The Homestone

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remembrance Day 2008, Charles Roy Bailey

In August of 1914 when 'The Empire at War' was just last weeks news in Canada, (my Great Uncle) Charles Roy Bailey at 21 years of age, left his home, his family and his job in Winnipeg to join the 1st Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force. He was attached to the Canadian Army Medical Corps and spent the entire length of the First World War in active service overseas including 4 months of post-war mopping up before finally returning to Canada in March of 1919. Charley was awarded the 1914 Star on April 25th 1918. Here is an excerpt from the first of Charley's letters home from overseas. From Salisbury Plain, England. Oct 23rd, 1914 "Dear Mother Arrived here after 21 days aboard ship. We had fine weather all the way over and a great voyage. The trip did not make me sick, funny it did not effect, as there was so many that were seasick. This place is sure pretty. We landed in Devonport and marched to Plymouth, where we got the train to Salisbury. As you see by my address, I have transferred to a Hospital corps, from Hamilton Ontario. By the time you get this I will have seen London as we get a few days off. Gee it is a funny country, hedges, roads and little villages. The Canadian soldiers are getting a great welcome here. When we were waiting for our trains at Plymouth, there were thousands there cheering us. One old lady came over and talked to me. When I left she threw her arms around me, kissed me and said " God Bless you my little man." They were so glad to see us that they were giving us fruit, cigarettes and everything. The girls come up to you and beg for a button or a badge for a souvenir, some of the boys landed in camp with all the buttons off their coat. But of course I am too bashful so naturally I had all my buttons on." And poignantly, an excerpt from the letter he wrote to his Mother 90 years ago today. November 11th 1918 "Dear Mother Just received your letter and VV’s note. We are settled again and things are coming on as well as can be expected. Well Mother what do you think of the news. By Jove the boys are sure in great spirits lately. Things are surely looking good. But now that when we have got them where they once had us, I would certainly like to see them get what they gave us in 1914. The Bosh is a squealer when he is beat but darn little he ever thinks of justice when he is winning. Anyway things are fine and the fellows are in as good spirit as the day we first landed in France. Since I started this letter Mother I hear that the Armistice has been signed. Gee Mother can you realize it. Just imagine back home and into civilian clothes again. Really you know I can’t believe it. It is just too good to be true. Well Mother cold weather is setting in again, but we are all so tickled with the war news that we don’t give a darn if it was forty below zero. The French towns we passed on our way up were all flags and the people were nearly crazy with delight. Oh Lord but it did look good. Never mind Mother we shall all be together before long as I think I am on the first list to go home. Of course I don’t know for sure but that’s the general opinion of the fellows. ... Well Mother I must close forgive me for not writing just lately as we have been on the move. Remembrance to Dad and the kid. I’ll close Mother with Love Chas " Yes, Dear Uncle Charley; Remembrance indeed.

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