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Remembering the First World War – Archives Blog

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At Home and Away: Remembering the First World War through records at the Archives of Manitoba

Visit this blog for regular posts about records at the Archives of Manitoba that date from the time of the First World War. Visit the Archives of Manitoba to see the records in person.

From April 2016 to April 2017, this blog will feature the First World War letters of one Manitoba soldier, George Battershill, of East Kildonan. Most of the letters were written to his mother or to his father. The blog will follow the letters that George wrote in the same week, one hundred years ago.

September 2016 Posts:

26 September 2016

One Manitoba Soldier: Out of Money

George Battershill’s letters home to his parents are often quite repetitive – the same requests and themes carry from one letter through to the next several. It is a reminder that the pace of communication was slow and that George may have questioned whether or not all of his letters were getting delivered.

The letters for this week include repeated requests for money, including details on the best way to send it.

George wrote to his father that his pay cheque only lasts a day because prices in the French villages are high and because he needs to contribute to group activities:

“You know how it is with the boys dubbing in for different things + if you don’t help well you
are out of the fun.”

September 29, 1916 letter with 2 pages

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Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Letter from George Battershill,
September 29, 1916,
#731-732, P7471/4.

September 30, 1916 letter with 2 pages and an envelope

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Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Letter from George Battershill,
September 30, 1916,
#733-735A, P7471/4.

Search Tip: Search the Battershill family fonds in Keystone for more information. All of the George Battershill letters have been digitized and can be read from the database (if you can’t wait for the weekly installments!).

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19 September 2016

One Manitoba Soldier: Back at the Front

Following his injury on September 15, George writes to his mother and to his father that he has rejoined his battalion and hopes to be in the trenches again soon. He doesn’t write much of the battle itself but says “Quite a few of our boys were killed and some came through without a scratch.”

He also reports that he lost his kit and he needs money, paper, envelopes, ink and cigarettes. He ends the letter with a plea to his mother: “don’t forget some more toffey”.

September 21, 1916 letter with 2 pages

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Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Letter from George Battershill,
September 21, 1916,
#725-726, P7471/4.

September 23, 1916 letter with 2 pages

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Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Letter from George Battershill,
September 23, 1916,
#727-728, P7471/4.

September 24, 1916 letter with 2 pages

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Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Letter from George Battershill,
September 24, 1916,
#729-730, P7471/4.

Search Tip: Search the Battershill family fonds in Keystone for more information. All of the George Battershill letters have been digitized and can be read from the database (if you can’t wait for the weekly installments!).

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12 September 2016

One Manitoba Soldier: Wounded

George Battershill was wounded in battle on September 15, 1916, the day that Canadians launched their first major attack on the Somme, at Flers-Courcelette. George wrote of his injury to his father two days later:

“Well I got hit in the shoulder + am at a camp for a few days to get ready to join the Batt again. I was hit in the left shoulder by a piece of shell but it only was a slight wound + I am feeling pretty good now. I expect to be back with the Batt soon. I have lost all my things + want you to send me a few $ to [by] more things with. I had a nice parcel from Mother the day we went into the trenches + I carried it in with me but it went up with the rest of the stuff from what I heard we are only allowed to write one letter a week so don’t get worrying if you don’t [here] from me for a while.”

George was injured on September 15 and rejoined his unit on September 19. George’s letter, and the news of his injury, took several weeks to arrive in Winnipeg. The letter was postmarked in France on the 18th, in Montreal on September 30th and in Manitoba on October 4th.

September 17, 1916 letter with 2 pages and an envelope

enlarge (4 images)

Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Letter from George Battershill,
September 17, 1916,
# 722-724A, P7471/4.

Search Tip: Search the Battershill family fonds in Keystone for more information. All of the George Battershill letters have been digitized and can be read from the database (if you can’t wait for the weekly installments!).

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6 September 2016

One Manitoba Soldier: Back to the Machine Gun Section

At the beginning of September, 1916, George wrote to his father that he had decided to return to the Machine Gun Section as it was “more interesting than left, right all day.” 

He wrote to both his of his parents this week and told them both about a 6 page letter from Tootse McL [McLaren?] “+ she has not forgotten me.”

Finally, he reports that he is once again out of money and cigarettes.

Search Tip: Search the Battershill family fonds in Keystone for more information. All of the George Battershill letters have been digitized and can be read from the database (if you can’t wait for the weekly installments!).

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