100 Years Ago: Letter from Pat Boland, Letter from Melburn Sprague, Many Boys Under Eighteen

The Intelligencer July 26, 1916 (page 2)

“From Pat Boland. Dear Mother:—Just received a letter and a roll of papers from home, and as I have a few minutes to spare I had better answer. I have been getting quite a lot of mail from home lately. You will have to excuse me for not answering them all, for you see we are in the trenches nearly all the time, and when I get a couple of hours to myself I try and have a little sleep, that is if there are not too many shells coming over our way.

What kind of a time did you all have on Dominion Day. I suppose you wondered what I was doing. Well, two other chaps and myself had a little home for ourselves in the second line. Its some dug-out,—four feet high, six by eight, made of sand bags. We have a sign, hanging in front bearing the name ‘Dominion Dugout.’

We are having lovely weather over here now, just like the summers you have in Canada. This has been a fine country at one time, but far from being that now. There is hardly a house left standing within two miles of the firing line.

I have just been down to Divisional Headquarters. We get the real news there. There has been some battle along the western front. I don’t know how this war can last much longer. We may be all back home before many weeks.

I received a box yesterday, and certainly enjoyed the contents. When you send parcels don’t forget the cake. Don’t send much, but often. Jimmie Cashman is with the 4th Brigade Scouts. Will give him his parcel when I see him.

I think I will say good-bye for now, with love to all at home, and best regards to my friends. Your son, Pat Boland.”

The Intelligencer July 26, 1916 (page 2)

Left to right: Charles and Melburn Sprague
Left to right: Charles and Melburn Sprague

“From Melburn Sprague. The following card was received yesterday by Mrs. E.B. Sprague, 78 North Front street, this city:—Dear Mother and Ida:—I am in a hospital with some German and Canadian wounded. I am quite happy, so do not worry. We have good doctors and attendants, and are all treated alike. They have used me better than I ever expected.

We went through hell on the 2nd to the 7th of June. I was seriously wounded, but am getting better, so please do not worry. I will be a long time in the hospital. Your son, Melburn Sprague.

The card was dated Telchrieben, Germany, June 29, 1916.”

The Intelligencer July 26, 1916 (page 7)

“Many Boys Under Eighteen. Boys under eighteen years of age who enlist in the Expeditionary Force should be careful to receive their parents’ consent or run the risk of bringing themselves into a lot of trouble.

In their zeal to secure recruits during the winter many officers would take on lads under the age limit and neglect to secure the consent of the parents. This is now the source of great trouble to the officers in command of units at the camp, as the parents in some cases use this means to secure their boys’ release from the army.

It is certainly a contemptible trick for a man to allow his son to enlist, draw pay for six or seven months, and then whine around until he is released.

One particularly disgusting case arose recently in the lines of the 155th Battalion, when a citizen of the north country, while admitting that he knew his son was enlisting six months ago under age of eighteen, demanded that he be released immediately.”