France, Aug 5, 1917

Dearest Emma;-

I think I made a promise to write you a nice letter when we came out of the line but am afraid I am hardly in form to day. I have your letter of July 28 and am very pleased to know that you are away from the Tb. patients. I had been worried ever since you first told me you were detailed for that duty. Yes, that was a very satisfactory ankle – to me. I only wish we could have been together longer but I was very thankful to be able to obtain so much of your society as I did.

The horrible rain seems to have relented a little and it is fine to day. I walked out to the village where we are billeted early this morning with Lt. Irwin of Calgary. It was a fine moonlight night but rather warm for walking in full kit. A team of six mules on a G.S. wagon caught up to us and we were not too proud to ride behind the lowly but useful mules. We reached our billets about 1:30 A.M. and had a cup of tea and something to eat before going to bed. I drew a very nice billet with the most comfortable bed I have seen in France. My batman had a bath ready for me and it was certainly a luxury to have a wash and get into clean sheets. I hadn’t had my clothes off for 13 days. I trust we have no more rain for a time.

I got the gramophone going right after breakfast (which by the way was not very early) this morning and ran over a lot of our old records. One of our officers now on leave is getting a new instrument. Did I tell you that Col. Bell did not have a chance to hear “Irish Eyes”? The day we had the gramophone brought up from the horse lines the Colonel went off to take temporary command of the brigade and has not been back since.

Your information concerning weddings covered all I had previously known and a little more. I did not know anything about a short service, but if there is one we shall have it, the shorter the better. We shall also indulge in the luxury of a special license. The idea of some low brow curate getting up on three successive Sundays, or whatever the number of times it is, and yapping out our intentions to a crowd of people that never heard of us and don’t give a damn does not appeal to me. Are you in favor of as quiet a wedding as possible? I hope so. Have you told anybody of our engagement yet? I’ll bet you’ve told Reid and several others, in each case as a dead secret. I have not told a soul yet but am anxiously waiting your unqualified permission to give the glad tidings to my immediate relatives.

Yours lovingly

Harold W McGill


France, July 20, 1917

Dear Emma;-

I have your letter of July 13 and was pleased to know that you were having a good time in London. I wrote you from the trenches and addressed the letter to 133 Oxford St London. I hope it reached you safely.

We are at present out in reserve, billeted in a ruined village. It used to be just behind the line but is now some distance back since the Huns have been moved along. The civilians are already coming back and starting in to rebuild their shell destroyed homes. It makes one savage to see the terrible destruction the Germans have left behind them. In the line we now hold there are pianos in a number of dugouts. These the Germans had looted from the towns they occupied. When we hustled them out they gutted and destroyed practically all the beautiful French homes. Of course in the smaller villages there was very little fine material to destroy but in the larger towns and cities the destruction has been wicked. I hope to live to see some of the fine German towns laid flat in ruins. Their people will then not be at all anxious to go to war again.

The records arrived to day but we have no gramophone as it was left up at the horse lines. One of our officers going on leave intends to bring a new machine back with him.

My correspondence is in a frightful state of neglect. I have a pile of unanswered letters in front of me that I can scarcely see over. I had a letter the other day from Mrs. Clarke of Calgary whom you will remember. She had not been very well. The Clarkes were always extremely kind to me. I had my room at their house for over four years.

How is your ankle? I am glad to know that you will not have to go back nursing those lungers for some time at least. Do you think you will apply for service in France? I wish you could get up with a C.C.S. but I presume that will not be possible until you have put in a certain period of nursing in a base hospital. And before too long a time elapses I hope we may be able to map out an entirely new program. Are there not such a lot of things we should have talked over? I should have had that taxi go out to Richmond and back. I shall look forward to my next leave with a particular interest and pleasure and if the war should be over then so much the better. Do you know anything about weddings? They are entirely outside the range of my experience; I was never at one in my life, not even as a spectator. With best of love I am

Yours ever

Harold W McGill

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