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:

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

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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!).

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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

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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

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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

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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!).

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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

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

January 5, 1917 letter with 2 pages

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

January 8, 1917 letter with 1 page

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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!).

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

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