Letters from the Front

Private John Cushnie

Meeting old friends, description of West Dean

Private Collection

Saturday, November 17, 1917

Transcribed by: Anne Hales

Canadian Signal School

Seaford, Sussex, Eng.

Nov 17th , 1917

Dear Folks at Home:-

     Received Mother’s letter of Oct 21st last week O.K.  If you don’t happen to get a letter from me some week, please don’t worry because I always write once a week and it will be the fault of the mail if they don’t always come quite regularly.

     I think I told you in the last letter that I had seen Wes. Gilstorf .  Yesterday I was going up town for a walk when I met Wes just coming up to see me.  With him was another chap whose face looked rather familiar and it turned out to be George White – Neil White’s son.  Well that was another surprise as I had no idea he was here either.  We took a walk over to the Machine Gun Depot where we found Ernest Rachar so we had a regular Mt. Forest reunion, that being all the Mt. Forest boys we could find in the place.

     Wes is in good health although his wounded shoulder is not very strong yet.  He will not go back to France until spring likely but I hope he gets a job over here as an instructor which be richly deserved.  

     George White is a husky young chap and carries two wounded bars on his sleeve.  He was wounded in the leg and also gassed.

      Wes had seen a lot of the old Mt. Forest boys over in France and he had seen George Heyd before he was killed.  His brother Russel had been separated from him after Russel had been wounded and he is now with a Labour Battalion and has a good job.

     Ernest Rather expects to go to France in a draft from the Machine Gun Depot sometime this week.  He only transferred from the 25th to the Machine Gun about a month ago.  You see the 153rd are all drifting away and many of them are now in France.

     Wes Gilstord was at a convalescent hospital for quite a time and had had a 10 day’s sick leave also.  He saw Doctor Perry at the convalescent hospital at a place called Browley.  I guess Doc has good  soft job now.  How is the hospital getting along during his absence.

     I had a letter from Mrs. Little, Mrs Wright’s friend last week and she invited me to visit her on my next leave.

     We have only a little more than two weeks more of this course now and I will certainly not be sorry to get back.  I don’t expect to get a 6 days’ leave now until the New Year as they won’t give soldiers railway vouchers around Christmas and New Years’time.

     We have had very little cold weather yet and last week we had a few nice bright days.  The cold over here doesn’t seem to be of the “biting” variety but rather like a raw damp wind.  On the whole I think I like the English climate much better than I thought I would.

     Last Thursday we were out on an all day telephone scheme. And as we struck a fine day we had a good time.  We were stationed in a small village near here called West Dean and I think it is the deadest pace I ever saw. I had an easy job that day as linesman and as I had quite a bit of spare time on my hands I wandered around taking in the sights of the place.

     Nearly all the buildings – except a few newer ones – were built of stone and the sheds and stables were also of stone with stone walls around them – some of them nearly all fallen down through age and decay and covered with moss and vines. 

     There was a small church near our station and I went into it.  It was one of the smallest churches in side that I ever saw although outside it was quite pretentious.  It was also very old and there were tombs beneath the floor of it upon which were dates back as far as 1625.  Of course it was Church of England as there is practically no other kind around here – except an odd Methodist or Congregationalist – no Presbyterians.  It was very interesting trying to make out some of the old English style of writing on the tombstones.

     When dinner time came around we had only a couple of sandwiches with us so we set out to find something to eat.  We couldn’t find a store in the place so we had to go to a private house.  All we could get was some tea, a loaf of bread and some butter.  However with what we had ourselves we made a very enjoyable meal out of it as the bread was good home – made stuff and the butter was butter – not margarine.  It reminded me of the time when mother used to say that some day I would be glad to have good bread and butter, Ha Ha.

     We have a scheme once a week which helps very much to break the monotony of lectures and writing notes.

     Well I think I will close now as this letter is quite long enough.  Hope you are all well as I am



P.S. Tell Wells not to feel badly about the “scabbing”.  I had about a dozen when I was in the first form.

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.