Born in 1948, Sheila Cornett grew up in a time when almost everyone's father had served in the Second World War. Like many veterans of that conflict, her own father did not talk about his wartime experiences. Six decades later and after her mother's death, Sheila discovered her father's letters to his future wife, Marjory, written during the five and a half years he served in The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery.
In Hoping to Hear from You Soon: Canadian War Letters, 1940-1945, Don Cornett describes what life is like for many servicemen in the Canadian Army at the time. From a training camp in Ontario to several more years of training in the UK, and then to the battlefields of northwest Europe, Don's journey is very different from what he'd imagined on enlisting. He learns quickly that army life involves lengthy periods of idleness. Stationed in the UK, he complains that "month after month, we do next to nothing" and "our existence over here seems so utterly futile." Writing with candour and insight, he critiques Canada's political leadership and finds it wanting; discusses current affairs and the progress of the war; and expounds his views on bureaucracy within the army.
After disembarking in Normandy, Don's endurance is tested in new ways. Soon he is transferred to the Fourth Field Regiment to command a battery. He is mentioned in despatches. He tells Marjory "it's pretty hard to find the time to write] when we're busy fighting." Those days of idleness are long gone.