March 12 – Kimmel Park Rhyl

Dear mother and sister

Just a few lines to let you know I am well. I should have wrote you before this but I have been neglecting it looking for to sail any day. But I made up my mind to write today suppose I was to sail tomorrow.

I could tell you a lot of news that has happened here lately. But I guess you know all about it before this. I think it will be a big talk in Canada. You know about the first of March they cut off the sailings from this camp and were using all the boats to send the 3rd division home. The boys got tired waiting on going home, they heard about the 3rd division going home which is over half Conscrips and they put a big piece in the papers here saying Canada’s fighting men are now going home. Now you can just understand how that looked to men that has fought out here for two or three years and men that had never seen a days fighting going back home.

Well about 9 o’clock Tuesday night a big riot broke out, can you just imagine what 20,000 men would do when they broke loose. First thing they raided was the officers’ quarters where they got whisky. Well that started them good. The next was the canteens where they got barrels of beer and cigarettes and everything then they took to the YMCA and took everything there and then they cut loose on the tobacco stores and tin town and the riot had quieted down about 3 o’clock Wednesday morning. But it broke loose again about 9 o’clock they then raided all the clothing stores and the ration huts. A lot of them still drinking beer which got them into a firm madness. Well they keep going on till about two o’clock that afternoon. When they got some men together out of No. 1 district and give them rifles and ammunition, they shot five of the fellows dead and wounded about 24 which was rushed into the hospital right close here and are getting along fine. Well the raid died away then. So that afternoon they paid everybody two pounds each and the next morning we had General Farmer here giving us a speech. He is the head officer over Canadians in England.

He told us when there would be sailing for us. And said we would all get home this month that is here in this camp now. He said it was not his fault that the 3rd Div was getting home before us but it was somebody over him, that would be Currie I believe, and from now on they are sending 50 percent of the troops in this camp and another 50 of the Battns coming from France. There was a bunch left on Monday and there is another bunch going tomorrow but I do not expect to be in it, but expect to be in the bunch on Saturday any way. That is the 15th then there is another sailing on the 22nd and two more at the end of March.

Well it snowed here last night and it has been a very dirty day underfoot out today. Art O’Shea was just in a little ago wanting to know if we would go to Rhyl tonight but we made up our mind not to go tonight.

Say I had a great dream last night I thought I was home. I felt disappointed when I woke up and found myself still here. I hope this letter finds you well as it leaves me dandy just anxious to get away home.

Say I rec’d two letters from you a few days ago. They were dated Oct 21st Nov 8, Nov 4. I never dreamed that I was going to be so long at getting home. When in the 18 American Hospital the time does fly. Maybe it is better that I was held back a little you know it will amount to about two hundred more dollars of gratuity money with out counting the pay we are drawing all along. There would not be much for me to do if I had been home this winter and I will be home for the spring to make things fly and we will make a home that can never be beat. I think all the boys who have been to France know how much a home means.

Well bye bye do not be worrying. I expected to be home nearly as quick as this letter. With love from your loving son and brother Bruce xxxx

- Last letter

March 2 - #2 Military District, Concentration Wing, Kimmel Park Rhyl

Dear mother and sister

Just a few lines to let you know I am well hoping this letter finds you well.

I am still waiting here for a sailing, it has been over a week since the last one left. It looks as if it may be another week before we get away. The third division is started to go home. It is some of old Curries’ doings, sending them home as most of the Battns are nearly all Conscrips. There is a lot of men here waiting to get home that has seen from three to four years over here and if they do not soon get them home and be sending those Conscrips home they’re going to have a fine time in this camp. It would only take about two words to cause a fine riot.

They are telling us they will try and get most of us in this camp away this week but we are not sure of that. They may be just telling us that to keep us quiet. But we have got to make the best of it. I will get home soon as I can. Maybe it will be better for us to get home in the spring, We will not feel the cold as bad then after being used to this country.

Well I was out for a nice walk this afternoon. Art O’Shea and I were through a big field. We saw 18 deers. I don’t mean two legged ones, of course there is lots of them around here too. Say did you ever hear the language of the Welsh people talk. They have one of their own. Of course they talk English too.

Say you should see the way they do their hair up in this country. In big knobs behind their head. It is anything but nice. If they would do the hair up like some of the French girls do they would not be bad looking. But oh man they are great for dressing up in good clothes. Well I guess you have been looking for me coming along every day. Well I hope it does not be long until I be there.

I hear Clarence is home, has he had much to say. I guess he has pretty nearly told you all about the big war. See if my story and his is anything alike when I tell you how I found things. I think this will be my last letter from England. The next word may be a wire that I will be home in a day or two. Well bye bye with love from your loving son and brother Bruce xxxx

Ps I will be with you a few days after this letter I expect. Bye bye B.S.

Feb 16 – Witley

Dear mother and sister

Just a few lines to let you know I am still in Witley yet. I expect this to be my last letter from this camp. I expect to leave this camp Tuesday night or Wednesday morning for Rhyl which is about 30 miles of Liverpool. It is about an hour ride on the train from Liverpool. I do not know how many days I will be kept at Rhyl. I expect to be there two days anyway.

I will wire you from Halifax or Toronto when I get there. So you will know when I am coming. I hope this letter finds you well as it leaves me fine and in the best of spirits, looking for soon to be home. The boys tell me here that I am fatter now then they ever saw me. Far fatter than I was ever in Canada. So do not be surprised if you see a big fat fellow of course I am not so fat that you will not know me. I don’t think I have changed much in looks. Of course it is not very long since I came away, it will soon be two years. I hear Clarence has reached home. I guess he feels pretty happy.

I wonder what you would say if I brought a nice bride home with me. I guess you would feel disappointed. Well don’t worry I don’t think I will. I can find one in Canada to suit me I think. Of course I have met some very nice girls out here.

How is Allies hope they are well. If you see them tell them I will soon be home. How is Ada still looking for me coming. I guess she will have forgotten me by now.

Well I will ring off I can not think of much to say. Will talk you blind when I get home. Bye bye with love from your ever loving son and brother Bruce xxxx

Feb 13 – Witley

Dear mother and sister

Do you know I wrote you a letter on Sunday and forgot to post it. And when I went to get my pad just now to write I found your letter in it. I felt like kicking myself. So I am going to put these few lines in with it. I hope you are keeping well.

Well my papers have come at last. I signed my last pay sheet yesterday and expected to get a teeth, nose and ear inspection this afternoon. I was told that we would be leaving here on the 19th and sailing on the 21st, but I’m not sure. They get some great stories going. Any way I will get away this month.

That Smith that was in the 177th Battn that is a cousin of ours. He is here too waiting on going home. He was telling me he owed Lizzie a letter. He has just come from Germany a short time. He put ten months in Germany a prisoner of war. But he don’t look any the worse of it.

Well I must ring off. I will be following this letter shortly of course. I expect to write you another before I leave here. Bye bye from your loving son and brother Bruce xxxx

Feb 9 – Witley

Dear mother and sister

Just a few lines hoping they find you well as it leaves me fine. I am still waiting on my papers coming from Head quarters, London. I am sure of being here another week at least. And I would not be surprised if they keep us here and send us back with the Battn when it comes from France. Any way there is no use worrying the longer I be here the more money I will have. In fact it would be better if I did not get home until the 1st of April. Then I would have my three years in the army and would be entitled to the three year gratitude. Were I to get discharged before the 23rd of March I will only receive the two year one. Of course I do not care, the two year one will do me if I get away home soon.

Well mother how is Ada and you getting along. I suppose she keeps you and Lizzie busy tending to her. How is Allies tell them I will soon be home. Say do you know who I saw the other day. Lieut Orr that used to be in V. Harbour he is waiting on going home too.

Say I got a big surprise the other day. I received 3 parcels, one of them were from you and I rec’d them on Friday, my birthday. They were quite a treat. I have rec’d no letters yet. Well I must ring off. Will write you another letter soon. Do not be worrying I will be home right away. Bye bye with love from your loving son and brother Bruce xxxx

Feb 4 – Witley

Dear mother and sister

Just a few lines to let you know I am well. I hope this letter finds you well. I guess you have lots of snow to plough through around home now. It is quite like winter here a little snow on the ground which makes it very slippery.

Well I believe I will be away from here by the 20th. The O.C. told us the other morning that any man who had seen service in France he would get them away home by the 20th of Feb. Any that don’t get away by this will be keep here until after May for the Battns that is in France they are going to start home in the beginning of March.

I have met some of the boys that came from around home lately. George Morrison he is in this reserve and I met George McFarland and George Kent from Eady and Ed Sykes is in the same reserve as them. I saw them all on Sunday. Herb Crooke was here with me but he had to go back to France yesterday morning. I guess Clarence will be home by now. I bet he will give the people some line ha ha.

Well it is not lonesome here anyway. I was over to Jack McNaughton’s room last night, you know he was my section commander in France for a long time. He is now a Lieut with the reserve here. He will make the best of an officer. If some of the officers had been as good as him in France there would be a lot more poor fellows alive today.

Well not many days now until my birthday. It is on Friday. I pretty nearly forget how old I am. 23 I believe.

Well I must ring off do not be worrying for I am quite well and will soon be home. Bye bye with love from your loving son and brother Bruce xxxx

Feb 1 – Witley Camp

Dear mother and sister

Just a line to let you know I am now back with the reserve. I had a real good time on my leave. This is my first day in camp but it seems very good. They are not doing much drill just waiting on getting back. I think I am safe at saying I will be sailing home some time this month. But you know it takes time to put papers through for a bunch of men. But after I get my board I may get a few more days leave if I want it. I may take it then for it will take a few days after that before my papers are finished.

I hope this letter finds you well as it leaves me just fine. I weigh now more than I ever weighed. I guess you will think that the scales did not weigh right. 168 is what I weigh today. I just got weighed a few minutes ago. When I came from France to Basingstoke Hospital I only weighed 142. So you can see what I have gained this last while.

Well I had a fine time on leave. Enjoyed myself good. Would have like to stayed longer only I thought I would get away home quicker by getting here and have them start my papers through.

Well we got a little snow on the ground here today but I don’t think it will amount to much. How is Allies hope they are well. Bye bye from Bruce

Oh yes in case you right address my mail to the 3rd Can. Reserve Witley Camp, England of course. I don’t think you need to write for if I am not on my way home by the time you get this letter I would be before I would receive an answer. From your loving son and brother Bruce xxxx