November 12, 1916 (To Parents)


France

Dear Mother and Father,

This is Monday noon. I have just finished my dinner and am going to have all the afternoon to myself. Spent all morning in digging trenches so I will have to clean up considerable as it is very muddy work.

I also worked all day Sunday so this afternoon will be a welcome rest. I am probably going back to my battalion tomorrow so am getting a few things together.

Yesterday afternoon I had a fine bath in a Brewery, but not in beer as having it in a Brewery would lead you to suppose. The water was nice and warm so I thoroughly enjoyed it.

My latest letter from you was dated sometime about the 1st of October so you see how slow the mail is to reach me. I hope you are getting my letters alright.

I am getting so stout out here that my tunic which was a trifle roomy is now straining around the buttons.

Thanksgiving came and went and I never noticed it until the other day. You seem to lose track of the dates and the days out here.

Tuesday

Well we haven’t moved as of yet and have been taxed another days messing so I suppose I will be here for the day anyway. Was at a concert last night last night given in the Y.M.C.A. train and it was very good and very funny. One fellowed acted the part of Charlie Chaplin very well. Most of the funny things are said on the other side of the footlights though.

Wednesday

Well I am back with the battalion. I came in late last night after a long tramp. I was very tired but when I arrived I found a stack of mail waiting for me so it was worth while. I got a box from Annie & Allan Heideman with a fine pair of socks, some cigarettes and some fudge. It was very good of them and Mrs. Heideman. I am writing them this afternoon.

I got a letter from Jo Munroe in England with a snap taken back at Otterpool. I am sending it. It is very good.

Most of the letters I have received from you were dated around the 22nd of October.

You asked me what I would prefer in a box. Well a few cigars and tobacco perhaps would be appreciated I can tell you. We miss very well over here. Some Bovril or oxo does not go out of the way either. I got that box with the snaps in and they were fine. Margaret said in her letter she was sorry I didn’t receive it.

Well I will write soon. At present there is some pretty heavy stuff going over. It shakes everything. Well this is all for the present.

Your Loving Son,

Vincent

You see how hard it is to write any kind of a letter. I think this memorandum system will be the only way I can write anything at all.

There isn't much to look up or research for this letter, but I do find it a very interesting and important one nonetheless. It helps to show you the way that soldiers in France were thinking while they were there. What they missed from home, what entertainment they were provided, how they were receiving letters, even how they found that they had to write letters to keep up.

The important information within this letter is when he returned to his battalion, the 18th, after attending a machine gun training camp. Since this letter spans over the 12th, 13th and 14th, we know that he arrived back late at night on the 13th.

A couple other interesting and somewhat amusing observations that he had was about bathing in a brewery, with water not beer, and how he was becoming more "stout". I believe he means that he is becoming more muscled from all of the training and hard work, as I would find it hard to believe in his conditions that he would be packing on the fat.

There are a couple of words that I just couldn't fully make out through this one. Most of them I have a pretty good idea of what they are. The ones that I really am struggling with are the names (I can't tell if he is writing Hudman or Heiderman, as he writes them down close together and both look different), and the "Berial or oxo" line. I have included below pictures of the whole letter if you would like to take a look for yourself and let me know.

*Thanks to Lizbet Tobin through Facebook I was able to determine that it is the Heideman's, which is a family in Peterborough which was obviously pretty close to the Eastwood's. Annie and Alan would have just been children when sending this box to him. Their information from the 1911 Census is here. The other words are Bovril and Oxo which I figured out thanks to Kliff Goodman. These are both food products and Oxo is still around and pretty popular today. The Jo Munroe that he speaks of I presume is the one that was mentioned in a previous letter and his file can be found here.

Also, if you have any information on the Hudmans/Heidermans or Jo Munroe that would be appreciated as I can not find anything really about them.

Thank you all again for reading these letters. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. As always, like, share, and let me know if there is any information that I should be adding!

Michael Ritchie

#1916 #18thBattalion #France #CanadianMilitary #WorldWar1 #WWI #LettersFromVincent

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