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.

January 2017 Posts:

30 January 2016

One Manitoba Soldier: The best parcels

This week’s letters include two to George’s mother and one to his father.

George’s first letter to his mother and is a long 5 pages in which he primarily discusses the best things to receive in a parcel:

“some cocoa or tea, a little taffee + the best thing to eat is those Trilbies – you know those kind with dates in them + they go very good at any time.”

He goes on to tell her that she can send all the socks she can “get a hold of.” Finally, he asks for cigars but tells his mom that he has quit smoking cigarettes.

George writes to his father and thanks him for a card that he sent. He says that some of the boys are “nearly laughing themselves to death” over it. The last page of the letter seems to have had the top cut out, possibly by the censors.

front of whizbang from February 3, 1917

enlarge (2 images)

Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Field Service Post Card from George Battershill,
February 3, 1917,
#831, P7471/5.

February 5, 1917 letter with 3 pages

enlarge (3 images)

Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Letter from George Battershill,
February 5, 1917,
#832-834, P7471/5.

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!).

Feedback (0)

E-mail us at archiveswebmaster@gov.mb.ca with a comment about this blog post. Your comments may be included on this page.

back to top

23 January 2016

One Manitoba Soldier: Not in the humour to write

There is only one letter for this week.  This is another where George wrote the incorrect year (1916) when it is clearly a 1917 letter, as George wasn’t in France in January, 1916. The postmark on the envelope is stamped 14 February 1917.

George’s spirits seem to be declining increasingly as he writes to his mother:

“I do not write to you very often as I am not in the humour to write. I write to Dad pretty often. I guess he reads the letters to you people. Well Mother Dear, I am fed up with this war + hope it comes to an end pretty soon.”

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!).

Feedback (0)

E-mail us at archiveswebmaster@gov.mb.ca with a comment about this blog post. Your comments may be included on this page.

back to top

16 January 2016

One Manitoba Soldier: “I am quite well”

Following George’s letter of January 15 in which he said good-bye to his father, he sent a whiz-bang postcard on January 19 to tell his Dad he had survived the battle.

He indicates on the postcard: “I am quite well” and “Letters follow at first opportunity.” He follows up with a more detailed report to his father in his letter of January 21:

“Just a line to say I am well as you see came through our little raid all O.K. We went over + found an empty trench so we were out of luck.”

George tells his father that he is trying to get a commission to get back to Canada. He asks his father to speak to the Barretts, presumably acquaintances of the family, to see what they can do:

“I am an experienced Machine Gunner now + have been over here for 8 mos so see what you can do for a fed up Son.”

front of whizbang from January 19, 1917

enlarge (2 images)

Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Field Service Post Card from George Battershill,
January 19, 1917,
#820–820A, P7471/5.

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!).

Feedback (0)

E-mail us at archiveswebmaster@gov.mb.ca with a comment about this blog post. Your comments may be included on this page.

back to top

9 January 2016

One Manitoba Soldier:

This week’s letters from George Battershill include two written to his mother and two to his father. Interestingly, when the Archives first received the Battershill letters they were put in order by date, and numbered consecutively. What wasn’t noticed at the time was that the first two letters in this set were mis-dated. George Battershill wasn’t in France in January 1916 and apparently wrote the wrong year on some of his letters early in the new year, 1917.

In his letter of January 15, George writes to his father that his friend was killed in battle, at his side. George tells his father that he will be going into battle and may not come out alive:

“Well I am fed up with this war if I never was before. I had my chum sniped by my side this morning + it hit him about an inch below the eye so you see he had not much chance to live. Our Co. Officer is organizing a bombing raid so I volunteered. It is to come off tomorrow night + I am going over to get a little of my own back so it is a big chance but I think I can come through all O.K. We have a sensible bunch of officers so it should come off all right. I will write as soon after as I can + if I do happen to get it you know I died game. I guess this is all just now – don’t say anything to Mother because I know how she will carry on. Good by Dad.”

January 11, 1917 letter with 4 pages

enlarge (4 images)

Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Letter from George Battershill,
11 January [1917],
#498-501, P7471/2.

January 11, 1917 letter with 1 page and an envelope

enlarge (3 images)

Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Letter from George Battershill,
dated 11 January [1917],
#502-503A, P7471/2.

January 12, 1917 letter with 1 page

enlarge (1 image)

Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Letter from George Battershill,
January 12, 1917,
#815, P7471/5.

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!).

Feedback (0)

E-mail us at archiveswebmaster@gov.mb.ca with a comment about this blog post. Your comments may be included on this page.

back to top

3 January 2017

One Manitoba Soldier: The new year, 1917

George Battershill’s first letters of 1917 include several reflections on the Christmas just past. He wrote to his father about how he spent Christmas Day:

“This was a very different Xmas from last year. About ten o’clock, about the time the presents started to fly around our house last year, I was out at Fritzie’s barbed wire giving his posts + trenches + gaps in his wire the onceover with my eye for further reference. All these points come in handy when you are detailed to go out + get some information.”

George wrote to his mother and told her he’d received all of the parcels she sent. He went on to tell her that he’d bought a broche for her:

“I sent you a PPCLI broche which they were selling in our canteen so I hope you receive it all O.K.”

This week’s letters include the one of the only letters in the collection written to George’s brother Charlie, who was in England at the time. It is not known how or why this one letter to Charlie was part of the collection. Presumably the brothers exchanged numerous letters.

George writes to Charlie:

“I am back with the Batt on a Lewis Gun Section 4 Co + it is some life. This is the gun that goes over the parapet so over we go with the best of luck.”

January 5, 1917 letter with 2 pages

enlarge (2 images)

Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Letter from George Battershill,
January 5, 1917,
#810-811, P7471/4.

January 5, 1917 letter with 2 pages

enlarge (2 images)

Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Letter from George Battershill,
January 5, 1917,
#812-813, P7471/4.

January 8, 1917 letter with 1 page

enlarge (1 image)

Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Letter from George Battershill,
January 8, 1917,
#814, 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!).

Feedback (0)

E-mail us at archiveswebmaster@gov.mb.ca with a comment about this blog post. Your comments may be included on this page.

back to top