Click below for letters from after the war.
Letters from 1919
Jan 5, 1919 Fontaine Valmont, Belgium - Earl is still overseas.
"Dear Sister, Well still in this part of the World yet. Our Coy Major made a speech to us this morning. He said the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 6th CRTs are to be at the Base Etaples by the 18th of this month. Good news eh. This is true. Our Colonel told him. So Merelda, Mon Cherie Sis, I'll soon be to see you all again. I bet you I am home before my Birthday (March 22). I hear that most of the Canucks in Blighty are gone home to their own Country where they can speak their own language.
We are not very busy now, just passing away the time. I go out to work every morning. But no work I do. I sneak around thro the town back to my billet again. I find it far better in the billet than out in the rain and mud. We have rain here every day. I have not seen the sun for nearly 3 weeks now. I spent my New Year's up at a small town called Anderlues. I had a high old time of it, didn't get back until the next day at noon. My Serg gave me a calling down but that was all I heard about it. Tomorrow I am going to Brussels for 3 days leave. A number of my chums are going. Jim Allen is for it. I never been to Brussels. They say it is a second Paris. I guess you know that Hun had that beautiful city for 4 years. He left it in good shape for a wonder. How is Arch and Dad getting along at the trapping? I was out along the Mons river the other day. If I had rifle or gun I would have had a Fisher. I took it for a Fisher. I watched it for over 10 minutes. It was about as large as Nipper only not so long in the legs. Gosh I was sore I had not my rifle with me. How did Henry get along up North? I'll shall be with him for next fall hunting. I'll try and get my short rifle home. I'll put in in the lining of my great coat before I am stuck, ha-ha. I have a couple of bayonets to smuggle home allso. Well Merelda, I must close for now. Well Merelda, I guess you can stop writing to me now. We will be on the move from now on. Please tell the rest of my dear friends to stop. They can write to me again when another war starts up. But maybe this one will not be in it. I don't think so."
Well be good. Will see you all soon. But Love to all at home, Au Revoir, Loving Bro Earl"
"Will write again soon and let you know how close I am to home."
Jan 6, 1919 King letter from Alex Walker
"Hello you old port how are you making out. I suppose you are kicking around some place. We are all well at home. I had a birthday party last Saturday. I was 12 years old. I had the girls over and Richard asked Archy but he did not come. For presents the girls brought me a bottle of perfume from Pauline and handkerchiefs from Floss. We had a heck of a time. I went over to your home on Sunday Archy when skating the crick was frozen tight and good skating don't worry about it, ha-ha. I was in the house Sunday for the first time since they had the flu. I was trying the helmet on I was sitting by the east window when taking it off the dam thing slipped and hit me a devil of a crack on the nose . I jerked back and hit my head on the windows frame, wowo. You're a good shot at that Hun old boy some shot. Soon be coming back with a little wife old chap. Mother said in the other letter that I would write and so I have to. I suppose been a long time writing but you'll have to forget me this time. For Christmas I got a board and 24 checkers you can play 10 different games on it. How is old...
Your friend Alex Walker."
Jan 9, 1919 18 Lyned Ave, Toronto letter to Earl from Mildred
"My dear Earl
Received your letter and was rather surprised, as I had thought they were a thing of the past, but nevertheless was very glad to hear from you.
Glad to hear that were well and enjoying yourself, also that you see Billie sometimes, I am rather anxious to see him myself, but hope it may be soon.
Everybody over in this part of the country are well. The "flu" has left Toronto, but has gone out into the country, as I suppose you will have heard. It is bad out home now, but we have all escaped it so far also in here. It must be scared of me, as the bookkeeper in the office has had it twice now, but as I said before eating prevents it.
I was up home for Xmas & New Year. The sleighing just came the day before Christmas we had a good time although there was nothing going on, on account of the "Flu", but we had a bunch of the well ones there and danced, played Euchre, etc. Then on New Year, we were to grandmother's it rained all day, so we had no skating this year. But now the weather is cold enough to freeze anything, but I have not been skating yet. I have just got home from the picture show. It was good too, was Charlie Chaplin in "Shoulder Arms", and as usual it was crowded, and they were lined up outside when we came out.
Herb Steele is here, they are busy playing "Five Hundred", but there is enough without me, I just play to fill in, but we play ourselves nearly every night. Herb doesn't seem to be any the worse of his experience only, he can tell some stories, he was down for his last medical examination last week, so he is nearly through with them now. They are quite a few coming home now, but not so many that we know yet. Jimmie Jenkins and Bob Kelly are back to King, but I think that is all, yet. Frank Teasdale is working at Aurora again now, but of course he has attraction there. I guess Ed will soon be back too. As he didn't get any farther than England. Archie (my brother) has just got on his first longers, so I guess he thinks he is a man now, but I suppose Flossie will have told you all about that before this. He has grown since you saw him thought, he is almost as tall as I am now and we weigh just the same, so I am beginning to feel small, as the other two girls are both bigger than I am, but I should worry . But my all accounts I guess we will hardly know you now, so I hear you are such a big fellow that is if you come back here and do not go the Mexico. But you ought to come back to see Carey, they say she has teeth now so some class.
Well I think this is about all the nonsense I can think of and hoping to hear from you soon again and give my best if not better to Billie when you see him.
With all kinds of Love, Mildred"
Jan 14, 1919 King - Floss wrote the letter to Earl on the back of an envelope that was sent to Jerome Campbell (Earl's Father) from J.E. Tankard, Cleveland, Ohio.
"Dear brother Earl:
Well here goes another letter on fancy paper. Merleda and Pauline write so many letters they use up all the writing paper and I write on anything I find. I guess I would write on a newspaper if there wasn't any other kind in the house. I haven't wrote to you for an awful long time. I had that influenza, and it sure is an awful disease. We all had it except Mother and Arch. Mother says if you are not soon coming home to write her a big, long letter for she hasn't time there is so much sickness around. Aunt Essie is so sick she is out of her mind and Merelda is over there. Arch made about seventy dollars out of furs already, and he is off again to-day and Dad is at Fry's sale at Nobleton. Merelda over at Aunt Essies and Paul is washing, and Mother too, and I am writing to you. I have to be chore boy when the men are away. We had twenty-six head of cattle and sold six big ones and got eight hundred dollars for them. There are some of the boys back at King. Mr. Wess McBride, Bert Kelly, Lieut Jenkins. I had better tell you Ruth is to marry a Mr. Hugh ??? a farmer, "bah". He has a big stone house, thoroughbred stock and I don't know what date they have set for the big day. I am tired to death with farming this farmerette business don't agree with me, but what the use of crumbling, who can't be helped " a better day is coming by and by". Well I used up all my thought for this time, hip-hooray. You will soon be home again.
Will now say good-bye your loving sister, Floss"
Jan 15, 1919 Etaples, France to Merle
"My Dear Sister, just a few lines to you all to let you know I am on my way to dear old home. The Batt is at the Base here. We're getting cleaned up and fitted out with new uniforms just now. To-morrow night we take the train to Boulogne or Calais. I don't know which dock we shall sail from, don't care either. All I want is to see old Canada again. We had a medical inspection yesterday. I pass through it jake. We have another one at the Dock before we cross to Blighty. Then we will get another one before we leave for Canada. They are bound to send us back in the very best of health.
How did Henry make out up north his fall? I hope he wasn't chased by any bear or moose. I will be with him next fall I bet. No bear or moose in Northern Canada can catch me now. I am to good at the running business. How is Hazel & Walter? I'll not know them when I get back. I suppose the weather will be very cold in King now. We have had no snow in this country yet. But we get plenty of rain, raining very day. If I was to see the sun I would probly die with heart failure. Well Merle I will now come to a close. This will be my last to you from this country. I hope so anyway, because here is a lad that is certainly fed up on this life in Flanders. No bon pour moi.
I'll write when I get to Blighty. I think we get 10 days leave in England. I must have those days. Well here is hoping to see you all in King before 1st March. Please don't write me anymore. Do you know for why, ha-ha.
Best Love and good Luck to all, Loving Bro Earl
Will see you very soon"
Jan 19, 1919 Havre, France
"My Dear Sister. Well I am this near to home. We arrive here at Havre Rest Camp yesterday afternoon. We had another Medical exam this morning. I pass jake. Next one will be in Blighty when we mount the old steamer bound for Canada. We expect to sail for Blighty Tuesday. The Camps here are so full of troops one hardly know when they send you across the river. But I should worry I am on my way anyway, eh. A, C, & D went across yesterday. They beat us down by 24 hours. So poor B Coy and Headquarters has to waite for a day or two. How are you all at home. I hope that Flu is not around yet. Is Pauline all better by now. I hope she is. It is a dreadful sickness for anyone to have.
Well Merelda I'll call this a letter. I don't know what you will call me for writing such a thing. But I can't write letters any longer. I am in to much of a hurry to get away home. Well be good Merelda. You need not write to me any more. I am real sore at you. Get that. Wishing you all the very best of Health and Good Luck." Au Revoir, Mon Cherie, Loving Bro, Earl"
Jan 20, 1919 R.R. # 1 King, Ont, Canada
"Hello Yek Here I am, at once dis-obeying your orders. You told me not to write you anymore, but I thought maybe you'd have time to get lonesome before you'd leave "over there" and I'd just write. Now, what you think of me? By the by, how are the Belgian lassies using you. Is it them or their "mas" that use you so good! Anyway, I'm glad they are so good and that they give you a little comfort & happiness before you return.
The Flu has just about gone it's course here I think. The doc has only one case now, & that's a McQuarrie girl, the one who used to teach school at King. O yes, Jessie recovered alright. We haven't heard from her for some time tho.
Well speaking of skating. I have only seen mine once this winter & that was when I lent them to Marjorie to go to Aurora that's the only place there is to skate in this land. But remember what a be-ut-iful skater I was? Ha, ha
Well if you come along soon, as you say. I think you'll make it in time to see Marjorie married for I haven't heard anything of it yet. By the way, we are expecting her over to-night but it's getting a little late & she has not put in her appearance yet. I think I'll have to get you to learn me French when you come home, then I'll read the last page of your letter, eh? It looks nice & sounds nice when I read it, but --- that's as far as I can make out (I can read it you know - In Canadian I 'spose, but don't understand. The English lasses surely are snapping up the Canadian boys, i.e. according to the..." [The remainder of the pages are missing.]
Jan 23, 1919 Bramsott to Mother
"My Dear Mother,
Just a line or two to let you all know I am in Blighty now. We left France the 21st and arrived at Weymouth the next morning. It sure went good to see Old England once more. I don't know what I'll do when I set my eyes on Canada shores. The trip across the Channel was not to rough. But some of the lads where feeding the fish in good shape, ha-ha. I don't know how long we will be here at Bramshott Camp. I hope not long because it is a muddy camp these days. I think we will be getting our leave soon and then be sent right across to Canada. The whole Battalion of us are here. Allso all of the 1st C.R.T. I meet Paddy for the first time at Havre Dock. He is looking well the same as ever. I have not seen him here yet tho. This is a wonderful big Camp. I would far rather be at Witley or Borden tho. Well Mother I will close of this time. I will write in a few days letting you know where I am. Take good care of yourself and watch the rest. Best Love and the best of Good Health to All,
Bye Bye, will see you all very soon. Loving Son, Earl"
Jan 26, 1919 Postcard sent to Mother from Earl, Bramshott Camp
[2 images of postcard]
Jan 30, 1919 Bramshott
"My Dear Sister,
I am sick of laying in the hut all the time so thot I would get up and write you a nice little letter for a change. I just finished my dinner of not very much. They do not feed one to much here. Stu & rice was my dinner. But don't you for one minute imagine that I had a dinner like I use to get at home. It has snowed here for the first this year. I don't like it at all to much rain comes with it.
I suppose you have tired your skates by now. I hope I am home in for a skate or two. We have not heard anything about our 10 days leave yet. I guess I will spend mine in the Smoke this time. I would like to see the Old Smoke all light up. Every time I've been in London no lights were allowed light, not many.
Oh say I've been wondering if Mother received the German helmet I sent her from Le Chateau. I hope it did not go astray. I have a couple of bayonets with me here. German & French. I sneaked them from France. So guess I can smuggle them to Canada, ha-ha. Will try hard anyway. The U Boats here would like to buy them from me. But nothing doing. The U Boats are those 1919 volunteers. I sold one of em 15 German buttons for 5 shillings. Not off putting it over them eh, ha-ha Most of the reinforcements for the 22nd Battalion are here. You know that Batt. is a French Canadian Batt. And all those Quebec lads which the R.C.D. from Toronto had to drive over are here. It is worse than around Skit-Quentin the jibbering of em. If you asked them anything No Compre is all they say. How is Arch & Dad getting along with the hunting. To cold for the game I suppose. Arch will be able to make many trips to Aurora now. He would get a good price for all those skunk pelts. He will make the baccy juice fly in all directions now. Well Merelda Mon Cherie Sis. I will now close for this time. Very long letter I think. But you need not answer it. So here is hoping to see you all again very soon. Best of Luck & Good wishes, Love to all, Loving Bro. Earl"
Feb 2, 1919 Bramshott Camp. Although the war was over. The soldiers continued to fight internally among themselves.
"Dear Merelda - Just a line or two to let you know I am still at this Camp. We are leaving to-morrow night for Yorkshire. We camp there for a while before we sail for home. We will get our 10 days leave then. The other 3 Coy's are gone already to Yorkshire, Head Quarters & B. Coy are behind the time.
Last night we came very near having a real war here. While here we are attacked for sleeping and meals with the 10th Reserve. That is the reserve where all those cannibals from Quebec are in. There are 2700 of them here. And just B. Coy & H. Quarters of the 2nd C.R.T. were up against the bunch last night. I will tell you how it started. One of your lads has been chummy with one of the N.A.C.B. girls here. The French Canadians are very jealous bunch of people. One of the animals hit our lad in the face twice before he could get his hand out his pockets. And when he did ready for fight the U-Boat ran back into his gang of comrades. About 35 of us were in the Canteen and over 100 of the French Canadians. So we thot we had better get out in the dark and beat it for our huts. We started for home and we heard them say in French, "Fall in - We will get em". We got into our huts before they caught us. Then we had to get arms of some sort. When we landed here from France here the next day we had to turn our rifles & Bayonet's into the stores. So we had not rifle or bayonets to fall back on. Some of our lads got there revolvers loaded. To be sure I made for my kit for my German bayonet. I fine thing for me. We locked the doors and stood too, waiting for them to knock the door in. Then they would soon know what a real Canadian was made of. They smelt the rat, I guess we had revolvers on us. So they thot it best to retreat, and so they did. After a little while we were all asleep. Today they give us many a hard look. Maybe to-night they will tackle us. But let em come we have the 21st and 23rd Reserves with us. The Jocks from Toronto are game for anything like that. I would just as leave kill one of these Quebec skunks as I would a Fritzie. Most of them have only been in this country six weeks. Well Merelda, I must now close for now will write when I get up to Yorkshire, it is 8 hours run from here. Tell Mother not to be surprise if I cable for money while on leave, I don't know how much we will get for our leave. If not enough I shall Cable form London. The flu is not so bad here just now. Two of our Coy lads have died with it here. Hard luck eh. Well be good Old girl, ha-ha." Will soon see you all again, Love to all, Bro Earl."
Feb 7, 1919 to Mother from Bramshott. Earl still waiting to go home.
"Dear Mother - Well Mother I am still at Bramshott Camp . Say but they are slow in sending us home. It is on account of the Flu which is around here. So many of the troops are getting it. Two of my chums died last week here at the Hospitals. Hard luck for those who die now is'nt it. We are getting our leave yet. But expect it soon. It is awful around this Camp, these days. The issue of coal and wood is very small. I spend most of my time in the Y.M.C.As and others Huts. Every evening we see London Concert Parties. Some are very good. I wrote to Merelda telling her about the time we Canadians had with those Cannibals from Quebec. The Conscripts they got their wind up over us now. We sent for the 49th and some of the 50th Battalion to give us a hand out if they started any more dirty work. They were quite willing to help us out. They have 4 machine guns with the two Coys. So we are well armed. We were to move to Yorkshire last week. But it looks now as tho we are not going. A,C. and D Company's are up in Yorkshire. They might beat us home yet. I suppose the weather will be very cold in Canada now. It has turned cold to-day but I don't mind the cold as much as this damp weather we have so often over here. Say Mother I lost May's & Harold's addresses on my way from France. I can't write to any of the now. So next time any of you people write to them just tell them why I don't write to them. I will soon be home than I'll not need to write to anyone, ha-ha. Mother I may send a cable while on my leave it will be for money, ha-ha. Great lad for money ain't I, ha-ha. But one may as well have a real good time while he is at it. Clarence Bowhey did not get to Canada after all. He took sick so was sent to Hospital at Havre Dock. He is with us now. F. Locuas has gone across. Well Mother I will close for now. Will write soon again. That is all one can do these days now. Hope all are in the very best of Health. Good luck to all. Bye Bye for now, Loving Son Earl.
p.s. Will see you all soon."
Feb 12, 1919
"Dear Mother, Just a few lines to-night to let you know where I am now. I am on my 8 days leave. And I guess I will spend the most of my time in this Smoke City. It sure is lovely here now. The lights are all lite up at nights. But of some crowd of people walk the streets. Clarence Bowhey is with me here and will stick to-gether like glue while here. He is a awful nice lad. I would not no better chum to be with. He was to go to Canada before Xmas. But he took sick and did not get away. We left Bramshott 8th of Feb and landed at our new Camp in Yorkshire the next night. The 11th we got our leave for London, most of our Coy is on Leave now. Say Mother I sent a cable for 100 dollars from here. I do hope I get it before my leave is up is up. We only got a small pay for this leave. And I want to get some things which I will need in life. And the next thing. I want to have a good time. Clarence sent for 100 so we are in for a ripon time to be sure. I"ll not spend it all here. It will be hand on my way home. I address, the Cable to the Montreal Bank here. It is about the best place in London. We have been out sightseeing all day. And mighty tired just now. But his Club we are in just now, is the place for tired people. It is some swell building. Harold will know the Union Jack good. Well Mother, I must now close it is near 12 o'clock so I'll get to bed. Hope all are in the very best of health. Will see you all soon. Love to all, Loving son, Earl
If anyone should write me my address will be
Sap. N.E. Campbell, 779051
B. Coy, 2nd Batt, Can. Rlys Tps
Ripon Camp, Yorkshire, England"
Feb 18, 1919 from London
"My Dear Mother,
Just a line or two to-day to let you know I received the Cable of 100 dollars, 20 pounds and 1 shilling and 1 penny. Say but I was glad to get it to-day. I was broke and Clarence was very near broke allso. His cable came allso. So we are well away now. Mother, you were awful good to send me so much. I thot you would maybe send me £10 instead of 20. But anyway I will need it before I get back home. We are having a fine time to-gether here. It is lovely City in peace time as I should call it. The streets are all light up at nights which make it look so pretty. We take in Theatre's every day. Some are very good ones. The weather has been very rainy since we arrived in London. Be we don't mind, that, ha-ha. Well Mother I will close for this time. We go back to Ripon the 20th . I'll write from there.
My address will be N.E. Campbell, 779051, B.Coy, 2nd CRT, Ripon Camp, Yorkshire, England.
Will see you all soon, Your loving son, Earl.
Thanks very much for the Cable."
Feb 23, 1919 Ripon Camp, Yorkshire, England. Earl mentions that returning King Soldiers are receiving gold watches.
"My Dear Sister,
Just a few lines to let you know I am back off leave ready for Canada any day now. I sure had a dikam time of it in London this time. The 100 bucks Mother sent me sure gave me a gime. U never got away will all the 100 tho. Oh now that would never do. And Merelda I never fell in love with any of these girls either. The war is over now. So I will wait until I get back home ha-ha. Well Merelda half of B. Coy left here yesterday for Liverpool. Art Brown and Bowler are in that bunch. Jim Allen was in it, but he was taken out of it again. He has something wrong with is knee. A person has to real well to go home. That bunch will likely sail for Canada the last of this month. The rest of us will get our Canada Board in about another weeks time. Maybe leave the middle of March. Clarence and I stayed over our leave two days. We thot we would get punished for it. And we did'nt care. But nothing has been said to us yet. The Flu is around this camp now. That Flu is awful it is all over the World. In London, you see the women wearing masks over their mouths. The first I seen that I thot gas was in the City. It got Yek's wind up. I believe the 1st CRT are on their way across the Pond. Well my dear Sis, I must close for now will write in a couple of days.
Best of luck and Love to all. Will see you all soon, Loving Bro. Earl.
p.s. We get lots of Yorkshire pudding here!"
On the page 3 Earl writes... "I see by the Aurora Banner that the King people are giving the Brave King lads a gold watch."
Feb 24, 1919 Moore Barracks, Shorncliffe
"My Dear Sister,
Well Merelda I have not very good news for you this time. I'll not be home for two months yet. Maybe sooner I hope so anyway. I am in the Hospital here at Shorncliffe. I left Ripon Camp in Yorkshire yesterday morning and landed here last night. None of you need worry about me. It is not the Flu I have. The Grippe is all whats wrong with me. I may be in Hospital a month and maybe only a couple of weeks. But I am going to have my ankle fixed while I am here might as well let the Army do it. I"ll have nothing to pay. In Civic life it would maybe cost me a bit of money. It is a good Hospital I am in right beside the Sea. I can look out the window and see ships pass along. I guess you can write to me now. I may not get home till June. A letter would sure go good now. And I wish you would send me some chewing bacey and smoking the bacy here is no good and such an awful high price. I suppose A. Brown and those lads in my Coy will be home by the time you get this letter. How unlucky I was to miss that Draft. By maybe I would have taken some illness ion my way home. Well, Merelda I must now close for now. Write me as soon as you can. I am not very sick. But U have a very heavy cold. But the nurse will make that better. They are all Canadian nurses here. Hope all are well at home. Tell all to write.
Love to all, Loving Bro Earl"
Spr N.E. Campbell, 779051, Ward 15, No X1 Can Gen Hospital, Moore Barracks, Shorncliffe, Kent, Eng.
Mar 3, 1919 Shorncliffe, Moor Barracks
"Dear Arch, Well how are tricks with you this winter. Did you do well with furs. I will be with you next fall. We will make the skunk and mink go to their death. I am sorry I can't get home to help you and Dad with the Spring work. But I shall be home for haying anyway. This sickness is awful. I would not mind it at all if the war was on. I would had been home the last of this month if I never took sick. I suppose Art Brown is in King now. All my Coy is on the way home. I am in the Hospital, I have the grippe and a touch of the Flu. But I shall soon b well again. I would like to be home for the spearing this spring. But guess I'll be spearing fish over here in the sea by that time. The sea is only 20 rod from the Hospital. When the weather is rough it sure makes a noise. I often think I am back in France. Has Dad sold his steers yet. I hope he has so maybe I could get some of the meat over here for my dinner. The W.A.A.C cook for this Hospital. And they sure can put up good junk. There is 900 of us here. So you see all the Canadians are not back yet. And this is only one Hospital. The 1st and 2nd Divisions are still in Germany yet. 3rd and 4th are going to Canada every day. Well Arch Old Boy. I will close for now. Had better close or I will get my wind up and not know when to stop. Take good care of yourself and write me soon, tell the rest to write.
Best of luck to all, Love from Bro Earl
p.s. send me you know some ha-ha"
Mar 8, 1919 Moore Barracks, Shorncliffe, No XI, Can Gen Hospital
"Dear Mereleda, I am getting along jake in Hospital. It is the Flu I have now. I knew it was the first day I felt it coming on. The Doctor called it Flu now. It is only a slight touch. Thank God it is. But it is bad enough for me. I suppose all my chums will be home now. There are two out of my Coy here with me. But they are not Toronto lads. K Syda from Nova Scotia and a French Can from Montreal. They have been in my B. Coy since we were turned into Rly Troops. The weather has been very rainy here. But I am in side all the time so it doesn't bother me. By the time I am able to go out it will be lovely weather. The Hosp. is right on the Cliff. It is a very good place for a Hospital. But it is not up to the V.A.D. Hospital I was in last winter in Glousceshire. The meals are very good we get and lots of it. The W.A.C.C. are the cooks so why should'nt they be good. I see by the paper this morning that the R.C.Rs and the 42nd landed in Halifax. I will be landing in Halifax about the 24th of May. Just you see if I don't. I wrote to Arch a few days ago. Did he get my letter? I lost May's and Harold's addresses on my way from France. They will be thinking I have died. Would you give me their address and I could drop them a line or two. I was surprised when I read Pauline's letter that Ruth was to be married soon. You will be the next one to do the rick I suppose. But do waite until I get home. I will get a good stock of shot gun cartridges in. What do you think of my paper? This is the Hospital issue. Do you ever hear where Lorne is? The last I heard of him he was flying in the North of England. And that he had signed on for 4 more years in the Imperial Army. Well Merelda I'll close for now. I can't think of much more news to-day will write in a few more days. And you be sure and write soon it is a long time since I heard from home. But I told you not to write didn't I. So me to blame. Ha-ha.
Love to all, Loving Bro. Earl"
Mar 13, 1919 from Merelda in King
Merelda in her letter writes of the King lads coming home and receiving their watch and chain.
"My Dear, darling Brother
It seems years since I wrote to you, but we have been looking for you home on every boat that has arrived lately, and now tonight I got your letter saying you are in hospital in Shorncliff. I do hope you are better now & that it is not the Flu. I have been going to write so often lately but did not so I am going to ans. Your letter now tonight if I have to sit up all night to do it. There is so much to tell you I don't know where to start. But I'll tell you the worst news first Katy & Harold had a little son born on 3rd March, it only lived a week. We just got word of its death yesterday. We are all so sorry. They called him Charles Jerome and Daddie was so tickled. They are still at Mary's in Cleveland - 302 Society for Savings % Mr. J. Lockard, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A. if you have lost it. .
Well Earl, I am staying at Merel's now. She has a little baby girl (Martha Merle Louise) was seven weeks old last Tues. So I have been here six weeks, but I go home every Wed to give music lessons. Went home yesterday but just came back this p.m. C. Williams arrived home last Sat., so he was at our home last night & I stayed to see him. He looks well & weights 180 lbs., but is a little lame. Ab. Hollingshead also got home on same boat as Sid, also Paddy and Fred Judge. Paddy is still in Toronto, coming to King tomorrow night. Ab look well, a great big fat fellow & F.J. is well too. Now I'll tell you some more good news. Ruth is to be married next Wed. Mar. 19 to Mr. Hugh Whaley of Grandview Man. A rich farmer & she says an awful find fellow (ha-ha) She will be married at Aunt Barbara's, Strathclair, & they are giving her a swell wedding. She does not expect to get home on her honeymoon but is coming in the summer time. We are all anxious to see our new brother. So Earl our family is growing fast. I guess you' will be next one, but wait until you come home first. No one like the Canadians girls & especially the King girls, don't know what we girls are going to do, so many of our nice Canadians coming home with Eng., French or some other kind of wives, guess there be nothing but old maids in Canada soon. I received your last letter from Ripon Camp yesterday am awful glad you didn't fall in love while on leave, don't do that until you get home. When we got the cable for $100 we were just thinking you had been "trapped" again, but am so glad it wasn't for that. We don't care how much money you want when it's for yourself or your comrades, but beware of girls, Earl. Our nicest boys are all coming back safe (unmarried). We had a reception in the hall here on 28 Feb for twelve of the King boys who are back. Lt. Jenkins, H.Bovair, Sam Armstrong, Bert Kelly, W. McBride Bert Law, (or Bert Stanfield as you used to know him), Walter Barrett, Jack Stubbs, Sergt. Hulme & his son Cadet Hulme (both 127 fellows), Frank Rolfe, Willie Grey (he never got any further than Eng.). They all got a watch and chain. Since then C.Williams, A. Hollingshead, Len Robb, Harry Malsead, Fred Judge, Wm. Riddell, Alex McDonald, Farren Cairns, & oh yes your old friend S. Ball & another fellow from out by Yonge St. have arrived . Bert Law is the only one out of all the bunch home that got married over there, & he married a French girl. She is not over here with him, but he intends going back to France in summertime. There is another Reception for the last ten boys next week. They have been waiting for 127 to come back now as they are not all coming together. They are going to have a big time for all in the Spring, or when never you all get back. King community has collected over two thousand dollars ($2,000) for to be divided among you boys about 85 I think. Henry, Captain Billie Ransom, and Jim Burns are head of the committee, & Harold. Mr. Gambriel & Harold Boys are Hon. Presidents of the Soldiers Welcome League. So dear Earl, hurry up & get well & get home as fast as you can. We are dying to see you again. Talk about the Welcome the Soldiers get in Eng, it isn't half as good as they get in Canada. What is the matter with your ankle? I hope you were not in the riot at Kimmell Camp, ... but I guess you would be in hospital then at Shorncliff. I do hope you are soon better. This has been the nicest winter we ever had in Canada. Nice warm weather and no snow cars have been running all winter. There has been lots of skating too. The girls & Arch have been out often, but I have only been out once & that was to Aurora rink. I just had as swell time, so many of the Aurora old sports are home from the war.
Well Earl, we all got over the Flu alright, excepting poor little Buster & he died, he was sick two weeks so Arch & the girls buried him under the old wine cherry tree & put up a tombstone. We all felt bad when Buster died he was such a nice little fellow & a great hunter he would go with Arch every time. Daddie sold Rowdie to Williams the horse buyer he got a big price for him. We still have Don, Harry & Doll, and the new colt we got last fall. Pauline is chief cook at home now while I'm away. Floss puts in her time reading. Mother is busy preparing for your home-coming. Dad & Arch have been busy in the bush lately. Dad bought a lot of wood up the fifth on sideroad above Neil McMurchy's. Colin's are all well. Marshall is quite a big boy now & Ruth & Helen are growing like weeds. You will not know all the little folks when you get home. Hazel & Walter have both grown so much lately. Buddie thinks a lot of his little baby sister. May, Jim, Madeline Hester were al well, but we are so sorry for poor Katy & Harold to lose their little son. Katy returned brother Charlie died with flu last Aug. & about two months after, her oldest sister died with flu & left three little children & now her little son. Harold has been feeling fine since living in Cleveland right on the Lake shore - the damp climate agrees with him. But they intend coming back when you come home.
Arch & Dad have done well trapping this winter. Daddie sold the clover & Alsace seed to Bailie at Maple got nearly $400.00 for it. Your bank book is crawling up Earl. You'll be a rich man when you get home, ha-ha. Wish I had a quarter as much. I'd take a trip over to see you. You'll be surprised to hear about Ruth. We were too. We are busy getting presents for her. Ralph Gillies is married now to Miss Upitogo or some such name. All the drafters are home again excepting those who went overseas & some of them are back. Chester Ward is home but his home in in Vaughan so does not get a watch from King. To the parents of the boys who were killed they are giving nice clocks as a memorial. Old Mr. Malcolm McCallum died today he has been sick all winter.
There is a checker match tonight at Armstrong's between King & Kleinburg. King team is Daddie, Uncle Aaron, Henry, Mr. Jarvis, Vic Hall, & Mr. Lriety, the new school teacher at Strange. Kleinburg - Dr. Robinson, Bob Wallace, Ireland & I don't know the rest. Tonight is the third match King won every time. Dad & Henry are not back yet & its near twelve o'clock so guess I'll stay up till they come. You will be tired reading so much but it's so long since I wrote you. I have so much to tell you. Sure Earl we'll send the tobacco along as soon as we can get it off. We have all being saving up to go down town to meet you, but I guess now we'll have to wait a long time if you don't get back till June. Arch says he is going to Halifax when you land. I think the 127 Batt is more talked about than any other Batt in Canada. Every one though they were coming home as a unit & Toronto is preparing for a grand reception for them in St. Paul's Hall. Jim Jenkins is one of the Committee to get it up. I bet the whole of north York will be there to welcome back her warriors. I guess you will have seen in the papers that old Sir. Wilfred Laurier, the good old chief died.
Well old boy. I guess I have wrote enough for this time, but I'll write to you again soon if you have to be in Eng so much longer. Now write often and let us know how you are getting along and Earl if you are able to get back to Canada soon the gov't here fixes every fellow up good they don't get discharge then & have no more to do with them but they get medical treatment until cured & pay goes on six months after discharge so don't stay in England to get your ankle fixed but come as soon as you get better of the grippe. I am afraid some of those Eng. Blokes will be nabbing you so be wise there'll be a good time in Canada for you when you get back. So don't come back tied up. Well dear old boy I guess I have said enough for this time. So take best care of yourself & let us know how you are. Hoping to see you very soon and heaps of love and best wishes from all.
Your loving sister Merelda"
Mar 29, 1919 from Earl in Lyminge
"Dear Merelda, Well must write you a few more lines to-day to let you know how I am doing. I have been up out of bed for 3 or 4 days now. A rash came out all over my body so I was turned out of Moor Barracks and sent over to this dump, it is only about 5 miles from Shorncliffe. It sure is an awful hole tho. I am getting treated here for scabies. They are awful for one to have. Worse than the lice I use to have in France, ha-ha. I do not know how long I will be here with this. My blood will be pure when I come out tho. I get very good treatment. I am just about fed up on this sickness. It looks as tho I'll never get back home. I have not received any mail from Canada since I took sick. I told them at Moore Barracks when I left to send my mail to Lyminge Hospital. I'll be getting some of these days. It snowed most of last night. And to-day the sun most if it away. I think we will have spring weather after a few more days. I thot I would had been home for the 24th of May, but now since I've got the scabies I don't think I will. Well Merelda I'll close for now. And write me often and tell all to write me. How are the lads of my Coy getting along in King and Laskay. Bill Bowler will be shooting great lines of bull, eh ha-ha
Will best of luck and Love to all. Write soon or sooner. Loving Bro Earl"
Apr 1, 1919 Can Hospital, Lyminge, England
"My Dear Mother,
Just a card this time. I am having a great time with the scabies here. I am just about over the Flu. But feel a wee bit weak. We are having very nice weather now mostly everything is green now. I had this photo taken when I came out of Hospital at Moor Barracks. You cannot see any of our pretty faces. This Hospital is not near as good as Moore Barracks. But I can stick it out for awhile anyway. I do not know how long I'll be here yet. But write me anyway. I have not had any mail from home since I left France.
Best of Love to All, Loving Son, Earl."
Apr 3, 1919 King.
In the letter Merelda mentions the names of the some of the soldiers from the 127th Battalions that have returned home and also the fact that they are having a reception for them.
"Dear Old Earl,
Just a few lines tonight to say your card arrived O.K. today. Am sorry you are still in hospital we have been watching for your name every day in the papers. Nearly all the 127 are back now, but no Earl yet. Art Brown, Sturdy, B. Bowler, Paddy, S, Ball, & Hulme's, L. Robb, S. Stratford, J. Stubbs, Billie Riddell, A. Hollingshead, Alex McDonald, Geo. Bainbridge, J. Kewell & some more boys from out around Yonge St. are home. Their reception is tomorrow night in Armstrong Hall. We expect a big time. I told you in another letter of cast reception & what boys were there. We are patiently waiting for you. All the boys who are back look well. We have heard some great tales about you. Old Yek, eh, the scrapper. They tell us you are a giant man so guess we'll have to stand around where you get home.
We are having nice weather now, the roads are dandy. Cars running all the time. Looks as though seeding will be early. Harold is back in Toronto again. He is going into hospital to be cured of shell-shock. A six month trial & is given a chance to take any course he likes, free of cost so that is great chance for him. Don't know what he will go at yet. He was home until Tues. so we have not heard. Katy went up to her home for a visit, until Easter & then she is going to take a room in Toronto. Harold has to stay at hosp. all the time though. Sleeps there, so it will be lonely for Katy alone. May & Jim & kiddies were fine when they left there. May & kids intend coming home this summer some time. Ruth was married on 19, March, so we have another brother now. They are coming down sometime soon too. Colin's are all well. I am still staying at Merle's, but go home often. Henry has to go on jury soon, so I'll be staying until he is through there. The girls & Arch were at a party at Teston last night. I was over home yesterday p.m. They are all coming over to the Reception tomorrow night. We are having good time again lots of soldiers around King now, ha-ha. But wait till they all get back. Oh joy, Oh boy.
Well Earl it's ¼ after 11 & a party tomorrow night so will have to stop & I have used up all the paper too. Perhaps you will be home before this gets there, hope so anyway. Be sure & let us know when you land at Halifax because the whole family is going to drive to Toronto to meet you. Hope you can read this the pencil is dull, like the writer eh? Well good bye for this time. Hope to see you very soon.
Love from all, Your old sis Merelda."
Apr 6, 1919 Grandview Manitoba
"I am sorry you are not at home before this, but am glad to be able to write you again. You most likely have heard from home that I am married. I wrote you in December telling you I intended to be married but could not write to you any more as I did not know where to address your letters and I know by your letters you had not got my last letter now. I hope when you do come home that you will come out to Grandview and make one a nice long visit. We have a car and I will be able to let you see a lot of the country, you will be entitled to a farm will you not or is it just the Western boys who will be getting farms. I am living on a farm and married to the best man you ever saw he is so good and kind to me. We were married at Aunt Barbara's, she done it up fine for us, the we went to Winnipeg for about two weeks. We did not go far way on account of Hughes father not being very well he has had two strokes and so has not been very well since. Hugh was exempt from going to war on account of his father, but I must tell you he did not try to get off himself. He wanted to go, but the people knew how he was situated no would so would not take him. Now Earle I do hope you are better and what is wrong with your ankle you never mentioned anything about it in any of your letters you might as well tell us all about it. Do you ever hear of Lorne is he still in your company and is he in a good fit condition. Well I guess we will soon be at the spring seeding again it seems quite natural for me to be on the farm again and I hope we have a good crop. Will close now with fond Love. Hugh joins in sending best wishes and love.
Your loving sister, Ruth Whaley."
Apr 8, 1919 from Earl Can Hospital, Lyminge
"My Dear Sister, How glad I was to rec your 16 page letter today. I sure got some news in it. Some good and some very bad news. It is awful about Harold and Katie's little son dying. I sure feel sorry about it. I must write to Harold now since you gave me his address. So Merle has a little baby girl, eh and now it is nearly 3 month old. I am Merelda that I'll have some time when I get back keeping in track of my relations. So Ruth found a very rich man eh lucky isn't she? I suppose you have your eye spotted on a rich young fellow, ha-ha. It will be a great change in King now since the boys arrived back. I guess I'll be the only King lad that is'nt home now. The 127 would land in about the 20th of March. So you were thinking I would my Canada leave to London. Oh now I was to wise this time for the London tarts. They are awful girls Merelda. Once down the Strand and up Piccadilly sure opens a guy's eyes a little. None of em got much of that £20 I got from home. I have a great story to tell you when I get home by have two Janes try to do Clarence Bowhey and myself in one night on our leave. Clarence & I will never forget it. What I think of the English girls is very wee. But I do think a great deal of a little one in Belgium. I am glad Charlie Williams got back safe. He was not long in the khaki was he? But long enough for anyone tho. You asked me what is the matter with my ankle. It is all better now. I hurt it at Bramshott one night just a wee bit knocked out of action. I am just about over the Flu now. But the scabies are still on me. I am getting good treatment here so when I am cured it will be a real cure. I will be home in June. I go from here to Kimmell Camp that is very close to Liverpool. So Arch is going to meet me at Halifax when I land. I do not believe I would know him now. And I am sure he would not know me if I kept my 'stache on. It is a real Charlie. It sure is hard luck of Buster dying. He took the Flu I guess, I hope Arch and the two wee sisters put up a good tombstone for him. Has Dad sold his fat cattle yet? He got some doe for his clover see allright. I wish I was home helping him and Arch to slay that wood down he bought up the fifth. I feel tho I could cut 6 cord per day, ha-ha. So King checker team put it all over Kleinburg. Well no wonder King has 3 pretty hard nuts for a checker player to run into. I am very glad you are sending me tobacco. This English stuff is not much good. And I can't go cigarettes at all. J' tril donnez voud un bon baisers pour doing so. How is Mother these wet days you will be having Canada now. I hope she is in the very best of health. Pauline & Floss will be like young game roosters being spring is with them. I'll take it out of em when I get back. It is spring here now. The land girls are at it in the fields near by. They look jake in their dress. Well Merelda I will close for now. I must write to Harold to-night. Now you write me again soon and tell the rest to write. I told you in my last letter that I have been sent away from Moore Barracks to another Hospital 5 miles away. I am ashamed of this little letter. You write such big ones. But I can write long letters. Wishing you all the very best of good luck and good health.
Au revoir Mon Cherie, Sis. ecrise bienitot Love to all Bro. Earl."
Spr N.E.Campbell, # 779057, Can Hospital, Lyminge, Kent, England
Apr 16, 1919 King - Merelda writes to Earl about the land in Northern Ontario that the Government is offering up to returning soldiers. The Soldier Settlement Act (1917, 1919) allowed veterans of the First and Second World Wars to purchase land with the help of government loans, with additional funds for livestock and equipment.She also mentions Brother Harold who is receiving electric treatment for his nerves after returning from fighting in the War.
"My Dear Bro. Earl.
Your most welcome letter received yesterday & so you are still in Eng. Where ever are you going to get home anyway? Nearly all the other boys are getting home before you. We sure do hear some great yarns from some of them- Gen Buller, ha-ha. Jack Stubbs or (Wooby) he says "Olle is a great fellow, a real ruffian, ha-ha he was here yesterday helping Henry to draw hay down from the other place, so we heard lots of yarns. Poor old Paddy can tell lots of comical yarns too. He has gone up to New Ont. to look at some land the gov't is offering returned men. C. Williams has also gone up there, but guess it's not much of a snap. Harper Wells & Dickie Badger have both arrived home this week. I hope you have got our letters by this time. I don't know what can have happened to them. Also the box you have had lots of time to have them now. I am still at Henry's & I expect to be here for some time yet as Henry has to go on July 5th of May and he wants me to stay until he is through down there. He will have to hire a man for the seeding, so Merle cannot do all the work. They are getting along o.k at home without me. Pauline is chief cook now. Art Walker is there papering this week getting ready for you home coming. We are going to have a dance then, ha-ha. I was down to Toronto for a couple of days last week, went to see Harold at Central Military Hospital. He is feeling better & likes it there o.k. He is taking electric treatment for his nerves, gets a $1.10 a day & $30.00 a month for Kate, but has to stay at the hospital at nights only when he gets a leave off when they get through with his treatments to take up some special course, free. Katy is still up at her home, her brother is to be married and they want her to stay until after the wedding. Ruth & Hugh got married o.k. they had a swell wedding for her. She went to Winnipeg on her honeymoon guess you will be the next one in our family but be sure to wait until you get home, ha-ha. So I can go to it. I think Arch & Dollie have made up again, ha-ha. Pauline & Floss are great girls now, off to everything that comes off. We have had nasty cold weather lately. It is raining today, the road are terrible now looks a though there would be no seeding for a long time yet. Daddie sold the last of the fat cattle this week. Cattle are very high now, also horses. Well it is Easter time again, and no Earl home to eat eggs, eh? Wonder if you will get any over there. Our hens are laying pretty good this winter. Pauline feeds them well. Ralph Burns and Mary Curtis were married a couple of weeks ago. They are home and settled down on the farm. Old John, Mrs. Jean are living out here in Miss Fisher's house. Old Willie is going to live with Ralph & help work the farm. Bill Bowler is going to work for Jack Lawson this summer. Jack Kewell for old Blake- Sid Straford at C. Archibalds."
Apr 22, 1919 Lyminge, England
"My Cher Sister, I was very glad to receive your letter of Apr 3rd to-day. But why did you write so short a letter this time. You only wrote me 5 pages this time and you allways write me 10 and 15 other times. But I'll let you off this time being you are putting in very late hours at nights, ha-ha. I don't blame you. Have a good time while life is Young, eh. That is the way Yek is doing. I am glad most of my chums are back again. I guess some of em will never leave home again. And who has been telling you tales about moi. Yek the scraper I laughed when I read that well I have been into a few scraps since I left my home. And they tell you I am a giant in size eh. Well I am not over the 200 ponds yet. But I must be near to it. This sickness has took me down some. But I am building up every day now. I take a ramble every fine day around the hills and cliffs. It is hard for me to spend days in the Hut here. And in Folkestone or Shorncliffe or Sangate I can only enjoy."
May 2, 1919 Lyminge
"My Dear Sister, Your most welcome letter of Apr 16th arrived to me to-day. Allso Pauline's of the 15th. So you see I had some good reading this afternoon and some very good news. You asked why I don't hurry and get home. Merelda I am hurrying as fast as I can. But I find it a long long road to travel. I'll be home some of these fine days. I will land at Montreal Dock. Most of us will land at Montreal since the river is open. So you hear lots of yarns about me eh. I guess I'll have to won up that I am a ruffian. My Pals have already told you so. Petite Bowler will sure shoot some great yarns won't he? You tell Jack Stubbs he better not be telling you yarns about me. Or I will go into action and tell Miss Holt about him. So most of the lads are away seeing their land. I wonder if it worth taking. I have a good notion to take my land in Western Canada. Do you think a Eastern guy could take it in the West. I had a letter from Ruth she told me all about her wedding. I thot she would have taken her Honey trip down home. So you think I will be the next one to do the trick, eh. What about you hey. You better think it over again. Don't you think so. Hey Sis. So you and Merle are sending a box for me, eh. Good news. I do hope I will get it before I leave for my Depot. Please don't send anymore boxes from now on. I expect to be on my way home before long and the boxes would not follow me up the same as letters. I would hate to loose any of the boxes from home. But you can keep on writing. Letters will follow me where ever I go. My scabies are just about all gone and I had my Medical Board last week. I don't know what my category is yet. But I should worry what it is ha-ha. How does Henry like the Jury? And who has he for a man. Well I must close now it is just about supper time and after supper I am going to a cinema here. Wild West and Southern States pictures are shown. Take good care of yourself. And best Love and good wishes to all.
Au Revoir, Love to all, Loving Bro. Earl"
May 3, 1919 newspaper clipping of further delays of the 127th Battalion returning to Canada
[image of newspaper clipping]
May 3, 1919 Lyminge
"Dear Pauline I was very glad to hear from you again. That paper of the Government you wrote on and sent to me made a fine large letter. Am very glad you and all are keeping in the best of health. I hear you are chief of the cooks since Merelda has went to Merle's. Have a pie for me when I get home. I will be sure to eat the biggest part of it. What I'll leave for you will be small, ha-ha. Well Pauline I have good news for you to-night. Yes very good news. I go before the O.C. of the Hospital Monday morning May 5th for my discharge out of Hospital. I will be sent to my Depot in Liverpool and will probably be there for a week or two. Than after that I sail for you know. Gosh that will be a happy day when I get on that old boat bound for good old land far away. I can hardly waite until the day comes. And when I land on Canada shores it will be the happiest day of Old Yek's life. I feel good now no scabies and no nothing. I spent most of my days on the cliffs around here. It is awful beautiful on them. I believe it had a great deal in helping me to get back to my own health again. Blighty is a fine country in springtime. But not like our own country tho. How are you getting along fishing this spring? Arch will be out every night I suppose. But maybe not out fishing, eh. Poor Hiarm, man o'man. Well Sis being I will soon be home again. I'll not give you all my news. I believe my Pals back home are telling a good many tales of Yek. I've a few to tell of all of em believe moi. Me with the kilt on on parade is nothing to what some of em had on some parades. I've seen them running over the battlefield with only a shirt on. What do you think of that, eh. Well will close for now will write to you when I get to some other dump.
Au Revoir, Mon cher, Love to all, Loving Bro Yek"
May 5, 1919 Postcard from D. Smith to Earl.
Earl had received earlier correspondence from Dorrie in Folkstone
[2 images of postcard]
May 5, 1919 from Earl's sister May
"Dear Brother, We were sure glad to get your letter twas so long since had heard from you . Sorry you have been in Hospital so much, only hope you get home in June. I had a letter from Merle today. I will send it along so you can read what she says she speaks of Madeline getting hurt & well she did have a fall. She struck her head on the coal scuttle and cut it pretty badly but is healing nicely. Don't think it will leave a mark. She feels fine now and Hester, she is quite the little talker and as far as can be just like her Dad. Jim is busy fishing these nights he brought in three nice fish to-night wish you were here to enjoy them with us. Yes you certainly will see some changes when you get home with all the new sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews. It will keep you busy knowing them all and Colin and Henry are farmers at King. Henry was out west when you were home was he not and Harold has not decided where he will settle yet. Hope you get well soon. Jim has quite a hen house, but has only two hens they are Rhode Island Reds and one is set then we have eight little chicks bought them they are B. Rockers, tis rather chilly at night so we bring them in to the house at nights so we are still in the hen business and we have quite a large garden and is coming along very nicely nearly all my flowers are coming up. So think I will have quite a nice assortment this summer. Have you heard from Ruth since she is married she has gone to the farm and says it is fine and she is quite at home. Well now Earl I hope this finds you real well and the next we hear you are on your way home. Will be so glad when you get safely home. You sure have did your bit. Best of good luck to you, lovingly Madeline, Hester, Jim and May."
by, by. 302 Society for Savings, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
May 13, 1919 Can Gen. Depot, Seaford
Earl writes in his letter about the number of Canadian soldiers killed during the war "If Canada did have 52,000 killed in this war, She still has a lot of rust old tuffs yet." Earl mentions in his letter home the number of riots that were happening.
Earl also writes about his black sweater that he has asked his Mother to send him. The significance of the black sweater is that he placed football in in in 1916 in Kettleby. "My black sweater was like a rag that had been in the river for a year."
"My Dear Sister, just a few lines to let you know where I am. I am still at Seaford some of my papers are not here yet so I awaiting for those to come along. I have already signed all my others. I will be sent to Ryle from here that is near Liverpool Awful numbers are leaving here daily. If Canada did have 52,000 killed in this war. She has still a lot of rust old tuffs yet, ha-ha. Do you hear about the riots over here at the Canucks Camps? It there is another one starts here at Seaford and I am here I am going to get out as far as I can in the sea. I must keep away from danger now. I want to be finished with the hospitals for a while now. A riot was to Witley Camp two days ago. The Woodbines thot they could like the Canucks and they had a hot time of it for a while. I do not know who came out best. But I guess the Canucks, ha-ha. The weather is pink here. I suppose it will be far pinker at home tho. I forget what kind of weather we have in Canada in May and June. I know what July is like tho. I'll never forget that foot-ball match I played at Kettleby in July 1916. My Black sweater was like a rag that had been in a river for a year. I will be home for the 1st of July this year and tell the people I will take them to the fair in the new wagon of Dad's. Arch can take his buggy and go around by the Mill Road. Hiram would lend his buggy for a shilling or two. Are you still at Merle's yet? I wrote to Merle not long ago. But she did not answer my letter. And you need not answer any more. Get dat old Gal. Something doing when I tell people not to write to me. My mail has not come up from Lyminge yet. I expect a bunch of it from there. Now I will close for now. And will write again soon. I shot a card to Flossie a few days ago. Hope all are well at home. And will see you all again in short time.
Love to All, Your Loving Bro, Yek"
May 23, 1919 Witley Camp
"My Dear Sister, Well I am at Witley again. Arrived in here this noon time. 800 of us came up from Seaford. Had a fine trip on the train. But the march from the Station to the Camp was not nice. A very warm day it has been and we had heavy loads to march with. Everything looks the same around here as it did when I was here before in 1916. Some of my old girls knew me and some did not. They say I've changed a lot. Got tuff I guess they mean, ha-ha. But I shan't let the gals of Surrey County worry me. Very large, ha-ha. Well Merelda, I can't say when I will be leaving for home. Pretty soon tho. I'll see the 1st July in Canada all right. One of my papers is lost somewhere over here. It may be a week before it is found. They do a lot of losing papers in the London Office. No wonder riots started in so many of the Canucks Camps, I may put in for a few days leave. We can get leave now. I will go to Blackpool if I do go. But if my papers show up soon I will not put in for any at all. The weather is jake here. I am as brown as a nig. I suppose Dad & Arch will have the Spring seeding all in by now. Ready for the big day the 24th. I'll spend mine here in Blighty for the last, and Thank God it is the last to. They will likely have sports here. I may take some of them in. But I am afraid I will stand a poor chance at any of them. Me been in the Hospital so long my wind is all gone. I see a few of the Toronto boys around here. Those I meet while training in Toronto. Well Merelda I will now come to a close for now. Will drop a card in a few days. Best of Love to all. Loving Bro. Earl. "Will see you all very soon"
May 25, 1919 Witley Camp , Surrey
Earl mentions that he hopes to be home by the 1st of July.
"My Dear Mother, Just a few lines to you to let you know I am still in the Country yet. I am at the Camp I was in in 1916. Everything looks very nice around here now. I took a stroll out this morning along the English roads. They are some very pretty places. I was through a bush which made me think of Northern Ontario. I frightened lots of rabbits & pheasants up. I suppose you all went away for the 24th. I spent the day here. A baseball match I attended to in the afternoon. I did not play tho. It is a game I don't like playing. I like any game but baseball to play. But I can enjoy watching a good game of base-ball. In the evening I went to the cinema in one of the Y.M.C.A.s here. How is Dad & Arch getting along with the work. I'll soon be home to give them a help. I will be sailing in about two weeks time if everything goes well. So when you receive this letter you can say that Yek is on his way home at last. I wrote to Merelda a few days ago, day before the 24th, telling her what a good boy I have become to be, ha-ha. Mother I don't know however I will fill the next page up. But I will make a good try of it. I suppose there will be high doings the 1st July around home. If I am home I will have to take a load up the Kettleby like I use to do. But I will have no grey horses to ride behind. Well Mother, I don't think I will be able to fill this page today. I could talk to you far better than write. And very soon. Take real good care of yourself and hope you and all at home are in the best of health. Well Mother you need not write to me anymore. Guess you know why, ha, ha.
Love to all at home, Loving son Earl."
Jun 10, 1919 Witley - portion of this letter was damaged
"Dear Merelda & All
Well Merelda I guess I can say this will be my last letter home form this Country. And how glad I am to think that it is my last one. The day has come for me to be sailing home to see you all again. I will be sailing on the 17th of this month. Maybe before ha,ha. ..... I tell you it is wild days around here now. The draft men are so happy they can't sleep at nights. I slept outdoors last night. The tents are so awful arm these warm days one can hardly stop in em a minute. Most of the Coy I am in here sleep out in the woods. It is nice but oh the mosquitoes they nip like bumblebees. I took a run up to London Saturday evening stayed until Sunday evening. No one here knew I was absent. So joke a-loo I was. I went to the zoo to see the pretty little monkeys. Some of em would try hard to talk their own language to me. The zoo is sure a lovely place this time of the year. Every animal and thing you can think of is in it. Riverdale Zoo would just go in one corner of the London Zoo. It is sure a wonder of the world. Well Merelda. I guess I will have to close my last letter to you. May drop a card. " ... [Rest of letter damaged]
Best love to all, Your loving Bro. Earl
Jun 19, 1919 Witley Camp, England
"My Dear Sister,
This is the day I was to sail away home. Does'nt look very much like it does it. I guess you7 know why we are held back for another week. The Atlantic sailors went on a strike for higher pay, so we are held back for a while. I suppose you have read about the riot we had here was some thing like over in France. The first night 14th was not so bad as the 15th. Shooting up was done the 15th. You can be sure I made tracks for the tall timbers when I heard the first bullet giving a lovely song in the air. Some were killed and some wounded. The tin-town here was all torn down and the goods token. And after the troops got their stomachs filled and all the good stuff they wanted. They put a match to the remains. London could see the light from the fire. It was some fire believe me. The garage had tons of gasoline in it and a fine sight was it when she went up. They didn't burn enough the first night they started some more fire and it ate up a few more buildings. A guard of Canadians from Bramshott were sent up in a Lorry armed with revolvers, rifle and bayonet. But only twenty guards to over 10,000 troops. They were soon bottled and stoned back to where they come from. Many of them went to Hospital. I saw some of them get some awful wounds. Last night all was quite. Word going around here now is the Imperial troops are coming up with their armour motor machine gun cars from Aldershott if we start another riot. Also the Woodbine Calvary from Aldershott. But I don't think anymore Riots will start. The ring leaders were caught and sent to London for safe keeping.
V.C. Turner was down from London on Sunday and gave us all a lecture. He said he would try and get us all back home by the 15th of July. I believe he is a wee bit full of prunes tho. You know there are over 40,000 troops here yet just at this Camp. He had better get England's Battleships, submarine chasers and all the boats that are able to cross the Pond. Maybe he could get us all back then. Say but I am fed up on this waiting about. It just gets my nerves where they are weak. Ha-ha. Lots more like me too. I may be home for the 1st, I hope I am. It will be around that time I shall land I think. I had a letter from May today. And one from old Pal in Lindsay, Clarence Bowhey. He is in civvies now and look at me. Well Merelda my dear Sis, I will close for now. But will write soon again. I may go for a few days leave to some part of this world. I am fed up of around this Camp. The only place I can enjoy meself is out in the Bush with the mosquitoes, ha-ha. No theatre here now. It went west the other night. Hope all are well and hope it is not to warm for you. It is fierce here just now. No rain for over three weeks.
Love to all, will see you all soon. Adieu, Don't write.
Loving Bro, Yek"
Jun 24, 1919 Witley Camp - Earl mentions "Peace was signed to-day and London was wild all day"
Just a few lines of bull to let you know I am still in the ail land pretty slow in getting home, eh. But I can't help it. I don't like this part of the World at all so I am not trying to stop here for the good of my health. Or no'wee Jane is keeping me here. I will likely wander in to Toronto about the 10th of July. I am fed clean to the neck of laying around camp. So yesterday Lefty Syda a B. Coy chum of mine and I took a run into London and stayed until to-night. None knew we were always so guess we will have no defaulters calls to answer to.
Peace was signed to-day and London was wild all day. Some went nuts I think. The Woodbine women were nearly all drunk beaucoup of em were runed into the clink. I got my wind up so I beat it for Witley. I suppose you will be hard at the haying by now. Crops look good over here. I hope they are as good in Canada. Are you getting in trim for the 1st. I am sorry I didn't make it home for the 1st. I can't make it now unless I sail to-night. But small hopes of me sailing to-night or this week. I had my Dental Board a few days ago. My Medical Board is to come yet and my L.P.C. Is not signed yet. All my papers are lost new ones will have to be made out for me. But if I am not out of this by the 10th of July I am going to start off on my own hook. I will make it jake leave it to moi. Well Arch must close for now and get into bunk. Take care of yourself and best Love and good wishes to all at home.
Loving Bro Earl, Will see you all soon."
Jul 8, 1919 Mid Ocean
Finally Earl is on his way home.
"My Dear Mother
At last I have started on my way home. Just about home now just imagine it. I can hardly believe it. I am on my way homeward. We left Witley Camp July 3rd and arrived at the Boat the same night at 4 o'clock and sail out at 8 o'clock. We are a few miles over half way now. The trip has been not to bad so far. Sunday was very rough tho. But the fine large ship was to heavy for much knocking about. The Empress of Britain. This morning has been very foggy and she is not making fast time. Some icebergs are drifting about allso. So that shows we are near to Labrador. Land is supposed to be sighted this afternoon. It seems a few weeks since land was sighted. There are about 3,000 men and officers on board. And about 70 Nursing Sisters. Sports are held every day on Deck such as Boxing, Wrestling and foot racing. The prizes are cigarettes and cigars. Well Mother I will stop writing now. Will soon be able to talk to you instead of writing? Please excuse this writing. As I am doing it in the dining room and it is on the rock all the time. I have not feed the fish any yet, ha-ha. But I had better not blow about it. I have a few more miles to go yet. The Boat is due in Quebec the 11th. So watch for me knocking about very soon. I missed the good ship Olympic by 1 day. But a raft is good enough for me as long as it takes me to God's Country.
Hope all are well at home.
Will see you very soon. Bye-Bye, Your Loving Son, Earl"
Jul 12, 1919 Discharge Papers of Norman Earl Campbell
The letter reads:
It is indeed with pleasure that we welcome you home again. We fully realize that it is utterly impossible for us to adequately compensate you for the sacrifices you have made in our behalf. Sacrifices that entailed discomforts and privations untold and dangers never before dreamed of. The self-satisfied, stay-at-home man would never have made an allied victory possible. That noble sense of patriotism that induced you to answer the call of your country in her need cannot be too greatly appreciated, and the desire and determination in you to fight and to die if necessary for the cause of Justice and of Right makes us proud indeed to call you Friend.
It is you and such men as you who have built for Britain an Empire on which the sun never sets. Never yet has Britain lacked support of her sons. As far back as Elizabeth's reign their caring and enterprise extended her boundaries to the New World, and down through the centuries they have valiantly upheld the tradition of the race. Through your noble efforts we now hold a vaster Empire than has been.
In presenting this slight token of our appreciation we are not endeavouring in any way to recompense you for the dangers and privations you have so cheerfully undergone, and we feel that men who fought so nobly for Right and Justice in Flanders Fields can be trusted to fight for Right and Justice in the country of their birth or adoption. You have made the word Canadian honoured by all the allied nations. Your country-men delight to honour you and we who know you best are proud indeed to take this opportunity to thank you who have so nobly, and gallantly upheld the fair name of Canada in a war stricken world.
To Sap. Earl Norman Campbell.
[3 images of discharge papers]
Sep 21, 1919 letter from Merelda to Earl in Davisville Military Hospital, (North) Toronto
"My Dear Earl,
I guess you would be looking for me today. Susie and Fred Willis had promised to take Mother & I down to see you today, but it has just poured rain all day. So we could not go at all, but I will try & get down some day this week will go on the train. I was talking to one of the official at the hospital yesterday, phoned down. He said you were operated on, Friday & was doing fine & he said he would tell you I was phoning you. I hope you are feeling much better & hope the days don't seem to long. I suppose Harold & Kate would be up to the hospital today to see you. We have had very wet weather lately. It has rained nearly every day for a week.
Kettleby Fair was yesterday Henry & Hazel went to it, also Pauline, Floss, Arch & Daddie. Mother was at home alone & I was busy at the store. Merle was expecting a lot of company today so had to stay home to prepare for them & then they didn't come after all. Maud said she would go down with me next Sunday to see you, but if I can get a day off before then I will go myself, can't depend on her and then tho it is Rally Day at our Church & there want me there. I am glad H & K have got some nice rooms now. I must write them I don't get much time for writing letters now. Well, how is old Bert? And have you found Tom yet. Tell Bert that Merchants have moved to Toronto now, left last Thursday, they are going to live at Sunnyside. Well Earl, how are you fixed for clothes? Do you need some more underwear or does the hospital supply that, if there is anything you would like we will send it.
Well I can't think of any more to tell you now so will close. So hoping you are getting along fine and don't find it to lonely lying in bed and write as soon as you are able to.
Well love & Best Wishes from all, Au Revoir, Mon Cheri Bro, Merelda"
[image of postcard]
Sep 30, 1919 from Flossie Ross. Flossie mentions in her letter that the talk is all about an election and mentions women being allowed to vote: "The women have a vote this time you know so instead of about 800 voters around here there are 1400. Now some difference isn't it?"
I've intended writing to you ever since I came home but I haven't done much writing only one letter to Clara. We heard from her and she said you were getting along allright, and we were quite anxious until we did hear from her, so we hope you are still doing well. She said the place was real cheerful and comfortable where you were and that makes a lot of difference when a person is sick.
All the talk around here is election. Lennox has had meetings in Newmarket and Aurora and is to have one in King soon. Then the Farmers have their meetings, there is one at King tonight at which, Herb Ross and Jim Burns Jr. speak; also this is the night Toppy McDonald is to come home after being married, so they are preparing to charavari him (that word is chivaree hits, some word to spell - I must say, ha-ha).
Women have a vote this time you know so instead of about 800 voters around here there are 1400. Now, some difference isn't it? You would hear Lorne Campbell is home - I haven't seen him yet but hope to before I go back to the city. I haven't been many places since I came home. I went to church Sunday up to the Stone Church. It was Flower Sunday or Children's Day & was a gran warm day too. From Church I went to Nobleton with Gar McCallum & stayed till Mon afternoon. I was all over the country out there, down to Kleinberg Sta. & at the Mill etc. and at the mill etc. but I wouldn't want to stay long over there among the hills. I couldn't sleep Sunday night for owls hooting, it all sounded too wild.
I was out to King this p.m. Ern Hollingshead little girl, Zelta & I went out with Mr. Rolling in his car from school & we got a ride back with Slimmy Watson so were away long then she came home with me for supper & I came back from taking her home just a while ago. She's a great little girl alright. The small kids around the burg & Hughie & I play football some nights but outside of all these exciting things nothing else happens. Anna B. has gone back to Toronto to University again, she's awfully friendly never phoned or came to see me & she's been home all summer. The Sturdy girls aren't friendly anymore either their barn raising or dance is to be this Thursday, they haven't asked me, but I don't care if they ever do or not. I'll go anyway, ha, ha. I haven't any idea who I am going with so far. I don't know of anything more to say Earl. If it were winter time I would be telling you how many skunks I had trapped & how many rabbits I had shot but it's just fall yet a while. I had a big birthday the other day - was 23 on 23rd Sept, some old lady ain't I.
I'll be back to work next Monday & I will go up to see you 1st opportunity, & in the meantime be good & make them all wait on you down there & look after you - that's what they're there for. Hope you continue to improve & feel fine. Just keep in good high spirits & you'll be jake. I have a vote this time. I'll see if I can get you some real spirits, ha-ha! All this time.
Sincerely Flossie Ross"