J. E. Boulet Part 1
Canadian Army Overseas
. . . Well we have arrived safely as you may have guessed from the cablegram. Although at that time it was impossible to say anything and isn't much more possible now. We had a very quiet uneventful trip, wasn't even sea sick but had a few hours when it was very hard to keep food down but that was the first day and night out. After that the trip got rougher but it never bothered me again. The meals on the boat were not as good as we had heard about. Breakfast at 10 am and dinner at 8 pm and that was all. Nothing to drink. They opened the bar and sold soft drinks one hour in the morning and again one hour at night. Tea for breakfast and coffee for supper but the coffee was awful. Fish as an entree for both meals every day. We packed our trunks a few days before sailing and haven't seen them since. We know they are somewhere in England, but where. No change of clothes now for quite a while. But that is just another thing to contend with . . .
5 Wing C.T.S.
. . . I have never heard them sound the air raid warning but I have heard the all clear several times. The all clear sounds very nice I can tell you. So far I haven't seen any enemy planes that I am aware of. In fact there has been little action since we landed. The last big raid. The one you possibly read about we were in the north of England that night and so knew nothing about it until the next day. I have spoken to some civilians who were in the bombing of London. About all they will say is that it was pretty bad but other than that they don't like to talk about it very much and when they think about it they still shudder . . .
. . . Things are going on about the same here as ever. Quite stiff physically but other than that very interesting. They try to imitate battle conditions as closely as they can so that they can get your possible reactions under fire. Also to see if it is worthwhile to send you to the front or not. Other than that the training isn't much different than it was in Canada. Work every day and four nights a week. At least they have lots of bath tubs here and plenty of hot water which is a godsend for soaking stiff and sore muscles. My left shoulder feels like a pin cushion with all the injections we have received since we landed. Has my usual luck with them. Also have had a beautiful cold since I landed. On asking how to get rid of it, they told me the only cure is to return to Canada. It really is letting up a little now. The weather is really getting quite spring like . . .
. . . For myself I never lost a pound on the course although i must have the first week and then gained it all back again. The food situation isn't too bad especially in the camps but the restaurants are strictly N.G. No variety and crowded something awful. Usually you just have tea bread and jam and sweet cakes. The bread situation is much better. Bread is whiter and lighter . . .
. . . Last week they gave me 42 men to chase around and train while they are being held for other units. A more spineless bunch of men I haven't seen for a long time. They are not infantry men maybe that explains it. If so I am glad that I am in the infantry. I keep meeting the odd person over here that I haven't seen for a long time. I was just talking to our Company 2 I/C and he was talking about being out on a party with Hank McDonald. So I asked him if this Hank McDonald had gone to O.A.C. and he had. Rather a small world don't you think. Don Beattie also O.A.C. is in this camp and Jerrie Pirie was here until a few days ago.
We still can't get any leaves. All leaves and travel is frozen in fact can't move more than 20 miles from your camp in case you can't get back. Maybe someday we will get a leave and visit your people in Scotland. Had a letter from Jim. He was asking what we are going to name Peggy. So far you haven't told me any more than Peggy. Well take good care of yourself and the wee ones and I hope it works out all right with Jane as she is too cute a kid to have sulk. Hope to see you soon. All my love, Joe . . .
. . . I still have this terrible head cold and cough and don't seem to be able to get rid of it. I think I will go to the M.O. if it doesn't get better soon.. It makes you feel very punk. It seems to be very damp over here and today it is very dreary. Last night everybody in our hut joined together and we had a feed and what a feed. Meat, cheese, plain and salted crackers, fruit cake, divinity fudge, can of beans. Oh yes and hot chocolate. It certainly tasted swell as I don't think the meals in this camp are going to be so good. Time only will tell . . .
. . . These robot planes must be something. So far I haven't seen one altho we have had a few alerts. A bomb dropped about four miles from here Sunday night but no one was hurt by it which isn't so bad. Well this is two days later and since then have been in two different camps . . .
. . . Things haven't changed much around here. Still moving slowly. It is a very good sign tho as it means our casualties must be light which is very good in most respects. Was very glad to hear that the boys in Italy are doing so well. Those hooks mean a lot especially with a regiment in the field and you certainly get a lot of extras although you also have more responsibilities . . .
. . . Well we moved again yesterday a little closer to the front lines but then the front moves away forward of that so we are really no closer after the move than before. We got in on a Jerry bombing the night before last which didn't go off very well. 3 of the 4 bombs dropped in our area were duds and the fourth hit an empty house and did no damage to the troops at all which is all for the best.
H.Q. 4 Cnd. Inf. Bde
. . . As you most likely know from the news the army is really moving. It is much better that way than being stuck in one area for any length of time and by the same token it means that more country is being liberated and sooner the war may end. There still has been no forcast as to what part the Canadian Army is going to play in policing Europe when this show is over. . .
H.Q. 4 Cdn. Inf. Bde
. . . Something I wish you would get me is a new flashlight and some batteries for it. In all the moving around I left it behind one and that was the end as you never get a chance to go back and these issue lights are the berries. At the moment am using a Jerry light but the battereies are not worth a darn. Wear out in a couple of days at the most otherwise they are a very good light. I will send it home to you as a souvenir. . .
H.Q. 4 Cdn. Inf. Bde
. . . Well we are still roaming around somewhere in Europe and seem to be getting somewhere at times and at other times you start to wonder. The general situation looks very good and I wouldn't be surprised to see the whole thing fold up in an unconditional surrender. We get the odd English newspaper two or three days old and keep up with the news that way. Actually we don't know as much about it as you people at home where you get the news from all side. . .
Continued in J. E. Boulet Part 2