Saturday, November 18, 2006

November 11th Lest We Forget

I would like to start off stating that I did not forget to post on Remembrance Day, it was that I was not near a computer for about a week.

I was summoned with a task this morning by my Mother to seek out two listings in the Canadian National Archives under soldiers whom served in World War I (1914-1918). They would be my Great Uncles or my Grandmother's Brothers. The reason for her request is that tomorrow there is a remembrance get together at the church where people could bring photo's, letters, and other memorabilia and talk about it together as an act of remembering those who fought and served.

Now I started browsing and came across The Canadian Letters and Images Project. It is a collection of letters from soldiers to their families and also letters from the military to the families when the soldier had been killed. Here is an excerpt Cullen Perry to his mother December 18th 1917.

23 Squadron
R.F.C. Aboukir Egypt 18th Dec. 1917
My Own Dear Mother
For ten whole days I've neglected writing. We've had terrible storms, rain and wind however thank goodness its warmer to-day and we can fly as usual. Its like June at home but not warm for here and I'll be glad when it a bit warmer.
No post in for two weeks - hope the subs haven't sunk it like they did our Xmas post out here two years ago.
I mentioned in my last letter that it would be alright to send my letters c/o Cox's Alexandria but perhaps Mother it will be just as well to send it as usual to Abbots as I'll be going back to England in the spring. I saw in a London paper that Bob Dow has been killed - am writing Gladys Greenwood to day. She must feel it very much as I'm sure she liked Bob better than anybody. I haven't a speck of news Mother. Since last writing I haven't done a thing except read, sleep and eat. Expect its awfully cold at home now and Saturday is probably the big Xmas fair. It seems years and years since I was home for a Xmas fair and it probably is a good many for before the war we only got home Xmas eve. What a terrible disaster at Halifax. The suspense of the soldiers in France from there - waiting for news of their relatives must be awful. I haven't sent any Xmas letters [missing] didn't have time before [missing] and it was far too [missing] got here. However I [missing] be missed. I would love to see the house since its been bricked. What a change there must be. I do hope Mother Dear you're living in it soon.
Will probably get lots of letters from you and John the next mail which I hope comes very soon.
Love to Dr and Mrs Lavery and all my friends. Tons for yourself. Your Loving Son Cullen

He died in a plane crash February 3rd 1918 in Alexandria, Egypt.

The amazing thing after reading through almost all of the letters is that the soldiers all seemed upbeat and just looked forward to home. The biggest gripe was the weather over in England and constantly catching a cold or the flu.

Thank you to all who have served and continue to. We will never forget.


Anonymous said...

Did you find your relatives?


Whiskey Yankee said...

Nice one! And there is a danger that our memory may get diluted. By the time all the peaceniks have their demos and white poppies etc., the message might become warped.
I'm not particularly emotional but a couple of years ago I visited the Merchant Navy memorial on Tower Hill, London, took one look at all the names and burst into tears. Being exMN (tankers) myself it wasn't the thought of the horrible way in which many would die, just the sheer numbers. The British MN lost a greater percentage of men than any other service. The most disgraceful thing about it being that the minute your ship was sunk they stopped paying you - floating around the Atlantic on a log - for nothing! Am presently reading "The History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900".It leaves you in no doubt of the sacrifices we made. At church last Sunday, we all wrote postcards to the boys out in Iraq. It is also easy to forget them too. Thanks FD.

Flyin Dutchman said...

I did find them on the site but the only digital products that they have on-line thus far is their application to join the army. Still pretty cool though as it contains a scanned image of the paper they filled out with all their info on it. So how is the new location ?

I agree with you.

I am not only a pacifist but a militant pacifist. I am willing to fight for peace. Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.
Albert Einstein

So WY they stopped paying you when your ship was sunk ? What happens when you get back to shore and you report for service ? Back pay ? Brutal. Thanks for the comments their appreciated.

Greybeard said...

"I am willing to fight for peace."

What a wonderful way of putting it. I think most servicemen would say the same.

The question is, when do you realize you need to fight? Do you wait until you are so far behind that you have no control?

Most soldiers hate war.
Most realize there comes a time to recognize that you must fight, (Great Britain in the late '30's, when it was nearly too late.)

I'm worried about what I see happening around me. Too much Neville Chamberlain, not enough Winston Churchill.

Thanks for the great post.

Flyin Dutchman said...

Hey Greybeard,

Sorry for the delay posting the comment, just got home :)

As for soldiers hating the war I can't even imagine. I watched a special on Remembrance day showing one Canadian's experience in the trenches. I think mentally I would not be able to handle year upon year (if I was lucky) of it and wonder if the experience would just not leave you almost wanting death. But then again the thought of the Germans winning and everything I believe in falling at their hands would make me really go and kick some ass till the end which I am sure all of the men did.

Since I personally have no experience from which to speak of (Air Cadet Basic Camp isn't too hellish ;)I know how I feel about War from what I got from watching Band of Brothers series in two days. I had the time and watched episode after episode and it plays like a movie.

There is so much death,sadness,cruelty,compassion,
tragedy, and the odd act of uncommon kindness that after the second day all my aggressiveness, and ideas of the glory of war were gone. I just wanted peace and to not see one more person killed.

It was a well made series and if I could hypothesis about how war would be like I think it would portray it well.

But like you said Greybeard knowing when to fight is the question.

Again thank you for your comments as they are appreciated and I apologize for the delay.