April 18, 1917


Dear Mother & Father,

Received your letters, also the apples for which I thank you. Hope you received my two cables. I also received my flannels OK and they are splendid. I hope you will excuse my long delay in writing you but as you will read by the papers things have been frightfully busy of late. The Canadians stunt at Vimy and all the rest was simply wonderful but, we lost quite a few fine fellows.

Well there is very little news that I can tell you that you have not already read. I have a big bunch of souvenirs etc. which I am trying to send home. I have a helmet of a Bosche artillery officer and it is a wonderful affair. Have seen the tanks in action and all the rest of the show. We certainly did clean up the Bosche properly.

Hope you are all as well as I am. Have just had a bathe and have got rid of a few odd big fat Bosche bugs.

During the past six days have subsisted on German rye bread, tinned stuff, Lydd rations and am getting as fat as a porpoise on it too.

At the rate we are going at it now peace ought not to be long in coming. I suppose the States being in the war will make a difference of a day or so.

Just received a parcel of socks for the men from D.O.E. Everything is pretty wet out here. Have been sleeping in the mud for a week or so but am now in a tent and am not going so bad. This is the only fault with a early spring campaign.

Well I will write soon and often now, hope you were not worried at not receiving any mail for a while.

My Military Cross just came through yesterday for a stunt on a raid. Have put up the ribbon and it is a terribly loud colour.

Well I will close with a promise to write often. Hope our recent efforts will bring peace all the sooner. Love and kisses to all.

Your Loving Son,

Vincent

As most of reading this blog will know, Vimy Ridge was a huge step forward for the Allies during WWI and one of the defining moments in Canadian Military history. If for some reason you aren't aware of Vimy, here is a brief synopsis of the events. Though Vincent does not get into that great of detail on the events that transpired during Vimy, he does give us a small glimpse.

He seems to speak with pride for Canadian Victory but also acknowledges that the victory did come at a high cost. He speaks of how it was the first time that he has seen tanks in action, which at that time would be something extraordinary and amazing to see, though most of them got stuck in the mud. A little more about the tanks used in WWI can be read, and listened to, here.


If you would like to know a bit more detail about what Vincent, as well as the 18th Battalion, was up to during the Battle of Vimy Ridge, the 18th's War Diary can be found here for the month of April 1917. It is an amazing resource filled with details, maps, and knowledge of what specific soldiers were doing at specific times. Eric Edwards has done an amazing job on his site.

Vincent also discusses a few of the souvenirs he has obtained through the war. He talks about finding a German Artillery Officer's helmet, which to my knowledge is one of the nicely adorned spiked helmets the German military wore at that time. I could only really find pictures online that came from eBay and such, so if anyone would like to share a picture they have, or have found, of an authentic officer helmet that would be much appreciated.

*As Nathen states in the comments, the D.O.E. stands for Daughters of the Empire, which is a charitable organisation that provided some socks!

The last thing I want to discuss is the very casual way that he mentioned receiving his Military Cross. He received it for performing a night raid on an enemy trench and apparently causing a lot of havoc. I have the newspaper clippings from the Peterborough Examiner I believe but I do not have a scanner handy at the moment. I did find the post in the London Gazette from May 26, 1917, so quite a while after he physically received the metal. You will find a very interesting name in the Canadian Military Cross winners before Vincent's. My family is still in possession of his Military Cross so I will add a picture of that as well.



There were a few words in which I had some difficulty, nothing extremely imperative though. The letter will be displayed below if you would like to help me figure out what I am missing!

As always, thank you for taking the time to read the letter and the information that follows. Hopefully you found it as interesting as I do. If you have any other information about the 18th at Vimy Ridge or Vimy Ridge in general I would love to see it! Feel free to share and comment and such.

Thank you again,

Michael Ritchie

#1917 #VimyRidge #MilitaryCross #BillyBishop #GermanHelmet #canada #CanadianMilitary #Canadian #18thBattalion #LettersFromVincent #tanks

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