• Michael Ritchie

September 12, 1916

Updated: Aug 28, 2019


Dear Margaret,

I just received the lovely pair of socks you and mother knit and sent me. I just marched in from Lydd about a distance of sixteen or seventeen miles and I was dusty and dirty and my feet were sore. I had a poor fitting pair of boots. Was washing my feet when a funny thing happened. The postman handed me a parcel and the parcel contained the two pair socks. So you may be sure I did not take long in getting into a pair. They are beautifully knit and came at a most opportune moment.

Another draught is leaving tomorrow so we have been working hard getting them equipped and ready for overseas.

Received a letter from Art Ackerman giving me a little advice which will come in handy and saying he expected to see me soon. He also said that if I got across in the Infantry and had a little experience he would do what he could to get me into the Trench Mortar Battery.

This is a great country over here. The longer I am here and the better I get to know it, the better I like it. If you take the Canada’s off your shoulders you can get around without it costing you much.

I have not yet been on leave or been to any place of Folkestone and some of the places in the immediate vicinity of the camp, but have taken long walks to villages around about.

Steve got a bundle of Examiners tonight. I see that [Harola Long] failed to get his matriculations. We got a list of the matriculation results. They can do whatever they choose in regard to my matriculation now. It isn’t worth a hill of beans to be at present.

I received along in the same mail as I received the socks a dandy knitted silk tie from Mar Neill and a nice letter. So you see this has been more or less of a Red letter day for me. Well send me some snaps of the folks at the earliest opportunity and I will try and get some off to you soon. I was broke and pawned my camera one day but have since bought it back again so I can still take snaps.

Well take care of yourself and the folks at home.

Your Loving Brother,

Vincent

This is a shorter post as it is only written a day before a post that Vincent had written to his parents that held most of the same information found in this letter. That post and letter can be found here.

The main thing that I want to share about this letter is that when I first started flipping through the letters and saw the name Margaret, I just assumed that he was writing letters to his love and eventual wife-to-be Margaret, but I was gravely mistaken. These letters are to his sister Margaret (you see, kind of confusing). I found this out as this is the first letter addressed to Margaret and he signs it "Your Loving Brother", as well as in the letter he discusses getting something from Mar Neill, which is his wife. Also, I found out that though Margaret Neill had a sister named Agnes, which I thought was the one referred to in a previous letter, it was his sister Agnes (very, very confusing). In some letters he also refers to a Jack, which as of now I am 80% sure that is his brother John which is nicknamed Jack. I have just come to these conclusions as I have just received the ability to check ancestry.ca to figure out the family tree (thanks Leslie!).

Having figured that out, there are only 2 other things that I would like to share about this letter. First, is what the word matriculation means, because until this letter I have never seen this word. As per dictionary.com, matriculation means: to enroll in a college or university as a candidate for a degree. So apparently someone he knew did not get into university by the sounds of the letter.

The second thing I want to mention is the man mentioned Art Ackerman. I did a little research and there was an Arthur Ackerman that was in the Canadian military and was with the Mortar division at the time of this letter. He was from Peterborough so I assume that he is the one that Vincent is talking about. I would think that he and Art would be friends or at least close acquaintances if he had taken the time to write. Sadly, I found out that Arthur got shot on the front lines a mere 11 days after this letter was written, and died in a hospital in England shortly after that. Unfortunately Vincent never got to see his friend again. I found an article in the Peterborough Examiner, which is mentioned above, apparently still going strong after over 100 years, from 2015 that talks about Arthur Ackerman. Unfortunately it is about someone vandalizing his grave, which is equally as sad, but provides a lot of information about his life. The link is here.


Page 4 and Page 1

Page 3 and Page 2

Thank you as always for reading the letters. Be sure to share and let me know if there is anything that I have missed.

Michael Ritchie

#1916 #canada #england #CanadianMilitary #WWI #LettersFromVincent #WorldWar1

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