the hospital just before he expected to leave for Canada. He should be back by now.
Haven’t had a letter from Harry for some time and I haven’t written many myself I must admit.
Will try to write more soon






Letter # 20

B 132384 Sgmn Tracy, D.A.
R Section
8 Cdn Recce Regt
Cdn Army O’seas
17 June 44

Dear Mother:
Notice the new address. I have been transferred again. I was told on Monday evening that I would be moving and I got here Tuesday afternoon. I didn’t like to leave the other section as I had got to know the fellows well but there is a swell bunch of fellows here. I am sleeping in a house now which is a welcome change from the tents. There are no beds but the blankets don’t get as dirty. We turned our blankets in today for new ones and there is still a small scent of moth balls in them.
I heard a transcribed Bob Hope broadcast on Thursday night. There is a radio in the next room and we get the news and the forces broadcasts. Mart Kenney and his Western Gentlemen were on the night before.
I saw a double feature in a little theatre near here which reminded me of the Princess back home. It is the only one which we can get to and the one and only show goes in at 6.00 o’clock.
Have you sent my penlight and writing paper and envelopes yet? It is hard to get a good small flashlight here.
A war correspondent on the radio is telling of German prisoners who are being brought back to England. One wounded prisoner was only 12 years old. Many who were 18 years old had been in the army four years.
Some of these pilotless planes which you have no doubt heard of were over here the other night. I didn’t get up to see the barrage but I could certainly hear it.
I don’t know whether it is just the change in camps but the food here seems better. We had pie the other day, something I haven’t had for a long time, and there is dessert for nearly every meal.
I saw Leonard Campbell in town again last night. I think I told you that Charlie Beaudin dropped in to see me, and I saw Cyris Hall’s son in town a week or so ago.
Haven’t had any word from Harry for quite some time. I suppose he is too busy to write.
I hope that by now you have got your teeth fixed with the money which Grandmother sent you. Be sure you have your teeth fixed by the time I get home, which I hope won’t be too long from now.
I got a box of bars from the Overseas Comforts Committee but I wasn’t able to bring them with me because of lack of space. I did manage to bring the two boxes I bought from our Canadian Legion canteen.
The weather so far isn’t what one would expect for June. It is quite chilly, and the weather was much warmer in May, and even in March. There was quite a chilly wind this morning and the sun didn’t shine very much.
One thing I have noticed is the prevalence of poppies along the roads, and in the fields of grain. There doesn’t seem to be many thistles, but the poppies are everywhere.
If it hasn’t already come through you should soon be getting an extra $2 per month on my assignment. That is part of my trade pay. I am drawing the rest.
How is the cellar coming along? I suppose Dad will be getting too busy now to do much work at it. Is Doug coming home for the holidays?





Letter #21

B132484 Sgmn Tracy
11th Field Coy RCE
Cdn Army O’seas
27 June 44

Dear Mother:
Well, I have another new address again. I left the other section a week ago yesterday after being there for only six days. From the looks of things so far I may be able to stay here a little longer. My two moves were due to the fact that they were over strength in DM’s but I think I should be able to hang on here for a while.
Your letter of June 11th came on Saturday after I suppose being forwarded through my other addresses, although there were no forwarding addresses written on the envelope.
I am sending some pictures which I don’t want to carry around with me. I expect I’ll have to put them in more than one envelope as I think they will be too heavy for one.
We are in barracks here which is quite an improvement except that there is quite a scarcity of hot water. About the only time there is water hot enough for a shower is around six o’clock in the morning. The barracks are fairly new and we are lucky in that we have single beds to sleep on. One leg on my bed was broken and I had the bed supported for a long time on a gas can. Everyone was borrowing it though and I improvised a leg to-night.
I guess you will have to tell Borge to change my address again. He has never changed it from CSRU and the paper would have a lot of different units to go through before it reaches me.
I have seen several shows in town since coming here. That’s about all there is to do here. I was down town on Saturday afternoon and I bought some English cherries at 1/3 (28c) per 1/2 lb. They were very good too, only one that was too green to eat.
I saw Leonard Campbell in town again the other day. I think I told you that I ran into Charlie Beaudin also.
Do you think you could get a deck of cards, also some soap, face and laundry, to enclose in my next parcel? I am getting rather low on the latter articles.
Haven’t had a chance yet to get a look at the “buzz-bomb” but quite often hear the AA firing at them as they come over. They are doing a little damage but not nearly as much as the Germans claim.
Do you send the money for the cigarettes each month or enough to pay for several months? I didn’t get any last month as they were sunk and I haven’t received any as yet this month although it is past the date when I usually receive them.
We didn’t have any PT this morning because it was too wet but this and Sunday are the only mornings we have missed. I hadn’t had any since last fall and it took me a couple of mornings to get used to it. We had a route march on Saturday morning too, the first one of those I have had for some time. It was nearly 12 miles and I had a small blister by the time I got through.
Hope you have by this time, for the sake of your health, been up to see Dr. Alston about your teeth.






Letter #22

B132384 Sgmn Tracy, D.A.
11th Field Coy, RCE
Cdn Army O’Seas
27 June 44

Here are some more of the pictures I said I was sending. You’ll probably get all the letters on the same day.






Letter #23

B132384 Sgmn Tracy, D.A.
11th Field Coy, RCE
Cdn Army O’Seas
27 June 44

Still some more of the pictures. They are in letters nos. 21, 22, 23 so you will know when you have received all of them.






Letter # 24

B132384 Sgmn Tracy
11th Field Coy RCE
Cdn Army O’seas
12 July 44
Somewhere in France

Dear Mother:
Well, I have finally got to where I started out for. We are at present in a large grain field and the grasshoppers are as numerous as at home. There are quite a number of birds flying around, swallow I think. There are a few wrecked buildings near and the trees around them are stripped of leaves. Today has been clear with the sun shining. I even have my shirt off which is something unusual.
We had a very quiet trip over. If I had been on a passenger boat I could have imagined that it was nothing but a pleasure cruise.
There were some Jerry planes over yesterday and all of them didn’t get back. A couple more were over again today quite low but there aren’t many of them around.
I saw Boyne Heise for a few minutes shortly after we landed. I didn’t have much time to talk to him as we were just pulling out.
We got some water last night after we had been out of it for several days. I’m saving razor blades now, I’m growing a moustache.
I nearly had some honey this afternoon, but I may be able to get some to-night. One of our chaps found a hive but it is too late now to get it before supper.
I suppose the garden will be needing plenty of attention just about now. Are you having much trouble getting the girls to do the weeding?
Have you sent me any 120 or 620 films yet? I haven’t had any mail for some time with the exception of one letter from Glen. I guess my mail is being slowed up by being re-routed.
I had a bottle of ink in my pack when I came over and it broke somewhere during the trip. Made a little mess of some of my clothes. As soon as I can manage to get a little hot water I have to do some washing.
There is quite a bit of ripe grain here and also what I think we call Indian tobacco.




This is a follow-up to letter # 24

I did not report in my letter two interesting incidents which happened shortly after I landed in France. Actually, landed is not the correct word.
When we were still in England I had to waterproof my truck. I refer to it as my truck as I was trained as a driver-operator. Why I had to be trained as a driver I do not know. At this stage of my life I was 22 years old and I had been driving for eight years, six of them licensed. I was responsible for the maintenance of the truck.
I was also trained as a wireless operator to send and receive morse code, but not at a very fast rate. The majority of our messages were sent in plain English in code.
In order to waterproof the truck I had to spread a putty-like substance over any part of the engine which, if water were to enter, would stall it.
The driver’s cab and the truck cap which housed the wireless and the gasoline engine which recharged the battery for the wireless were not waterproofed.
Landing in France consisted of driving the truck off the landing ship into about three feet of water.
Shortly after landing, we were driving in convoy through a small village. I could see ahead of me a Frenchman standing on the sidewalk and holding what appeared to be a wine bottle and a shot glass. He was pouring a drink and offering it to the drivers as they passed him. We were travelling very slowly at the time.
The alert reader will wonder how he could offer a drink to the driver while he was standing on the sidewalk.
The trucks we were driving were manufactured for use in England where the right-of-way is on the left, and the driver is on the right-hand side of the cab.
The continent is the opposite so we were always driving next to the sidewalk.
He offered me a drink in the shot glass and I thought to myself-” How generous of him to be offering a drink from what may be his last bottle of wine”
I downed the drink in one gulp and I thought I had swallowed a bonfire.
All veterans can understand- it was Calvados.
Several days later we stopped near a small village and one of the soldiers who could speak French struck up a conversation with a French girl.
When we moved on he wanted to write a letter to her. While he could speak French he could not write it. I could read and write French but could not speak it. Solution- he told me in English what he wanted to say in the letter, and I wrote it in French.





Letter # 25

B132384 Sgmn Tracy D.A.
11th Field Coy R.C.E
Cdn Army O’seas
17 July 44

Dear Mother:
We have been hoping for a change from the wet weather which we have been having and we certainly got it. It has been really hot the last few days, and I would definitely appreciate having a pair of shorts to wear instead of these heavy trousers. It’s a wonder they don’t issue them as they can be used. I had a letter from Anne just recently and she said that the two girls had come down to Port. She said that Betty was working for Mrs. Campbell but she didn’t say how long Mary would be staying. If she had her own way I suppose she would stay all summer.
I have received 300 cigs and a parcel from the O’seas Comforts Committee since landing. The cigs were from the P.E. Cig Fund.
This paper and envelopes were in the parcel. I like a pad like this since it fits into my writing case better than the loose sheets which don’t. I am writing all ordinary mail letters, as they seem to go nearly as quickly, so this won’t last long.
There are some big hives near here and two other chaps and myself went over last Thursday to get some honey. We weren’t dressed properly for the occasion with the result that we suffered quite a few stings, and didn’t get any honey. The other two chaps came back in the afternoon after they had had dinner. I couldn’t go back for mine as I had dropped my helmet near one of the hives and as soon as the bees quietened down I wanted to get it before someone else did, dressed for the occasion and got quite a few pounds of honey. I got about four pounds of it, that is including the comb which we eat anyway. When I woke up Friday morning my left eyelid was swollen so badly that I could open my eye only a crack and the left side of my face was swollen. The swelling was pretty well gone by noon and by supper time I could open my eye completely.
There is a small town near here and I have been over twice. The first time I was over there was no one around, all the inhabitants has left when the fighting started. The only live things I saw were several chickens and a rabbit, and there were also some dead horses and cows. Boy! what a stink. I was back again this afternoon and several families have moved back. One of them has a baby because there was a baby carriage in front of one house, or what was left of it, and a baby crying inside. It certainly must be disheartening for the French to go back and find their houses almost completely destroyed. One farmer was out cutting his grain this afternoon. He had three horses on the binder and a chap was riding one of them.
Jerry hasn’t bothered us much here and I’m certainly not hoping that he starts. He has sent over a few planes and a good percentage of these have been brought down.
There is quite a lot of garden produce ready and we are getting some in addition to our Army ration. So far we have had onions and new potatoes. I have had some carrots, green peas, and cabbage but I got them on my own hook.
I received your birthday card just a couple of days after my birthday. I didn’t have a chance to do anything spectacular to celebrate, it was just another day. maybe next year–
Louise said she was up to see you when she was in the Current. What kind of a daughter-in-law do you think she would be?
Have you made any move yet to get your teeth fixed?






B132384 Sgmn Tracy, D.A.
11th Field Coy, R.C.E.

22 July 44

Hello Mary:
Here is the letter that I have been promising to you for a long time, Mary. I got your letter which you put in with Marion’s a few days ago.
There is a rabbit which is in the garden near our truck. It is quite tame as I got to within three feet of it today before it ran away. It was eating the leaves off some of the plants in the garden. It was eating the leaves off some bean plants yesterday and it must have been hungry as it ate the leaves of a lot of plants.
In another town we were near there was a mother hen and her baby chicks. They were small and couldn’t have been more than a week old.
I think I told Grandma in her letter about getting stung by the bees. My left eyelid was swollen so much in the morning that I could hardly open my eye and the left side of my face was all swollen up. I got the honey I was after though and we just finished it a few days ago. If you ever want to get some honey out of a hive be sure you have your face and hands well covered or they will sting you, and how.
It has rained for the last two days but it has stopped now. The sun didn’t shine today and my blankets are still a little damp. I also have some washing on the line which isn’t dry yet.
Your writing isn’t too bad, Mary, although it is a little larger than mine. Go to school for a few more years and it will improve.
I haven’t learned to swim yet but I didn’t have to when we came over to France. It was a nice trip and we weren’t bothered at all.

So long,






Letter # 26

B132384 Sgmn Tracy, D.A.
11th Field Coy R.C.E.
Cdn Army O’Seas

5 Aug 44

Dear Mother:
Well, here it is August again and the summer is nearly gone. It doesn’t seem so very long ago that I was wearing my greatcoat.
We certainly don’t need very much on us at present. At night the mosquitoes are so numerous it is hard to get to sleep, and it is too hot with a blanket over your head. To make matters worse there is some kind of little bug in our blankets which can take quite a large bite.
I finished off the last of the plums on a plum tree near here yesterday. There were only a few left on after the shell landed and there were up near the top. That same shell blew one of my blankets to pieces, part of it is still on the roof of a house about 100 yards away.
When did you send me the syrup? I haven’t received it as yet, and I was wondering if it was lost in the fire in England. A lot of mail posted in Canada between June 7th and 14th was destroyed.
Will you try to get me a French-English and English-French dictionary? I had one with both in one book, nearly 600 pages long. It was very handy but I lost it.
I saw Norman Patterson for a couple of minutes the other day.
The Brown’s are the people I stayed with last fall when I was on the course in Canterbury. I saw them again a couple of times this summer.
Have had no word from Harry for some time. Grandma said in a letter that he was in England in June but I didn’t know anything about it until after I got over here. It’s a wonder he didn’t write to me to find out where we could have met.
We aren’t very far from a small river but as I haven’t yet learned to swim it isn’t of much use to me. A lot of the fellows go in though.
The garden that I helped to weed isn’t in very good condition right now. After we spent a little time working on it it is now dug up for slit trenches.
We are still sleeping in one of the rooms of the house beside us even though the family had moved back. One of the boys is around 20, and he is quite a friendly chap. He can’t speak English but we can carry on a conversation with pencil and paper and a dictionary which he has.
The other day his mother cleaned the debris out of the room and hung our blankets out to air. There is another chap besides myself sleeping in there.


P.S. Try to get that dictionary as soon as possible.

This is a follow-up to Letter #26
I did not tell Mother the whole story of the shell.
I had hung my blanket on the line about fifty feet from the truck. There aren’t many opportunities far washing and it could use a good airing. I was in the truck, the operators were away someplace. I heard the whine of the shell coming in, the explosion, and the dirt falling on the truck.
If that shell had landed fifty feet closer I wouldn’t be here to tell this story.




Letter #27

B132384 Sgmn Tracy, D.A.
11th Field Coy, RCE
Cdn Army O’seas

20 Aug 44

Dear Mother:
I hope you haven’t been worrying about my lack of letters. It has been over two weeks since I last wrote but I can’t seem to settle down to write unless I’m in the mood.
We have been moving forward quite steadily the last couple of weeks. At this rate we should soon be in Paris. I suppose you have heard on the radio that the Americans have crossed the Seine near Paris. Looks as if they are going to beat us there.
If you can possibly get any Saccharine will you send me a couple of bottles? They are easy to carry, and very useful for sweetening. We made some applesauce today from green apples. I quarted and cored them, and we sweetened them with saccharine. They were quite good too.
I haven’t received any Expositors or Times lately. Did you have my address on the Expositor yet?
Marion sent me a can of beef which I though was tomatoes until I opened it as there was no label on it. We made a stew with it and put in carrots, potatoes, beans, peas, and onions. It was very good, and the beef certainly doesn’t taste like the bully beef we get.
I saw Norman Patterson for a few moments the other day but I haven’t seen him since.

Aug 22/44

Now to try to finish this letter. I had started it before I went on guard and the next day we moved and I didn’t have a chance to finish it.
We had quite a heavy rain last night but I slept outside with a tarpaulin over me and I didn’t get wet. It has cleared up today and the sun is practically boiling. I laid out in the sun for a while with my shirt off and the sweat was rolling off me.
We have a gas stove now and a small saucepan and at the present time I am making some applesauce. We haven’t any sugar so I am using some hard candy, but that is nearly done too.
Yes, I received Betty’s card O.K..
I have my blankets laying out in the sun now. They weren’t wet but they needed the airing to get rid of that closed-up smell.
Doug said in his letter that he hoped to be able to start at the Radio School in January. I think he would find it to his advantage to go at least another year in High School but I guess if he didn’t want to go he wouldn’t do much work if he had to.
We are in a nice location here, a large orchard, and we are parked under an apple tree which gives plenty of shade.
Have you been to see Dr. Alston yet? I expect you to have them fixed by the time I get home. I think you would feel a lot better if you had them attended to.






Letter #28

B132384 Sgmn Tracy, D.A.
11th Field Coy, R.C.E.
Cdn Army O’seas

27 Aug 44

Dear Mother:
Another summer’s day coming to a close. We have had good weather the last couple of days- hot sun, not much wind, and no rain. We had a couple of days of wet weather the past week and it wasn’t any too pleasant. I slept outside at night under a tarpaulin and I didn’t get too wet. It was awfully warm though. I had my head covered with a groundsheet arranged on a chair so I could get a little air.
I have not as yet received the syrup which you sent me and I wonder if I can stop hoping for it. A lot of mail posted in Canada between May 27 and June 14 was burned in a fire in England and I am wondering if it was in that.
I haven’t had any cigarettes for quite a while either. The ones from the P.E. Cig Fund are the only ones which seem to come through regularly. I am using English ones now. They aren’t as good as ours and not as good. Bettysaid in her letter that she didn’t like the idea of me smoking. I guess I’m growing up.
A Frenchman asked me the other day for some cigarettes. I told him I had only English ones and he said, in French, that he didn’t want German ones, English were alright. So the German cigarettes must have been pretty bad.
Doug will be going, or probably has gone, back to Port by now. I hope you got him to do a little work while he was home. Is he going to take the radio course?
I am on guard to-night to 3.30 and until I go on duty I am trying to do a little letter writing and get caught up. I find it harder to write now as there isn’t very much to write about and I never was much good at Composition in school.
Betty is doing all right at the Holiday House, according to her letter. She had quite a bit in tips when she wrote and she still had a few weeks to work.
According to Marion’s letter you were going down for a couple of weeks. I hope you can get away and have a little rest.






Letter # 13

B132384 Sgmn Tracy, D.A.
11th Field Coy RCE
Cdn. Army O’Seas
5 Sept 44

Dear Doug:
After a very long delay once more I get around to writing a letter to you. I have two letters of yours on hand now to answer, one of Aug. 30, and one of May 10 which you had addressed to 2 C.F.B. and which finally caught up to me.
I am regretting more and more that I can not speak French as well as I can read and write it. There are lots of people, and women, I would like to talk too, but I can’t parle le lange treas bien. I have a large French- English English-French dictionary which I scrounged but it takes too long to carry on a conversation with pencil and paper.

6 Sept 44
Another day and maybe I can get this finished this time. We are supposed to be moving this evening but there is no sign of it yet. In England all the kids were always asking “Got any gum, chum?” over here it is chocolate, bon-bons, and cigarettes for papa? They get to be a nuisance because if you give one kid something in about 30 seconds you are completely surrounded. The best policy is to give something when the truck is moving so they have no opportunity to catch up to you.
We are getting into country now which has quite a few people in it because there was no fighting and they didn’t have to get out.
I was in that parade through Dieppe which you read about in the papers. We had quite a long march and not being used to it my feet didn’t feel too good afterwards.
The French people, judging from their attitudes, are glad to see us. Going through a town, or even passing a group on the road, there is always hand-waving on both sides. There are always kids asking for chocolate, bon bons, and “cigarettes for Papa”. Some of them look as if a square meal wouldn’t do them any harm, and they certainly go after candy. There are some smart-looking girls, well dressed, and then there are those who look as if they have been dressed from a rag bag. France at the present time is a land of strange contrasts- poverty on one hand and apparent wealth on the other, shortage of food but plenty of wine.
We have been hitting pretty good highways recently, and also some damned long hills, just as long or longer than the one near Hamilton. Low gear half the way up and second the rest of the way. (If you know your Army gears, its 2 and 3)
On our move today, we came more than 60 miles. I wondered why the truck wasn’t pulling good on the hills and when we stopped I looked at it. One of the spark plug leads was off and two were loose. No wonder she had no guts.
What are you going to do now, go to High School or Radio School? I think you would be wise to put in another year at High, but I suppose if you didn’t want to go you wouldn’t work.
So you were at the Lions Frolic and didn’t get home until 1.30, eh? Did you have the car and run out of gas, or couldn’t you find your way home? I guess I’ll have a little trouble getting the car when I get home if you happen to want it the same night. You can occupy the back seat and I the front.
I am returning the picture of your current flame which you will no doubt want to carry next to your palpitating heart. B.S. you say.
Hasn’t rained much at night lately and when it did I just crawled in under the truck.
Just got a cup of tea(?) and hard tack from the kitchen. Getting as bad as the English, must have my tea every night.
We were on the move today at noon and all we had for dinner from the kitchen was a cup of tea and hard tack. We made some vegetable soup for ourselves which was quite good.






Letter # 1

B132384 Sgmn. Tracy, D.A.
11th Fd Coy, R.C.E.
Cdn Army O’seas
18 Sept. 44

Dear Betty:
I can’t find a record of letters I have written to you, so I’ll start numbering this one. I hope I’m not past number 4 before I’m home.
What do you think of my ink? I filled my pen with red ink and there was still a little blue left in it.
You certainly did all right for yourself in tips this summer, didn’t you? I’ll have to get myself a job like that when I go home.
I have lost track of what grade you are in, but it must be the second or third. Is Doug going back to school, or what is he doing?
They have a good idea over here for bicyclists. They have a small road of their own on each side of the main road. In that way they don’t interfere with traffic, and unless pedestrians walk on it, they don’t both them either. We are quite onto their rules and regulations yet and we have to dodge the occasional bicycle.
They have good highways here but the majority have a cobblestone surface and are quite rough to drove on. Some of the highways have a concrete surface and riding on them is like riding on air.
All the towns have flags hung out on the streets, and one town we came through today had flags about 24′ x 24′ hanging the main street. They certainly were big ones.
I had something to-night that I had never expected to see for some time- ice-cream. It isn’t as good as ours but it is still ice-cream. We are supposed to be paid to-morrow so I’ll probably fill up on it to-morrow, if there is any left.
Marion should have been in to see you on her cruise by this time. She said in her letter that she expected to go on it.
We saw part of a Canadian Army show the other night before the generator burned out and left us without any light. The show was quite good and there were four Canadian CWAC’s in it. We have also seen two movies “Eyes in the Night; which I had seen once before, and “Dangerous Moonlight” which I had seen twice before.
Where we were before there were plenty of eggs and tomatoes, and four eggs, tomatoes, bread and butter cost 35 Belgian francs (about 40c). Eggs seem to be a little scarce around here though.
It is possible to buy films here too and if I can find some to-morrow I will buy them. I have only one now, and I hate to use it.
I bought a little souvenir for you and as I can’t enclose it in this letter I’ll try to remember to put it in Mother’s letter. I hope she has all her teeth fixed by now, and I’m sure she will feel a lot better.
I got a letter from Anne yesterday with a picture of herself and her family.
Will you try to enclose some writing paper and envelopes in my next letter, as they are hard to get here?

Cheerio/ Don






B132384 Sgmn Tracy, D.A.
11th Fd. Coy. RCE
Cdn Army O’seas

Dear Mother:
I thought I was finally catching up on my mail but I have been getting quite a bit in lately and I am getting behind again.
I got some mail in today- 300 cigs, 2 lbs. of chocolates from Peter and Dianne Guthrie, 2 from Louise, and two letters. One was one I had written to Doug Weeks and it was returned to me because they could not forward it.
We came over some highway yesterday that had a cobblestone surface and it was quite rough. We came about (censored) and over half of it was the rough pavement. Most of the rest of the highway had a concrete surface and it was just as good as any highway in Canada. One stretch of highway reminded me of no. 2 going into Toronto. It was a two way highway with a boulevard between them, with grass and occasional flowers.
I also say a windmill in operation, and several fields of brightly coloured flowers but I don’t think they were tulips. A lot of houses in this district are new. This is the country that was flattened during the last war but I don’t think the houses are that old.
There are a lot of wooden shoes worn here, more so than when we crossed the border into Belgium. The people are quite well dressed too. We could buy films at the last town but I don’t know whether there are any here or not. I had some ice cream last night. It was soft and I don’t think there was too much cream in it but it was still ice cream.
There are two little kids in our truck now, one is about 8 and the other around 7. The young fellow smokes and the other one doesn’t. You have to watch the little kids who “ask for cigarettes for Papa” because likely as not they will smoke it themselves.
We had some horrible weather about a week ago- heavy rain with a strong wind, and the wind was cold too. It wasn’t particularly pleasant trying to drive at night with no lights.
I am enclosing a souvenir for Betty that I picked up over here. Did you receive the badge O.K. that I sent you?
Tell Mary I got her letter O.K. and that I was able to interpret it.
I haven’t received an Expositor for some time but I got two Times lately, one of which was addressed to 11th Fd.
It is getting dark at 7 o’clock now as we are only on one hour’s daylight saving time instead of two as we were in France.






Letter #31

B132384 Sgmn. Tracy D.A.
11th Field Coy, RCE
Cdn Army O’seas

6 October 44

Dear Mother:
Haven’t had any word from you for quite some time but I guess you haven’t felt like writing lately. I hope you had as good a time as could be expected when you were down to Port, and I know you will be feeling better.
The cigarettes which you sent on July 3 arrived just the other day. It took them nearly three months to reach me.
It is getting noticeably colder but we have been fortunate the last few weeks in having a house to sleep in. The first one had previously been occupied by German troops and we had their mattresses to sleep on. We were in a small village then, and not far from one of the large Belgian cities. I was in several times and it is really a nice looking city. It had not been bombed or shelled, and all the inhabitants were still there. There was a good quantity and quality of merchandise in the stores but it was rather expensive. I bought some cream chocolate without coupons, and the price wasn’t too high. There are also numerous ice cream parlours in all the cities and towns, and I had five dishes of ice cream in one afternoon. It was fairly good, but not as good as pre-war or ours.
Also saw a show in the same place. It was “Dangerous Adventure” with Gary Cooper and cost me 15 francs (about 35C) for a seat in the balcony. The theatre was as modern as any of ours, with thick carpets on the floors. The conversations in the picture were in English with translations of the more important ones flashed on the screen so that the audience could get the drift of the story.
Getting back to our houses, the next one we slept in didn’t have any mattresses, but at least we were dry. We have a house to sleep in here also but I’m going to try sleeping on the ground for a while, as long as it doesn’t get too wet.
I received the letter which Grandfather M. wrote from L.C. and answered it the other day. I am nearly caught up on my correspondence again for a while.
Will you find out from Borge if he is sending the Expositor to my present address, as I haven’t received any copy of it for some time? I am just eating now some chocolate bars which I bought in England in June. They were in the heat for a while and they dried out but other than that they aren’t too bad.
We are near some artillery again and the truck starts to shake whenever they fire. I hope they don’t keep it up all night.







B132384 Sgmn Tracy, D.A.
11th Field Coy RCE
Cdn Army O’seas

15 October 44

Dear Mother:
Well, my maple syrup finally arrived but I haven’t opened it yet. I would like to keep it until Christmas and open it up then but I don’t think it will last that long. Also received the cigarettes which were sent in Sept.
The weather is gradually getting colder and we had a little rain this afternoon. On the whole though it hasn’t been too bad for October. We built a double bunk in our truck today, and they are nearly six feet long so I will be able to sleep fairly comfortably. They will certainly come in handy when the weather gets colder or whenever it rains.
The bond I started paying for in May will be all paid up this month and you should be receiving it soon. I was going to pay cash for a $50. bond this time but I haven’t enough money in my pay book. Our drive started last Thursday but I don’t think it starts in Canada until later. I think my balance could stand another one this time. Will you let me know what my balance is and how many bonds I have? I’d like to know how much I have.
I have had a fairly severe case of dysentery for the last week or so and I haven’t been out of camp very much. I have been taking some pills for it though and as tomorrow is payday I may go in to Antwerp and see a show or do some shopping. They have some fairly good shows, and they usually are quite recent ones.
I am on duty tonight from 10 till 7, and it is now 3 o’clock. I have a fairly good place to work in. I am not in our own truck but there is a coal oil heater in this one and it is so warm that I have my jacket off.
Mail has been quite light recently and I have received very few letters. I wrote to Harry recently but I have since received two letters from him.
Did you ever receive the badge I sent you this spring? And did Betty get the brooch I sent her?
One of the chaps in this Coy. repairs watches and right now he is busy on some of them. He doesn’t have much time during the day so he is doing them now after he has finished his guard. Grandpa said in his letter that Doug is going to school in L.C. this year. Is he going to take that radio course in Toronto? Have they any change of teachers in the schools this year? I have almost lost track of who is teaching there now.
Wrote to Mary Parkes the other day in answer to the Christmas card she sent me. Must write to Alice Muir soon.







B132384 Sgmn Tracy, D.A.
11th Field Coy, R.C.E.
Cdn. Army O’seas

25 Oct. 44

Dear Mother:
Received Dad’s letter posted on the 9th on Oct. 18 so it made pretty good time. Also had an air mail same day from Glen which was mailed on Oct. 11 telling me about his red letter day, Nov. 4. I wish I could have been home for it as we have gone through nearly everything else together but I guess it can’t be helped.
Had a letter a few days ago from Nellie and also one from Marion. Is Doug going to school at home for the whole term or is he going to take that radio course in Toronto?
Also had a letter from Art W. about a week ago. He is over here now, arrived about a month after I did. He told me to say “hello” to Dad for him. He was sleeping in tents when he wrote but he will have changed his location by this time.
We had a little rain last night but it isn’t too muddy yet. We are parked in a field and if we should get very much rain it will certainly make a mess of things.
We are in Holland now having crossed the border yesterday morning. So far I haven’t seen any large fields of tulips but I guess it will be too late for them now. Have seen a few windmills but no large dykes so far. The roads, what I have seen of them so far are better than the Belgian roads in that they aren’t made of cobblestone. There seem to be quite a few dirt roads which will be a nuisance after a rain.
Tried to get some eggs here in exchange for soap but it was no go. Apparently they didn’t have any eggs to trade as there is practically no soap around here. I sold a bar of Lifebuoy for 1 guilder (43c). Cigarettes are scarce too and they pay 100 guilders ($4.30) for 100.
I finally got around to writing Alice Muir this evening. Now I have only one more letter to answer and I will have my last Xmas correspondence all answered.
Have you been able to get any 120 or 620 films? I hear that coffee is not rationed any more so could you send me over some, along with some milk, either condensed or powdered? Also some kind of biscuits and anything also you can think of that we wouldn’t get over here.
Saw “Tarzan Finds A Son” in Antwerp a few days ago. There wasn’t a very good selection of shows that particular night and that was about the best. There is also an Ensa Garrison theatre there which is primarily for the troops, although there are civilians allowed in if they are escorted. I was there one night when they had a musical programme, semi-classical and swing music. It was quite interesting.
It is just about 7 o’clock now and the camp is starting to wake up. I have been on duty all night and I’m looking forward to a little sleep this morning. The cooks can’t start their stove until it gets light so breakfast doesn’t start until around 7.30 or after, which gives us a little extra time to sleep in in the mornings. I slept in too late yesterday morning and missed my breakfast entirely.
We are back on bully beef again as the fresh meat which they got from the German storage refrigerator is all gone. It was good while it lasted. We still have some of the sugar and we had apple pie last night for supper. We have had pie about once a week for the last few weeks. Our guns around here are starting to fire again after having been silent all day. They certainly send over a lot of steel during the course of a day.
Having seen Charlie Beaudin for over a month now but I wrote to him a week or so ago, so I should soon know how he is making out.
One of Hitler’s buzz bonds landed near here yesterday morning but I didn’t hear anything. It was around 7 o’clock and I was still sleeping. Several landed near our other location and I could feel the blast from a couple of them. One landed near the mobile showers and didn’t do it any good.
Well, that seems to be about all the news I can scrape up at the moment.






Letters From Overseas
20th July 1942
Women’s War Auxiliary,
Gore Bay, Ont.
Dear Ladies:
I received with extreme pleasure your parcel and take this opportunity of thanking you all very very much.
It arrived in excellent condition and the contents were and still are being enjoyed immensely. The chocolates and fruit cake especially take our fancy over here since both are very scarce.
Thanking you all again for your wonderful work, I remain,
Yours Truly
R. J. McGill, Lieut.





Letters From Overseas
20th July 1942
B-119933 Pte. Pidgeon A.M.
H. L. I. of C. D. Coy
C.A.O. B.W.E.F.
July 20, 1944
Dear Mother and J.D. and all:
Well mother how are you all. I am fine as usual and still going on. The last camp I was at in England I was only a little piece from Oliver, but I didn’t get a chance to see him or even to let him know where I was. I still haven’t heard from Morley yet. Have you heard from him lately. I still haven’t heard from Vivian, but I guess I soon will.
Harold Cooper was with me all along but we are separated now. I am the only one here from home alone. But I am fairly happy and getting along o.k. As you can see my address on top of the page, I am in the Highland Light Infantry of Canada.
Well mother this is just a line to let you know I am still well. So I hope to hear from you all at home soon. Good-bye for now.
Your Son,
Arden Pidgen.
If anyone would like to write to Pte. A.M. Pidgen his address is given below.
B-14633 Pte. Pidgen, A.M.
B.H.Q. Scout Pit,
Essex Scottish Regt.
Canadian Army Overseas
Somewhere in France