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Remembering Earle R. Miller A 7-Day Pass to London
  The picture and copies of the original letter were provided by David R. Hahn, the grandson of Earle Russell Miller.
Earle Russell Miller (Service No. 283361) enlisted at the age of 17 with the 219th Battalion at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, April 3, 1916. He was born July 4, 1898, in Yarmouth, the son of Avard Herbert and Hannah Sarah (Allen) Miller. The following is his account of his 7-day pass (on leave) to London. The twenty-four page letter, written home, provides a detailed account of his time in London, England during the First World War between the 3rd and the 9th of November, 1916.
Friday, Nov. 3rd 1916 Reveille   at   6.30   a.m.   Breakfast   at   7   a.m.   During   the   morning   the   battalion paraded   and   each   man   gave   the   officers   3   shillings   to   buy   tickets.      Prepared   to go   on   pass   the   rest   of   the   morning.      Dinner   at   12   noon.      At   2   p.m.   paraded   to the   M.   O.   and   he   gave   each   man   a   slip   with   names   of   some   of   the   hospitals   in London,   so   if   taken   sick   while   there   one   would   know   where   to   go.      Paraded again   and   got   our   tickets.      At   3   p.m.   left   Witley   Camp   for   Milford,   the   nearest railway   station,   where   we   boarded   the   train   for   London.      Arrived   at   Waterloo Station,   London   at   5.30   p.m.      From   there   walked   about   1/2   mile   till   I   came   to the   Strand,   asked   a   “Bobby”   where   to   go   and   he   directed   me   to   the   Bruce House   on   Drury   Lane.      Had   a   good   supper,   after   which   I   went   for   a   walk   but   as   it was   raining   hard   could   not   see   very   much.      Almost   got   run   down   a   number   of times   at   street   corners,   before   I   found   out   about   how   the   taxis   and   auto   run.     London   is   very   dark   at   night.      All   the   lights   are   shaded   as   that   there   is   about   a circle   of   radius   2   ft.   that   is   lit   up.      I   almost   got   lost,   as   there   are   so   many streets   and   they   cross   in   a   very   bewildering   manner.      They   never   seem   to   cross at   right   angles,   but   always   at   a   small   angle   so   that   one   does   not   know   which one   to   take,   but   found   my   way   back   safely   about   9   p.m.      Sat   down   in   the reading   room   and   read   until   10.30   and   then   went   to   bed.      I   have   a   separate cubicle to sleep in.   The beds are clean and so I am comfortable.   Am  in  good health. It has rained nearly all day. Saturday - Nov. 4. Got   up   at   7.15   a.m.   Cleaned   up,   had   a   wash   and   went   to   breakfast   at 8.30.   After   breakfast   checked   greatcoat,   haversack,   bought   ticket   for   next night,   then   started   out   with   Ed   to   have   a   look   around.      We   thought   we   would   go to   the   “Tower”   first.      Walked   down   Drury   Lane   till   we   came   to   the   Strand.      Met a   postman   and   inquired   the   way   to   the   “Tower”.   He   at   once   told   us   he   would show   us   the   way.   (The   English   people   are   very   obliging   to   the   Canadian   soldiers -   they   will   do   almost   anything   for   them.)      He   led   us   down   to   the   Victoria Embankment   and   then   to   Temple   Station   (an   underground   railway   station.)      We bought   tickets   for   Mark   Lane   and   boarded   the   train   (a   string   of   a   dozen   or   so electric   cars.)      Got   off   at   Mark   Lane   and   went   up   stairs   and   emerged   about   150 yds   from   the   Tower.      About   10   a.m.   when   we   reached   the   Tower.      The   postman left   us   here   and   would   not   take   a   penny   for   showing   us   the   way.      Spent   all   the morning   exploring   the Tower   and   the   only   thing   I   wished   during   that   2   hours   was that   I   could   remember   a   little   more   history.      The   men   who   take   care   of   the place   and   act   as   guides   are   yoeman   [sic]   dressed   in   the   old   fashioned   uniforms of   which   I   have   often   seen   pictures.      I   never   spent   a   better   or   more   interesting 2   hours   in   my   life   and   never   expect   to.      Took   note   while   there   and   was   given   a guide   which   explained   all   about   the   place.      I   went   to   every   place   and   saw   even more   than   is   told   in   the   guide.      Saw   bloody   tower,   crown   jewels,   Raleigh’s   walk, dungeons,   Beauchamp   tower,   site   of   execution   scaffold.   After   dinner   walked down   the   Strand   to   Trafalgar   Square.      Saw   Nelson   monument   (sculptured   by   I.E. Crew   Copenhagen   in   1801)      There   are   a   number   of   monuments   near.      They   are for   G.C.   Adams,   King   George   IV,   Sir   Henry   Havelock   -   India   and   Chas.   Gordon Khartoum.   All   this   section   is   known   as   Westminster.   Turned   to   the   left   and walked    about    half    a    mile    till    we    came    to    the    Parliament    buildings    and Westminster   Abbey.   (The   Parliament   buildings   were   struck   by   a   bomb   a   short time   ago   and   have   not   been   built   up   yet.)   Asked   a   “bobby”   where   to   go   to   get in   the   Parliament   and   he   directed   me   to   the   entrance.   Went   in   and   bought   a guide   for   a   shilling.   Spent   an   hour   in   these   buildings   -   saw   the   Royal   Gallery. Princes   Chamber,   House   of   Lords,   House   of   Commons   etc,   then   crossed   the street   to   the Abbey,   where   a   guide   showed   me   around,   but   was   only   there   a   few minutes   as   there   was   to   be   a   service   at   3   p.m.   Then   went   to   the   King’s   Palace which   is   about   half   a   mile   from   the   Abbey.   In   front   of   the   Palace   (Buckingham Palace)   is   the   Queen   Victoria   Memorial.   It   is   made   of   white   marble   except where   sightseers   walk,   and   there   it   is   brown   granite.   The   figure   on   top   is   some kind   of   gilt,   and   the   statues   at   the   entrance   are   of   black   material.   At   the entrance   farthest   from   the   palace   are   two   statues.   One   of   a   man   with   his   hand on   a   lion   and   the   other   of   a   woman   with   her   hand   on   a   lion.   The   woman   holds   a branch   in   her   free   hand   and   the   man   a   torch.   Nearest   the   palace   are   two   more statues   of   a   man   and   woman   each   with   their   hand   on   a   lion. The   man   is   a   black- smith   with   his   hammer   in   his   free   hand   the   woman   has   a   scythe   in   her   hand. Written   on   the   monument   on   the   side   away   from   the   palace   are   these   words   - (Victoria Regina Imperatrix) and on the opposite side MDCCCXXXVII MDCCCCI. Left   the   palace   at   4   p.m.   walked   down   through   St.   James   Park   up   Whitehall   to the   Strand   and   to   Drury   Lane,   thus   back   to   where   we   started   from.   Went   to   the reading   room   till   5   p.m.   then   had   supper.   After   supper   sat   down   and   discussed our   days   travel   and   read   guides   we   had   purchased   on   the   way.   Wrote   up   notes taken   during   the   day.   Went   up   to   my   cubicle   at   10.45   and   turned   in.   The weather   was   fine   all   day   (for   a   wonder)   Are   in   good   health   and   getting   along fine. Sunday - Nov. 5.   Got   up   at   8   a.m.   washed,   dressed   and   shined   up   and   went   to   breakfast. After   breakfast   went   to   the   reading   room   and   stayed   all   morning.   Dinner   at   12. After   dinner   wrote   home   sending   diary   of   trip   across   the   Atlantic.   Read   all   the afternoon   as   it   was   raining   hard.   At   4.30   went   out   and   mailed   letter   then   had supper. After   supper   went   to   a   movie   show   for   which   I   paid   1   shilling. After   the show   walked   around   for   a   while   then   met   Ed*   and   some   more   of   the   boys   and walked   around   and   had   some   fun.   Returned   to   the   Bruce   House   at   11.30   p.m. and   turned   in.   Not   a   very   interesting   day   on   account   of   the   rain,   but   it   cleared off after supper. Monday - Nov. 6. Turned   out   at   8.30   and   had   breakfast.   Then   started   out.   Decided   to   go   to the   Zoo.   Went   to   Trafalgar   Sq.   and   took   the   underground   for   Regents   Park.   Got off   on   inquired   of   a   “bobby”   where   to   go.   Walked   through   the   park   for   about   5 minutes   and   then   came   to   the   Zoo.   Bought   some   peanuts   to   feed   the   squirells [sic]   and   monkeys.   Had   some   fun   feeding   the   squirrels   before   going   in   the   Zoo. They    are    American    grey    squirrels    and    very    tame.    They    jump    up    on    your shoulder,   run   down   your   arm,   take   the   peanut,   sit   on   your   hand   till   they   get   a good   grip   on   it   and   then   jump   off.   The   sparrows   are   also   very   tame   and   will take   crumbs   out   of   ones   hand.   Paid   3   d.   to   go   in   the   Zoo.   It   was   now   about   10 a.m.   Stayed   there   till   12   noon   had   lunch   on   the   grounds   and   then   stayed   till 4.30   p.m.   and   could   have   easily   spent   another   day   looking   at   the   animals   etc. Saw   everything   from   bugs,   fleas,   &   mice   to   elephants,   rhinoceros   &   giraffes. There   were   a   number   of   animals   that   are   the   only   one   of   their   kind   in   captivity. I   couldn’t   start   to   name   any   of   them,   but   I   saw   all   that   I   had   ever   heard   about or   seen   and   hundreds   of   others.   Birds,   reptiles,   fish,   animals   of   every   zone   and part   of   the   world.   The   ground   was   originally   level,   but   each   part   had   been   dug out   or   built   up   to   suit   the   animal   which   is   kept   there.   The   seals,   of   which   there are   a   dozen   or   so   have   a   large   deep   pool   all   built   up   on   two   sides   with   concrete to   represent   blocks   of   ice.   The   goats   have   a   regular   mountain   to   run   about, rugged   just   as   they   have   been   used   to.   The   lions   have   caves   in   the   rocks   for dens.   The   storks   have   a   small   river   to   wade   in.   The   monkeys   miniature   trees, the   rhinoceros   large   pools,   and   each   one   has   just   what   he   has   been   used   to before   his   captivity.   It   was   certainly   great   and   I   had   a   fine   time.   Started   for Bruce   House   at   4.30   p.m.   Had   supper   and   then   went   out   to   have   some   fun. Walked   down   to   Trafalgar   Sq.   and   was   standing   there   when   a   fellow   came walking   across   with   a   drunken   fellow. The   drunk   fell   in   the   middle   of   the   street, and   the   other   one,   who   had   only   been   out   of   the   hospital   three   days   could   not get   him   up.   I   went   and   helped   him   and   then   spent   most   of   the   evening   getting the   drunk   to   his   boarding   place   which   was   on   Sussex   St.   off   Piccadilly   Both fellows   were   South   Africans.   The   one   just   out   of   hospital   told   me   all   about himself   and   his   battalion.   Their   brigade   left   South   Africa   5000   strong   of   which there   are   243   left.   He   himself   came   out   of   the   trenches   Sept.   28.   sick   with trench   fever   and   had   been   in   the   hospital   ever   since.   He   told   me   about   the fever.   it   is   something   like   Influenza   only   10   times   as   bad.   I   walked   around   with him   until   10.30   then   went   to   back   to   turn   in,   but   as   I   was   getting   ready   to   turn in,   in   came   two   fellows   -   one   a   Highlander   from   Winnipeg   (49th   Bat)   the   other an Australian.   They   had   just   come   from   the   trenches   for   10   days   leave.   I   stayed and    talked    with    them    about    the    trenches    until    2    a.m.    and    certainly    was interesting. They   had   both   been   thro   the   fighting   at   the   Somme. The   Highlander was   the   most   interesting   as   he   had   a   good   education   and   was   a   fine   talker.   He showed   me   maps   of   the   Somme   and   told   me   all   about   the   fighting   conditions   at the   front,   how   the   men   are   used,   etc,   and   as   he   has   been   to   the   front   for   19 month   he   ought   to   know   something   about   it.   The   battalion   that   the   Australian was   in   was   all   cut   to   pieces,   there   being   only   13   fit   men   left   -   all   the   rest   either killed or wounded. Turned in about 2.30 a.m.   Still in fine health - weather fine. Tuesday - Nov. 7 Turned   out   about   9   a.m.      Decided   to   go   to   Madame   Tresseau’s   [sic]   Wax Works.   Walked   to   Trafalgar   Sq.   and   took   the   underground   to   Bake   St.   Station which   is   within   about   50   yds.   of   the   works.   Paid   1   s.   2   d.   to   enter   -   the   2   d. being   amusement   tax.   Walked   up   a   flight   of   stairs,   saw   a   policeman   standing   at the   door,   and   not   thinking   where   I   was   I   went   up   to   him   and   asked   him   which direction   to   go   in   and   got   no   answer.   I   certainly   felt   foolish   when   I   found   that   he was   only   a   wax   figure.   But   I   was   not   the   only   one   to   be   fooled,   as   a   good   many of   the   boys   did   the   same   thing.   The   first   room   is   called   the   Grand   Hall   and   in   it are   figures   of   all   the   English   rulers   from   William   I   to   George   V,   and   they   were   so real    that    I    could    almost    see    them    move    sometimes.    I    could    almost    swear sometimes   that   I   saw   their   eyelids   move.   From   the   Grand   Hall,   went   into   the next   room   where   there   were   figures   of   all   the   principal   men   of   the   present   and past.   General   French,   Lord   Kitchener,   the   principal   members   of   the   present parliament,   Duke   Nicholas,   Joffre,   Foch,   Jellico,   and   all   the   other   war   heros. John   Cornwall   [sic]   [Cornwell]   V.C.   and   also   a   couple   more   V.C’s,   the   Queen, Queen   Victoria,   Mrs.   Pankhurst   and   her   sister   and   other   famous   suffragettes, Tom   Thumb   and   dozens   upon   dons   of   others.   When   leaving   this   room   I   saw   a young   lady   sitting   at   a   table   reading,   and   as   she   did   not   move,   I   walked   right up,   thinking   she   was   a   wax   figure,   and   put   out   my   hand,   and   believe   me,   it almost   knocked   me   over   when   she   asked   me   what   I   wanted.   This   goes   to   show how   natural   the   figures   are.   I   then   went   down   a   flight   of   stairs   to   the   children’s room   where   there   are   figures   of   all   the   children’s   heros,   such   as   Jack   the   Giant Killer,   etc.   and   scenes   representing   the   Babes   in   the   Wood   and   many   others. From   here,   went   into   a   large   room   in   which   there   was   staged   some   of   the   tragic scenes   of   history,   such   as,   -   The   Death   of   Nelson,   Death   of   Lady   Jane   Grey, Finding   Hood’s   Body   after   Hastings,   The   Death   of   Gordon   at   Khartoum   (called Gordon’s   last   Stand)   and   many   others   of   a   similar   kind.   These   are   all   life   size and   are   staged   just   as   they   happened.   There   is   a   small   chart   near   each   one giving the names of the characters. Went   back   up   stairs   and   paid   6d.   to   see   the   “Chamber   of   Horrors”.   Just   before going   into   the   chamber   there   is   a   small   room   given   over   wholly   to   relics   of Napoleon.   In   it   are   his   state   carriage   -   the   carriage   in   which   he   rode   from Waterloo.   A   piece   of   the   tail   of   Marengo   (Napoleon’s   favorite   horse   which   he rode   at   Waterloo,   a   walking   stick   of   Napoleon’s,   his   rings,   teeth,   lock   of   his   hair, pieces   of   his   coffin,   earth   from   his   grave,   a   piece   of   the   tree   under   which   he was   buried   and   hundreds   of   other   things.   There   was   also   in   this   apartment   the coat   Nelson   wore   when   he   received   his   mortal   wound,   the   bullet   hole   is   shown. From   here   went   to   the   “Chamber   of   Horrors”   where   there   are   to   be   seen   all   the noted    murderers    and    noted    men    that    have    been    executed    and    scenes representing   some   of   the   murders.   Among   the   figures   is   that   of   Roger   Caseman [sic]   [Casement],   all   of   the   leaders   of   the   French   Revelution   [sic]   who   were guillotined.    All    the    principal    instruments    of    torture,    and    a    regular    sized guillotine   with   the   figure   of   a   man   with   his   head   on   the   block   to   show   his position   and   the   way   it   works.   Heads   of   the   French   revelutionists   [sic]   just   as they   looked   after   being   guillotined   with   blood   all   over   their   features.   After leaving   this   room,   went   into   a   small   room   where   there   were   some   of   those curved   mirrors   which   makes   a   person   look   so   funny.   I   suppose   these   were   to make   one   forget   the   gruesome   sights   in   the   Chamber   of   Horrors.   One   [sic]   [On] the   way   out   I   noticed   a   figure   of   Edith   Carvell   [sic]   [Cavell].   When   I   got   outside it was 12.30.  Went back to the house and had dinner and then decided to go to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Walked   down   to   Victoria   Embankment   and   thence   to   the   Cathedral   -   about 25   minutes   walk.   First   went   all   around   the   main   part   of   the   church   looking   at the   statues   and   memorials.   A   guide   explained   to   me   who   built   the   cathedral when   destroyed,   who   did   all   the   carving   etc.   but   it   was   too   much   to   go   into   my head   at   one   time   and   I   forgot   it   all.   I   then   went   down   stairs      into   the   Crypt. The majority   of   people   buried   there   were   military   or   naval   heros.   The   most   noted are   Wellington   &   Nelson.   Wellington   has   two   monuments   there.   Both   are   about 14   x   10   at   the   base   -   one   much   higher      than   the   other.   There   is   also   kept   in   this place   his   funeral   carriage.   It   is   a   huge   object   supported   by   six   wheels   3   on   each side.   It   is   made   of   bronze   and   at   a   cost   of   £20,000.   On   it   are   the   standards   of Wellington’s   own   regiments   and   around   the   sides   are   engraved   the   names   of   his principal    battles.    After    leaving    the    Crypt,    went    up    stairs    to    the    famous “Whispering   Gallery”. A   guide   explained   all   about   the   structure   etc. There   were a   large   number   of   people   there   at   the   time   all   standing   around   the   gallery,   the end   of   the   line   being   about   opposite   the   guide.   He   spoke   in   a   whisper   all   the time   and   the   people   opposite   him   could   hear   much   better   than   the   mean   next to   him.   I   suppose   it   must   have   been   about   150   ft.   across,   but   every   sound   could be   heard   distinctly.   Came   out   at   3   p.m.   as   there   was   going   to   be   a   service. As   I was   standing   outside   talking   with   Ed*   and   three   other   219th   boys   the   B.S.M. (Sergeant   Major   Ward)   came   past   and   stopped   to   talk   with   us.   He   had   quite   a talk   and   then   he   invited   us   to   supper.   He   took   us   to   a   restaurant   and   gave   us   a swell   feed   and   then   left   us.   We   walked   around   for   a   time   and   then   decided   to go   to   a   good   theatre.   Met   a   Canadian   who   was   living   in   London   and   he   advised   is to   go   to   “His   Majesty”   to   see   “Chin   Chin   Chow”.   Well   we   went   and   it   certainly was   a   fine   play.   The   scenery   alone   cost   £50.000   and   there   were   some   of   the best   actors   in   London   in   the   play.   The   music   was   something   wonderful,   I   could feel   myself   rising   right   out   of   my   seat   about   half   of   the   time.   The   play   started at   7.30   p.m.   and   finished   at   11.15   but   it   didn’t   seem   to   be   much   more   than   an hour. After the play went home and turned in at 11.45 p.m. In fine health. - fine during morning but clouds afternoon and evening. Wednesday - Nov. 8. Turned   out   at   8.30   and   went   to   breakfast.   After   breakfast   walked   down   to Westminster   Bridge   and   stood   there   all   the   morning   watching   the   water   craft and    the    traffic    across    the    bridge.   There    is    a    fine    view    of    the    Parliament Buildings   from   this   place.   Most   of   the   pictures   of   the   buildings   are   taken   from the   bridge.   Went   back   to   the   house   for   dinner   at   12   noon.   After   dinner   went down   to   Whitehead   one   of   the   best   museums   (the   Royal   United   Service)   bought a   guide   at   the   door.   Spent   all   afternoon   examining   the   relics   and   models   kept there.   They   are   too   numerous   to   start   to   mention.   One   thing   that   I   took   great interest   in   was   a   model   of   the   Battle   of   Waterloo.   The   model   covers   an   area   of 400   sq.   ft.   and   is   made   to   scale   every   hill   and   valley   being   represented.   The armies   are   represented   by   small   figures   and   the   ground   is   covered   with   the wounded   and   dead.   The   armies   are   in   the   position   they   were   just   after   the defeat   of   Napoleon’s   “Old   Guard”.   There   were   many   other   models   of   a   similar kind,    also    models    of    battleships,    dreadnoughts,    battle    cruisers,    cruisers, destroyers   etc.,   and   a   regular   sized   torpedo.   There   was   a   model   of   the   battle cruiser   H.M.S.   Queen   Mary   -   about   15   ft.   long.   Left   the   museum   and   went   to supper. After   supper   went   to   the   Hippodrome   to   see   “Flying   Colors”.   This   was   a fine   show   but   not   as   good   as   “Chin   Chin   Chow”.   Went   to   the   house   and   turned in at 11.45 p.m. Fine weather all day. Are in fine health.   Thursday Nov. 9 Turned   out   at   9   a.m.   and   then   had   to   be   pulled   out   as   we   were   all   supposed   to be    down    stairs    at    9.    Had    breakfast    and    then    walked    down    the    Strand    to Trafalgar   Sq.   where   I   met   Geo.   Wagner**   and   about   a   couple   of   dozen   of   the boys.   We   stayed   there   till   noon   playing   around   and   making   fools   of   ourselves generally.   It   was   a   holiday   as   there   was   to   be   a   procession   in   which   Lord   Mayor was   to   be.   The   procession   was   to   go   past   Trafalgar   Sq.   at   3.30   p.m.   but   the crowd   started   to   gather   at   noon   so   we   all   stayed   where   we   were   till   the procession   came   past.   I   thought   I   had   seen   crowds   before   ,   but   they   were   just small   groups   compared   with   the   crowd   that   gathered   to   see   that   procession.   It was   formed      up   of   Canadians,   Australians,   New   Zealanders,   South   Africans, British Troops,   Flying   Corps,   Scots   Guards,   Grenadier   Guards,   Coldstream   Guards ,   Cadets,   Boy   Scouts,   Captured   German   aeroplane,   three   captured   German   guns etc. After   the   procession   passed   I   stood   talking   to   a   wounded   soldier   for   a   while and   then   started   back   but   could   not   move   along   the   Strand   at   all,   because   of the   crowd.   Had   to   go   down   to   the   river   and   walk   along   Victoria   Embankment   to Waterloo   bridge   and   from   there   to   the   house.   Had   to   wait   15   minutes   before   I could   get   across   the   Strand.   Had   supper   at   4.30   p.m.   then   started   to   get   ready to   go   back   to   camp.   Started   for   Waterloo   Station   at   5.30,   got   the   6.40   train   for Godalming   (3   miles   from   camp)   Arrived   at   Godalming   at   7.35.   Waited   for   a   bus till   9. Arrived   at   camp   at   8.20   p.m.   but   did   not   go   in   then   as   we   found   that   the 219th   was   quarantined   on   account   of   Spinal   Meningitis,   there   being   5   or   6   cases. Had   to   go   in   and   report   anyway,   so   went   in   at   9   p.m.   First   thing   to   do   after handing   in   my   pass   was   to   gargle   my   throat   with   some   kind   of   solution.   Went   to the hut, made bed and turned in at 9.30 p.m. Are in good health Has been the best kind of weather all day. Pte. E. R. Miller No 283361 H 2 Co. 219th Highland Bat.                            C. E. F. Witley Camp. c/o Army Post Office, London Eng.   * Edmund McConnell Lewis (Service No. 283360) Yarmouth, NS ** George Morris Wagner (Service No. 282660)   Tusket, Yarmouth Co., NS