• Michael Ritchie

May 18, 1917

Updated: Mar 11, 2019


Dear Mother & Father,

Well today is another bright sun shiny day. Just had an inspection and the men all turned out fine after a pretty strenuous month and more. Some of the familiar faces were missing but their places were filled by some fine looking draught men.

Am sending you the picture I intended to send before. It is a bit soiled from carrying around. I received your boxes this last week from you and thanks very much. Received the one that Aunt Mary put the candy in. Am going to write her today.

You don’t need to send me sugar or anything like that as we get plenty in the rations. The rations have been simply wonderful. England eventually is going to feed her fighting men even if they go short at home.

Would like awfully if you would send me some light underwear. Short flannel undergarments would be the best. As you know by this time I received the winter flannels OK quite a while ago. It is rather warm at the present for flannel clothing and it holds the lice pretty bad too. These Bosche dug outs are regular incubators for them.

Hope you receive my letters all right now. I will drop you a cable occasionally.

Was just out for a long walk with a friend of mine. We happened to pass through an apple orchard in the course of our ramblings. The trees were all in blossom and the grass was covered with petals. Here and there a shell hole pitted the ground and in some places a tree shattered like as if a lightning bolt had hit it where there was a direct hit by a shell.

Poor Harold Willis’ death was quite a blow to all of us. I have never seen him since he left Canada, but was looking for him when I heard from an officer he was killed. He is one of the great many that the Bosche got to answer for and we will keep at it until they are avenged.

Well my leave hasn’t come as yet. Am taking over command of a company tomorrow and there might be something in it for me. The company O.C. is going to a training school and will not likely be back, at any rate I have the prospects of a 2nd in command of a company anyway.

Inclosed you will find a little flower picked off the side of a shell hole, so it is not all desolation here.

Love to all and kisses.

Your Loving Son,

Vincent

This letter has a lot of intriguing narrative in it that span as wide a range of emotions and thoughts that we have seen in a letter home from Vincent. He delves into the regular chit-chat every letter home includes; the weather, what he got from home, that he will write soon, and of course, more about his underwear situation. Though it is not a long letter, he does get into a couple of other subjects that I think are really interesting.

The first is how this is the first time I remember from his letters that he seems to have some anger towards the Germans for the deaths of his comrades and friends. He talks about avenging them and making the Bosche answer for what they have done. He writes of recognising that the last couple of months, which included Vimy, has been tough on his men and how there are familiar faces missing among the crowd. He also does mention how he found out about a man he knew from back homes passing. I am not 100% sure from the letter what the last name of the man is though, so maybe someone could help to clarify that. Nathen Moore, who has been extremely helpful with finding soldiers mentioned in the letters, mentioned that the Harold Vincent wrote about last letter was most likely Harold Matthews. That is a good possibility for this Harold as well because I think the timing would link up, but it seems that what Vincent has written in the above letter doesn't over look like Matthews, but more like a Willis or Hills or Mills. I could be wrong there though.

Another thing that I want to touch on from this letter is the notion that though war is terrible, Vincent is still finding beauty in the world around him. Though a war is brewing around him, Mother Nature still moves on with the seasons and Spring is still in the air. He mentions the apple trees blossoming and picking flowers from the side of craters made from shell fire. I find it somewhat poetic.

The last two things I would like to mention from this letter is the mention of the bugs in the trenches. I found a pretty detailed blog post about the bugs that you can find here, but it seems like a common theme in his letters home. Also, he seems to have received a promotion, which will see him in charge of a company now. I believe in his records this would be where he began being an active Captain, but I could be wrong there.

Thank you all for reading and as always, please let me know if there is anything I should change or add, and share to anyone who you think might enjoy reading these. The letter itself is posted above.

Thank you,

Michael Ritchie

#1917 #WorldWar1 #WWI #18thBattalion #captain #france #spring #apples #bosche #trenches #lice #CanadianMilitary #LettersFromVincent

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