A. Y. Jackson, Letter to Katrinka, May 11, 1916

Signal Station
60th Can. Btn.

May 11th

My dear Katrinka

Your letter found me the other day still on the job. things have been so peaceful the last few day that it makes one suspicious. Occasionally a shell comes our way so we are always ready to dive into our little trench outside. I put some roks and some flowers round it to disguise it. The weather has been quite cold and rainy. I hope it won’t keep up. I went up to the trenches on a working party the other night, digging a trench. We came back in a wagon about 2 am and it got light so quick they had to galop along a pavé road. I am sore yet from the bumping. They can see the roads from the Hun lines and if they see anything moving, they drop a shell on it. Yesterday I saw Willie Gray. He sent out word asking me to look him up, so I did and had quite a chat. I think he has had enough war. he does not look particularly strong. he was transport officer for awhile but now is in the company.

Well how is Russian. I guess your teacher is what we call a poor fish over here. I’m a Social Democrat too, and don’t believe in war. Prussia is social democracy’s greatest obstacle and Prussia believes in war whether we do or not, and if we lie down then social democrats will do as Prussia wishes, goose step and all the rest of it. The cottonest thing about our form of government is that freedom is taken for irresponsibility and cowards and hypocrites who have prospered under it when its liberties are threatened and the very sanctity of their homes in danger think it no shame to shove their responsibilities and the very honor of their wives and daughters on to those who have not prospered in the democratic scramble.

The Craig St. bum goes to war, smug respectability stays at home. I certainly know many cases where this is so. So Pal Haywards comish’ isn’t working out. Good job for the army I guess. This Canadian army would be a far finer machine to my mind if all class distinctions were done away with, and officers lived under exactly the same conditions as the men as regards food and comforts. The sole privilege being that of associating with the most intelligent and capable men the army produces. Our station is short of reading matter reduced to Tit Bits and Jack Canuck.

The letter is the most read paper in the Canadian army. I expect we will be in the trenches again soon. It doesn’t worry us much now. It looks like an all summers job. The usual thing. The battalion slowly changing, until after six months it is all changed but the name. It’s some war. Arthur has gone away for two days to learn how to fly pigeons. Be good. Heaps of love to all. [Ian Beck?] is a major now. Cousin Will is quite proud of him: Tra la la.

Ever your affectionate brother
X Alex XX

Source: Library and Archives Canada/Bibliotheque et Archives Canada, MG30 D351 'Naomi Groves Jackson fond', Container 94, File 19, A. Y. Jackson, Letter to Katrinka, ca. May 11, 1916. Notes: Courtesy of the Estate of the late Dr. Naomi Jackson

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