100 Years Ago: Harper McElrath Wounded, Soldier Writes to Schoolboy, Alfred Smith Dies from Wounds

The Intelligencer August 29, 1916 (page 2)

“Belleville Soldier Wounded. Mrs. Mary McElrath, Belleville, Ont., Sincerely regret to inform you 59712 Private Harper McElrath, infantry officially reported admitted Military Hospital York, August 25th. Gunshot wound side slight. Will send further particulars when received. Officer in charge Record Office.

The above telegram was received this morning by Mrs. Mary McElrath of this city, conveying the information that her son has been wounded in action. Private McElrath, was well known in this city, having enlisted in the 21st Battalion, which left for overseas a little over a year ago. His many friends in the city trust for a speedy recovery from his wounds.”

The Intelligencer August 29, 1916 (page 2)

“Received an Acknowledgement. In response to the wish of a teacher in one of the Public schools in Belleville, Master Jim Day, a young son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Day, of this city, sent a game of authors to the front, and Master Jim yesterday received the following letter:—Somewhere in Belgium, Aug. 12th, 1916. Dear Jim:—I wish to thank you for gift, the game ‘Authors,’ its some game Jim, we have lots of fun with it.

Will you please convey to your teacher our thanks for the interest taken, and say that all the boys are grateful for what is being done for them.

What do you think of the war Jim? I suppose your teacher tells you all about it.

We are having a great time over here fighting Fritz, he doesn’t like Canadians at all—why sometimes he even shoots at us, and we shoot right back. Did you ever see a real aeroplane, Jim? They are as thick as flies over here. It is a wonderful sight to see them flying together thousands of feet up, and to see the shells bursting about them makes your nerves tingle.

We will tell you all about it when we get back to the land of the ‘Maple Leaf.’ Best wishes to you and your pals. I am your chum, Corpl. Harry V. Doudy.”

The Intelligencer August 29, 1916 (page 6)

“Sergt. Alf Smith Makes the Supreme Sacrifice. Word has been received in this city conveying the sad intelligence that Sergt. Alfred Smith died in France on the 11th inst., from wounds. Sergt. Smith was well and favorably known in Belleville. He was by occupation a linotype operator and worked for some time in the Intelligencer office.

Deceased enlisted at Kingston and went overseas some months ago. Sergeant Smith’s father, Capt. Smith, is one of Cobourg’s well known citizens, and a brother is a rector of an Anglican church.”

[Note: Sergeant William Alfred Smith died on August 11, 1916. He is commemorated on Page 165 of the First World War Book of Remembrance.]