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.

April 2017 Posts:

24 April 2017

The 44th Battalion Memorial at Vimy Ridge Memorial Park

This photograph was taken at the Unveiling Ceremony of the 44th Battalion Memorial on June 27, 1926. The 44th Battalion originally erected the monument at Vimy Ridge in France in 1917, in the midst of the First World War. It was moved to Winnipeg in 1924 and erected in 1926 in St. James Park (now Vimy Ridge Memorial Park) on the corner of Portage Avenue and Canora Street.

Photo of the unveiling of the 44th Battalion Memorial in 1926. A group of military personnel, dignitaries, and civilians stand respectfully around a rectangular monument with a cross on the top. A long cloth is draped around the Memorial.
enlarge

Edgar S. Russenholt fonds, 44th Battalion Photos, Photo 35.
“Original dedication - John Bracken & John Jerrard centre platform -
44th Memorial Vimy Ridge Park Winnipeg”, P2841/2.

The photograph is from the records of Ed Russenholt, a member of the 44th Battalion who fought at the Battle of Vimy Ridge and was involved in the transfer of the memorial to Winnipeg.

Participants in the ceremony included: Captain W. Robertson, C.M., Captain C. M. Strong, Mrs. J. Bowes, Venerable Archdeacon McElheran, Major R.R. Brough, Premier John Bracken, Mayor R.H. Webb and Sir Hugh John MacDonald.

Mrs. J. (Margaret) Bowes of Boissevain unveiled the monument. She had three sons (Donald, Frederick, James) who served with the 44th Battalion. All three were killed in the war, all in 1917.

Search Tip: Search the Edgar S. Russenholt fonds in Keystone for information about his records at the Archives.

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

18 April 2017

One Manitoba Soldier: George Battershill, died of wounds, April 17, 1917

Private George W. Battershill died one hundred years ago, April 17, 1917, of wounds sustained on April 9 at the Battle of Vimy Ridge. He had turned 20 the previous month. He is buried at Boulogne Cemetery in France.

The Battershill family records include some letters sent between family members after George’s death. The telegrams, below, were sent to George’s sister Amelia (Mrs. Frank Simmonds) who was living in Georgia at the time.

The first is from George’s brother, Jack, reporting the news of George’s death.

The second is from their father the following day to say, “Mother sick come as soon as ready.”

Western Union telegram from Jack Battershill in Winnipeg, Manitoba to Amelia Simmons in Savannah, Georgia, dated April 22, 1917. It reads: “George killed come home at once. Jack”
enlarge

Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Telegram to Mrs. Frank Simmonds,
22 April 1917, P7472/2.

Western Union telegram from Mr. Battershill in Winnipeg, Manitoba to Amelia Simmons in Savannah, Georgia, dated April 23, 1917. It reads: “Mother sick come as soon as ready. Dad.”
enlarge

Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Telegram to Mrs. Frank Simmonds,
23 April 1917, P7472/2.

The two letters were written by George’s sister, Carrie, also to Amelia (Mill). They give details about George’s death and also report on how the family is coping.

In the first letter she writes:

“We got the message Sunday about 12:30 and we are all just heartbroken. We knew he was in the battle at Vimy ridge but was hoping he had come out alright and this message was a terrible shock.”

Handwritten letter from Carrie Battershill to Amelia Simmons with 3 pages
enlarge (3 images)

Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Letter from Carrie Battershill,
April 25, 1917, P7472/2.

Typed letter from Carrie Battershill to Amelia Simmons with 4 pages
enlarge (4 images)

Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Letter from Carrie Battershill,
May 11, 1917, P7472/2.

This post ends our year-long blogging of the letters of George Battershill. We will continue to post about records related to the First World War held at the Archives of Manitoba.

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.

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

11 April 2017

100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge: A soldier's diary

Manitoban George Henry Hambley kept a detailed diary throughout his participation in the First World War. His entries about his participation in the Battle of Vimy Ridge are particularly interesting (read more in our 23 March blog post), especially his description of an encounter with an English officer who had little time for Canadian soldiers, which resulted in significant loss of life.

“April 13/17 We hold a machine gun outpost on the high road leading from Vimy down to the Douai plain. The Sgt. came and gave us our orders. We are in a German dugout under the road and have a brazier going – cold. Every twenty minutes we feel a burst. Tonight an Imperial officer with a whole line of Tommies halted at our gun. I was down in the dug out. The officer was a lord or Duke or something and when he found we were only privates he wouldn’t talk to us. He asked for our officer. But as he was lost in the darkness he took out his map and we showed him where we were on the map. But as we were so much beneath his rank he would not believe us. He was well over a mile off course and on the quite the wrong road. But no sir we could tell him nothing. His accent was worse than even a Cockney and the way he snorted ‘Canayedians’ showed extreme contempt for us as colonial troops. As he would not believe us he went up and gave his men orders to march and they went northeast into the night and right into the German lines. In about ten minutes we heard a fracas of many machine guns as the Imperials were all either wiped out or captured. (Later) we learned that there were about two hundred men taken prisoner that night.”

The following day Hambley records that he returned to the Canadian Light Horse from his temporary assignment to a machine gun brigade for the Battle of Vimy Ridge. He served with the Light Horse for the remainder of the war and did garrison duty in Germany after the armistice. Hambley continued to write diaries for the rest of the First World War and most of the twentieth century until his death in 1983.

The diaries can be read in the Archives Research Room. We will also be displaying Hambley’s third diary at our event to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge on 12 April 2017.

Search Tip: Search “George Hambley” in Keystone for more information.

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

10 April 2017

Remembering the Battle of Vimy Ridge at the Archives of Manitoba

The Archives continues its efforts to highlight records created during the time of the First World War, 1914-1918 and, this month, highlighting particularly the Battle of Vimy Ridge which occurred one hundred years ago, April 9-12, 1917. We invite you to you learn more about Manitobans who served at Vimy.

  • Read the letters of George Battershill, a soldier from East Kildonan who was injured at Vimy Ridge and died from those injuries. These letters have been featured on this blog for the past year. See previous entries, beginning with the first post on April 20, 2016.
  • Attend our open house. We are hosting an open house on Wednesday, April 12 from 1-4 and 6-9 in the Archives Research Room. The open house will feature a variety of records, including letters, diaries, photographs and maps, which document the experience of some Manitobans who fought in the battle.

For those who have been following the weekly posts of George Battershill’s letters: There are no George Battershill letters for this week.  George was injured at Vimy on the April 9 and died on April 17. Telegrams and letters sent by his family following his death will be featured in next week’s blog.

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

4 April 2017

An open house commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge

“Monday morning exactly at 5:30 the bombardment started in earnest – every gun at once and the effect was most wonderful – Fritzes’ line was being blown in all directions and in a few minutes over came enormous strings of Fritzes with gestures of putting up their hands…”

George Henry Hambley diary entry, April 9, 1917
(Archives of Manitoba, George Henry Hambley fonds, George Henry Hambley Diary (#3), P7413/3)

Please join us at the Archives of Manitoba for an open house to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The open house will be held in the Archives Research Room on Wednesday, April 12 from 1–4 and 6–9.

Original records from the Archives will be on display, as well as some publications from the Legislative Library. These items provide a glimpse into the experience of some of the Manitobans who fought at Vimy. The display will include:

  • Letters written and sent home by several Manitoban soldiers;
  • Diaries of Manitoban soldiers, recording their experiences at Vimy;
  • Trench maps showing the region around Vimy Ridge;
  • Newspapers showing reports of the battle;
  • Wills probated in Manitoba for some soldiers killed at Vimy;
  • Film footage of veterans reminiscing about the First World War;
  • and more!

This is a unique opportunity to see these items on display and to commemorate the battle by seeing it through the records of people who were there. The records of individual soldiers help us to learn and remember history in a unique and personal way. These are the stories of Manitobans, preserved at the Archives of Manitoba, for future generations.

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 April 2017

One Manitoba Soldier: George Battershill's last letters home

George’s letters for this week are the last in the collection and likely the last ones he wrote to his parents, a letter to his father and a postcard to his mother. Both were written in the days before the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

George was wounded with a gunshot wound to the thigh on the first day of battle at Vimy, April 9, 1917, and he died on April 17, 1917 at a hospital in Boulogne, France. Both of these letters will have been received by the family after the news of his death.

George’s letter to his father is poignant, especially given that it is his last. He writes:

“I will be glad when this war is over even if I don’t come through as I think there is better times [comeing] after.”

He also writes that he received several Winnipeg newspapers and particularly enjoyed reading the sports pages. He notes that no Elmwood rink made it to the curling finals.

April 3, 2017 letter with 3 pages
enlarge (3 images)

Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Letter from George Battershill,
April 3, 1917,
#873-875, P7471/5.

front of whizbang from April 8, 2017 back of whizbang from April 8, 2017
enlarge (2 images)

Archives of Manitoba,
Battershill family fonds,
Field Service Post Card from George Battershill,
April 8, 1917,
#876, P7471/5.

The final correspondence from George is a field service postcard written to his mother on April 8, 1917, the day before the Battle of Vimy Ridge began. The postcard is postmarked in Winnipeg on May 9 and in East Kildonan on May 10.

George tells his mother “I am quite well”, “Letter follows at first opportunity” and “I have received no letter from you lately.” 

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.

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