France, May 5, 1918

Dearest Emma; –

Did not have any letters from you yesterday or the day before but the one you wrote on April 29 arrived to-day. Now my dear girl, I don’t wish you to take what I said about buying articles of household equipment too much to heart. By all means if you see anything that you fancy, and which you think might contribute to our future happiness & well being, buy it, i.e. if I send you enough funds to enable you to do so. I fear that you will not be able to do any extensive shopping on what you can save from the pittance I am able to contribute to your monthly income. I shall therefore expect you to be able to show me a few pieces of superfine linen for our “Little grey home in the West” when we next meet.

Yesterday was a peculiar sort of day. The morning was fine but heavy showers of rain kept coming on all day with bright sunshiney intervals between squalls of rain. I did not go out horseback riding as I had intended but went off in a car going up towards the line. I saw some men of the old battalion on the street of a village so I got off the car and questioned them with the result that I found that two companies were in the village and the other two with Hq. in the adjoining town. I called on A & B companies who were messing together and saw Major Hornby and Captain Tucker, the respective company C.O.s. They were just going over the Bn. Hq. to a conference so I went along. Major Doughty is now m/c of the battalion. After the conference we had afternoon tea in the Hq. mess. There were 11 at the table and Capt. Petty called attention to the fact that 8 of these had come overseas with the original battalion. In the evening I walked back and had dinner with the combined A & B mess, and afterwards walked back to my own unit, which I reached just at dark. Col. Bell is now a Brigadier General and is in command of the brigade. I am very pleased that he has at last obtained that which has been due him for such a long time.

Had a bath in a time tub this afternoon. I have finally decided to discard one suit of underwear and the top shirt to which you had such a pronounced aversion. The cuffs were becoming very ragged and the sleeves were nearly worn through the cuffs were hanging down and showing at the wrists. I had some idea of cutting the sleeves off and wearing the balance of the garment during the remainder of the summer but finally decided to make a complete sacrifice.

Am pleased to know that your had such a good time at the Drysdales but feel very sorry that Miss Reid is not improving any in health. The poor girl I fear will have to return to Canada but what then?

Have not heard from Margaret for a week or more. I presume she is now kept very busy. I wrote to my cousin in Toronto to-day and when I answer the letters from Herb and one or two others I shall be again caught up with my correspondence.

I dream about you nearly every night. This may mean that I am soon going on leave but more likely that I very much wish to be with you once more. The latter is true any way.

Your very fond husband
Harold W. McGill

Published in: on February 20, 2008 at 8:00 am  Leave a Comment  

France, March 30, 1918

Dearest Emma;-

Did you get the letter I wrote you on March 26? I carried it in my pocket for two days before I had a chance to mail it and even at that I wasn’t any too sure that it would really be started on its way. When you write be sure to let me know if you have received it, for it contained some directions that I would wish you to follow in case anything might happen to me before I see you again. Perhaps I had better repeat my remarks any way. The substance of all I said is as follows: If I should be taken prisoner or be killed your best plan would be to return to Canada – unless you could help along the war by returning to nursing duties in England.

My balance at the Bank of Montreal is not large but I have deposited there for safe keeping £200 worth of war loan. Unless the military situation becomes absolutely disastrous for us the value of this should be sufficient security upon which you could raise money for immediate needs and for your journey to Canada. With the Royal Trust Co. in Calgary I have $1000.00 of Canadian Victory War Loan besides a few other securities such as some stock in a life insurance company and some titles to more or less valueless bits of property. My life insurance is about all I can leave you my dear, dear girl; but this will amount (Only in case you lose me of course) to something over $12000. The income from a fair rate of interest on this to-gether with your pension should be enough to provide you with most of the necessities if not the luxuries of life. In my other the letter I took the liberty of warning you against putting this insurance money in some wild speculation and losing it all. You will please pardon my thinking of such a thing. Your best plan would be to let the Royal Trust Co. invest the money for you. The interest rate might not be high but the investment would be as safe as anything could be in these troubled times. My will as you probably already know I left with Belord & Co., Solicitors, 8 Waterloo Place, upstairs next door the Bank of Montreal. Also please dear if anything should happen to me try to get in touch with Margaret and help her if she needs your help, and if you can do so in any way. You are the two I love most in this world and I shall rest comfortable in mind if I can possess some reasonable assurance that all will be well with you after I have “Gone West”. Margaret will likely be alright though as the military authorities will see that she gets back to Canada. I am going to write Margaret and ask her to help you in any way she can if I am counted out. I have been a little anxious about her this terrible week for I have not heard a word from her since we parted last Sunday.

Now are you sorry you married me, now when our prospects of a victorious peace are none too rosy. Well I should be sorry for your sake, but somehow I am not, no matter what may happen now to thrones and Empire. I at least have the happiness of knowing that you love me, and the memory of the happy two weeks of our wedded life together.

It is raining dogs and cats outside but I have a very comfortable room in a hut with a table and chair in it. You must not think from the tone of my letter that I have any sense of impending disaster to myself for I have not, although the effects of the bad war situation undoubtedly adds a gloomy touch to my expression.

I am enclosing you the slip in reference to your return to Canada which you sent on to me. As leave will not likely be open for some time now could you stave the matter off for a time by getting into the nursing work again. I should very much grieve if you had to go before I have a chance of seeing you again and your coming to France is now of course out of the question until the military situation improves. Do not think that I wish to hustle you back to work but by so doing you would have ample justification for your remaining in England and you could surely get off for the time I should be over there on leave.

Let me know all about it when you write. It might be a good plan for you to write to Lt. Col. Obed Smith and explain circumstances to him. How are you off for funds?

Your ever loving husband

Harold W. McGill

(Attachment)
On the conclusion of hostilities all available ships will be required for the transportation of soldiers.
It is unlikely that ships will be available for ordinary passenger service to Canada for twelve to eighteen months after the conclusion of hostilities.
Wives and dependents of Canadian Officers and Other Ranks, now in the British Isles, who do not intend to permanently reside here, should, therefore consider the question of their immediate return to Canada, unless they are prepared to remain in England for at least one year after their husbands have been returned to Canada.
The obtaining of foodstuffs in the United Kingdom is becoming more difficult. There is no shortage of food in Canada.
Every effort is being made by the authorities to see the trip to Canada is made in safety.
Write at once to your soldier husband or father, and obtain his views as to whether or not you should return to Canada now. Send him this memorandum.
If you decide to go, communicate with Lieut-Colonel Obed Smith, 11-12 Charing Cross, London. He will make all arrangements for your trip.

Published in: on January 15, 2008 at 8:00 am  Leave a Comment