Thursday, November 11, 2010

A post from the past

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm quite the bleeding-heart pacifist. But around November 11, I am humbled by thoughts of the incredible loyalty and commitment it takes for men and women to enter the military and serve their country in combat. To kill strangers, and to watch friends die.

So today, I am not the one who should be blogging about what Remembrance Day really means. I've never been to war.

(Thanks to cousin Lyle for the photos)

This post was written by someone who was. My Great-Uncle Jack, writing from behind the lines of the French front on April 2, 1918, to his father (my great-grandfather):

Dear Dad —

I am afraid I may not be able to write very often for a while however I will do my best. Easter Sunday and Monday passed in a perfect blaze of work, tonight things have slackened up and I am snatching the opportunity.

There was a good imitation of a Canadian sunset and I got thoroughly homesick by reason of the short walk I took, watching it.

My work has been very varied lately and there has come into it a little danger I had not expected. The Hun is getting busy — but you probably know more about the situation from the news-papers than I do.

Night before last I had a job which as an artilleryman I never expected — on a Lewis gun popping away at one of his night fliers. We fired about 400 rounds into him and he dropped about 38 eggs, luckily he missed our pit but put a dud through the office roof. He got away safe. 

Yesterday I had a thrilling ride in a sidecar — I had to get as quickly as possible down to another place and do a job for them. On the way back, rushing as fast as possible, out went our lights and we had to finish our trip without them, no safe job with the traffic there is.

Today I saw a very spectacular stunt pulled off — a Hun attacking one of our balloons.

So things are lively —

Love to all   Jack

Uncle Jack survived the "Great" War, and finished his studies in Canada to become an engineer. He returned to military service as a middle-aged man and a Major in World War II, earning an MBE for his work — which we think was in intelligence.

Thanks, Uncle Jack.


  1. what a wonderful letter, a look into a day on the lines

  2. Excellent, Tom. We need to request some of Uncle Jack's war records from Veteran's Affairs -- I think there's a big story hidden there, somewhere, and his work in North Africa during WWII might be declassified now.