“…rumour that I had been killed…”
Somewhere in France, Oct. 28, 1918
There was almost a casualty in the battalion when I discovered a letter from you in my mail the other day. I thought my condition would stand almost any strain but that surprise was almost too much. Your explanation as to why you didn’t write is, I’m afraid, rather vague. Do you realize it’s almost four months since I got your last letter? I’m sure you don’t realize just how much our home mail means to us over here or I know you wouldn’t let that length of time elapse without stealing a few minutes.
…we got leave—and like a bolt from the sky, before we realized it, we were on the way to Blightly (England), arriving there the night of the 8th.
Almost the first thing I did was to run down to Seaford to see Osmond. I had a little trouble finding him…and by sheer good luck he was able to get a four-day pass to London. You can bet it didn’t take us long to get started and for four days we tried to make London look like a rainbow. I’m not going to tell you what we did, it would take several volumes, but we had a bally good time of it. I was loath to leave but all good things have an ending…they accompanied us to the station and you would have thought it was a member of their own family leaving. The old lady, Mrs. Gill, broke down completely and Golly Gee, I was beginning to feel uncomfortable myself. You can’t imagine what a heaven it was to get in such surroundings after spending 14 months at this life and not once hearing a woman speak in English in all that time… The sweetest music I ever heard in my life was to just sit and listen to the girls and women folk talking among themselves and understand what they were saying. You couldn’t imagine the pleasure that gave me.
After leaving Cornwall I returned to London and spent a little time with cousin Albert. I had the pleasure of meeting another cousin for the first time and we swapped histories of our respective families.
…The last day came eventually and it certainly required some effort to go and catch that bally train that was to take us back. There was nothing for it though so I put on a good face and went.
I reached this side safely, rode for two days in a train cooped up with 34 other men in a little boxcar (very comfortable) …and was finally dumped off about 25 miles from our battalion with no way of getting here but to walk… So ended my holidays for another year or so unless someone steps in and ends this war or a bullet takes a fancy to me.
I received several letters from Nell all at the same time as receiving yours and at the time of writing she was in a frantic state of mind over that rumour that I had been killed.
I presume she has told you about it so I won’t repeat it.
I scarcely know what to do in the mater for I know what a dread these cablegrams cause over there and I didn’t care to give her such a shock, so I decided to let things take their course, especially as she should be in receipt of a letter from me (stating that I was leaving for Blighty on leave) as soon as I could get a cable to her. You’ll understand these letters had been waiting a week for me.
I’d surely like to have a heart-to-heart talk with the person or persons that start such rumours and I’ll bet their ears would burn for a few days. However, I was very glad to report that I’m very much alive and still worth quite a few dead men.
Things were pretty warm around our quarters about the time I left for Blighty and I was beginning to think …that I’d probably be “pushing daisies” or else spend my leave in a hospital, but my little fairy never left me and I still have a whole skin.
Well Sliver, it’s past the midnight hour and my time for getting up comes pretty early, so guess I’d better quit. I happen to be in a position where my light doesn’t show at all hence the opportunity to write tonight, “lights out” blew about 2 ½ hours ago.
Kindest regards to Mrs. Lynn and lots of love for Myrtle and have some yourself, unless you’re getting too much already.
Bye Bye for now. Yours as ever, 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