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.

December 2016 Posts:

28 December 2016

One Manitoba Soldier: Christmas Day truce

George Battershill’s Christmas letters speak for themselves, particularly his mention of the Christmas Day Truce at his part of the line, somewhere in France. A few excerpts below:

Dec. 27, 1916, to his mother:

"On Xmas Day the Germans came over + gave us beer + cigars + some of the boys shook hands with them, but not for me. I have had many of my chums killed by those square heads + I would sooner turn a machine gun on them than shake hands."

Jan 1, 1917, to his mother:

“Just a line to say I received 3 parcels today, two from home + one from the Church. They sure came at the right time as we have had too much to eat the last week + my parcels came for New Years night. I have just come home from a concert in the Y.M.C.A. + it was pretty good but I wish I was looking at some show in Winnipeg now instead of Somewhere in France. I had a nice parcel from the Church 6 wrote to Mrs. B. thanking the Church.”

 “Well Mother dear, this has been a much different Xmas than last one but it has not been too bad. We were in the trenches for Xmas but are in huts just now + we are spending New Years Day pretty good. One of them parcels was from Carrie + one from you. On the back of one of the cards is #10 mailed Nov. 11th/16. Tell Carrie I wrote to her last night + don’t send any more cigarettes as I have quit smoking all together as it don’t agree with me. I have just seen some prisoners that the 42 took last night. We had some time on Xmas day. The Germans came over in bunches + gave us cigars + beer. For dinner today I had 4 eggs, 1 can corn + 1 can beans. Not too bad (ah what). Well Mother Dear I guess this is all just now.”

December 27, 1916 letter with 2 pages

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Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Letter from George Battershill,
December 27, 1916,
#800-801, 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 December 2016

One Manitoba Soldier:

George Battershill’s letters for this week include a short letter to each of his parents. George reports that he is waiting for his Christmas parcels, wishing he was home and thinking of this friends.

On Christmas Eve, 1916, he wrote the following to his father:

“Just a line to say I am well on the day before Xmas but I wish I was home to see Xmas. I have not received my Xmas parcels yet but they will be up tonight with rations. I am going to write to Emil + wished Mother had of thought to send him a parcel for Xmas, as I guess he is pretty lonely all by himself in a strange Hosp.”

December 22, 1916 letter with 2 pages

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Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Letter from George Battershill,
December 22, 1916,
#796-797, P7471/4.

December 24, 1916 letter with 2 pages

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Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Letter from George Battershill,
December 24, 1916,
#798-799, 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 December 2016

One Manitoba Soldier: Letters and parcels

This week’s letters from George Battershill include one to each of his parents and one to his sister Dorie. Much of what George writes about is the letters he’s received, the parcels he’s received, the parcels he expects to receive and the letters to which he needs to respond. He continues to be upset by the fact that he still hasn’t received a letter from his brother-in-law Harry but reports that he hears regularly from his brother Charlie who is now in England.

In his letter to his sister Dorie, dated 18 December 1916, he writes:

“I wish I was over in Eng[land] now Charlie is over + we both could go down to see Uncle + Auntie. I am expecting another parcel tonight from Auntie + hope it comes. You can give Dad a hint to send some good cigars as they go better than 20 cigarettes.”

December 14, 1916 letter with 2 pages

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Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Letter from George Battershill,
December 14, 1916,
#790-791, P7471/4.

December 18, 1916 letter with 2 pages

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Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Letter from George Battershill,
December 18, 1916,
#792-793, P7471/4.

December 18, 1916 letter with 2 pages

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Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Letter from George Battershill,
December 18, 1916,
#794-795, 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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5 December 2016

One Manitoba Soldier: “I hope we are home for next Christmas”

This week’s letters from George Battershill include one written to his father and one to his mother. George is anticipating the Christmas season and says to his father:

“Well I guess it is getting busy around home for Xmas. This will be the first time Charlie + I will be away from home for Christmas but I hope we are home for next Christmas.”

He also expresses concern for his friend, Emil, who had been injured:

  “If you know Emil’s address you want to write to him as he was wounded pretty bad. He was wounded in the arm + bladder + it was only his good health that saved him as a wound in the stomach is pretty bad.”

George often writes to each parent in the same week, but the messages are often quite different. It would be interesting to know if they read each other’s letters. While George has told his father that Emil’s wounds were “pretty bad,” he tells his mother that he has heard from Emil and he is “getting on fine.” 

George also writes to his mother about his practical needs. In this letter, he takes back an earlier request that she send underwear:

“… I don’t want you to send anymore if you have already sent some as I think. It is a waste of money. When it gets dirty we go to the baths + give it in for a clean suit + we don’t get as good back as we turn in.”

December 5, 1916 letter with 2 pages

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Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Letter from George Battershill,
December 5, 1916,
#786-787, P7471/4.

December 10, 1916 letter with 2 pages

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Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Letter from George Battershill,
December 10, 1916,
#788-789, 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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