“…the whole place is a sea of mud…”
Miss Millie Dobbs, Somewhere in France, Oct. 26, 1917
25 Howland Ave., Toronto, Ont., Canada
I can see a few minutes of spare time ahead of me so will try and reply to your letter which I received a few days ago.
…It rains here every day or night and sometimes for a couple of weeks in succession without a let-up and consequently the whole place is a sea of mud…when you don’t sink in up to your knees you have to beat around on the slippery surface and nothing less than an 8-inch shell case can knock us off our feet now with the experience we are having balancing ourselves.
…I don’t remember that I told you about our rations…a day’s issue. We get a loaf of bread to 3 men per day (baked in a round pan and slightly smaller than what you buy from the bakery). For breakfast we usually have either porridge or a piece of bacon and sometimes (very rarely) both, hot tea and as much of your bread as you think it wise to eat for one meal. For dinner we almost invariably get bully beef and a sort of canned stew with chopped vegetables and a little other meat in with it. This is all shipped to us cooked and in cans and is warmed up at the field kitchens… For supper we have cold bully beef (if you want it), piece of cheese, jam of some sort (a small can to about 5 men which means about a tablespoon per man) and the remainder of your bread if there is any. Sometimes we get butter (oleo-margarine) and sometimes we don’t. This is our general diet…so you see that anything sweet such as chocolate or maple syrup, etc. is almost like a God-send… The tobacco too, came in handy… We have been on the move almost constantly and…had to leave all our surplus baggage behind to follow us later and that was about when your parcel came.
…We have been moving for some time…and they have a funny way of moving troops. We started the other day from a little village with about 10 miles to march… When we had covered that distance…we boarded a troop train (we had the good luck to get a horse car) and after travelling for two hours stopped at a little village and learned we were only about four miles from where we boarded. We finally landed in our camp and got a tent, 12 men to a small tent, and after several more hours running around I got a bed… After marching 18 miles all told, travelling 6 hours by rail, we are now about 40 miles from where we started… We are fortunate in having a tight tent and have salvaged about a foot of straw for the floor so that we aren’t nearly so badly off as the poor fellows in the line at present.
…I’ve got to go now… Kind regards to Lil and love to yourself.
As ever yours, Garn xxxx
Selection from the letter collection of Sergeant Dobbs, to his sister Millie and his brother Walter
George Metcalf Archival Collection
© Canadian War Museum