100 Years Ago: Letter from Ted Yeomans to Father

The Intelligencer April 29, 1916 (page 3)

“The following excerpt of a letter from Signaller ‘Ted’ Yeoman to his father, Dr. H.A. Yeoman, of this city, explains in a concise manner, the work, and death of his brother and chum, Horace E. (‘Pat’), on the field of battle. While it is with regret that the Intelligencer publishes the following, it is also a pleasure to give to its readers the final tribute of a loving brother to one of Belleville’s loyal sons. The letter:

Pat has been putting his whole soul into his work as he has always done and since he was made Sergeant he has been the heart and soul of the telephonists’ staff and has worked like everything to make them as efficient as possible. But he, as others, has been called on to make the supreme sacrifice for his country.

Perhaps I should lead up to this in a gentler way, Dad, but I think you would rather I told you straight out. Pat was killed today by a shell that exploded near the battery lines. I am leaving it for you, Dad, of breaking it more gently to the others, for I cannot do it by letter.

I am praying God who has seen best to take Pat away to a happier world than this will give you all strength to bear the news which though appearing so awful to us, is really the greatest blessing that God could give such a man as Pat.

He experienced no pain at all, but died without regaining consciousness five or ten minutes after he was hit. Perhaps it would be better now to give you more details.

The Germans shelled the battery heavily shortly after we moved in, but no one was hurt. I was doing duty at the telephone station in the wagon lines when Pat called me up and told me not to be alarmed if I should be unable to get the battery station at any time as the Germans were shelling heavily and the line was liable to be out at any time. He remained at the phone about fifteen minutes, telling me where the shells hit. I had to attend to some work and had to leave the phone.

Pat then went over to the battery to see if everything was all right there. The shelling continued and those in the telephone hut got orders to leave the phones and take cover out of the shell area, so Pat, Harry Wiseman and Sergt. Evans ran off.

Hearing a shell whistle through the air they dropped to the ground (the only safety when in the open), but this shell hit almost on top of them throwing Harry in the air but without harming him. Sgt. Evans also was not hurt. They got on their feet and thought Pat was safe as he started to his feet as though getting up, but plunged forward and again fell to the ground.

First aid was attempted at once but was of no use for Pat died a few minutes after. One fragment of the shell had slightly scraped his left side and another, the fatal one, had entered his neck in the hollow just under the left ear, passing through and upwards penetrating the brain.

They notified me at once and I hurried up at once, but didn’t arrive until it was all over. I interviewed the chaplain who had charge of the remains, and he showed me all Pat’s personal effects, including the three stripes he had worked so hard for. He will send them on to you through proper channels.

I then went down to where the remains had been placed awaiting burial and when I looked at his face, Dad, I knew he had passed away without any pain for it looked so peaceful that I would have thought he was sleeping quietly in his bed.

The remains are to be committed to the ground to-morrow at three. I was lucky in finding E. O’Flynn by telephone and he and all Pat’s old Belleville friends possible will be present. I will write again to-morrow and tell you about the ‘last service.’ ”