15 December 1916
44 Jasper Road
Dear Young Friend
We were very pleased to receive your interesting letter and to show you are keeping fit & well not withstanding your many exciting and trying experiences. Such are enough to test the nerves and stamina of those who all their lives have practically lived on the sea but to landsmen suddenly placed in such circumstances, well, to say the least it must be a strain which they hardly expected. We have resided for years by the sea and have watched & studied it in all its moods, and have seen big & small craft engaged in weathering its most awful storms. Hence our profound sympathy withy those who go down to the sea and do their business in the great waters. We are thankful that in such tempestuous time you were able in so small a boat to carry out your important duties and return safely to port. Of course we may not get such a storm again for years but I do pray that in rough time or smooth a divine power will operate for your preservation and that we shall have the pleasure of seeing you again, ere long, in Upper Norwood.
With the signs of the times I am hoping 1917 will see some sort of settlement between the Allies & their enemies based on justice and good will.
Since you left we have become increasingly busy at our Church as very large numbers of A.S.C. men have been drafted into the District. They occupy the many large empty houses etc. Our congregation is quite large on Sunday mornings and the school room is generally packed night after night. We have now a lot of deck Chairs etc for their use and are keeping it open on Xmas Day & Boxing Day. On the latter we are hoping to give them an Entertainment with refreshments in harmony with the season. I wish you could be with us.
Our second son has joined the Royal Flying Corps.
Kindly remember me to all at home.
Again thanking you for your letter & with every good wish for a happy Xmas & successful New Year in which Mrs B invites.
Ever Sincerely yours
John J Bennett
DIARY: Ordered to Kingstown, escort Grain boats to Longships. Escorting ships