Letters From The Bowes Brothers – Undated. Shortly after Cliff’s arrival in at Britain Bramshott Camp

Dearest Mother,

I got the pen tonight so you will be able to read this better now. It is hard to get this pen as it is best in the shack and nearly everybody uses it. Well Mother, you asked me to give you our daily routine. I can’t very well as our work at present is varying a lot according to weather conditions but will give you a rough outline of same.

Reveille at 6 a.m. that means get up. Breakfast at 7 a.m. that is a scramble to cookhouse. Fall in for work at 8:15 a.m. We do physical exercise, gun drill and bayonet fighting exercise till 12 o’clock if weather is fine. After noon from 1:45 p.m. till five, work on mechanism of gun, range-taking and signalling. If weather is wet we are generally in huts all day busy stripping and assembling the gun. Of course, we do not work with the rest of the battalion as our work is different. We have quite the route marches now as it takes up too much of our time and also the section is in about as good a condition as possible. However the rest of the battalion are generally on route marches every afternoon.

About the grub, we get three squares a day, lots of it but quality at times only fair. However we don’t suffer as Jim weighs around 225 and myself about 160 in shirtsleeves. As for getting in trouble, you don’t need to worry for I am on the water wagon good and right. Jim also is. I have seen the affects of booze too much here to have any desire for it. All we do is play poker for pennies. I’m getting quite a shark at it. Don’t think much of the English tobacco or cigarettes as they can’t be compared to Canadian smokes.

We sure have a fine bunch in the gun crew as we are just like a bunch of brothers, always chewing the fat but generally just to hear ourselves talk. But let an outsider open his trap and he has the whole bunch at him. As for the shacks, there are 40 men in each one although we only have 35 in ours. There are stoves in them all and burn coal so you see we are very comfortable. Also have bed forms and straw mattresses.

Well now Mother when I think about it you asked me in a previous letter if we had an escort coming across the ocean. The only escort we had met us about 10 hours sailing from Plymouth and were only with us one night as we landed early in the morning. However we were practically safe as a sub can’t work in rough water and we sure had it the last couple of days. Believe me Mother, it is a great sensation when the boat is tossed about like a cork. We were in huts all day as the weather was on the hum. If anyone asks you about England tell them it is the land of rain, mud and no sunshine. That will about catch it.

There is a band concert in the grub house and I want to go. Bye-bye for now

Yours lovingly always,

Cliff

Here is one of our songs. I hope you like it.

There’s a light still burning in the window

Of the little house upon the hill

And the light will burn and the heart will yearn

And it always will till I return.

For there’s only one mother and I know she’s waiting still

And she will always keep the light burning

In the window of the house upon the hill.

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An informative primer on Canada’s crucial role in the Normandy landing, June 6, 1944.