Pvte. John Law, Machine Gun Section, May 21st, 1915
May 21, 1915
My Dear Mother,
beautiful trip is almost over tomorrow. Two British torpedo destroyers, just came along, one on each side, an hour
or two ago, and we all have a feeling of perfect safety now. We left Montreal, as you probably know on Thursday about 11:15
AM, we were Marched from the train right onto the boat. There was a fair crowd at the dock to see us off and one girl got
so excited that she missed her footing and fell off the dock unto a raft below. It was quite a high fall but she was not hurt
very much for she waited around to see us off a couple of hours after she was lifted up again. The boys threw her all kinds
of buttons and badges, enough to start a shop. Well when we at last got started I believe every boat and locomotive whistle
around started to blow and salute over and over again. The trip down the St. Lawrence was very pretty up until the time we
dropped our pilot but from then on it was rather bleak, snow still being on the high hills on either side. The weather was
cold the first 5 or 6 days of the trip and today is the first really fine day we have had that is due probably to the fact
that we are about 80 miles south of Lands End, England a course which it seems was necessary to follow in order to avoid submarines
as much as possible. There was really nothing of interest, a couple of days it was rough and a large number were sick. I escaped.
We past an old Norwegian sailing vessel in mid ocean and later on a Dutch steamer, the Maasdijk of Rotterdam but no signal
or salute was passed between us and the latter vessel although the first one signalled. We also saw other ships away off in
the distance but but these two passed at ¾ of a mile.
Our Machine Guns were unpacked and placed on deck for the
purpose of potting a submarine and also for target practice, the Gun at the rear of the ship was used for target work. Boxes
and barrels were thrown overboard and we shot at them. There was some good shooting at a hundred or perhaps one hundred and
fifty yards but further than that the gun was useless as the roll of the ship would not allow 4 good sighting. Therefore for
the purpose of shooting a sub I think it would have been a waste of ammunition. However it was good sport and practice. Was
just up on deck before turning in. All lights are out and port holes covered with towels, life boats are swung ready for instant
use and land is in sight as we have just passed a couple of lighthouses on Bishop’s rock. The little torpedo boats are
still there. They seemed to come from nowhere and just take their places as though it was the usual thing to do. Was down
in the stoke hold tonight and was surprised at the size and number of furnaces. Thirty six in all and about sixty stokers,
the hardest toughest men I have ever seen and shovelling coal for all their worth. Our quarters are second class. The officers
and seargants are first class but A company who came first on board were put down in the hold, the steerage. It smells terribly
down there and I wonder how they put up with it at all at all. Our section was fortunate in coming last in the march and getting
the good berths. We all eat third class which however is not so bad.
Well mother will write again soon. Have you called
on Mrs. Elliott with Agnes yet. I suppose William is sailing by now and having a good time which he deserves. Marion and Eudora
were real good to slip me that tobacco at the last moment and I certainly enjoy it. Will close now and hope to hear from you
as soon and as often as you can.
Your loving son
Pte John Law
Machine Gun Section
4th Infantry Brigade
2nd Can. Expeditionary Force
is my address. I can hear Marion say “My how important he feels” am I right.
John Law, Machine Gun Section, July 6th, 1915
6 July 1915
My Dear Mother
Your letter June 20 came
today. I have written 2 letters, small ones to you and 2 long ones I hope you have them all in order. You know it takes sometimes
a little over 2 weeks to get mail from Toronto so you will see how it is. Yes, I have been getting quite a few from Toronto,
nine in one mail, six in another and only two and others besides to-day. I have also been getting letters from Scotland and
it keeps me busy to answer them all.
What do you think of the photos. The ones of the twins in Hamilton turned out
poorly as it was a dull day, and one I took of Logan, who is a 2nd Liutenant in Manchester. I am sorry they turned out so,
for I took particular pains to get the best I could. I even went so far as to take two snaps of to everybody, just to make
sure so you can imagine my dissapointment.
I have the films yet and if you are desirous of getting any more, just
ask for them and I will send them to you.
So you are worrying about my washing. Young kids come around the camp to
collect it and do it good and cheap. Sometimes I do my own and sometimes let them have it. We have hot and cold shower baths
and sometimes go down to the sea to swim. On Sunday Allan Lynch and I rented a row boat at Folkestone, rowed out about ½ mile.
It was smooth as glass, and jumped it, it was good sport. So you see Mother we are well of and there is no need to worry at
The English strawberries and cherries are great, the strawberries are the size of a medium sized tomato and are
delicious. Orvil and I had some in London with thick Devonshire Cream.
My feet are all better now and the English
boots, although heavy and clumsy, I must say are comfortable for me, although some of the fellows cannot wear them at all.
Tobacco and cigarettes I still have a lot of. It is very cheap over hear and you get twice the quantity you get for
the same money at home. We were issued with housewives, good ones too, with needles, darning wool, pant buttons and batchelor
buttons, safety pins and thread, and we have also been issued with extra pairs of good socks.
There are a lot of flying
craft around here. English parsevals, (dirigibles) areoplans and monoplanes, both French and English.
London is all
dark at night so is Manchester and all seaside towns and villages, but Glasgow is all lit up as usual.
quite a few letters as does Mary. I have also got one or two from Eudora two from Marion and three or four from William, and
a little booklet from Father. I am sure I have received all the mail which has been sent me and I thought you took it for
granted which was the reason I did not tell you so. Believe me if I don’t hear from you when it is time I will cable.
I have been going on the principle that you would like to hear of what is of interest over here instead of filling up a letter
with questions etc and in turn you tell me the things of interest at home, which, you do.
The pictures I am sending
are not all, as the ones of the twins and in Hamilton I sent back to London to be printed anyway. They did not print them
the first time as they said it was not worth it. They evidently don’t realize what they are worth to me, else they would
have done it in the first place.
The weather here has been clear and bright ever since we came over about 2 days rain
in that length of time. It is just like Toronto weather with the exception that the atmosphere is a wee bit heavier and more
humid as Marion calls it.
Last night at 11:30 PM when in the trenches we had dug up on the hill about a mile from
here, we heard the distant firing of the big guns in France. Yesterday was a long day as we were working from 6 in the morning
until 12 at night.
Tell Eudora both Orvill and Mack would like to get a card or a letter from her.
Capt O A Elliott
5th Field Ambulance Corps
Macks is the
same as mine with the exception of his number which is 56132.
Will close now hoping you are all well and enjoying
the best of health and happiness
Your affectionate son.
Pte John Law
19th Battalion, 4th Inf Brigade
Army Post Office
London Eng. 2nd D.E.F.
19th Batt, 4th Inf Brig.
Army P.O. 2nd C.E.F.
It is not so
long when you abbreviate it.
P.S. There will be more pictures in a few days I hope.
Pvte. Norman Browning, July 28th, 1915
A Letter from Pte. N. Browning
Below we give in part, a letter received by Miss Browning,
from her nephew who is at Sandling Camp. This letter was dated July 28th.
Dear Aunt Lizzie:-
Things are going
on as usual here, about all it amounts to is trench digging, instructions and long marches. We did an eighteen mile march
Tuesday and quite a few of the fellows had sore feet after it, me for one. I had five blisters on one foot and two on the
Premier Borden and Gen. Sam Hughes inspected the 2nd Contingent a week ago, about 14,000 soldiers were there, but
I don't think that is the whole contingent. It rained pretty heavily for awhile. The inspection took place at Beachwood Park.
This last month it has been raining almost every day.
About three weeks ago the 4th Brigade held a Field day of sports.
Lord Brooks, the Brigade Commander, gave a cup to the Battalion making the most points. The 19th won it easily. The 4th Brigade
consists of the 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st Battalions. Lady Brooks presented the cups to us this afternoon, and also other
prizes won by different men.
According to what you told me of Lieut. Morgan's men, it doesn't do to expose oneself the
least bit. Those German snipers certainly must be great shots too, by stories we hear from men who have been there. I think
the man who exposes himself without cause does no good for the country or himself either.
A lot of the men are taking
a course in bomb throwing. I am going in the next class. From what we hear it is a great thing at the front for a man to know
how to make one, light and throw it. A lot of bombs at the front are made of small jam tins packed with a few bits of iron
broken from an old stove, some stones and pieces of gun cotton besides the explosives. They put nails, bolts, screws, etc.,
in some of them, but of course all these are used when the shrapnel runs out.
The Colonel told one of the fellows in our
hut that we would be away from here with in a month. It was good news, everybody seems pretty tired of staying here. I don't
think the U.S. Germans will ever raid Canadian Territory. I am sure it wouldn't do them any good. But I think if the U.S.
go against the Germans, they certainly will have outbreaks there and bad ones.
Well, I got my furlough alright, six days.
I went to Glasgow and couldn't have had a better time. I got there a week ago Sunday morning at 9 o'clock. Mr. Wilson and
one of his brothers met me. That day we went to see three of Mr. Wilson's brothers living in Glasgow. We also went to two
or three Parks and through the big Art Building there, which is certainly a fine place. In Glasgow they have lady lamplighters,
lady ticket collectors at the stations, boats, and also car conductors. Monday we went to Dunoon, a summer resort where another
of Mr. Wilson's brothers is staying for the summer months. They gave us a good welcome. Tuesday we went to Helensburgh, where
Mr. Wilson's sister and family are staying for the summer. Next day her three daughters, us two and another fellow walked
eight miles through the country to a place called Luss, just a small village near Loch Lochmond. Right around there is the
best scenery I think I ever saw. The water and hills are fine. We sailed down Loch Lochmond to Ballach and took the car from
there to Dumbarton where we took the train for Glasgow. Thursday we went to Rothsay. The beach there is something like Scaraboro
Beach Park. We went on to Wemmess, and later on to London and then back to the camp. In London I met the Co. Quartermaster
Sergant, and we spent the time together, seeing all the sights. Considering the time we had we saw a great deal. Well, I had
six pretty good days of furlough and am certainly glad I went to Glasgow for them.
We have a little trouble drawing our
money, as they are keeping $20 off each man before we go to the front. They call it a reserve; in case a man gets discharged,
he will have something to fall back on.
Your loving nephew,
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