Worth Remembering Every Day
With the signing of the armistice in 1918 hostilities ended in WWI “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month”. I know that Remembrance Day isn’t until next month, but I’m remembering my great uncle Lance Corporal Basil Vale today.
I’ve just read another of his letters home to his mother/my great-grandmother. It’s been almost 100 years since he wrote this letter and it’s reminded me of all the armed forces personnel who are far away from their homes, possibly in hostile places, hoping that peace will be coming soon.
Uncle Basil was hoping for peace on November 8, 1918. And despite his deliberately cheery tone for his mother, I know he didn’t have an easy time of it when he was overseas.
Nov. 8th, 1918
Don’t think I am in Blighty when you get this because I am not. A chum is going on leave and I am asking him to post this for me on his leave.
Some time ago you sent a Sunday World to me. Now the funny part was you sent me a picture of my billet. I am enclosing it. X is where my billet was at the time.
There is a rumour out that there is an armistice on with Germany. I will not believe it as one hears so many of these things, but I do hope it is true. If I were a married man now I would look forward to being home for Christmas. You know you people know far more about the war than I do for we hear very little over here. The envelope will give my whereabouts at the present time. The other place marked X was in July. The X is not very plain so I put a couple of arrows pointing to it.
The flower enclosed I picked up in the battlefield a few hours after our advance on a certain front. Keep it as a souvenir. That was the time I told you I was up the line. Now my work consists of making billets for headquarters so you should not worry in the least about me always at least five miles behind the lines.
Well so long Ma. Excuse this short note as time is limited.
Best love to all.
Your loving son,
Unfortunately, neither the picture nor the poppy flower that he included with his letter survived the last century. And he didn’t make it home for Christmas that year. He didn’t get back to Canada until the spring of 1919. He shipped out from Canada on December 21, 1917 and was part of the Allied war effort for a year and a half. He hasn’t been forgotten.