Letters from the Front

Private John Cushnie

New Equipment, YMCA, Getting brother to eat porriage

Private Collection

Sunday, June 03, 1917

Transcribed by: Anne Hales

This letter was written on YMCA Stationary

Letter No 9

Branshott Camp

June 3rd 1917

Dear People:-

     At last I am able to start off by saying that I received a letter from home.  A batch of Canadian mail came in on Friday and Saturday and I was lucky enough to get four, although there was only one from home.  It was dated May 13th so the ones you wrote before are evidently held up someplace yet.

     I was certainly surprised to hear that the 248th is coming over soon.  They are evidently clearing out all the C.E.F. from Canada.  How are the Home Guards coming along.  A Saturday Globe or any other Canadian paper will be very welcome so as to give us news from Canada.  The daily newspapers here are very small owing to the shortage of paper and you don’t really get as much news of the war in theirs as in Canadian papers.  Th YMCA supplies us with quite a bit of reading material, which is generally English magazines and some old Canadian ones.  To tell the truth I believe I spend nearly all my spare time in the “Y” tent.  They supply us with everything in writing materials, a place to write, and anything you want outside camp, you have only to ask the Captain and he will get it for you.  They have also erected a couple of basketball standards and we play quite a bit of that.  Besides all that there is a piano in the tent and they usually have about 3 entertainments a week.  The Captain in charge said the other night that they are doing even greater things in France where the YMCA men go right up to the front line trenches with the men.

     I suppose by this time Uncle Jack and Aunt Lillie are settled in Australia.  I wish I knew their address so I could write.  Please send their address if you haven’t already done so.

     Things seem to be going pretty well with the British fight against the submarines.  I saw by the paper that only 14(or 17?) ships were sunk last week compared with 55 a couple of weeks ago.

     Was it Jimmie Lawson for whom they had the reception in the town hall?  I didn’t even know that he was wounded.

     In the letter I got from Aunt Annie she spoke of moving again.  I wonder if they ever will get settled down in one house.  She mentioned that you were keeping a garden.  I suppose Wells will be having quite a busy time between gardening, the shop and trying the entrance.

     We expect to go to the 25th Reserve battalion when we leave here.  All the Western Ontarion battalions very nearly, go to it.  The officers in charge of this camp are delighted with the work of the 153rd and say it is the best battalion they have had in camp yet. We have picked up quite a bit of the signalling and our instructor seems pretty well pleased with us.  I got 100% on the tests last Friday.

     We are getting a little more to eat now than we used to.  We are learning to be very economical with butter (margarine) and bread.  We usually manage to keep enough from breakfast and supper to do for dinner.  The porridge is great – for the army- and I am very thankful that I am not like Wells and can’t (I think he means “can) eat it.  You’d better tell him if he ever wants to be a soldier to learn to eat porridge.

     We had our new equipment on for the first time in the route march yesterday and we certainly noticed the difference as it fits the body much better than the old stuff.  The officers got off the track in the route march yesterday and we had to go along a footpath single file to get back to the main road.  It was certainly a joke on the officers.

     By this time we are all <illegible>  up in regular services fashion and like the life fine.  I am beginning to get fatter and the first thing I shall do when we gewt out is to get weighed and see how much I have gained.

     Well my hungry stomach proclaims that it is nearly dinner time so I must close this epistle.  We expect our Canadian mail will come regularly now.

Lovingly John

This is part of the John Cushnie Collection. This is a collection of approximatly 98 letters from 1916 to 1918, and a diary with 220 entries from 1918. These letters and diary entries, were very gratiously provided by Anne Hales.

The Wells referred to in the letter is the young brother of John Cushnie