H K Burnett – Dec. 1, 1917

6-page letter written on Dec. 1, 1917

A letter written to his mother from the 72nd Battalion’s position near Auchel in northern France on Dec. 1, 1917.

Harry rejoined his Battalion on November 23 after having been wounded on June 26.

The Battalion had spent the last week training and preparing for a marching and firing competition being held on Nov. 27th. The War Diary states:

“Marks were given for the following: Turn-out, March Discipline, Fire Direction & Control, Hits on their targets and burn-out after Completion”

On the day he wrote this letter the Battalion had been testing small box respirators at the Gas Chamber at Rimbert.


“France, Dec. 1, 1917

Dear Mother

I have a few minutes to spare today so will start my letter to you but very likely it will be finished tomorrow.

Yours of Oct. 24th came a day or two ago and, as the last one I had was dated Oct. 9th, there is evidently one missing. There was one before that never came. I think it was Sept. 15th. It must have gone to the bottom of the briny. The parcel of cake, honey, socks & chocolate has not turned up yet but parcels generally come a week or so after letters. The last letter missing was evidently the one in which you acknowledged the brooch and the earrings so I don’t know what you thought of them. Do what you like with the odd earring. Keep it yourself, let Elsa keep it or anything you like. If K. is any better by Xmas you could give it to them. There is no one else!

Where is Jim Davidson getting all his money? Out of his saw dust patent? It is too bad you missed the trip out to their place.

I do hope K. got into the hospital and that it will do her good. From G’s letter I should say that her letters to him are anything but cheerful. A little good hard work would help her a lot and her liver wouldn’t be so apt to go out of order. I suppose the Gordon’s are in Vancouver now, so that would be an additional reason for her hanging onto her job. Maybe hill wouldn’t like it. It would be a good thing if the G’s stayed there altogether. Even if K. doesn’t use the piano I hope you are not letting it go without being used.

Denis must be very interesting & amusing now he is talking well but I am sure he is also very nimble. It is too bad we are all away especially Harry R. However he is a great comfort to you & Elsa. Don’t think because I never ask after any of you in particular that I don’t think of you all, but I know you don’t want such, in a way, foolish questions repeated in every letter and that you will give me all the bits of news.

I had a letter and pair of socks from Olive Chaffey yesterday. She had sent them early in September & they had been to the Battalion & round to the hospital & con. camp, base & back to

battalion before reaching me. It was very kind of her to send them. You remember what I told you of the toys? Well she says her sisters have more orders than they can fill. Why don’t you go to see them? You know you thought of it long ago.

We are still in our same billets. The weather has been much better this week, practically no rain. It has been fairly cold, but no more snow. My knees are pretty well used to the kilts now so I am quite comfortable. On Wednesday night I got another shot of typhoid inoculation and felt very groggy on Thursday & Friday but am quite alright now. I had the two days off & used them to catch up with my back correspondence. I got off ten letters and not just a line by means. That’s going some for one of our family isn’t it?

The other day there was a battalion parade to a Y.M.C.A theatre here, where a troupe was giving a show. It was very good but I must say it didn’t come up to the ones we gave when I was at the con. camp.

Sunday. Another fellow & myself went to the concert again last night. We had been paraded to a movie show in the afternoon, but there is practically nothing to do in town. That is, of course, unless you have money to buy eats, and as it is just before payday, everybody is bust.

This morning we had a church parade and nearly froze. No other parades today. This afternoon Murdoch turned up. He had never got any further than the field hospital. He & I went out for a walk for about two hours. It was quite cold but lovely for a good brisk walk.

Well once more I wish you all good wishes for Xmas & the New Year and remember me to all our different friends & give my love to Aunt Alicia if you see her.

Love to all

Harry Burnett”

View the original letter on Flickr

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