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  • Michael Ritchie

June 11, 1917

Updated: Mar 11, 2019


Dear Mother & Father,

Glad to hear that you are all feeling well and fit. Received your letters of April 29th and May 6th also the big cake which was splendid and reached me in fine condition. If it is not too much bother please repeat. It certainly went fine. Just received a big tin of tobacco from Jack. I am tickled to death at getting it as I have been sucking my pipe hoping for some good tobacco while I have been smoking some of the issue tobacco. How is the hen coming along that you set. I would like to have a look how they are coming along.

I met Jack McLean by accident yesterday. The accident was that I nearly walked over him. I certainly was glad to see him. We had quite a little talk about Chemong and old times. He is looking fine. He asked me to remember him to the family.

There certainly is some fine news coming in now isn’t there. There has been some terrific fighting going on. We are out of it for a while for a bit of a rest, so we are thoroughly enjoying ourselves while we may.

Agnes has been getting along famously hasn’t she. I suppose she is with you on her holidays now. Well she certainly deserves them.

How is the war economy garden coming on in the front yard. You ought to see how the Frenchmen are using every available plot.

This country is simply wonderful in summer time. I get out riding every evening and it certainly is wonderful to canter down some of these long French roads with trees trimmed like hedges on either side. It is pretty warm here now. Today we had a nice summer shower and it certainly was needed.

In all this you can hear away in the distance the ever steady pounding away of the big guns and at night you can see the flashing of the guns lighting up the sky. This is the only thing that reminds you that there is a war on.

Your suggestion about smooth woollen summer underclothing is good Father. I certainly would like a couple of suits. There is nothing in the line of clothing that you could send me except this.

About Agnes coming overseas as a nurse. The work seems to be pretty hard, but they are not bothered by shell fire but run considerable risk from bombing by airships. The Bosche is no respect of red cross or anything.

Well leave has opened up for a short period anyway and am now 1st on the list so some of these days I will send you a cable from London.

Dunsford returned from leave yesterday. It is a great time of the year to go. We can now get leave to Paris, so I am going to take that in the next turn for leave.

I was just about 1000 yards from Bob Neill one evening but couldn’t leave my men so send a man over to ask him to come over and see me but I suppose he was on duty on his gun as he couldn’t get away.

I am sorry I couldn’t have seen him.

Well I will drop you a line later. For the present I will close.

Love and kisses.

Your Loving Son

Vincent

As you might be able to tell through the content in the letter, Vincent was not in active combat when writing this letter. Looking at the War Diary for the 18th for June 1917, it looks like the battalion was receiving some training at the time and had some time away from the front. He seems to be having a pretty good time when this is written, he had just received some good tobacco from home, he was able to go out riding in the French country side, he was next up for leave, and the sounds of war were way in the distance.

He mentions a couple of different people throughout this letter, most of which have come up before in previous letters. He talks about family members, of his brother Jack, who sent him tobacco, as well as his sister Agnes, which was attending nursing school in Toronto at the time I believe. He mentions Bob Neill, which is the brother of his future wife Margaret Neill, and was ever so close to him, but alas too far away to talk to. He also mentions a Dunsford, who has come up in previous letters. Now, I am pretty sure he is talking about Martin Dunsford, as he was in his battalion, but there is a small chance that he might be talking about Martin's brother Sydney Dunsford, which Vincent would probably have known as well. The only person I am having difficulty finding is Jack McLean, mainly because he did not seem to be in the 18th Battalion and there are so many possibilities with that name in the WWI database to pin down the exact one. I am hoping that our Peterborough expert Nathen will be able to shed some light on this one for us.

All in all this was a nice letter to let us see into the life of a Canadian officer just off the front line in WWI France. A lot of nice visuals in this one to give you an idea of what it might have been like. There wasn't much in the way of words I could not identify in this one, but I will provide a picture of the letter below.

Thank you all again for continuing to read these as I put them out, and as always, please feel free to share, like, and let me know if there is anything that I missed or overlooked!

Michael Ritchie

#1917 #France #CanadianMilitary #WorldWar1 #WWI #18thBattalion #training #peterborough #LettersFromVincent