Dear Father

My last letter concluded with a description of a bus trip to the time of arriving in Antwerp. was both inside and out and it is built.  Inside it is built on red marble with huge windows to let in light in like a cathedral.  From the platform the decent of about 20 stone steps to get into the ticket or booking hall there is a motley crowd of khaki and black soldiers and civil people all buzzing about arriving and departing, reminds me of a bee hive.  There was the usual sprinkling the centries of fixed bayonet’s to look after the interest of the army but British officers go anywhere without question, especially in Antwerp.

Leaving the station we went down a boulevard about 50 yards and found a very good hotel and booked a room and dumping our baggage.  Then we went and had lunch in the Café Wagner.  During the day in Antwerp we visited the art gallery and saw most of Ruebens pictures and many pictures of his pupils with their various quiffs.  All together I think the Antwerp Art Hall Gallery was the very best Ive seen both from the point of view from pictures to be seen there and from the point of view of the building.  They are shown in.  The light effect is reduced to a science and the building inside itself is built of marble.  A good many budding artists were painting pictures with more or less success when we were there.  I won’t attempt to describe the pictures it would be like a book but lets say that the collection is a beautiful one and one that many people would give anything to see.  Only having a day in Antwerp we did not attempt to see everything, just saw the main building etc.  We did see the cathedral and St Josephs in its unfinished tower, wood carved confession boxes and paintings etc and have come to the conclusion it was a very fine cathedral fit to rank with the best.  We also visited the Scene of castle of antiquities of which there are many ancient relics dating back to the 1500 when the Spaniards ran the show.  We had a good view of the river Sheldt but there was very little shipping there.  After we saw the house of Charles the 5th and the hotel de Ville and town hall and came to the conclusion that the latter was better, from an historical point of view, than the town hall of Brussels but the marriage chamber and council chamber were built of red marble in one room there is a marble piece of carved black marble which is beautiful indeed, the frescoes on the ceiling caught my eye and I caught a stiff neck looking at them.  The Flemish guide could ‘parlez’ a little English and showed us all there was to be seen but could take volumes to describe it.  We looked out of the train windows at the rest of the town but had a good look at any other buildings worthwhile.  Altogether I thought Antwerp was a very fine, clean, well laid out city.  The people are Flemish & French which makes it necessary for everyone to talk both languages and also necessary to print all notices in both languages.  The Belgians talk many languages and during the last four years and have learned German and English always spoken by the educated classes.  Generally speaking I have found the Belgian educated people to be lovers of all music but the lower classes are biggest thieves in the world.  I think I’ve found a chap the other day with 30 magnetoes and 6 motor bicycles in his possession which he had stolen.  Horses are disappearing daily from our horse lines and it is impossible to catch the thieves as in about 3 hours they are sold in the shops for horse meat.  Well we stayed the night in Antwerp and found that things were a little cheaper there than Brussels.  Next morning at 10am the remainder of the day we spent seeing more sights in Brussels and in the passing shops & estaminets & after another night of luxury in the Metropole we caught a train out of the field of the Battle of Waterloo.  The whole scene of Waterloo was described to us by a YMCA guide whilst we were on top of the 200ft mound from the centre of the battle field.  Everyone knows all about Waterloo so I will not describe it here.  The postcards will show you some of the sights of the field, which of course is now under cultivation.  The Belle Alliance and huge amount farm etc are all occupied and used today just as they were in days gone by.  The mount & Lion monument mark the spot which was the British centre and where the Prince of Orange was wounded.  The other monuments were erected by the various other countries who helped to fight the battle.  The mound took two years to build.  The earth was dug from surrounding fields and piled there by men and women handling along buckets in a sort of endless chain.

Well I finally arrived back in Chaleroi the same day by car after a very enjoyable trip which I am afraid I have not fully described.

With love to all from yours affectionately Walter 7/3/19.

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