100 Years Ago: Christmas Post Office Instructions, Y.M.C.A. Serves Soldiers

The Intelligencer November 10, 1915 (page 1)

“When to Forward Gifts to Soldiers. Mail for Canadian soldiers in France and England, if it is to be delivered before Christmas, ought to leave Belleville before the end of this month. Post office officials say that parcels, etc., mailed before December 7th have a pretty good chance of being delivered before Christmas; things mailed after that date have a pretty poor chance. …

Every parcel must carry a customs declaration properly filled out and securely attached. There are four conditions which have to be observed in respect of every parcel. First, it must be prepaid. …  Second, it must be so completely addressed as to be reasonably sure of finding the person to whom it is sent. …  Third, a parcel must in no circumstances exceed 11 pounds in weight. Fourth, it must be so packed as to be reasonably secure against the inevitable abuses to which it will be subjected in transit. The address should be written on the cover, preferably more than once. Address tags should not be employed, because they are liable to be torn off and lost.

As already stated, the Belleville postmaster fixes December 7th as the last day for sending Christmas mail to the trenches. …  The reason for the uncertainty is the disorganization of the ocean mail traffic. Before the war schedules of mail boat sailings were prepared six months in advance. It was possible to predict a mail delivery with almost mathematical accuracy. But nobody knows now what mail boats will be in the business. For members of the expeditionary force in the Dardanelles parcels should be sent away from Belleville before November 25th. …

Mail for prisoners of war in Germany and Austria goes absolutely free. Newspapers, however, may not be sent; and it is not advisable to send books because they are liable to be held up by the censor so long as to be useless. Tobacco is a good article to send.”

The Intelligencer November 10, 1915 (page 7)

“Following the soldier boys wherever they go is a Y.M.C.A. representative, who is appointed by the National Council of that organization to serve the soldiers in every way possible. Along with the battalion that arrived to take up winter quarters in town is a member of the Barriefield Y.M.C.A. staff, Mr. C.T. Sharpe, who is already very well known to the men. He will make his headquarters in Belleville and supervise the work of the Y.M.C.A. for the men here and those at Picton and Napanee as well.

As soon as the quarters are ready a reading and recreation room will be opened and a programme similar in many ways to the one carried on at the camp all summer will be conducted. Mr. Sharpe can make use of any number of magazines and books in his work, as well as articles of furniture that will help make the barracks life and the regimental recreation room a cheery place. For the present he is located at the city Y.M.C.A. and if messages are left there he will be glad to send for parcels of books, or that chair or table that you are no longer using.”