The History of Leith

March 30, 2012

EXTRACTS FROM LETTERS SENT BY SOLDIERS AND SAILORS-Part 2

A. T. S.—I have to thank you for your very nice
parcel which I received yesterday. I got it just at our
evening meal, and the cakes made a change to onr usual
bread or biscuit and were enjoyed very much. . . . “We
are at present a. good bit behind the firing line, but we
have a number of shells daily from the enemy just to
keep things lively. The greatest pests we have are the
flies : I never saw so many flies in all my life. If any
food is left uncovered for thirty seconds it is black with
flies great and small. . . . Our three local battalions
have made a name for themselves here, but the wives
and mothers at home have the heaviness of the cost to
bear. I am sure our own little Parish has borne a large
share, and that your words and Mr. Swan’s will be great
in conseo^uence.
Our Padre (or Chaplain) is the Rev. J. A. Tweedie.
Dr. Ewing of the Grange preached on Sunday and last
night. The scene reminds one of the stories of the
Covenanters. In a valley surrounded by hills the men
begin to gather as pre-arranged just after dusk, for we
dare not collect together in daylight.
The Padre takes up his position, and the men gather
round in a semi-circle, all sitting, and praise leaders in
the front. The opening psalm is announced, and the
words read by the preacher with the aid of an electric
torch. Then some old familiar strain breaks forth
gently, and in a subdued tone some 400 voices join in
the songs of praise. The quiet solemnity is very impressive.
The sermon is short and to the point. The
closing hymn or psalm, and then the benediction
terminates the proceedings. Like^shadows the party
disperses and quietness reigns. Such scenes in their
unconventional settings serve to show that deep in the
heart of each man is the sense of religion. Thanking
yon again for your kindness, and with kind regards. .
G. M.—I thank you very much for the parcel which
I received all right. It is very cheering to know that
although away from home, wife, and children, they and
we are not being forgotten by the Church we are proud
to belong to. I know it must have been a lot of work
and cost a great lot of money to get together such nice
parcels. You might please also tender my thanks to
the workers of the Church and Sabbath School, for
I am sure they must have worked very hard. Give my
thanks to Mr. Swan for the testament. I have always
found that when feeling despondent, that there is
nothing better or cheering than reading a few chapters
of the good old Book. . . .
J. S. (prisoner of war).—I received your splendid
parcel sent to me, and for which I tender to you my
greatest thanks. I should like to thalrk you personally
and will do so as soon as I come home. I should consider
it a favour if you would kindly drop me a post card
letting me know if you received this p.c. of mine, as I
should not like you to think I have not acknowledged
your parcel. . . .
Letter from Rev. G. Gordon Mackenzie, B.D., Chaplain
in “France to the 10th Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) :—
Accept my warmest thanks for the fine box you have
sent me for the men. I have given it almost all away
already, and the gifts are very much appreciated.
This is a terrible war. The men are splendid and go
about their duties with an admirable sang froid.
I had a little voluntary service last night in a broken
and battered hovSe, The room was crowded and the
service was hearty and impressive.
The Germans stood it when we sang ” 0 God of Bethel”
and “Abide with me,” but when we sang “God Save
the King” in came two shells to the village, presumably
to remind us of the Kaiser and ” Deutchland uber alles ” !
It may have been” coincidence, but there it is. …
Again I thank you heartily, and please convey our
thanks to your energetic ladies and kind friends who are
doing so much for the soldiers. (Mr, Mackenzie is the
Minister of Methliok, and brother of oirr Deaconess.)

source-South Leith Magazine

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