• Michael Ritchie

May 12, 1917

Updated: Mar 11, 2019


Dear Mother & Father,

This is about the fourth letter I have started to write this week but have not been able to post.

Received your letters of April 15th and 23 and am glad you received my cable. I sent one about a month ago but had it returned to me after a couple of weeks in the mails. Received the box you sent me containing the white socks, marmalade, candy and maple sugar. The socks came in fine. Send some more maple sugar will you if you think of it. It comes in better condition than the candy and it is good stuff.

Am sending you the postcard you were asking me about in my next letter. They are in my kit bag back at transport lines. I thought I had sent you one.

Well today is another beautiful day, nice and sunny and quite warm. It would be simply wonderful to have a swim in the lake now. I am very lousy and dirty but hope to have a clean up soon. I actually caught ten on the small area of my collar.

You ask me whether we get any eggs over here. The French people seen to have eggs for every meal. We have them for breakfast quite regularly.

I am just looking at your two letters of the 15th and 22nd and they are very different to read. I am certainly glad the cable was such a relief to you.

Give my love to Aunt Mary. Will have to write an awful bunch of letters when I get out. I am away behind but couldn’t very well help it. We have been on the go for over a month and things haven’t been all fair weather or of the natures of a health resort either.

The Bosche seems to lay all his hopes on the submarine campaign. All the prisoners seem to think that their U boats are winning the war for them. They have given up the hope of victory on the land.

The U.S. coming into the war will make quite a difference for the better. The Bosche has still a tremendous kick in him yet though.

Well Father I just wish I was able to dig up the old garden for you and look after the lawns. I hope you have some help. I see by your letter that the hens are laying pretty good. The road to Chemong must be in fair shape now. Is the car working pretty good?

Met Bensford Hamilton about two weeks ago and he had seen Gordon Matthews not long ago.Received a letter from Meridith Huycke about two days ago. I hope Harold stall turns up all right. I have never seen him since coming to France. I do hope he is all right.

Received Jean’s letter and Mar’s containing the snaps and they certainly are fine.

Well at present I am feeling my best. Am putting on weight and soon will be up to standard.

Well goodbye for the present.

Love to all and kisses,

Your loving son

Vincent.

Vincent seems to have been pretty busy in the start of May 1917 as he didn't seem to write home in about 3 weeks or so. The beginning of this letter is similar to many of his others, thanking his parents for packages of food and clothing and asking how everyone at home has been. One thing that I find very interesting in this letter is that he eludes to his parents writing him about being worried of his safety. I'm not sure if this is 100% accurate, but the way he states that reading their last 2 letters was 'different' and that he was happy his last cable could bring relief. It also seems as though he was receiving letters from other mothers and family's wondering if he has had contact with their sons. It must have been quite devastating during the war for the parents of the men that went over to have to wait so long for letters to come home to make sure they are alright.

He mentions a couple of names through the letter and I have found some of the people he speaks of, but I might need some help with the rest. The first one that pops up in the letter is what I believe is Bensford Hamilton. I can't seem to find any service records on anyone by that name and searching through the records with the last name Hamilton is a huge task. The second name that he writes down is Gordon Matthews, in which I believe I found and you can view his declaration paper below. The last name I am trying to find information about is, who I believe to be, Harold Huycke, in which, I am assuming a next of kin, Meridith Huycke had written to Vincent about. I have found some soldiers with that last name from around the Peterborough area, but nothing that seems to match perfectly. If anyone has information on this soldier and his fate, as his family seems worried, I would love to know about him.

* Please look to the comments below posted by Nathen Moore, who thankfully explains a lot of the names above and where they came from and why Vincent would be talking about them. Thank you again Nathen for always being so insightful.


The last subject that I want to touch on in this letter is the German submarine warfare that Vincent discussed. As he mentioned, many of the Germans believed that victory would come from the water in the form of their U-boats, or submarines. Here is an article about it and how, though it didn't win them the war, the U-boats were devastating to the allies.


There were not many words within this letter in which I had much difficulty with, but I will post it to see if anyone can decipher the names of the soldiers better than I can. Also, if you check out the War Diary for the 18th for May 1917, you will see that Vincent was up to a lot at the beginning of the month.

As always, thank you for reading the letter, and if you have anything to add or correct please let me know. Feel free to share and such to anyone you would like.

Thank you,

Michael Ritchie

#1917 #CanadianMilitary #WorldWar1 #WWI #France #18thBattalion #uboats #submarines

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