• Michael Ritchie

October 21, 1916

Updated: Sep 19, 2019


France

Dear Mother and Father,

Well you will probably know by this time that I am into the big game. We are at present in billets and are very comfortable considering. I have an old inn bed and a fire place which keeps the cold out any way.

We have our happy home in a cellar and it can be made very comfortable. The only thing that bothers us are the rats and they are very numerous in these parts.

They are without any exaggeration about the size of small cats and are very bold. They chew through almost anything and we have great difficulty in keeping any grub.

I very quickly got acquainted with some very close companions when I arrived here and I suppose I will have to stick by them as they seem to be very flourishing in this quarter. If I lost these I might get more perhaps not quite so considerate. I wish you would send me at the first opportunity some oil of cedar which I believe is good.

We don't receive our mail very regularly here but I suppose we get it just the same. I hope you have sent that underwear as it is getting quite cool here now. There was some ice on the water this morning. The days are quite bright and clear, much like a Canadian autumn day. Things are drying up here a little.

I ran into Stevenson the day before yesterday and am now writing from his dugout or ratty cellar abode.

I am longing for some good Canadian tobacco. I don’t like this English tobacco and smoke cigarettes instead.

Steve and I were out this morning trying to have a look at the Bosche but lost our way and landed back in the place where we started from. Steve has already a collection of souvenirs. He got hold of a good automatic, a Bosche belt buckle and a clip of dumdums taken from a German sniper.

Well there is nothing much to write home about. I will write again at the 1st opportunity. When you are sending that tobacco, I wish you would send Hyman’s mixture which is good.

Well I expect to get a bunch of letters forwarded from England pretty soon, so then I will hear how you all are.

Well I will close this most uninteresting scrawl with love to all and kisses.

Your Loving Son,

Vincent

In this letter, Vincent shows some interesting insights into the life of Canadian soldiers during WWI when they are not in the trenches at the front. The size of the rats in the cellars that they are staying in is a bit concerning, but he doesn't seem that much worse for ware for it. Still trying to figure out exactly who Steve is at the moment, Vincent hasn't dropped the last name yet so that I can find him in the archives.

*As noted in other letters, Stevenson is Arthur Romeyn Stevenson. Still working on who Steve is though.....

Interesting to hear how he is talking about Steve acquiring souvenirs, it is somewhat unsettling when you really think about it but has been soldiers have done in centuries.

*The term dumdums that he talks about with the souvenirs is a bullet that snipers used sometimes during WWI that expanded when it hit to create more damage. Thank you to Eric and Nathen for pointing that out to me!

One thing to note, the word Bosche (Bosch or Boche as well) that he uses a couple times within the letter is a slang word for the Germans that the allies used throughout WWI.

Below you will see the full letter and you can look at the words that I was having a little trouble with and see if you can help me out.


Page #2 and Page #1

Page #3

Well that's about it for this letter. Hope you enjoy it! Feel free to share and let me know if there is anything that I should be adding.

Thank you for reading!

Michael Ritchie

#1916 #LettersFromVincent #France #WorldWar1 #WWI

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