November 27, 1917


That sig. On envelope is a work of art

Dear Mother and Father, Just a very short note with my left hand so pardon the writing and the brevity of same.

I hope you are all well and know that I am all right so you are not doing any unneccesary worrying.

My wound is getting okay fine. I am the luckiest person imaginable. Missed all organs and only hit my collar bone. Of course it made quite a little hole but it is gradually filling up.

I am still in France as you see. Continue sending my mail to the Bn. until I send you an address.

I ought to be in Blighty by Xmas anyway.

Am in a very good hospital with the best of attention.

Well this is my first attempt at writing. My right is all tied up except at the fingers so it is impossible to write with it.

Love and kisses to all

Your Loving Son

Vincent

To Jean, this is not Chinese, behave yourself.

Vincent was injured during the battle of Passchendaele on November 10, 1917, shortly after his last letter home. From his records it seems that he had what they designated as "G.S.W. Back sev." which I believe stands for "General Shrapnel Wound in Back severe (or several)". It is an amazing help with situations like this to have the Archives of Canada for all of the digitized paperwork on our First World War soldiers. All the information is in one file on what hospitals he attended and all of his medical information that correlates to this wound from when he was injured to years and years in the future. You can see his full file, all 100 pages of it, here. I would invite anyone who has relatives that fought in WWI to check their name in the database and see what amazing information you can find. It has been a great help for me and I believe that all of the files should be digitized now.

From the 18th Battalion's War Diary for November, you can tell that the fighting was intense around the time of Vincent's injury as between the 9th and 12th of November the 18th had the following casualties:

45 Soldiers Killed In Action

60 Soldiers Wounded

6 Officers Wounded (Vincent being one of them)

25 Soldiers Gassed

1 Officer Gassed

That is quite the hefty toll for 4 days on the Front Line. From his papers, we can tell that Vincent is listed as injured on the 10th, and listed as being taken to the hospital on the 11th. He went to the British Red Cross Field Hospital in Le Touquet, also known as the Duchess of Westminster's Hospital. Here is a website with a little bit more about Field Hospitals and all the ones used in the First World War.Below I have a paper that was written in 1918 stating a little bit more about the injury and at that time clearing him to return to duty in an instructional role. If you wish there are many other papers in his file describing the injury. I picked this one because it was straight to the point and the clearest to read as it is typed not handwritten.


As for the letter itself, it was a bit more difficult to read than his usual letters, but thankfully it was pretty short. He does seem to be in fairly good spirits. Whether this is because he is happy to be alive, or just happy to be away from the horrors of the Front Line, it is hard to tell. It is nice to see him joking about his penmanship with his left hand and he seems to be relatively comfortable. I copy of the letter will be listed under as always.

Thank you all for reading this as always. Feel free to share with the anyone who might be interested and let me know if there is anything that needs to be corrected or added!

Thank you

Michael Ritchie

#1917 #injury #wounded #18thBattalion #France #passchendaele #WorldWar1 #WWI #LettersFromVincent #history #canada #CanadianMilitary

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