Evelyn to Fred Calgary,
Oct. 16, 1917.

My Darling: -

It seems as if I had been home much, oh, very much longer than two days, though it isn't really home, but it's more that then any other place. Mr. Robertson to-day said my face was fat and that you would hardly know me. To this I replied that I only wished you had the chance, but he said I didn't mean it that as long as one had enough to eat and wear, one was satisfied.

Say honey, when did you think my birthday was, in October? If you did, you're just one month ahead of time, but I don't care. The book of pictures arrived to-day, and all I can say is that it is a work of art. Our people would enjoy the pictures too,... I have been showing them around and everybody thinks they are excellent.

I shall not expect you to write so often darling, much as it means to get your letters. I want you to get all the rest you possibly can. Someway, I am not able to visualize you as being there. This makes it easier for me, but I am afraid I do not suffer with you as much as I otherwise might.

To-day it has snowed all day, and yesterday was such a glorious day. The first snow always makes me think of Christmas, and of my own sweetheart. But, it's very strange, something seems to hold me back, most of the time, from worrying about you. That Something seems to say "He is safe." May you be ever protected, and soon come home to your own wife.

Oct. 17/17.

Dearly Beloved: -

... Yesterday Mr. Macleod gave me a little work to do, but so far that is all I have had. I have started Underhill on Torts. I am satisfied to get a little reading done now for likely I'll soon be busy enough. Mr. Macleod asked me how I'd like to read with Mr. Clarke. That would be a good opportunity for me, would it not?

Tonight is a Congregational meeting at the church but I think I won't go; I don't want to go out to the Adamses' alone, and at any rate, I want to go to bed early. ... Mr. Macleod does not want me to go into the suite alone again; he says I'll be underfed and melancholy. I am to write to Arm.-Sergt. Rounce to tell of the arrival of the book. I love you darling for your thought for me. You always try to make things as easy for me as you can.

David [Adams] said last night to his mother. "If I prayed to God for something, I'd wait until he did something." I am waiting for Him to "do something" for my darling.

With my heart's love

your wife.

Fred to Evelyn France
Wed. Oct 10/17
My darling, - ... We were to have had the pleasure(?) of a general inspection - whether by the Brigadier or Gen. Currie.(1) I don't know and in preparation for it all parades were called off yesterday p.m. to give us time to clean up. And believe me for a general inspection a half day for cleaning & shining is none too much. It's hard enough to keep things clean & bright in the best weather, but when it rains every day, as it has here for a week the task is well nigh impossible. However as yesterday afternoon there was no rain I washed a pr. drawers 6 pr. socks, 2 handkerchiefs, 1 towel, 1 shirt. ... I then hung them on the fence to dry, but about 6 p.m. the rain started again and my things are still wet. This a.m. I managed to get madame of the farmhouse to allow me to hang my drawers up near her stove. Perhaps later I can get the rest dried the same way, for there is no sun this morning. It has been raining steadily and as it's an ill wind that blows nobody good the inspection has been called off because of it, ... Yesterday p.m. we had a field day for greybacks. [lice] I was told in Eng. that I'd be lousy before I was 2 days in France, but I managed to keep free of them until 2 days ago. Then the blankets we got here were reeking with lice & of course I received my share of their attentions. Yesterday they were so bold they crawled right out on the outside of our clothes & we picked them off by the dozen. Then we sought the sanitary serjeant & got a bottle of creosote solution. We resolved on stern measures & fairly saturated blankets, greatcoats, sweaters etc. Apparently our work was not in vain for last night we all slept undisturbed. Last Sun. afternoon we left the place from which I last wrote & marched here - about 3 miles in a steady downpour of rain. ... The place where we are now is a little French village whose only feature of interest is an old castle said to have been built in the 12th century and also reputed to be the scene of some of the adventures of The Three Musketeers. It's so long since I read the book I don't remember the incidents myself. Except for the castle the village consists only of farm buildings with the ubiquitous manure heaps, cobblestone streets flanked by filthy gutters through which wallow unlovely children, slatternly girls & haggish old women in wooden sabots or dilapidated high heeled boots run over at the heels. And mud everywhere. Mud! Mud!! Mud!!! Most of the billets here are worse than at the last place but as there were not enough our company commander got 4 tents & bought some straw. The 2 McKenzies, Edwards & a couple other fellows & I got one tent to ourselves. For a franc we purchased 3 more bundles of straw and we've had the most comfortable quarters I've seen since I crossed the Channel. The tent doesn't leak much. The straw keeps the ground dry and makes a soft bed, and 2 blankets apiece, together with our greatcoats provide bedding enough to keep us warm as toast Consequently since Sunday we've had 3 long nights of refreshing restful sleep. I'm quite caught up for sleep now. Did I tell you that on Monday we went back to standard time? A couple days ago I received 2 lovely pairs of socks from Hazel. I kept one & gave one away. Socks are a great asset here, and by the way you might tell anyone who knits soldier's socks not to be afraid of getting them too thick. They have to be thick for marching. I have a couple pair now - lovely ones but too thin for marching so I just keep them for changing off at night & sleeping in. When one gets his feet wet & is marching he should change socks every day, and I am well supplied. Today I am sending a bundle of your letters to Elmer to put in my trunk. I don't want to destroy them & I can't keep them here. Did I tell you I broke my ring in the trenches? I was carrying a stretcher and the trench was a narrow my hand caught & twisted the ring right off. I am keeping the pieces however. Most of the good wrist watches fall down in the trenches. They get shell shock. Mine went bad in the trenches but I let it stop and now it runs all right again However I think I'll send it to Elmer & get an Ingersoll. That kind seems to do as well as any other . Don't you bother, dearie, to send one from Canada for I can get one here just as cheaply. Now for a few answers to the questions in your letters Aug. 16 to Sept. 2nd. You ask about underwear & pajamas I think I have already told you I can carry only 1 suit of the first and the army furnishes that - and as for pajamas - their weight is too much to carry even if there were opportunity to use them - which there isn't. I still have 2 good pairs in my trunk at Bramshott. I'm glad you ordered the Varsity. It will be nice to have. And I'm so glad your health improved so that the last half of your visit both at 'Aux Sauble' Beach & Beamsville & Owen Sound was more pleasant than the first. Of course you are back in Calgary now. I wonder who is living with you. Please dearie, don't work so hard as you did. I hope you are in the office more now & have less walking & standing. Remember me to all enquiring friends. There are many to whom I expected to write when I got to France but now I find I can't. Will you explain to them? You speak of your letters being uninteresting and short. They have been anything but that. On the contrary they are bright & helpful and breathe so of love. I'm sorry my own have been so disjointed lately, and I'm sorry I haven't been able to write more frequently, but you know you are ever in my thoughts and whether I write or not my love always remains the same - the same? - No! for it grows each day from more to more. Yes it would be nice if you kept a diary, but it makes a good deal of work and if you start one, promise me you will not write in it if it interferes with your rest, will you please? Yes, I agree with you about both father & Margaret. I too wish Margaret could get away to some more hopeful wholesome environment. I wish we could help her. She has wonderfully good qualities but is inclined to fly off at tangents - and lacks poise. Perhaps after the war we can do something for her. ... About writing paper - There's no use sending much at any time for I can't carry it. A few sheets at a time would be all right but when we are moving about every few days one doesn't want any extra weight. I now realize what is meant by the marching at the front. It seems to me war for us is not fighting at all but consists solely of marching & working. Similarly with parcels - It would be better not to send large ones - for they might arrive as the last one from Beamsville - just before we are moving & then we can't carry it with us. Besides even when we aren't moving there often isn't a place to keep them. So it would be better to send smaller ones more frequently. The last corrugated cardboard box carried all right but as a rule tin ones are best - especially as they often have to lie around her in the wet. About Wray - I can't tell you all I know and I realize that his attitude looks bad, but there is a reason - and it's hard to be misunderstood, as he is. I can't say anymore. He is suffering partly, if not largely, for someone else. It is now 11.30 & I must do a bit of shining. The orderly serj. just announced too that at 12.45 we'll fall in for a bath parade - the first in more than 2 weeks. Hope there'll be some letters today. But letters or no, I always love you dearly my own wee wifie. Fred.

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    A box of old letters, discovered in a basement, turned out to contain an absorbing, first hand account of life in Canada, England and on the battlefields of France during the early part of the 20th century. The correspondence between an exceptional couple spans the time of their early courtship, engagement and marriage and their separation when Fred Albright went overseas in World War 1.


    April 2010
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