23 January 1917

1st T.BN.
Nr SALISBURY 23-1-17

Dear Homefolks
Letters are still very scarce, tho I received a nice long one from Elsie. There is no word as yet of exactly when the draft leaves, but rumored that it kicks off on Saty or early next week so will probably be in France some time when you receive this.

Percy I believe has started his leave. Hope that he can manage to get down here for a couple of days before I go. I’d love to see him.

By Jingo they are socking the work into the draft. 7 hrs solid each day & two or three night stunts of 3 hrs each, each week. We start off under the “Indiarubber _____” as we lovingly term the physical “jerks” instructor. He doubles us all over the place until he’s lost ¾ of his lot, & then gives us a breather till the others catch up, & then tears physical jerks into us. We have him for an hour. Then we do an hours bayonet fighting at the dummys. Then an hour bombing, & that is followed by perhaps a gas demonstration, with perhaps a nice little double with a suffocating gas helmet on _ _ _. The other three hours are chiefly spent in drill of some sort or other. Its bitterly cold here & we parade without great coats, & wear full packs. They keep us moving but our ears & feet suffer. We all wear gloves so our hands are O.K. The ice doesn’t melt all day & its quite an exciting, pleasant, & frequent thing to suddenly assume a sitting posture on the cold, hard, slippery & unfeeling pavement. The language which is released by these little incidents melts the ice for yards around & also releases smiles & guffaws of appreciation from the numerous spectators. The yarn of the chap who put a dish of water on the stove overnight so that he could have a wash, & got up to find it had an inch of ice on it, has become so common that one fails to smile at it.

My lady friend in “Brumm” (Birmingham) is quite taken with Percy, & I believe that he has promised to spend part of his furlough there. Her employers too (she’s in a tailoring est) think a lot of him, & he’s in for quite a good time generally between them all. Well he deserves it all. He’s trying for a com I believe & has a good recommendation from his C.O. in the 24th Bn. Hope he gets it. I do not quite know how they work this O.T.C stunt here. Unless one has plenty of influence there doesn’t seem to be any chance at all.

Continue to address everything c/o Mrs M. It’s quite possible that I will not go to the 3rd. I’m tired of the Militarys effort to keep my letters up to me. Through Mrs M. they will be regular no matter where I go to.

One million beds to be ready in the hospitals by March. Cheerful eh _ _ _. One of them is for me _ _ _. Till the next, with best love from Bert.






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