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Dear Sweetheart: July 10, 1941 ... I'll be back

It was the Second World War. A million young Canadians were marching off to risk their lives. One of them, David K. Hazzard, was separated from his beloved wife Audrey, but soon found a way to fight the loneliness with his pen.

He wrote hundreds of letters, beginning each the same way 'Dear Sweetheart.' They are a riveting account of what he went through.

How did he cope without Audrey and his two young daughters? How did they cope without him? In the weeks ahead, the series Dear Sweetheart will publish new letters daily. In the end, their story is our story.

We tell it as a homage to those who died, the 180,000 veterans who survive, their children, their grandchildren and Canada's fighting families today.

Our first letter is written just before he ships out ...

Thursday, July 10, 1941

Dear Sweetheart,

I hope that you didn't think I was being too casual in my goodbye to you at the station. But you know how I hate a scene, and I didn't feel any too good myself so I had to say cheerio and run. But really and truly this was the worst yet. It was extremely hard to say anything to you or particularly the youngsters, and I am glad they aren't old enough to realize the uncertainty of this last goodbye.

Before I go any further though, I want you to know that I feel certain that I'll be back with you for a great many more anniversaries. I have left these matters up to our Mutual Friend and have a very definite feeling of assurance in the matter. The only uncertainty I have is the length of time I may be away on this trip. But I will say that the next time I am home should be for good.

The one important thing I want you to know is that I love you with all my heart, and that this love will not alter one bit no matter how long I am away.

I am never really living or feel complete unless you are with me.

Your job now is harder than mine in that you won't have definite knowledge of where I am, but all I want you to do is trust in our Friend that we'll be together again. And your job above all is to look after two young ladies and keep them happy. Please for my sake keep smiling, and above all don't worry.

I am not very good at saying these things on paper, but remember Tennyson's remarks on prayer, and that we believe in them. Above all remember that I love you and will always be thinking of you.

With all my love to you, Anne, Karen and Nanny,

I am always yours, David K

P.S. I love you.

Globe feature writer Erin Anderssen describes how David and Audrey met ...

The love story of David Kilbourn Hazzard and Audrey Flora McPherson began simply, with a walk home from church one evening. They had been rehearsing lines in the old parsonage for a play to be performed by the Young People's Society of Wesley Mimico United, in which, as they laughed about later, Audrey was playing one of David's daughters.

Dark-haired and petite, not yet 18, she barely reached his shoulder. He was five years older, confident and dashing, the third son of six children. His father had been a general yardmaster for the CNR in Brockville, in eastern Ontario.

There were many more walks to the doorstep of her mother's white, clapboard house at 9 Summerhill Rd. in Mimico, now part of Toronto's west end. Eventually, when he asked for a kiss, he received one.

On July 10, 1934, they were married. The village paper capped their wedding announcement with the headline "Popular Mimico Young Couple Wed." Audrey, it was reported, "wore a gown of white crepe with tulle veil arranged with orange blossoms," but it was a small ceremony, with no reception like most of their circle during the Depression, they were broke. They left for their honeymoon immediately, borrowing a wheezing old Plymouth to drive to a cottage owned by a family member on the St. Lawrence River.

Audrey quit her teaching job, and they moved into a small Toronto apartment. David had a good position as a tire inspector with the Dunlop Tire and Rubber Goods Co. in the city. A year later, daughter Anne was born, and they moved to the McPherson house on Summerhill Road to save money. Nanny, as Audrey's mother was called, welcomed the company; her husband had died when Audrey was 14, and there was plenty of room, even with her younger brother, Walker, still at home. David and Audrey's second daughter, Karen, arrived three years later.

Every night before leaving work David showered and changed, so he could go home to his girls not stinking of melted rubber.

On Sunday mornings, he got up early to bring Audrey breakfast in bed, and on weekend afternoons, they'd often load Karen and Anne into the car for country drives. They went dancing for hours, or to the movies, or to rehearse for their next play with the local theatre society. On Wednesday evenings, David went off to run drills as a reservist with the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, a close-knit Toronto regiment with a storied history dating back to 1860. (He was a first-class marksman when the Dunlop Rifle Club participated in international shooting competitions, David had always made the Canadian team, and he had the trophies and medals at home.)

Sometimes, when he tucked Anne and Karen into bed, he would recite from memory the poem The Highwayman, before leading them in the Lord's Prayer. And each night, Audrey fell asleep with her head on David's shoulder. They had a good life, in hard times.

The war begins

Then, on Sept 10, 1939, Canada went to war.

In that moment, for nearly every family across Canada, the world changed. By the end of the war, roughly 1 in 11 Canadians had volunteered for service, a tally that exceeded one million troops, including 50,000 women.

Today, only 180,000 veterans of the Second World War are still living, and their average age is 84. They are the last memory keepers of the conflict teenagers who signed up for the adventure and landed at the frontlines, young men left jobless by the Depression who donned uniforms for army wages, or fathers and husbands like David Hazzard, who saw war brewing and knew, for their children's sake, that it could not be lost. How did they endure those years? How were our own families changed by them?

In many cases, those answers can be found only in the letters they wrote home.

The Canadian War Museum in Ottawa has tens of thousands of letters collected carefully into catalogued boxes in a temperature-controlled room behind the library memories, regrets and hopes dashed out on crinkled sheets of fragile paper. Most of the letters skirt the true horrors of war to appease the censors, and to spare their mothers and wives, who watched each morning for the postman and devoured the words from their loved ones at the breakfast table.

The value of those letters now is not in documenting military details or strategy, but in recording the thoughts of common men in an unimaginable situation: I'm still alive. Don't worry. Send underwear.

In June, 1940, as France collapsed under a German onslaught, the Queen's Own Rifles were mobilized. The call went out for 1,000 men to form an overseas battalion. On the last day of recruiting, in late June, after keeping a promise to train his replacement at Dunlop, David Hazzard drove down to the University Avenue Armouries, passed the medical, and received his orders to report to Camp Borden, outside Barrie, Ont. He began writing to Audrey, a day after leaving home.

Camp Borden

July 2, 1940

I am feeling well except that I haven't yet toughened enough to sleep on boards. The last two days have burned my face until it is one big blister…

Sgt. David Hazzard was one of the "potato baggers," so named because the military had run out equipment by then, and sent their latest recruits to camp with a burlap sack and a length of rope, to double as a duffel bag. At Camp Borden, the regiment scrambled to get organized the men needed tuberculosis vaccinations and gear. And, until they built their huts and hooked up electricity, they'd be sleeping on dusty wooden slats and ticks stuffed with straw.

Among these men, Sgt. Hazzard stood apart. David was 31 years old, which got you called "pops" by your platoon even if you weren't a husband and father on top that. A faithful churchgoer who taught Sunday school, he didn't smoke or drink "when tough times arrive," he said, "I want to be in full possession of my faculties" which made him an oddity at the mess bar.

As a sergeant, his job was to train the men to "supply the beef" as one of his friends put it and he took it seriously. He aspired to become an officer. When, over the next year, he was sent on a training course, he was disappointed at finishing second in a class of 50.

Army life

Like many soldiers, he complained about the "incompetence" of his superior officers, just as he was frustrated by recklessness in the men who served under him. He had no patience for laziness, and his men sometimes grumbled about him. But one day, he knew, training might be the only thing that would save them in battle.

He broke up gambling rings, worried the young soldiers might throw away all their pay, and reminded them to write to their mothers. When some of his men didn't get mail, he asked Audrey to find women at home who would adopt them.

"Letters from home are more valued than parcels," he explained, "no matter what they contain." Audrey, at his request, also sent him cartons of cigarettes, which he shared with his platoon.

Botwood, Nfld.

Aug 15, 1940

When we first arrived, things were in rather a jumble, but gradually a certain amount of order has managed to assert itself and the boys are enjoying life … I suppose that I have taken you entirely too much for granted. Now I realize what you mean to me, and the gap that is left when I cannot be with you.

The Queen's Own landed in Botwood, Nfld., on Aug. 10, 1940, after travelling in style on the ocean liner, Duchess of Richmond. Audrey and the girls had been able to make one last trip to Camp Borden on a Sunday afternoon to say goodbye.

David's company headed off to Gander, a crucial airfield during the war, to guard against sabotage from enemy agents. "The country here," he wrote, "is about as wild and desolate as anything you ever saw."

To an Ontario boy who had never before swum in salt water, northeastern Newfoundland was foreign country literally, since the province had yet to join Canada.

No one hurries here, he remarked to Audrey; the trains never run on time, the mail comes through only if it can do so "without causing a disturbance." He was astonished by the reception the troops received; the men were billeted in private homes, and "entertained as if they were visiting royalty," with softball games and dances.

David was posted to the nearby town of Lewisporte for several months to watch the coast for enemy action. He stayed in a hotel overlooking the bay, and the main hardship was walking four kilometres to a pond for a bath.

He became friends with a doctor in the area, and occasionally, went dancing a pastime that would become a source of tension between him and Audrey, though he always assured her that his behaviour was above reproach.

Botwood, Nfld.

Sept 7, 1940

I doubt you would recognize me now. I have sprouted a moustache as a result of a contest we started in our platoon. Everyone donated 10 cents and when we leave the country the man with the bushiest and the man with the neatest moustache will split the pot.

Talk continued incessantly about where they would end up. "No one had any definite information, and it is my belief that matters are still up in the laps of the gods," he observed wryly to Audrey in October. He was assigned quartermaster duties, organizing the supplies of the regiment, even monitoring the bar tabs. Not a bad job, he said, but he hadn't joined the army to be a clerk.

Audrey continued her constant flow of letters and packages peanuts, gum, soap and razor blades. As the temperature dropped, he wrote asking her to organize a group of friends to sew pyjamas for his platoon, since none had arrived by regular channels.

He was adjusting, perhaps more than he liked, to a soldier's life: "I probably won't be able to sleep at home," he wrote, "except on the floor."

Final training

In November, just as winter was setting in, the regiment left Newfoundland for Sussex, N.B. Now back in Canada, the men were promised a short Christmas leave. In preparation for their reunion, David wrote to Audrey that, as per her wishes, he had shaved off his mustache.

Sussex, N.B. Dec 19, 1940

When you get [this letter], I'll be with you. Just think all you have to do now is to look up and there I am. How's about a kiss?

On his return to Sussex, training began in earnest. In Newfoundland, the regiment had experienced the mental game of soldiering the tedium of waiting around, the isolation, the discomfort of hard beds and bad weather. But some of the soldiers had yet to practice throwing a grenade or handle a Bren machine gun, which would be Canada's main combat weapon for the infantry.

"So you think I will be an accomplished dancer, at least, when I leave the army?" he wrote in one letter. "Maybe so. I've done more since I joined than for quite a while previously, and paradoxically, less shooting. Figure that one out."

Now, with the war advancing in Europe, new equipment began to arrive. David received night classes in map reading, tactics and discipline what he saw as his first practical lessons since being mobilized.

Back in Mimico, the headlines grew more urgent, and the gossip at the Ladies Guild more colourful, particularly when one wife received a letter from a pregnant woman in Newfoundland who claimed her husband was responsible. The date of the regiment's imminent departure for England was guessed at weekly.

Sussex, N.B., Feb. 27, 1941

The line of hooey some of these boys write home is awful. We haven't been on a twenty mile route march since we enlisted, and young Bacon was hurt in a fight which followed a drinking spree last pay night. However, if he wants to have it that that was the way he got hurt, I wouldn't disillusion his folks. But don't sympathize too much with any hard times stories that the boys' wives or mothers tell. Most of them only dream these things.

His letters focused on boosting Audrey's spirits, and reminding her of his love occasionally, so ardently, that Audrey censored his notes by destroying them. (David urged her to save all his writing, "for unless our daughters feel the way we do, they shouldn't even think about getting married.")

But, as spring arrived in 1941, the wear was showing in his words. Between the camp tales and domestic business of his letters his fatherly admonishments when Karen cut off her hair, or reminders to Audrey to get the oil changed in the car his worry slipped in.

He feared the war was being lost. In March, the Bismarck sunk HMS Hood, the flagship of the British Fleet, and on every front, the Germans appeared to be winning.

"Unless something happens soon," he wrote, "I can see where we and all the men in Canada are going to be needed to keep Germany from landing troops on our own shores."

He saw, as well, how military life was making him a stranger to his family.

"What will be the end be?" he wondered to Audrey. "Can we pick up our lives where we left them?

Sussex, March 7, 1941

I realize that this war business is much harder on you than it is on me but that is just the condition that we must put up with.. If all of us put our own little desires for new things and happy times now, ahead of our duty, we soon wouldn't have either freedom or liberty to enjoy anything…

Please don't read the above as a scolding or a lecture of any kind, but that is what we must keep in mind all the time. When I see pictures of youngsters in hospitals, all banged up from bombings, I can't help but feel that, until this menace is removed, the manpower of the entire Empire should be willing to undergo the sacrifice. It must be heartbreaking to have children turn to you for protection during an air raid and know that you are as helpless as they. That picture more than anything else makes me put up with being away from you and the young ladies…

In the spring of 1941, Audrey travelled down on the train from Toronto, and the two of them spent a weekend in Saint John. He made her pack a fancy dress, and booked a room at the Admiral Beatty Hotel. They both knew he would be crossing the ocean soon. In July, it was made official. "Here is the news you have been dreading," David wrote. He would have 48 hours at home, after which "we shove off for parts unknown."

He made it home a few days before their seventh wedding anniversary. The morning he left, Audrey snapped a picture of him on the front lawn; he is crouched, in uniform, with his arms around Karen and Anne.

And then, like other families all across the city, they drove him to Union Station, so he could catch his train.

From now on, he and Audrey would have to live on letters.

---------------------------

Sussex, New Brunswick, Friday July 18/41

Dear Sweetheart,

Still here, but not for long. We are all packed, the huts are being scrubbed down and everyone is busy. This will be my last letter I will be sending you from in Canada. I'm having it mailed in Toronto by Mrs. Moore Jackson who is going home tomorrow. I had a letter and parcel today. The letter was from you. Written Tuesday, and the parcel from Dunlop's. It came at an inopportune time for me as every available niche of space is filled in my pack and kitbag. So we have just finished eating everything eatable that was in it. The rest of the stuff is split up amongst us.

I have a few postcards of Quebec City left and I'm sending one to each of the kids. They'll go in the regular mail and may be a few days late getting to you. All mail, civilian and otherwise is being held up in Sussex and will not be sent on until we are away from here. One thing I forgot to mention previously is my new address. It will be B64408 Sgt. D.K. Hazzard, ‘C' Coy. 1st Battalion, Queens Own Rifles of Canada, Canadian Army Overseas.

And now all I want to say is what I've said many times before. I love you. That is something that will never change as long as I live. And I have been doing what you asked in our letter ever since I have been away. That is I remember you in prayer every night before I drop off to sleep. It is very necessary from now on that both of us put all out trust and faith in the God that we both know and who has brought us along the way so far. So with all my love to you, Anne and Karen and Nanny I am as always,

Yours

David K.

P.S. I love you.

Keep your chin up and keep smiling. Dave

XXXX

Keep the young ladies trained in the way they should go so

Sussex, New Brunswick Friday July 18th 1941

Dear Sweetheart

Another opportunity to get mail away and I can't resist taking it so that I can tell you again that I love you. I'm going on my way to bed and as a last thoguht I want you to know that you are very much with me. We have to get up at 3:30 am tomorrow as that is the big day. We are supposed to have breakfast on the train which leaves here at 6:30 am and supper on the boat which will take us over. Just how soon I can get mail to you after that is a question. I hope that it will be soon. I received your air mail letter this afternoon and I'm glad to hear you say that you have caught the idea of living one day at a time. Also if you have an easier feeling mentally and, as you say, are confident that we will be together for a long time to come it means that you have really turned over your worries to the Father who has been so generaous to both of us and that thought makes me very happy. As far as any ‘blue' letters you may send me, are concenred, don't worry. I know how you feel and also why you write them. After all aren't my shoulders meant for you to cry on? Or rather, am I not supposed to comfort you in any way I can? And I love doing it. So ‘blue' letters are a necessity now and then and I love you for knowing that I will and do understand.

Keep close in your heart the knowledge that I love you forever and always, and that our Father is looking after both of us. Keep the young ladies trained in the way they should go so that eventyually we'll see them grow into ladies as sweet as you are. With all my love to you, Anne, Karen and Nanny I am

Yours forver

David K.

XXXXXXXXXXX

XXXXXXXXXX

P.S. I love you

Dave

The weather has been perfect so far and I don't think that we have had any seasickness yet

Letterhead of - CANADIAN PACIFIC, ROYAL YORK, TORONTO (undated)

Dear Sweetheart,

At present we are living the life of Reilly and to prove this I am enclosing the menus of one day. The weather has been perfect so far and I don't think that we have had any seasickness yet. There is a bit of a storm blowing up at present and we have seen one small iceberg.

My biggest trouble so far is finding my way around. I have trouble locating my platoon and after I find them I can't find my way back to my own cabin.

I sent Anne a letter-card which will let Dad and Mother know that we are on our way somewhere. Our mail will be censored from now on and names of places, troops, dates and times cannot be mentioned. So don't be surprised if the menus I mentioned are not in the letter.

I'll write again soon and give you as much detail of our entire trip as I am allowed to.

Always yours.

Dave

P.S. I love you

Dave

When this business is over, you and I are certainly going on a long trip together

July 1941, On board the HMT Strathmore

Dear Sweetheart,

We are certainly travelling in style at present. Weather is perfect and the meals are the kind you read about. It will be a bit of a bump to land back into camp life when we finally reach our destination. When this business is over, you and I are certainly going on a long trip together. With all my love. I am

Always Yours, Dave.

PS I still do.

 

 

... aren't my shoulders meant for you to cry on?

Sussex, New Brunswick, Friday July 18/41

Dear Sweetheart,

Still here, but not for long. We are all packed, the huts are being scrubbed down and everyone is busy. This will be my last letter I will be sending you from in Canada. I'm having it mailed in Toronto by Mrs. Moore Jackson who is going home tomorrow. I had a letter and parcel today. The letter was from you. Written Tuesday, and the parcel from Dunlop's. It came at an inopportune time for me as every available niche of space is filled in my pack and kitbag. So we have just finished eating everything eatable that was in it. The rest of the stuff is split up amongst us.

I have a few postcards of Quebec City left and I'm sending one to each of the kids. They'll go in the regular mail and may be a few days late getting to you. All mail, civilian and otherwise is being held up in Sussex and will not be sent on until we are away from here. One thing I forgot to mention previously is my new address. It will be B64408 Sgt. D.K. Hazzard, ‘C' Coy. 1st Battalion, Queens Own Rifles of Canada, Canadian Army Overseas.

And now all I want to say is what I've said many times before. I love you. That is something that will never change as long as I live. And I have been doing what you asked in our letter ever since I have been away. That is I remember you in prayer every night before I drop off to sleep. It is very necessary from now on that both of us put all out trust and faith in the God that we both know and who has brought us along the way so far. So with all my love to you, Anne and Karen and Nanny I am as always,

Yours

David K.

P.S. I love you.

Keep your chin up and keep smiling. Dave

XXXX

Keep the young ladies trained in the way they should go so

Sussex, New Brunswick Friday July 18th 1941

Dear Sweetheart

Another opportunity to get mail away and I can't resist taking it so that I can tell you again that I love you. I'm going on my way to bed and as a last thoguht I want you to know that you are very much with me. We have to get up at 3:30 am tomorrow as that is the big day. We are supposed to have breakfast on the train which leaves here at 6:30 am and supper on the boat which will take us over. Just how soon I can get mail to you after that is a question. I hope that it will be soon. I received your air mail letter this afternoon and I'm glad to hear you say that you have caught the idea of living one day at a time. Also if you have an easier feeling mentally and, as you say, are confident that we will be together for a long time to come it means that you have really turned over your worries to the Father who has been so generaous to both of us and that thought makes me very happy. As far as any ‘blue' letters you may send me, are concenred, don't worry. I know how you feel and also why you write them. After all aren't my shoulders meant for you to cry on? Or rather, am I not supposed to comfort you in any way I can? And I love doing it. So ‘blue' letters are a necessity now and then and I love you for knowing that I will and do understand.

Keep close in your heart the knowledge that I love you forever and always, and that our Father is looking after both of us. Keep the young ladies trained in the way they should go so that eventyually we'll see them grow into ladies as sweet as you are. With all my love to you, Anne, Karen and Nanny I am

Yours forver

David K.

XXXXXXXXXXX

XXXXXXXXXX

P.S. I love you

Dave

The weather has been perfect so far and I don't think that we have had any seasickness yet

Letterhead of - CANADIAN PACIFIC, ROYAL YORK, TORONTO (undated)

Dear Sweetheart,

At present we are living the life of Reilly and to prove this I am enclosing the menus of one day. The weather has been perfect so far and I don't think that we have had any seasickness yet. There is a bit of a storm blowing up at present and we have seen one small iceberg.

My biggest trouble so far is finding my way around. I have trouble locating my platoon and after I find them I can't find my way back to my own cabin.

I sent Anne a letter-card which will let Dad and Mother know that we are on our way somewhere. Our mail will be censored from now on and names of places, troops, dates and times cannot be mentioned. So don't be surprised if the menus I mentioned are not in the letter.

I'll write again soon and give you as much detail of our entire trip as I am allowed to.

Always yours.

Dave

P.S. I love you

Dave

When this business is over, you and I are certainly going on a long trip together

July 1941, On board the HMT Strathmore

Dear Sweetheart,

We are certainly travelling in style at present. Weather is perfect and the meals are the kind you read about. It will be a bit of a bump to land back into camp life when we finally reach our destination. When this business is over, you and I are certainly going on a long trip together. With all my love. I am

Always Yours, Dave.

PS I still do.

... Eddie got plastered and spewed all over the place

On board the HMT Strathmore, Monday July 28, 1941

Dear Sweetheart,

So far we've had a very pleasant trip with good weather and very little sea-sickness in the whole gang. We are considerably more crowded than on our trip to Newfoundland as there are several units on board and the ship is only slightly larger than the one we had there. I started the trip in a cabin with Ed. F., Al N. and Dave G. and then we had a Chaudiere Sgt. put in with us. As there were only four bunks we started out by taking turns on the floor. On my night on the floor Eddie got plastered and spewed all over the place during the night. As he was in a top bunk I got the benefit of most of it. So I moved out entirely.

I'm glad that you can't see me just now, because last night I had my hair clipped. McLaughlin and I had been thinking of it for some time so last night we borrowed a pair of clippers and went to work. I won't even send you a snapshot as the result is hideous. However it is supposed to be good for the hair and will at least save me getting a haircut for a time anyway.

Meals on board are excellent in the Sgt's Mess and have been fair in the men's dining halls, if you could call them that. ‘C' coy is sleeping in hammocks which are strung over the tables in their living quarters. It would have been terrible down there if we had run into bad weather but this trip hasn't given the boat much more motion than you would find on a train or a bus. It only makes me more determined that when this war business is finished, you and I will go on a second honeymoon on board ship. Maybe to Bermuda or Honolulu as there probably won't be much of Europe left to see.

We have been getting used to English money while on board as that is what we get in change. It's funny to watch the boys when they are counting their change and trying to figure out just what they should get. I imagine it will be more fun when they attempt to buy things in an English shop.

Well sweet, that's about all I can say that will pass the Censor, I hope, except the most important thing between us. That is I love you and the day that I'm looking forward to is the one when we'll be together again for keeps. With all my love to you, Anne, Karen and Nanny.

I am as always

Your David K.

P.S. I love you

One item I would appreciate personally is toilet paper ...

Aldershot, England, Friday Aug. 1, 1941

Dear Sweetheart,

We've finally arrived and are more or less getting settled down. This is the first letter that I've written since landing.

We had a fairly long train trip from our point of disembarkation, and the country we came through was really beautiful.

Except for a few spots in the seaport town where we landed, we didn't see any damage done by bombers and there was nothing in the countryside that would let you know a war was going on.

We are situated in a big camp and the men are allowed in town until 10 p.m. without a pass. They must carry their respirators and steel helmets at all times when out of camp. So far we have to stop and count on our fingers when we buy anything.

We are to get a five day disembarkation leave and after that a seven days leave every three months. On these leaves, we get a travel warrant for free rail way fare ... and they will arrange for billets for us wherever we go. The only thing we must take with us is our ration cards. We either carry them with us, or go hungry.

As far as sending parcels are concerned, we can use anything in the food line [such] as condensed coffee, cocoa or concentrated foods of almost any kind.

One other item that I would appreciate personally is toilet paper. This is scarce and what is issued is a fine grade of sandpaper or it feels like it anyway. So if a roll or two could be flattened out in a parcel, it wouldn't add very much weight. And how I'll appreciate it.

...You remember, of course, that I love you more than ever, and I'm just sort of "marking time" until we can be together again for good.

With all my love to you, Anne, Karen and Nanny.

I am as always

Your, David K

P.S. I love you.

Being in uniform seems to be a passport for hospitality

Sgt. Hazzard is in Aldershot, the base camp for the Canadian military in England. He describes training exercises and awaiting the arrival of Queen Mary, the ceremonial Colonel-in-Chief of the Queen's Own Rifles.

Aldershot, England, Saturday Aug. 16, 1941

Dear Sweetheart,

On Tuesday, the Colonel and Major Barnard went to London, and had tea with Queen Mary. She is going to come to Aldershot shortly to inspect us, so as soon as all leaves are over, I imagine we'll be doing a bit of extra drill and so on, in preparation.

Tommy Chivers and I didn't get away to our umpiring job until Thursday as the dates of the scheme were changed, one day. We went by truck to a point about forty miles away and saw a good bit of England's country lanes on the way.

We were dropped off at a bridge and given instructions as to what supposed damage had been done to it. Then we were also given an estimate of the time it would take to repair it. Our job was to see that none of the troops taking part in the scheme used the bridge until they had brought up sufficient men and waited the required time for repairing the imaginary damage. We wore a white band on each arm to signify that we were umpires.

At the spot we were at, there was a private hotel on one side, and a fairly big dairy farm on the other. We had rations with us for three days and were supposed to cook our own meals. We had blankets, groundsheets and so on for sleeping out. As neither of us fancied cooking, I asked a Sergeant of the Home Guard, who was waiting to act as a guide to the attacking side, if he could suggest a place where we could get our meals cooked. He spoke to the people in the hotel, and we went there for our first meal. They really looked after us very well, and supplemented our rations slightly.

Our bridge was repaired, supposedly, fairly early on Thursday night. The Home Guard Sgt said that if we were still around when he came back, he'd take us in for a spot of coffee. So instead of hunting up a spot to sleep, we put on our greatcoats and lay down alongside the bridge. He came back early in the morning, about 1:30 and we went into his place. It was a real home. The kind you see along Mississauga Road.

When we left there, it was starting to rain so we want into the handiest barn on the dairy farm, where we were at least dry. We slept on top of a bunch of coke, and it wasn't much harder than our regular beds. During the morning, the farmer's daughter invited us in and gave us a cup of tea. [She] was the kind you read about. I told Tommy that it was a good spot for him, as he's single …

The fact of being in uniform seems to be a passport for hospitality of the best type. I asked one of the farm hands for the peoples' name so I could write and say thank you.

When I came back last night, your airmail letter had just come in. It took fifteen days. You should have received my cable shortly after you sent [it]. We knew that a report had gone home saying that our convoy was sunk, and I knew you would be worrying.

Tommy and I will be leaving tomorrow for our five-day leave.

There is only one thing needed to make the next week perfect, and that is to have you with me. We are certainly coming here for a holiday trip after the war. So looking forward to that day, and sending all my love to you, Anne, Karen and Nanny,

I am always yours,

David K

P.S. I love you.

The first and second divisions must have been an awful gang of hoodlums

Friday Aug. 8, 1941

Dear Sweetheart,

We had a fair gang out with lacrosse sticks tonight although a lot of the boys had never played before. The only drawback or maybe it wasn't a drawback, depending on how one looks at it, was as follows: The A.T.S. girls barracks is not far from ours and our playing field is on the corner of two main roads through the camp. So while the girls were going by someone was everlastingly throwing wild passes that would “accidentally” go out into the road. Then everyone would shout “ball please” and wait to see if the young ladies would oblige. They usually did, even Sgts. And C.S.M's.

The first and second divisions must have been an awful gang of hoodlums as people here seem quite surprised that any girl over the age of three can now walk down the street in safety and be free from extremely rude remarks and catcalls. Apparently that was what they had been led to expect from any soldier wearing “Canada” on his shoulders. So far the Third division men have had a very cool reception but the people are gradually learning that most of our boys know how to, and do, act as though they had some respect for themselves, their uniforms and the good name of Canadians in general.

I think probably the reason is that all the bums and out of works that had been hanging around street corners for years, were recruited into the first and most of the second divisions. On the other hand the bulk of the Third is made up of units like ours where most of the men left fairly decent jobs to go with these regiments. Even our wild neighbours from Sussex, The Chaudieres, are making a good impression. So maybe we can redeem the name of Canada. At any rate most of the boys are trying.

Now to tell you the most important thing in my life. I love you and say goodnight as I'm very shortly off to bed. With all my love to you, Anne, Karen and Nanny

I am always yours,

David K.P.S. I love you

Our beds are not bad. But the mattresses are horrible

Tuesday Aug. 5, 1941

Dear Sweetheart,

Today has been one that I suppose is typically English. It has rained and been sunny alternately at almost five minute intervals and it had rained quite heavily all night. Our barracks are dry as they are solid brick buildings, two storey…Our beds are not bad. But the mattresses are horrible. I understand they are made by prisoners, whether military or civil, I'm not sure, out of coconut fibres. It must have taken years of experimentation to produce anything as hard, unyielding and uncomfortable to sleep on. It is a little improvement over sleeping on the floor…

Cheerio for now! With all my love, I am as always

Your David K

P.S. I love you


 

Hitler's playboys really tried to get it ...

At home in Mimico, Ont., Audrey watches the mail every morning for word of her husband – his first letters are still crossing the Atlantic – while trying to conceal how much she misses him by keeping busy with their two young daughters.

David has already received several letters from Audrey, including a parcel with hot chocolate to share. He keeps her letters as long as he can, but soon has to burn them because there are too many to carry.

London, Sunday Aug. 17, 1941

Dear Sweetheart,

Sunday evening in London, and everything is closed up. Nothing runs at night any more. I imagine that is to keep people off the streets.

We visited St. Paul's Cathedral and were astonished that it hadn't been hit by bombs. Hitler's playboys really tried to get it and practically every building near it for blocks is a complete ruin.

The worst damage so far in the war was done on Sept 29th 1940 and people here speak of it as the “night London was on fire.” From what we could see the most of it centred around St. Paul's and the bridges, the downtown business area.

But stories of London being flattened are just plain foolishness. Debris is rapidly disappearing and buildings are being rebuilt. Business goes on as usual. Bus, bike and train services are plentiful and efficient. Cars, in spite of a five gallon per month gas ration, seem to be numerous and people are not the least bit gloomy about damages done.

They simply have a supreme confidence in their destinies and know that the Empire will still be doing “business as usual” long after Hitler is only a few lines in a history book.

It's impossible for me to put into words how much I miss having you with me. Nothing I do in the line of seeing new things, to me, or travelling for pleasure, are complete unless you are with me. So I'll just plug along and dream of the day we'll be together again for keeps.

With all my love to you, Anne, Karen and Nanny,

I am as ever

Your David K

P.S. I love you

Dave

They hoot and whistle out any girl they meet …

Within weeks of arriving in England, David Hazzard's name was put forward for officer training. He wrote home to his wife about the entrance exams, and about his disapproval of the behaviour of some of the men. (The text has been abridged.)

Aldershot, England, Thursday Aug. 28, 1941

Dear Sweetheart,

Well our exam is over and it is now in the lap of the gods. I think that I made the grade but my head is still swimming. There were three different papers on general knowledge that were designed to win money and Encyclopedias from the Information Please gang.

In the afternoon we had a honey. The kind of thing that psychologists dream up in their worst moments.

When we came back from the exam we had a night route march and scheme. We got back around midnight and up again at six a.m. the next morning, Friday. So it is only now that I have had time to tell you how much I love you.

I am disgusted every time I hear about the way some so-called soldiers behave.
We have quite a number of this kind in our unit. They seem to think that the uniform gives them the right to insult any and all girls they see. They hoot and whistle out any girl they meet on the street and are generally very sloppy in appearance. I think that they have the idea that it is necessary to do these things in order to be tough.

But I've noticed that when dirty, hard jobs need doing it is the quiet lads who carry the load. The “tough” guys can't take it. Nor can they take an order or be depended on in any way.

On Monday night we have an invitation to go to some sort of a service dance in Reading which isn't far from here. I'll let you know what it is like later …

Cheerio for now. All my love to you, Anne, Karen and Nanny.

I am yours,

David K.

P.S. I love you

After almost two years of trying, I'm finally going to get my chance

Thursday Oct. 9, 1941

Dear Sweetheart,

At long last we have been given something definite on this O.C.T.U. business. Eleven of us were called into the Colonel's office tonight and told that we had all passed O.K. and were going on the course which will start on Dec. 3rd. And that is just six weeks away. After almost two years of trying, I'm finally going to get my chance.

We also were told our marks on the exam. Mine weren't as high as I had been led to believe, although I was the only one of our group to get "A" rating in both papers. My marks were 76 and 89, but I don't know which paper was which. I think the 76 was the "IQ" paper as that would be about the number of questions I had right out of 92. The rating indicated our standing as compared with all the candidates. "A" being the top ten, "B" second ten "C" third ten and so on. So I wasn't too bad. There were 304 candidates all told. I believe that I've told you all this before, but it is a relief to know at last exactly where we stand. So wish me luck now as I understand that it is a tough course. We were also told that we would be coming back to the Queen's Own. For my own part I don't want to particularly, as it would be harder to get along here than in a strange unit. We'll see in time.

We had some parcels from home come in on Tuesday and I got a parcel and a paper from Mother and Dad and 300 Buckingham's from the Mimico Ladies Beach House. I'll get a letter of thanks away this week end because we really do appreciate these things. There have been no letters though for a month now. Either Fritzy has nailed them again or they are being held up for some reason. They do this now and then for no apparent reason and the boys get pretty restless. Maybe it will be in this weekend. I hope so.
I have to stop writing right now as the lights are going out and tomorrow we go out all day, bivouac and come back some time on Saturday. So good night sweetheart, I'll be seeing you in my dreams.

Sunday Morning

Mail is in! Yesterday morning when we came in there were three letters for me from you. I can't describe the 'lift' it gives me when I see the familiar handwriting and as I've mentioned before, I can recognize it as far away as I can see it. But before I start on the mail, I'll tell you as much as possible of Friday night's scheme. I guess it is mostly just to toughen us up. We take our greatcoats, three blankets and groundsheets and make up our beds on the ground in as sheltered a spot as possible. Half the regiment acts as enemy and are sent to the next on the farthest edge of our training area. Then after dusk we each send out patrols to try to surprise, or rather to discover where they are and then to capture them. In the meantime the men not on patrols practice digging-in in the dark, doing sentry duty and so on.

The night was cold but clear, and with a sweater, uniform and greatcoat on I managed to keep warm under two blankets. But around 3:30 a.m. I woke to feel a light patter of rain on my face. I was too comfortable to get up and thought it might only be a light shower. So I pulled the top blanket over my face and stayed there. About half to three quarters of an hour later water started coming up from beneath me so it seemed. I was sleeping on a bit of a slope and it was running merrily down underneath my ground sheet, and my top blanket was soaked. I got up and wrapped my ground sheet over all the blankets and tried to find some covers. By this time the rest of the platoon were wet and beginning to get up. All of us were wet. Breakfast at 5.30 warmed us up and we started back to camp. In spite of being rather bedraggled and uncomfortable the boys were in fine spirits and sang and whistled practically all the way back to camp. Each one was trying to convince the others that he had been in the wettest spot. We spent the rest of the day getting dried out, between practice air raid alarms.

At noon the R.S.M. [Regimental Sergeant-Major] sprung a surprise visitation on us to a dance engineered by the Telegram section of the Post office and about twelve of us went. We had a very nice party and came home with a box of cakes and rolls which were left over. So we will have a spread this afternoon or tonight. I persuaded Harry to go along and he really enjoyed himself as the people here really set out to see that everyone has a good time and even the most bashful men are coxed out of their shells.
And now for your letters. Anne's tooth didn't survive the trip. There is a neat little hole in the envelope and it is hopelessly lost. The three letters are dated Sept. 5, 7 and 9, so you can see how long it takes mail to get here sometimes, today being the 12th of Oct. So there should be lots more on the way.

I'm sorry that you have been disappointed in the mails. I know that I haven't written as often as I did in Sussex but except when we do manage to get a week-end or a leave of some kind there isn't anything to write about. We aren't allowed to mention the weather, bomb damage, troop movements or anything of changes in personnel etc., so it rather cramps our style as those are the only things that we see and hear of, day in and out. But we're getting tougher and more used to the climate as even a bivouac such as Friday night didn't produce any colds or any unusual amount of "beefing." But I do try to get at least two letters a week written and I'll try to make them as interesting as possible. As you say you hope that I can read between the lines so do I hope that you can see the undercurrent in my letters to you. And we'll certainly pick up our living where we left off, because regardless of who I meet or where I go, I feel myself turning to find you to share my enjoyment of the new scene. It is as much a part of me as life itself and instead of dying out through being away from you it is growing, So rest assured that there is not the slightest danger of my changing.

I think that the Home and School idea is good, but don't get into too many things so that you'll be wearing yourself out. Just enough to get some outside interest and keep up to date on current events. By the way, once more I'll warn you, though it shouldn't be necessary at this late date, don't pay any attention to gossip at the Q.O.R. Guild. That is concerning moves and what not. Because information does get by the censors and unfortunately most of it is wrong. I'll find some means of letting you know when anything really important comes up. It may be late but it will be accurate. The same goes for news in the local papers. We have already seen Toronto papers write very inaccurate and misleading information concerning us. And above all remember that I love you and don't you do any worrying.

Your third letter was the one I was waiting for, to know that you have received some mail from me and are feeling "picked up" over it. I know just how you feel and I'm trying to see that there will always be mail for you in every lot that arrives in Canada. As far as writing in detail, I really want to get a picture of what I see and how I feel, on paper so that you can see these things and places through my eyes. Then if we can ever make a trip over here we can revisit these spots and you will have some appreciation of them already.

Our seven day leave is coming up and I expect to get to Birmingham on mine. I'll be going on the first of November and will have more interesting news for you after that. But until then I'll be sending you a line to let you know that I'm in love with you and always thinking of you. Anne's work is really improving and I think that once she finds it's easier to do things right and neatly that she'll be OK. Let them know that I miss them a great deal and am looking forward to seeing them again when I get home.

Cheerio for now. With all my love to you, Anne, Karen and Nanny, I am,

Always yours,

David K.

P.S. I love you


... we were given rubber boats and shown how to handle them

Sunday Oct. 5, 1941

Dear Sweetheart,

We put in a rather interesting day yesterday, in spite of the fact that it took all day and we're not any too pleased usually to give up a Saturday afternoon. We marched several miles out to a training area which is on the edge of a small shallow pond. There, under directions from some men of the Engineers, we learned how to bridge a river with a pontoon bridge and it was done very neatly and quickly.

Using a gang of forty men we put the bridge across ninety-one feet of water and got all the men across in a little less than seven minutes. With training, a crew can do this job at night in ten minutes and by day in five. So we were pleased and the men seemed to enjoy it.

Following the bridge building we were given rubber boats and shown how to handle them. They hold two men and are used for reconnaissance work. One man rows and one observes. One of the H.Q. Sergeants stepped too far into his boat when getting in and both of them had an unexpected bath. None of our gang were so unlucky but there were some close calls.

Finally, we were riding assault boats which are folding, or I should say collapsible canvas boats. They hold a complete fighting section, a section leader and eight men. Four men can carry it and it only uses four paddlers. This was the most interesting bit of training we have had since coming here and everyone was working quite happily. The boys felt that they had actually learned something useful, which is a welcome change from their grousing after an ordinary day's training. More of this kind of thing would do us a lot of good.

One of H.Q. boys, who used to be in 'C' Comp., was mentioned very favourably by the Colonel at church parade this morning. We had a rather serious traffic accident just in front of one cookhouse a few days ago. A motorcyclist crashed into a truck and was badly cut up around the face and head, Jack came up, along with others, on the run and promptly cut off a severed artery by applying pressure at the right spot According to the doctors at the hospital, the injured man would have died in a few minutes except for Jack's presence of mind. He had learned where pressure points were located at a first-aid class run by the regiment. So some of the things we learn in the army are very useful even in civilian life, as accidents of this type are quite common and many lives would be saved by just such prompt action.

There's very little else of news at present so I'll get at my laundry, this being my usual wash day. You are remembering, I hope, that I still love you? Be sure to hold fast to that knowledge, as I am to the knowledge that you love me. Because I do love you and spend quite a lot of my spare time planning things for us to do when we start living again.

With all my love to you, Anne, Karen, and Nanny I am as always,

Yours,

David K.

P.S. I love you

 

But I try to get at writing just as often as possible . . .

Tuesday Sept. 30, 1941

Dear Sweetheart,

Well another interview has been passed, successfully I hope. We went into a room where four majors and a colonel were sitting behind a long table that had one lone chair out in front. How the others fared I don't know, but my interview was short and sweet. I was only asked a few questions, mostly personal ones, concerning my period in Goodyear and some questions concerning the Squad. They asked me only one technical questions on army weapons, which I was able to answer almost perfectly. It concerned one platoon weapon which we have never seen or used yet. My only knowledge of it is from lectures and pamphlets. Nothing was said as to whether we passed, failed, or what. So in one sense I'm no further ahead. We should find out soon though as it is getting near the time when the new OCTU will be starting. That is about all the news for the present and I'll be saying hello again tomorrow night. These letters, as you may have noticed, don't always finish the same day that they start due to interruptions of various sorts. But I try to get at writing just as often as possible so that there will be a fairly steady stream of letters going to you to let you know that I'm still very deeply in love with you. So cheerio for the present.

With all my love to you, Anna, Karen and Nanny. I am as always,

Yours,

David K.

P.S. I love you

 

I like your snap that you had taken at the Ex but who was the chap with you?

Aldershot, England, Sunday Sept. 21, 1941


Dear Sweetheart,

Mail came in yesterday and I had five letters and two parcels out of the scramble. Four of the letters and two parcels were from you. You wonder how I manage to write letters with the gang around practically all the time. That is quite often the reason that letters don't get written as there are too many arguments going on. And you know me when there is an argument handy. Nearly everyone is out tonight so I'm O.K. just now.

The army trucks that you saw going through their paces at the 'Ex' are just as hard to ride in as you imagined they would be. On pavement they aren't bad but over rough roads or fields, it's almost murder to ride in them. Still, they get our equipment where it's needed and we usually walk so we really don't have to worry much about their riding qualities. The carriers are even worse and I don't want to ride in them at all. I think I'd be seasick.

I like your snap that you had taken at the Ex but who was the chap with you? The one whose picture is practically in your right ear. Is it your new boyfriend and you were thinking of him at the time? The snap with that one, the spirit photo, is good and I like it. You look just as sweet as you are and I would like to be very near you right now to tell you that I love you. Because I do and one of these days I'll be with you for good to show you that I mean it. And, by the way, I like your new bonnet. It's very becoming.

Just the three words 'I love you' at the end of your letter, convey a world of meaning to me. I like to hear all the local news and particularly about the youngsters. I can read all the other things in between the lines as I hope you can in my letters. I can't say the things in my heart, much less write them, so those three words have to do a lot of work. And no matter how often I repeat them I know you'll like to see them. I love you. Just a short, simple statement, but to you and I, it means almost life itself. Because we are so much one, that neither of us is truly alive without the other. So please carry on as you are doing and I'll understand perfectly what you have in your heart when you write to me. I read and re-read your letters before I destroy them. It's very much like talking to you when I read what you have to say and then remark on it.

I must say a very sincere thank you for the coffee. I interrupted this letter long enough to brew a proper cup of coffee, and all the boys who were in the kitchen have asked me to thank you for the first real cup of coffee any of us have had since we left Sussex [New Brunswick].

Bill had a letter from home with a picture of his wife and kids... He went out and got properly plastered. Two of his pals practically carried him home and poured him into bed. I must say that it was the first time since we've been mobilized that he's been tight and he says that he had sufficient reason, so I guess that excuses him.

I like the three shots of you, in colour, but I couldn't love you any more than I do even if you were a combination of all the best points of the world's most beautiful women. I really mean that, too, and if I could only make you believe it, I would be happy.

I'm glad you are not worrying too much. I know what you mean when you are wondering where it will all end. Sometimes I'm afraid to look ahead, because it looks like the crack-up of civilization as we know it. Our only hope is that our leaders will see the light and really try to organize one social system on Christian principles. Because unless we do, our civilization will surely go under. We can't stand a war like this every twenty years or so. But there is a bright side to it if we can keep men like Roosevelt and Churchill at the helm. And then see to it that private interests are not allowed to hamper the reforms that they both know are necessary. I'll repeat myself again and tell you that my own faith is still whole and believe that I have work to do that is going to bring me home safely to you. Anyway, that is not in my hands or power so I haven't time or need to worry about it.

Our training at present consists of day-long tactical schemes, which usually entail a three or four mile march each way, in battle order. Battle order, I might say, consists of tin hat, respirator, water bottle, haversack, and rifle and sidearm (bayonet). The haversack contains mess tin, sweatercoat, socks, towel, soap, knife, fork and spoon, and groundsheet. Also any other item that we want with us. This makes a fair load but we're used to it and feel lost without it any more.

Bill is mad at the Major right now. Ever since we've been mobilized, there have been crap games galore going on. And no matter what happens they'll still go on. But on Friday -- we were on fatigues -- Capt. Front walked in and found a fair-sized crap game in progress. He took all the names and also Bill's as he was the senior rank present, although he wasn't in the game. All the riflemen got seven days C.B. [confined to barracks] and Bill got a reprimand. What he is so mad about is that a few days previously one of our officers was in the hut when a game was going on and actually made change for one of the players so he could carry on. So now Bill has a mark on his crime sheet and very unfairly too I think.

Nothing new on the OCTU [Officer Cadet Training Unit] but I hope to hear something this week. My information on the exams was right. I was to go in the QOR lot and from what I hear, we did very well compared with other units. So maybe I'll be turned down, as the first requisite for an officer seems to be that the applicant must be brainless and incapable of learning. That is, of course, judging by ours. Other units may be different. I hope the censor doesn't report this remark, but it's true.

And now it's past my bedtime so I'll say goodnight...

With all my love to you, Anna, Karen and Nanny, I am as always,

Yours,

David K.

P.S. I love you


Last night's dance was a nice party

In their letters, David and Audrey Hazzard discuss her handling of car and furnace repairs, the kids, the latest headlines - and the tensions of a separation with no end in sight. One issue was dances, which even for a "staid old married man" like David were a welcome break from the tedium of barracks life.

Tuesday Sept. 2, 1941

Dear Sweetheart,

Last night's dance was a nice party. It was the first affair I've been at yet where there were neither drunks or drinking.

As we were leaving, an Auxiliary Services captain warned the men not to go into any pubs and after we got there, there was an officer on the door to see that we stayed inside. So there was no rowdyism and some of our fine sergeants discovered, to their amazement, that it was possible to have a good time without being boiled or at least partially so.

The dance was put on by the girls of Reading's telephone exchange and they were very nice and very friendly. They told us that the ratio of girls to men in Reading is sixteen to one so it sounds like a nice city. Naturally we didn't see any of it as we came in trucks, directly to the dance hall and the blackout was in effect when we were leaving.

The results of our exam came in today, but so far we haven't heard what they were like, except that Major Bernard said that they were very complimentary to the regiment. So maybe I'm in! Who knows? Anyway we'll probably find out in a day or so and maybe I'll be wearing pips by New Year's.

Speaking of pips, I had trouble last night in that direction. Some officer took a fancy to the same young lady that I did and we sort of tried to outmanoeuvre each other. I asked her if I was cutting in on a steady boyfriend's time and told her not to cut him out of any sense of hospitality or what-not to me, as I was a very staid old married man.

I must say too that I'm nobody's prize for looks right now as I have extremely short hair yet. I don't know whether I told you before or not, but about eight of the boys in my platoon did likewise and we're certainly a bald-headed lot. The Major nearly had a stroke when he first saw the baldies and he read the riot act about anyone else getting a close hair cut. Not that he can prevent them as a man is allowed to cut his hair any way he pleases as long as it's neat. And a bald head is certainly neat.

 

Personally I am always showing anyone I meet your picture

Monday Sept. 29, 1941.

... Being from a far country helps a lot here in making friends. This helps a great deal in keeping us from going wacky, from our own company. I hope you don't think that any excursions of this nature make me forget you or love you any less, because they don't. The girls here appreciate the fact that many of us are married and have families, and only go out with us for companionship, and for their part, many of them are married and have husbands serving in far-off places. So the desire for a bit of fun and relaxation in dancing and shows is mutual, without having any serious motive in view. Personally I am always showing anyone I meet your picture and several of the latest snaps of Anne and Karen. I wonder sometimes if I bore people by doing so. But that doesn't worry me because I'm very fond of you and your daughters. I don't believe that there is anyone else anywhere, as lovely as you are and being away fr om you makes me appreciate that more than ever. So please don't be jealous the least bit, or worry that I'll change in any way.

It appeared in orders today that certain mail had been lost due to enemy action so that's where your missing letters went to. So I'll just have to guess what was in them. I'm sure of one thing that was there, though and that is that you love me. I don't know why you should or do, but I'm very glad that you do and am looking forward to the time when we can say these things to each other again. Not have to depend on the postman.

Well sweetheart, there's very little else to say right now and it's getting late. So I'll say cheerio and good night for now, with all my love to you, Anne, Karen and Nanny, I am

Always yours

David K.

P.S. I love you

P.P.S. I hope you understand what I was trying to say concerning my date on Sunday. No one can ever take your place and I'll never stop loving you. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.


 

Parcels … are like manna from heaven …

At Aldershot, soldiers listen eagerly for the call: "Canadian mail's in!" Letters and parcels take more than a month to cross the Atlantic and occasionally go missing. Because the mail often arrives in bundles, both David Hazzard and Audrey carefully number their letters so they can be read in order. In this note, he describes the importance of mail as a lifeline to home. (The text is abridged.)

Aldershot, England, Wednesday Oct. 22, 1941

Dear Sweetheart,

I have seven men in my platoon who are not getting any parcels and very little mail. I'll give you two of them and ask you to try to persuade the young ladies' class or anyone you know to send them something for Christmas. It is surprising how little some people realize what a difference a letter can make and for the men parcels and food of any kind in them are like manna from heaven.

The more I see and hear of some of the men's marital difficulties the more thankful I am that I fell in love with you. I get mail from you every time mail comes in and it is always a pleasure to read your letters. It is the next best thing to having and seeing you.

But some of the boys haven't received any mail at all yet. Why their wives can't spare a few minutes now and again is more than I can understand. I feel guilty sometimes when I haven't written to you for two or three days and I know what letters mean to you, but I could never let two or three mails pass without writing something even if it was only a line to say I love you.

The thing that strikes me about our relationship is that we must be particularly blessed to have such a happy marriage and such complete understanding. What I'm trying to say is that I know you love me and that you know I love you. With that assurance and having confidence in each other, nothing can ever come between us. And we'll pick up our lives when the war is over just as if nothing had ever happened except that we will have a deeper appreciation of our need for each other.

I have a parcel today from Dunlop [Tire, where he worked] filled with the usual assortment of useful articles, and I expect that your last two parcels will be in this week. There is still truckloads of mail coming in every day and the postman says that there is approximately forty tons still unsorted at the depot.

That's all I have to say just now but I particularly wanted to tell you how much I love you and that every day I'm more thankful that I married you. Believe me? I really mean it. With all my love to you, Anne, Karen and Nanny.

I am as always and forever yours

David K.

P.S. I love you

The officers despise us ...

Monday Nov. 10, 1941

Dear Sweetheart,

I'm glad to know that Karen can be angelic for a few days at a time, and also that Anne has her glasses again. She'll be easier to handle at school now and maybe her work will show still more marked improvement. Next – I can imagine that Karen was quite surprised to find you still with her in the morning but I think that a sleep like that does a lot of good. It tells me one thing though. You're overdoing it a bit, aren't you? Or is it just that you need to tire yourself out so that you will sleep? I shan't scold you as I understand how things are and there is nothing that I want more than to be at home with you again and have you put your head on my shoulder to “unlax” when you're tired.

We arrived here on Sunday afternoon and promptly started cleaning equipment, and we've done little else in our spare time since. All our webbing had to be changed to a green shade of blanco and our boots and bayonet scabbards polished like mirrors. Then our stripes had to come down and we put a white ribbon around our caps and a narrow strip on each shoulder strap. This marks us as Cadets. We have had an interview, individually with the commanding officer, lectures from the Platoon commander, R.S.M. Platoon Sergeant Major and a platoon Sergeant. The R.S.M. impressed on us that we are now neither fish nor fowl and have no status in the army. Men and N.C.O's laugh at us and the officers despise us. 

So you see we have been properly put in our place. Still after one full day, to-day, I don't think that I have anything to worry about. Just pay attention and keep out of trouble and everything will be OK. As far as getting into trouble is concerned that's a laugh. I won't have time. And on top of that we have to pay for everything we get now. We are reminded that we're making $4.00 per day. We'll need it!
 Still I expect that I can send you a few shekels before Christmas for any little extra shopping you may want to do and also to buy something for the youngsters from me.

You remember who I am of course? Just the person who loves you so much that he is only half living without you. Every day passed brings me one day nearer the time I'll be coming home to you to stay. So now for a while – cheerio. With all my love I am as always

Yours
David K.
P.S. I love you

Monday Nov. 10, 1941

Dear Sweetheart,

I'm glad to know that Karen can be angelic for a few days at a time, and also that Anne has her glasses again. She'll be easier to handle at school now and maybe her work will show still more marked improvement. Next – I can imagine that Karen was quite surprised to find you still with her in the morning but I think that a sleep like that does a lot of good. It tells me one thing though. You're overdoing it a bit, aren't you? Or is it just that you need to tire yourself out so that you will sleep? I shan't scold you as I understand how things are and there is nothing that I want more than to be at home with you again and have you put your head on my shoulder to “unlax” when you're tired.

We arrived here on Sunday afternoon and promptly started cleaning equipment, and we've done little else in our spare time since. All our webbing had to be changed to a green shade of blanco and our boots and bayonet scabbards polished like mirrors. Then our stripes had to come down and we put a white ribbon around our caps and a narrow strip on each shoulder strap. This marks us as Cadets. We have had an interview, individually with the commanding officer, lectures from the Platoon commander, R.S.M. Platoon Sergeant Major and a platoon Sergeant. The R.S.M. impressed on us that we are now neither fish nor fowl and have no status in the army. Men and N.C.O's laugh at us and the officers despise us. 

So you see we have been properly put in our place. Still after one full day, to-day, I don't think that I have anything to worry about. Just pay attention and keep out of trouble and everything will be OK. As far as getting into trouble is concerned that's a laugh. I won't have time. And on top of that we have to pay for everything we get now. We are reminded that we're making $4.00 per day. We'll need it!
 Still I expect that I can send you a few shekels before Christmas for any little extra shopping you may want to do and also to buy something for the youngsters from me.

You remember who I am of course? Just the person who loves you so much that he is only half living without you. Every day passed brings me one day nearer the time I'll be coming home to you to stay. So now for a while – cheerio. With all my love I am as always

Yours
David K.
P.S. I love you

 
Dear Sweetheart

It was the Second World War. A million young Canadians were marching off to risk their lives. One of them, David K. Hazzard, was separated from his beloved wife Audrey, but soon found a way to fight the loneliness with his pen.

He wrote hundreds of letters, beginning each the same way - 'Dear Sweetheart.' They are a riveting account of what he went through. The series is posted in blog style, with the first letter posted at the bottom.

Read the full introduction to the series
Read the latest post
Read the conclusion

Globe Docs Video Features

Watch our video series about the letters

Share your love stories

The Second World War separated thousands of families and each one has a tale. Send your photos and tell us your story.

Search for your roots

How difficult is it to learn more about your family? Where should a person start? Karen Peterson from ancestry.ca reveals these and other answers in a previous online discussion.

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