France, Sept 3, 1917

My dearest Emma;-

Your letter of Aug 26 – 28 reached me this afternoon, or, to be more exact, when we were at lunch. I was much grieved to hear that you had been having a fit of the “Blues”. These attacks are liable to come on at any time without reason or cause, as I trust was the case with you. However I do not think you should feel bad enough to weep. I think I told you about the time we came out of the terrible Somme campaign last September & October, and about my having an idea what a woman meant when she said she felt like having a “good cry”. We have had no such trials this year. On the Somme our battalion lost nearly 700 men and officers within two weeks, including 16 officers dead. No finer men ever lived than many who marched cheerfully to their deaths at the Somme. Now whenever I am inclined to feel low spirited which is very seldom, I compare our present experiences with those of last year and conclude that things are not so bad after all. Were you weeping because this Mr. Harris you mentioned was leaving for the front? You see I am immediately on my guard for anything like that. You will find me frightfully jealous and unreasonable.

This is a perfectly beautiful autumn day. The morning was almost as good to look upon as the famous picture. If we get a few weeks of the kind of weather that we have to day it well help a whole lot with the harvesting of the crops as well as dry the ground for artillery to move. With reasonable weather we should be able to land the Hun a few more stiff punches before Winter sets in. I had a busy morning; sick parade at 7, lecture at 10, and then an inspection of billets until noon. The battalion is in splendid condition and I have seldom seen the billets and lines kept so neat or in generally so fine shape.

This afternoon I have been taking things easy. A big parcel of tobacco, cigars cigarettes, etc. arrived to day from Drs. Blow & Chambers. I must write them this afternoon and express my thanks. Chambers very seldom writes but he is constantly sending me all sorts of things, chiefly in the reading and smoking line. I do not often hear from Calgary now since you came away from there, but of course my former chief interest in Calgary is now on this side of the Atlantic and I feel less anxious to hear from the old town. Mr. & Mrs. A. G. Clarke write to me with fair frequency, and have sent me a couple of snapshots of Annetta their little girl of whom they are so proud and fond. You may not remember Mrs. Clarke. She was a relative of Mrs. McTavish whom you nursed once at the Western Hospital. Do you remember the hot 24th of May afternoon when we went out on the Sarcee Reserve shooting gophers? I used to room at the Clarkes’ house and they were always very good to me.

Did I tell you that my mare had been lame, just when we were out of the line and had a chance to do some riding? However the weather up to yesterday was not fit for riding for pleasure and the groom tells me to day that the beast is fit for the road again. If the days keep fine and sunny I intend to get around the country a little before we return to the line. I wish I had you and the little Ford car over here. We could pick out some beautiful touring routes. Of course we would probably be put under arrest occasionally for using a car without proper authority.

I am very pleased that you had a nice letter from Margaret. I haven’t the least idea of what she intended to say to you. She has written to me only the once since I wrote and told her. I must write to my people in Canada and convey the glad tidings to them.

It seems to take our letters a very long time to reach their respective destinations. Six days the majority of yours take to come to me. We are nearly always able to buy the English papers here the day after they are published. Have you heard anything about being sent to France? If you are sent over here try to get with No 1 General. If you should go down to No 2 where my sister was I should never be able to get down and see you. I am beginning to think that I shall not have much difficulty getting that month of special leave. On the 18 of this month I shall have completed 2 years of continuous service at the front.

With best of love

Harold W McGill


France, Oct. 27, 1916

Dear Miss Griffis;-

Your letter of Sept. 10 reached me a day or two after I last wrote you, about the beginning of October. You would think that a frightfully blue letter of mine; I felt ashamed of it after I sent it off. We all felt more or less depressed just then for although we had taken the Boche trenches we had to pay the price. I could not forget my fine little stretcher bearer sergeant who did not live long enough to know that he had won the Military Medal. Soon after I wrote, some of our old officers who had been wounded earlier in the year returned to the unit and their presence served to make the battalion more like its old self again.

Shortly after I wrote you I got 8 days special leave which I spent in England. It took me two days traveling to reach London and I was four days on my way back. I passed through Rouen and Havre both going and returning. Both are fine cities especially Rouen. Normandy is the prettiest part of France I have been in. I had a whole day in Havre on my way back and called to see Miss McFarlane at No 2 British General Hospital there. Unfortunately I did not get a chance to see my sister who is still at No 2 Canadian General situated in Le Trefort. She wrote me the other day and is keeping quite well.

The severe strain of the past two months took more out of me than I had thought and I did not go in for a very uproarious time when in London. In fact some days I did not leave the hotel. I was at only two shows. I went with Dr Pirie one night. Capt Geo. Johnson is in London and I met him on two occasions. Also saw Major Ings, and Capt Dunlop, M.O. of the 137th Bn. Dr. J.E. Palmer is doing intern work at Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading. I went out and stayed over one night with him. He is kept quite busy. He expects to return to Canada before long.

We are holding a very quiet part of the line just at present and I have an opportunity to get caught up a little with my belated correspondence. It is like a Sunday School picnic here compared with our experiences of last month.

Many thanks for the sweet peas which I still have in my possession. The horse you inquired about is not the one that refused the fudge. I had to leave him in quarantine when we left Calgary and never saw him again. The one I have now is very quiet and will not start when even a 9.2” howitzer is fired right beside her nose.

Excuse this short letter and write again soon.

Sincerely yours

Harold W McGill