September 22, 1916
Dear Mother & Father,
Well you will be wondering why you haven’t heard from me before. The fact of the matter is we are just out of about a week’s quarantine for Spinal meningitis. We had several cases and one death this morning. One of the Frosts. I think his first name is Thomas. He has a brother with us. The poor fellow, he had a hard time of it and his brother feels pretty bad.
Eight of the subalterns left this morning for France to join various battalions over there. Steve went with them and we felt sort of bad about separating having come this far. Hubert, Romaine and I were in Folkestone all day yesterday getting Steve fixed up and then we had a little dinner. He has gone to the 19th.
The camp is kind of deserted today. There are only about two hundred and fifty men left and they will be likely going the end of the week in a draught. The 93rd has been made a base or rather reserve battalion and the officers left are on the instructional Cadre but I hope to get out soon.
Am going on my long promised leave the end of the month. It is getting very monotonous this [musketry] and I will be glad when it is through. We tramp down to Hythe down a tremendous hill and about a distance of five miles every morning five but it is getting us into great conditions.
I suppose you are all home from Chemong now and getting settled down for the winter. It is pretty cool in the morning here and damp now so I bought an oil stove so we are fairly comfortable. I haven’t as yet received the box you mentioned in your letter but I suppose it is on its way.
Last night there was another air raid and we heard blasts dropping and the flashes so they were not very far distant. We heard [nine] reports. Read in the paper this morning that they dropped two zepps and bagged a submarine at Hythe, but they were not confirmed.
Am going to cable you tomorrow so you will not worry until you get this letter.
How is everybody at home. I suppose you are all settled down now for the winter. I know [it gets] pretty [dame] cold here in the evenings and in the early mornings.
It is so long since I wrote my letter I forgot to thank you for the beautiful socks you sent me. They are great on the feet and are [knit so they] will last. Am just writing now to thank Mar Neill for the lovely tie she sent me.
Well expect a letter from you soon. I have been receiving letters from home fairly regularly and I hope you are receiving mine the same.
Well goodnight and I will write soon a real letter with some snaps. Here are a few with this letter. I look as if I had bit on a worm in most of them.
Well love to all and hoping [you] are well.
Your Loving Son,
This letter does not have a ton to research to it, though it does have some pretty interesting notes about what is happening around him at this time. The fact that he was quarantined for such a deadly disease is a bit frightening. It is also quite sad that a set of brothers were broken up by a death before they even reached the fields of France. I found a paper written by an American doctor about Spinal Meningitis around the same time period and his findings on it. I link for that is here.
Another thing that I found a bit saddening is the fact that his friend from home Steve, which has been mentioned in a couple of letters past, has been sent over in another division. I am still trying to work out exactly who Steve is, because he doesn't mention a last name, but I will keep looking and try to find out what happened to him. I remember my Grandmother saying that he had told her he left with 8 or 9 friends and he was the only one that came back. So, from that it is not looking great for Steve, Hubert and Romaine, but I will see what I can find out.
*As I have found out in future letters, Romaine is actually Arthur Romeyn Stevenson who is talked about later but you can see his file here. Not sure who Steve is yet, but Hubert could possibly be John Hubert Eastwood which may be an cousin of Vincent's, his file is here. Interesting to note that the medical officer sign off on both of these young men is J.H. Eastwood, which is also listed as Hubert's father and presumably the uncle of Vincent.
Another interesting thing that he mentions is the ability to hear a night raid on a city that is not very far away from his location. He mentions it was at Hythe, which he and his company apparently walk to every morning and is only about 5 miles away. He mentions how they had taken down (or that is how I am interpreting it) two "zepps", which would be the German airships called Zepplins, and one of the German submarines.
The 93rd battalion at this moment is on the verge of breaking up and being divided among other battalions. As you can see, many of his friends are already leaving the 93rd and moving on. I have looked ahead as you will see, he goes through the breaking up of the battalion a couple of times.
I am also assuming that he was writing this letter over a span of a couple of days as he mentions the same thing a couple of times, but I could be wrong there. He also mentions that he had sent some "snaps" which are what we would call today, pictures. I do not have these unfortunately though I really wish I did.
There were a couple of different words and phrases that I had trouble with while reading this one. You will see them below and hopefully you can help me out. (Just click on the images to see what I believe they are, or aren't.)
Another thing that I came across during some of my research is a newspaper article from 2014 from Peterborough that has a little more information about the 93rd battalion. The picture below is from that article and the link to it is here.
Hope you enjoy! I don't know if I will be able to get one done for next week as I am away, but I will see what I can do. As always, share and let me know if there is anything that you would like me to add!
Thanks for reading,