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Mail From Home

Heroes Remember

You’re always looking for, for word from home, and I always thought they didn’t send me often enough. Every time the mail came in, I looked for mail, and if there’s none in, you couldn’t do anything about it. But you see, they never realized … they thought, you know, there’s a lot of them. If one letter came that was enough. But, I used to have to write to different ones. When I went on leave after the Armistice, I went to London and I took a couple of days in London just writing. I wrote a letter, thirty-two pages, of what had been going on …those things that I couldn’t write up front when we were in France, because everything was censored, you know. Our letters were all censored and we had to, when we wrote them, they went to the officer’s office, not sealed, and the officer, the one on duty, read them. Well, but in London they were free, of course, and I spent the time telling all of what had been happened that I could remember. There was 32 pages of that letter, and I sent that home to my mother. Then when I got home, I found that she had burned it. I only got one letter, one letter in my time there that I sent and that was to my aunt, and I sent dozens of letters. And it was always that, everybody looked forward to getting mail.

Mr. Pitcairn describes the importance of mail from home, and his disappointment over not receiving enough letters himself.

James Pitcairn

James Pitcairn was born in Kirkintilloch, Scotland on May 3, 1897. The second of four children, he moved to Vancouver with his widowed mother in 1911. At the age of thirteen, he was working as an elevator boy when a truancy officer sent him back to school, which he attended for five years. In Vancouver, Mr. Pitcairn was twice denied enlistment because of his small size; however, he joined friends in Kingston, Ontario and was accepted there as a member of the 50th Battery, Queens Artillery on March 7, 1916. He trained as a horse artilleryman at Petawawa. Mr. Pitcairn sailed for England aboard the SS Olympia in August, 1916. He had further training at Camp Whitley and was finally sent to France as a member of the 52nd Field Artillery, 5th Division. Mr. Pitcairn’s service saw him in action at Lens, Vimy, Hill 70, Amiens, Drocourt-Queant and Valenciennes as the layer on an 18-Pound artillery gun. One hundred and two at the time of his interview, Mr. Pitcairn’s clear voice and photographic memory offer some very informative descriptions of the Artillery’s role in the First World War.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
James Pitcairn
War, Conflict or Mission:
First World War
50th Battery

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