March 4th, 1943
Dear Mom + Dad
Just a line to let you know that I got the box + registered letter and was I glad.
I won’t be getting my week-end this week because there was 4 Ptn so they tossed for it and I lost so we get ours next week. But I may go home on Sat, but I don’t know for sure.
I’m having lots of fun it’s getting to be a better camp every day.
We went into the gas chambers to-day at 2 o’clock and it’s now 6:30 and I’m still crying.
Boy is it cold here, our rifles were froze this morning. We had our first exam today in first aid and I passed. We have our Bren Gun test to-morrow I think I’ll pass because I had it when I was in the R.C.E.
How is Marg getting along? I hope she is being a good girl, does she come over very often?
You say Mill moved up, when you see her tell her to write, the time goes fast when you get lots of letters. Marg writes nearly every day. Well I can’t think of anything else to say. Write soon.
[Shannan note – this letter threw me for a loop initially…the mention of “gas chambers” had me a little confused because all other things point to Gord not only still being in training of sorts, but likely still being in Canada (the mailing address he provides for return mail to this letter is in Brampton, Ontario and there was a Royal Air Force base there, RAF Wyton). A little bit of research leads me to believe that he’s talking about mustard gas training.
In doing the research for this post, I found a great interview documented on The Memory Project website where a WWII veteran speaks about his experience with mustard gas training. You can listen to that here: http://www.thememoryproject.com/stories/387:george-ens/ . If you find Gord’s story interesting, I strongly suggest spending some time on The Memory Project website.
The Bren Gun that Gord mentions being tested on was the primary light infantry machine gun used by the British and Commonwealth in WWII and the Korean War. Gord also mentions using the Bren Gun when he was in the R.C.E, and all investigation suggests that he is talking about the Royal Canadian Engineers.
Lastly, I’m fairly certain that Gord is kidding when signs his next few letters “Major” unless he somehow managed to climb military ladder faster than anyone in history, also he signs a few future letters as General… 🙂 ]