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.

October 2016 Posts:

31 October 2016

One Manitoba Soldier: One quick letter to Mother

This week’s only letter is a short one, from George to his mother. The letter hints at the pace of communication as George refers to having been wounded in September. He seems to be responding to a letter from his mother on that topic.

He says to her: “I guess you were surprised that I was wounded but I have a nice job now + in a soft part of the line.”

The letter is a short, quick one because he has many to write. The letter feels hurried at the end: “I told Carrie all the news, excuse the writing, + I hope this war is over soon.”

George uncharacteristically signs it “Love.”

November 2, 1916 letter with 2 pages

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Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Letter from George Battershill,
November 2, 1916,
#755-756, 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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24 October 2016

One Manitoba Soldier: Tanks!

There are three letters from George Battershill for this week in 1916. In the second of these three, George writes to his father about the tanks that he has seen. Tanks were first used on 15 September 1916, at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, part of the Battle of the Somme.

George gave a brief report to his father:

“I was just reading in the news about the tanks as the newspapers see it + believe me they are some [right]. I have seen them in action + was close when they opened up.”

October 24, 1916 letter with 2 pages

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Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Letter from George Battershill,
October 24, 1916,
#748-749, P7471/4.

October 28, 1916 letter with 2 pages and an envelope

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Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Letter from George Battershill,
October 28, 1916,
#750-752A, P7471/4.

October 29, 1916 letter with 2 pages

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Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Letter from George Battershill,
October 29, 1916,
#753-754, 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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17 October 2016

One Manitoba Soldier:Too many letters to answer

In his one letter for this week, George Battershill writes to his mother, almost complaining about all of the letters that he needs to answer.

He explains:

“I had a four page letter from Mrs. Wallace the other day + I suppose I have to answer it. I didn’t think that when I started to write to one of her daughters that I would have to write to the family + there are about 12 in the family so I guess I have put my foot in the pot.”

This letter is also the first of several where he asks his mother to send underwear to help him cope with the warmer weather.

October 17, 1916 letter with 3 pages

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Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Letter from George Battershill,
October 17, 1916,
#745-747, 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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11 October 2016

One Manitoba Soldier: A “whiz bang” to mother

On October 11, 1916, George Battershill sent a “whiz bang” (field service postcard) to his mother to let her know a parcel (no. 1) had arrived. Whiz bang postcards were used to send a quick message home – one that wouldn’t be subject to censors. Senders would simply cross out all sentences that didn’t apply.

George used this postcard to tell his mother he was well, that the parcel had arrived and that he would write soon. (Read our June 8, 2015 blog post about “whiz bangs”.)

In the other two letters sent this week, George mentions to both his parents that he has had contact with an older soldier, Mr. Ratheram, who he seems to know from home.

To his father he writes:

“he seems well but was telling me where it hurts when he carries full pack + then his age tells. I guess it is an old man’s brains + a young man’s brawn that will end this war + he is getting pretty old but he is game, that is the main thing.”

(The Service Files of the First World War, 1914-1918 – CEF database on the Library and Archives Canada website shows a Harold Fred Ratheram, born 1873, from 195 Roseberry Street, Winnipeg who enlisted in the winter of 1916. This database is an excellent resource for information about Canadians who served in the First World War.)

Front of October 11, 1916 Field Service Post Card

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Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Field Service Post Card from George Battershill,
October 11, 1916,
#736-736A, P7471/4.

October 15, 1916 letter with 2 pages and an envelope

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Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Letter from George Battershill,
October 15, 1916,
#737-739A, 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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