c/o- APO Section 17 BEF France

Dear Mother,

I am still in the same old depot camp where I was when I wrote last but each day brings us to the time when we get instructions to move one again.  The weather has been much warmer of late although we get a good deal of rain we do not need we do not feel the inconvenience as much as we did at first.  I suppose we must be getting used to it.  We were put through an examination at the place where we do out training for the second time yesterday, and this time we passed the test.  We were too dopey when we arrived to pass any tests as we were just out of quarantine and had no drill for a couple of months.  The training is much more solid here than it was in Egypt and Liverpool and here we have non commissioned officers who know their business to instruct us.  We have passed this same poisonous gas the other day and tested our gas helmets which all passed thank goodness.  These gas masks are funny things and make us look like demons and monsters when we have them on.  We also get plenty of bomb throwing and bayonets work to do and have to march about seven miles every day with a full pack up so that we are beginning to get pretty tough as tommy sergeants observed to one of us one day that we have some mighty tough blokes with us and when we told them that all the tough fellows had been discharged in Australia he said “blimey what must they have been like?”  Evidently they have a funny idea of us over here.  The ship that brings the Australian mail must have struck a rock and got wrecked or something rather as we have not received anything since leaving Marseilles a month ago.  I ought to get something to read soon.  Please don’t send any more papers to me as it would be not worth the trouble you put yourselves through as the military office puts them in an incinerator.  Aunt Clare and Emily are interesting themselves a good deal on my behalf lately.  They write to me regularly and have sent me several little parcels and have also introduced me as it were to our cousin Vivian at Dover.  I received a letter from Daisy alias “Margaret Elkington” which was nice and breezy informing me that herself and family were dying to have me go and see them at Dover.  They sent me a parcel of all sorts of good things and is going to keep it up regularly she says.  It was a great moment and I hope that the socks will fit.  So you see it doesn’t matter where a chap finds himself, he always has someone to express sympathy and kindness towards him.  In Marseilles it was the French and in Ceylon it was the Tommies and over here my Aunts are making me comfortable.  They have expressed their wish that if it was to feel that I had a home “on this side of the water”.  Our boys over here are letting the Germans know they are there and periodically give them hell.  The papers crack that Australians are of a great deal too much and don’t give the Canadians half the praise they should.  If the press is not careful it will start a feeling of jealousy amongst them.  Historic places here are as old as Julius Caesar and Napoleon, they both have supposed to use this place bless them both poor dogs.  Tell Hilda that I fully intend to write her a letter someday and tell Grace to be more merciful and not hit so hard as I can hear poor Hilda singing out over here.

We are generally treated to a variety of entertainment at night.  We can go to either a lecture of divine service, a football match, a camp concert or to see the performers of some sketch artists etc.  Then if we have any money we can get a buttered French roll for one penny and either a cup of coffee or tea for a penny or a cake for a penny from the WYCA.  The canteens trade under the idea that the Australians are rich men or else the cost of living has gone up.  Things are more expensive than they were in Glen Innes when I worked at the store.  I don’t think I can think of anything else to shout about that would interest you except that I am in the best of nick and fairly ‘willing’ so far.  Please don’t got scanning in the casualty lists for a while yet will you dearest and keep your pecker up wont you?

Love to all I’m still your affectionate son Walter.