B W Robertson – July 4, 1917

A letter written to his mother from . Note: he dated his letter “1916” but this was a typo as he was in the 115th Battalion (infantry) before transferring to the Artillery in November 1916.

Note: Beah and Dot are his sisters and Ru and Ted are his brother.


“743179 58th Howitzer Bty, CFA
Army Post Office
London, England
July 4, 1916 (sic)

Dear Ma

July 4th and no flags flying either. I suppose there are no fireworks even this year. If I was only at the front it would seem more like old times wouldn’t it?

I got a letter from Ru telling me he is in the 9th Siege. I wrote and congratulated him and wished him good luck. He sure picked the best thing for Heavy Artillery is away ahead of Field Artillery. He will make general I am sure. Just between you and I if I was going to enlist over again and knew all I know about the army I would have taken a commission. Why doesn’t Teddy try for one. I am sure he could do it. It may sound hard but it is not half as hard as it sounds. It sure was tough luck for him and I know how he felt just like I felt when I was turned down for the first time.

Ru did a wise stunt so please don’t regret letting him go. Think about the time we all get together once more. Sooner or later everybody will have to go.

Now that the US has sent over some men I expect to see her go into the thing in earnest. It won’t be half done. By the way, one of the fellows had an Aunt come home on furlough from the Red Cross in France after the Yanks arrived. She said they had started a fight right off the bat – with the Australians though. There were 30 casualties reported at the hospital. It was only a rough and tumble started by some “Big Abe” telling them they had to come over to finish the war for them. Can you ? it. The Australians are not not very popular but they are good fighters.

I got a letter from Dot today. She tells me Ru spends a lot of time shining brass now and staining his bandolier. Yea! I’d like to see the kid.

We just came back from two weeks out camping. I dropped you a postal but didn’t get a chance to write. It rained a lot and we were a mess most of the time. I slept all through a heavy rain without a thing over me but two blankets. I could wring the water out of everything in the morning. It didn’t hurt me though Tough guy!

I was out to tea the other night at a girls home. Very nice people. The mother, father and two girls. Little and I drop out about every other night and help them eat some of their war rations. Cole is their name and they have used us fine. What I started to tell you was that I had some goat milk. I had the goat so I know it was milk. It operates just like a cow. Why don’t you get one. Everybody seems to have them over here. I would like to see Beah going out to the “garage” with a pail to milk the goat. They are very quiet and easy to get at. No stool is needed, why you can bring them right in the house, put them on a table and there you are.

Strawberries are ripe and they are delicious. The best I ever tasted 6d a pound. Just to give you a little idea how big an appetite I have I’ll tell you the first time I saw them I ate three pounds with sugar and cream. You had better start to lay in a store now for I’m going to be awful hungry if this war lasts much longer.

You tell me not to be extravagant I don’t think I am. I try hard not to be I have to have a pass once in awhile to get away from the camp. It sure does get awful monotonous and a little change is as good as a rest. The way prices are it can’t be ? on $1.10 a day. I am short all the time. Can’t seem to get ahead of the game. There are so darn many little things and honest I would rather try and spend a dollar ? than a pound here. It just seems to fade away and nothing to show for it. I’m not yelling but I’ll tell you what I did last night. My bicycle is broken, I didn’t have a copper for supper, so I walked six miles out to Coles knowing they would ask me to have supper. I was right they did. Stayed till 9:30 and walked six miles back again. By the time I got back I worked up a dickens of an appetite but had to go to bed hungry. Not suffering or probably not uncomfortable but just a gnawing for something I knew I couldn’t get.

I’m afraid this sounds like conscious ? for not sending you the whole $20.00 I just ? the 10 for a couple of months and then I will send it all to you. I know damn well you should have had it all long ago and I’m kicking myself right now for not doing it. I have a faculty for doing the wrong stunt at the wrong time.

Don’t for heavens sake get the idea I’m getting thin from worry or insufficient feed. Wait till you see my picture.

About that picture. I admit I look like a rube. That was early in the game you understand. You ought to see me now. Honest I felt just as safe on that horse as if she was a powder keg. I had ridden him before and knew a few things about him. I have two beautiful steeds now perfectly matched and fine rides. This Saturday (we get paid Friday) I will get some snaps to send. Also an “O Pip”.

The mornings are quite chilly again now. Have to jump to it to keep warm. 5am now we get up.

I will send a couple of badges to Dot in St. John to take home with her. She will have a good time, I hope in fact I know she will.

Tell ? I got her pictures and will answer her letter at once.

I like to hear where the fellows have gone and what they have enlisted in. Tell Ted to beat them to it and take a commission. They will need lots of Officers for they will have heavy casualties. It may take a half a year to get one but it will be worth it. The war will last long enough I’m afraid, ? to take a year if necessary.

Your letters are looked for believe me so keep them coming. They help me a lot to.

Lots of love to you, Father and all.

Your A. S.


View his original letters and family tree info on Flickr

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