Thursday, Aug 21st/40
Just sighting Scottish Coast
While our good ship is rolling from side to side causing things to slide about the cabin and generally adding confusion to an otherwise quiet company, I shall do my best to have a quiet chat with you.
So far our voyage has been uneventful and apart from rain, fog, some wind (especially during the past forty-eight hours) there has been little to add interest to life from day to day. The routine of ship life goes merrily on and somehow or other the skipper manages to find enough work or activity to fill in the hours that one is not actually sleeping. Between the various navigational duties, such as steering, look-out, standby, we have managed to paint almost the entire ship from topmast to waterline. You would have your odd joke if you could see me dangling about in a bo's'n's chair trying to get a paintbrush to contact a mast that somehow or other has the habit of moving about with the ship. I'm certain you would see something funny in the spectacle. It's good fun though and to repay us for our effort, we have a ship each day looking more like a cared-for, respected merchantman as all freighters should be.
Personally I was not favorably impressed by Iceland. Honey, I don't think we shall waste any time investigating that country further. Perhaps some fine day when we have completed our tour of England and Scotland we might, on our way home, decide to go via Iceland. Really life there would be rather bleak and uninteresting. The sun seldom pierces the low hanging vapor and one gets to feel so clammy and damp that his spirits become a bit depressed. (Whoop--the old ship is just taking a mighty big roll and this table is sloping so much that I am slipping first one way and then the other.) It is hard to understand why one hundred & thirty thousand people could continue to live in Iceland. When I was informed that there are thirty-thousand Icelanders in Winnipeg, I readily understood how Canada would attract these people. I believe they are excellent people and seem to have very high moral standards.
I regretted (very deeply) having to leave there without having received a letter from you. Gosh, Dearie, it's hard not to be able to get regular mail from you. I suppose you have not heard from me for quite awhile. I posted two letters when I got the opportunity, which was rarely given us. I was ashore once only and the other letter was posted by one of the other men when he went ashore.
So far I have just one month's pay coming to me. Approximately $75.00 with the discount--it will likely work out to sixty-five. I have to buy a suit of clothes and a pair of shoes. The boys tell me I should be able to do this on three or four pounds. I shall cable you $25.00 just the minute I am paid and shall send it to the Royal Bank of Canada, College & Spadina. I don't expect it will take me long to get settled in whatever I shall find to do. In any case, if the worst happens, I understand it will be very easy to get on another ship. I am not the least bit worried about myself Dearie, but I am mighty worried about you and the long wait you hare having before you receive money from me. Be brave Sweetheart--as you have always been and things will turn out as we had hoped they would. [I wonder if Helen was as optimistic as he was.]
By the way, the land we sighted today was St. Kilda's Island. [This island is off the Outer Hebrides.] One of the crew was shipwrecked on it ten years ago and he told me that there were about seventy people living on it then but that the Government moved everybody off about five years ago. It must be a very bleak place. We could barely make out the appearance of land in the haze owing to the long distance we were away. This particular section of Scotland may not be known to Mr. MacLeod but he would like to have you mention it to him no doubt.
Here come the boys with tea. I must clear away for awhile. I would give all I have and still more if you could be here with me if only the ship were a bit more comfortable. I certainly am lonesome for you. Supper just arrived and the boys demand this table.
Sat. Aug. 24/40 Hello Sweetheart. We just arrived and completed tying up at dock. Our Skipper managed to get some money for us (1 pound per man) before the banks closed.
I have just cleaned up and now we are allowed to go ashore. I want to take this letter to the post office.
I have to buy a pair of boots and get a haircut. You would smile to see me. And how I wish I could be going ashore to you right now. I am ever with you in thought and dream of being with you all the time. I wish I were free to give you more detail of our trip but that is not possible as yet. We were not interfered with by the enemy at any stage of the voyage. Speaks well of the efficiency of our navy. It is a great feeling of satisfaction that we at least have a navy capable of holding the enemy at bay until we can get our other arms organized and effectively operating.
South Wales is mighty attractive after the Arctic Circle. The bit of English scenery I see at a distance makes me feel more or less at home.
My plans are a bit indefinite as yet. I expect to be here for another week or so until I earn all I can before I proceed to London. I shall have approximately six weeks in by next Saturday. That will give me almost $100.00.
Dearie, how is everything going? You are no doubt much worried but please be assured we are going to come ut O.K. I feel more than ever encouraged and I shall put up one awful battle before I take 'no', now that I am here. I see several courses for me to take to achieve our end and one or the other must ultimately succeed. We are going to take nothing short of what we set out to get. I receive much encouragement from all sides.
How is the garden doing Sweetheart? I imagine I am enjoying a mess of beet tops, spinach, chard and eating tomatoes.
Here comes the Bo's'n. We are going up town together.
Heaps of love Dearie and Heaven bless our efforts.
A great big hug & kiss and one more for good measure. (You won't mind will you nor scold me for remembering my own Birthday)
Ever Bill (Nurts)"
So his $9.00 has really brought him to the United Kingdom!