100 Years Ago: Belleville’s Gift to 39th Battalion

The Intelligencer June 22, 1915 (pages 1, 8)

Soldiers of the 39th Battalion in Belleville prior to going overseas in the summer of 1915
Soldiers of the 39th Battalion in Belleville prior to going overseas in the summer of 1915

“Belleville’s Gift to Officers’ Mess. Col. Preston Last Night Received, on Behalf of 39th Battalion, Cheque for $600, as a Token of Esteem from Belleville People. The recent meeting of Belleville citizens to determine what form the city’s gift to the officers of the 39th Regiment should take, had a gratifying sequel last night at the Armouries, when $600 was handed over to Col. Preston as a contribution to the officers’ mess.

Col. Lazier, in opening the proceedings, said he had been accorded the privilege and pleasure by a number of his fellow citizens of being the medium of conveying to the officers of the 39th Battalion a token of their appreciation. …  It was well known that the officers had given a great deal of their spare money and time that could not readily be spared in providing for the comforts of the men, a very laudable and proper thing to do, and they were to be congratulated upon the success which had attended their efforts in that direction. The Government makes no provision for the equipment of the officers’ mess and the citizens are glad to assist in this very desirable object, knowing that it would save the officers going down into their own pockets for that purpose. …

Mr. J.W. Johnson, M.P.P., then handed to Col. Preston a marked cheque for six hundred dollars, and said that raising the money was a labor of love on the part of the committee and an easy task, as the response was so hearty. …  these men were going to save us and our possessions, this beloved Canada, these homes so dear, these precious mothers, wives, children and sweethearts; why generations of Canadians to be born and live in the long distant future will take up and carry forward to still more remote generations the loving gratitude that fills our hearts tonight.

The finest pedigree that any Canadian will boast in the days to come will be, my father or my grandfather or my great grandfather was a soldier of King George in the great war. We shall miss the men of the 39th when they have gone; they are our friends, we are theirs, and their every movement will be followed with keen and loving interest. …  We humbly and reverently say, God bless you.”