• Michael Ritchie

August 25, 1917

Updated: Mar 11, 2019


Dear Mother & Father,

Well this is the third day of my leave. Am waiting in London for a couple of days in order to get some badly needed clothes, then I think I will go up to Scotland as I have my pass made out for there. How is everyone? I wish you were both with me here. Met Gordon Matthews, Wilfred Stratton, Merideth Huycke and all the rest. Stratton is just on his way home.

London seems to be much the same as a year ago with fewer men about and perhaps a little quieter.

Am boxing up and sending you a Hun helmet and what souvenirs can get home. The remainder I am putting in my trunk. I have my trunk with me and I got a lot of clothes and things I needed out of it.

I am thinking of transferring to the R.N.A.S.. It seems to be a pretty good branch of the service to get into. With a good course I think I could manage all right. Of course the term of service is something like four years, but times will change after the war. Write and tell me your ideas on the matter. What I can see of it it seems a good thing.

I had to draw on you Father at the Royal Bank as I was short of funds. I will be able to make it up all right when I get my other star if it ever does come through. Between buying clothes and living I haven’t got much left out of my pay, but will try and be more careful.

I don’t think it would be advisable to transfer my account to the Royal as all the arrangements with pay masters etc. are made with the Montreal. But when I get surplus I will start a Royal account.

Well time flies in these ten days so I will write another time.

Am applying for an investation. Might get an extension of leave. One never knows, does

one?

Love and kisses,

Your Son,

Vincent

In this letter we can see that Vincent finally had got the leave he had been promised, and writing home about, for the last couple of months. He discusses a couple of interesting topics that I would like to touch on.

We will start with the state at which he describes London in relation to how it was during his last leave. He talks about how this time it has less men and it seems to be a quieter city. This obviously makes sense as most of the countries young men would be in France fighting the war or helping the war effort in some capacity that would bring them away from cities such as London. In the letters around the time of his first leave, as well as when he first comes to England, you can tell how he is surprised at the number of woman doing jobs that are usually associated with men. I would assume there would be the same observation, if not more so, on this trip, but it obviously does not have him as intrigued as before.

He also discusses his financial situation, where he has had to borrow money from his Father's accounts to be able to pay for a few things he "needs" while he is in London. I could be wrong but it seems as if he mentions he is waiting for another "star" to come in before he would have some more money. I do not recall him receiving another award, so I might have read that word wrong or I might not be aware of another set of honours he received.

He talks about the possibility of transferring to the R.N.A.S., which stands for the Royal Naval Air Service, which is the British Navy's answer to the R.F.C., or the British Royal Flying Corps. I would really like to have known what his Father and Mother wrote back to him, as this never came to be. I am not sure if he ever did apply, but whether he did or not he did not get in before his injury. If you would like to see some more information about the R.N.A.S. here is a helpful website.

The last thing that I want to touch on from this letter is the mention of him seeing some old friends; Gordon Matthews, Wilfred Stratton, and Merideth Huycke. Most of these names have come up in letters home previously as they are all from the Peterborough area and his parents would know of them. I would think that he would be able to see all of these fellows in London at this time as they were all injured it seems. I am not sure if they were all in the hospital still, but they would have all been on injured leave at least. I think someone might have explained exactly what happened to me already with Matthews, but I am drawing a blank at the moment, other than in his records it says that he was sent to the hospital on the 26th of June, 1917. So if anyone has anymore information on that injury, could you please share it with me again. As for Stratton, he seemed to have an accident with his airplane on May 2, 1917 and he was actually being discharged to Canada on the day that this letter was written. Huycke was injured during Vimy Ridge as he was struck by an explosive and was injured by the shrapnel, which caused "multiple wounds of left arm, back and left buttock" as his file explains.

That is about all that I have to say from this letter. The pictures of the letter will be displayed below (sorry my camera is not doing well). If you want to stay at the hotel where he got the paper he is writing on from, and which I would assume he stayed, you can find it's website here, it is apparently a Fairmont and it looks quite fancy (and expensive)!

Thank you as always for reading, and if you have anything to add or to comment on please let me know. Feel free to share and use for your own research as much as you would like!

Thank you,

Michael Ritchie

#1917 #matthews #stratton #huycke #england #souvenirs #WorldWar1 #WWI #93rdBattalion #peterborough

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