“…the average soldier carries about 75 pounds..”
Miss Millie Dobbs, Somewhere in France, Jan. 12, 1918
25 Howland Ave., Toronto, Ont., Canada
I haven’t a great deal of time to write but shall do what I can. We are about to move from here soon and I don’t know what conditions will be like for writing where we are going.
We’ve had quite a long spell in this place, almost a month. We were supposed to come back for a month’s rest and although we have been away from the fighting the time has been pretty well occupied just the same in shinning and drilling, etc. They call it a rest but the men are really worked harder here than when they are in the line and prefer the line dangers and all as it is and so we are soon going back to it. Then will commence another series of “moves” every few days. This is the part I don’t like. You just get settled in a place and know where to put your hands on things you need and “bingo,” away we go to another place. One thing about this life, you never have any old trash accumulating. Everything superfluous is “ditched” and often something that is useful has to go. But it can’t be helped. We just have so much room and when that is occupied everything else must go. Our packs, as you probably know, hold about as much as an ordinary hat-sack. Into this must go either a blanket or greatcoat which takes up half or more of the room depending on the size of the greatcoat you wear, and the other half is for our luggage, extra clothing, etc. So you see we have to be particular about what we carry and even if we had more room we couldn’t stand the weight, for the average soldier carries about 75 lbs. of equipment without his pack and this increases to several hundred by the time you carry it for an hour or so. I think I’ll be able to qualify as a “dray” when I get back and if I’m stuck for work.
I received your letter of Dec. 9th a few days ago and yesterday I received another one dated Nov. 22…
I also received a very pleasant surprise in the form of your cablegram. Many thanks indeed for your kindly good wishes. It gave me somewhat of a start at first for fear it contained bad news, but any hair settled down again and my heart dropped back with a splash when I saw that instead of bad news it contained cheerful greetings. I note that you sent it Dec. 31st. It was received in London the same date and mailed to me from there, reaching me Jan. 4th. That day was also my second anniversary of “signing up” and it has been, I can safely say, the two most eventful years of my life. I little knew then what was before me, but I’m hoping to be back in civilian life before the third rolls around…
Well Sis, I sincerely hope you are well as this leaves me “in the pink” and hoping to be home soon; within the next two or three years anyway.
Bye Bye for now, As ever, your brother 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