November 5, 1917
Updated: Mar 11, 2019
Dear old Steve,
Well you certainly did me a great old going over in your letter of October 5th and I deserve everything. You probably haven’t been getting your mail regularly forwarded from Holt’s bank. I wrote you several times last month, answered the letter you wrote from off ship board and am sure some are going astray if you have not received three or four lately.
Many thanks for the box you sent me. There was a card in it from Jessie Rollins saying she was forwarding it for you. It was darn fine of you Steve.
The people were writing that you had been up to see them shortly after you arrived in Peterborough and Mother thought it mighty fine of you. I suppose you can give them a pretty vivid description of life out here. You probably know just where we are at present, and believe me it is some riot. Mud! Wow! I never thought it possible for such to exist. About 3” down and you strike running water. All previous wars are just peace celebrations believe me.
Your description of how dry you are in Ontario makes me take my rum with thanks. Sometimes you don’t mind offensives as long as you serve rum with the party.
I often think of the times we were together out here and lots of things and believe me when you left for England I felt lost for about a couple of months.
Trendell of the 19th was killed recently. Probably you remember him. I don’t think you would remember anybody in the Battalion now or this battalion except John Haistons perhaps.
Jack McNabb must be in a bad way and pretty badly used up.
When you talk about Ketchecum and Deer Bay Creek you almost make me crazy to get back. Oh if we could only crash out for a hunt together again and forget this rotten mess of a war and get the sound of these guns out of my ears. I am afraid I am pretty well fed up on it all. About four captains senior tome have returned after a stay in England since April. I don’t know how it will effect me. I am allowed to wear these pips until my acting captaincy comes through. A general muddle up in the seniority lists.
I see by your letter that some of your old friends have well closed up a a shade. It is a true saying. - habits acquired etc.
Steve I wish you were on some of the expeditions we have made this summer. You know I have a horse and can get most any place. You know the old haunts. When I next sit down to a nice civilized iced (clean) soda I will remember you and it won’t be Orful Ork away either.
Am still debating with myself whether it would be advisable to join the R.F.C. but everybody says I am too heavy. I weigh the odd 200lbs now. Have been up in the air once and enjoyed it, but can tell you I had some experience.
The chap taking me up I think was trying to get my wind up but but it was impossible. I had the odd shot under my belt.
We were up about 3000 and sailing along Jake. I was in the little gun well behind and looking over the tail. I am darn sure he looked around and saw that I was not expecting anything. He tilted the nose down almost straight. I left the seat and as I was going out I grabbed the bar which the gun was mounted on and hung on. When we straightened out, I only had about one foot in the darn machine. He tried several other stunts but everything was new tome and I had a whale of a time. Was up for almost ¾ of an hour and was over part of our trenches. It is certainly a great life. He told me after and that he felt me leave the machine and got his wind up.
Well Steve, old boy, I will try and drop you a line more regularly. Hope you get settled down over there and give my regards to the best little girl in the world. Hear you were up to see Emma Cox.
Good luck to you old man and goodbye for the present.
(This is about the longest letter I have ever completed)
Yours as ever,
V Mc. Eastwood
This is an extremely interesting letter filled with a number of fascinating stories and observations. From the beginning of the letter it is somewhat of a mystery as I am not 100% sure of who this letter is directed to. He has, on rare occasion mentioned a Steve before in his letters. My thoughts, which I am not sure if they are correct, is that it is his good friend Arthur Romeyn Stevenson, in which he might refer to as Steve? Yet, in most of his letters home to his parents, he always refers to him as Romeyn Stevenson (though he spells it Romaine), which would lead me to believe that he would normally call him by the name Romeyn. Also, from this letter it seems that the gentleman that he is talking about spent some time in the 18th with him, in which I don't believe Romeyn did, them being split up after the 93rd dissolved I thought. I have contacted some readers, who initially contacted me, that are doing a book on the Ketchecum Hunt Club, which he mentions above, to see if they might be able to figure out who this Steve is. Another sign that points to it possibly being Romeyn is that he was sent home before this letter with Vincent's souvenirs to give to his parents. I will keep you updated when I come to a conclusion on the matter.
Another extremely entertaining part of this letter is his description of his first flight in an airplane. The pilot seemed to be having some fun with him while showing him some tricks of the trade. It doesn't seem like that flight really dampened his spirits on flying, as in this letter he mentions that he is still trying to figure out whether or not he wants to join the R.A.F., which he seems to have been mulling over for the last three or four letters.
He also mentions a couple of people within this letter that the Steve gentleman might know. I could not find a John Haistons, but I am also not sure if I have that last name right, it may be a W and not an H? I also could not find Jack McNabb, mostly because looking into the records for WWI soldiers, there are a good deal of John McNabbs, which he could possibly be one of. If anyone has any information on who those two soldiers might be, that would be very helpful. The one name that I am pretty sure that I figured out was Trendell. I believe this to be Edwin Alfred Trendell, which is seen in the 19th Battalions Nominal Roll from 1915. He was originally injured during Vimy Ridge on April 9th, and then unfortunately he was listed as Killed In Action on November 4, 1917, which would line up with him dying shortly before this letter is written. I am not sure how exactly Vincent and Steve knew Edwin, as he was in another Battalion, and seemed to have been from Hamilton, but obviously they were saddened by his passing.
There is a lot of mention of people and places from home in this letter, and you can tell that Vincent is very homesick and is about done with being at war, obviously the glamour of battle has worn off. What he doesn't know while writing this, is that he will soon be out of it as this is his second last letter home before he gets injured, 6 days from when this letter was written. The last thing I want to mention about this letter is how he mentioned it was "dry" in Ontario and how it made him enjoy his rum in thanks. This is because at this time the Ontario Temperance Act was in place (started in 1916) which prohibited the sale of alcohol in Ontario.
The letter will be shown below. If you have any suggestions for words that I could not verify please let me know and let me know if you can find out who this Steve is! You can find out what the Battalion was doing at this time as well here.
Thank you for reading and as always please share and let me know if there is anything I should add or if there is something that I got wrong.