100 Years Ago: Y.M.C.A. Campaign Goal Reached, 150 Men of 235th to Cobourg, Socks Appreciated, Christmas Time in the Trenches

The Intelligencer November 21, 1916 (page 1)

“The Desired Goal Attained in the $15,000 Y.M.C.A. Campaign. When the final returns of the great $15,000 Y.M.C.A. Campaign were tabulated at the Assembly room of the Y.M.C.A. last evening it was found that $14,654.75 had been subscribed to the Campaign. The small balance was soon provided for by two or three members of the Executive, who will see that this amount is made good and therefore the Campaign closed with the full amount of $15,000 realized.

It was thought at first an impossible task to undertake to raise such a large sum of money and not a few felt that it could not be done, but Belleville citizens responded to the call of the Y.M.C.A. because they believed in it for what it has done in the past, is doing at the present, especially for soldiers at home and abroad and the work that it will be able to do locally, because of the splendid financial condition in which the Association would be placed when the amount asked for was provided. …

Too much credit cannot be given to the business men of the city of Belleville who sacrificed practically their whole time during the Campaign in order that the desired results might be realized.

The boys of Belleville are the mightiest asset she possesses, and no boys could have given of their means, their time and their enthusiasm more freely than the boys did throughout the Campaign. To the 20 or 25 boys who worked actually in the Campaign $1,613.50 is due to their energies in going out in almost every case for the small subscription to the out-of-the-way places. These very embodiments of the Association got many subscriptions that might not have been given to a grown-up person. …

Dr. Yeomans took occasion to commend the very great services that C. Boardman Brown the Campaign Director rendered in bringing the Campaign to a successful conclusion. Mr. Brown came here an absolute stranger and by his vast experience in work of this nature, his fine executive ability, and splendid Christian spirit, realized what was his ambition as much or more than any man in Belleville, the success of the Campaign. Mr. Brown leaves a host of friends in Belleville.

To every one who subscribed whether the amount was great or small, and to those who refused for reasons best known to themselves the thanks of the Directors is extended. The Association is open to the people of Belleville and a glad welcome is awaiting one and all who may find time or occasion to drop in. The Young Men’s Christian Association belongs to Belleville, come in and possess it.”

The Intelligencer November 21, 1916 (page 2)

“Military Movements. One hundred and fifty-two men of the 235th Battalion left at 10.30 this morning, by special G.T.R. train for their new quarters in Cobourg. The troops entrained at the Canning factory and proceeded up Pinnacle St. to the main line of the Grand Trunk.”

The Intelligencer November 21, 1916 (page 2)

“Socks Appreciated. The following letter received by Mrs. W. S. Minns, residing at 146 Yeomans street, Belleville, explains itself:

No. 91522, Headquarters Staff, 3rd Can. Divisional Artillery, B.E.F., France. Dear Mrs. Minns,—I have just been presented with a most beautiful pair of hand-knitted socks, and finding the attached slip of paper inside, I am taking the liberty of writing a few lines to let you know that somewhere in France is a very happy soldier, who highly appreciates your lovely gift.

A terrible bombardment is taking place at present, and the sky is illuminated for miles.

Again thanking you for your great interest in the boys, and assuring you that a prayer will be said for the donor, who spent many hours knitting for Yours truly, Fred Mawdesley. October 1st, 1916.”

The Intelligencer November 21, 1916 (page 3)

“Christmas Time in the Trenches. It’s Christmas Day in the trenches. With a sack filled with good things, letters of love, of friendship, and parcels of good things, an orderly comes into the ‘gang’ which lost no time after the trumpet sound of ‘mail,’ in getting ready to greet him.

For the time being that orderly is probably the most popular man in the battalion. Words of chummyness are called out to him in the hope that they might lead to the caller being one of the lucky bunch. …

One after another of the boys in turn, receives some little token, shows he is not quite forgotten, until there are a dozen or so left without even a Christmas card. As gloom settles upon their faces and as, one by one, they move away to some quiet corner to feel sad and allow tears to well up in their eyes at the thought of being ‘quite out of it’ their disappointment grows, developing strange thoughts of the world in general, and oftimes a desire for recklessness the next time they ‘go in.’

They are forgotten! None cares a button about them! What use is there in caring, anyway? Why not just take a bigger chance next time? Their Christmas Day is one filled with bitterness, instead of happiness, and that desire to ‘stick it through.’ As their eyes wander around, those disappointed and sad visaged men see a wonderful contrast on every side.

Laughter, joy, the great fun of opening parcels containing everything, that brings good cheer. Small plum puddings, with all the trimmings, some without, but all mightily welcome. Almonds, raisins, pocket games, candies, cigarettes, tobacco, a pipe, one or two pairs of socks, warm lined gloves—which are just the right size—and the happiness of the boys is complete with the reading of news of their loved ones and friends.

Some of the boys are especially favored and received two or three parcels of good things. Very quickly those who received nothing are located and invited to share with some of their luckier comrades. Yet, somehow, it is vastly different from being the actual recipient, though it tends to soften the hard feelings towards those who might have written, but that carelessness and forgetfulness, responsible for many hour’s agony of mind, could have been easily avoided by a few minutes devoted to those who are so far away and who are nobly offering themselves in their country’s cause.

Last Christmas Day, you may probably have thought of those in the trenches or in England and wondered what they might be doing. This year see that you can imagine the joy and pleasure they have in hearing from you.

Christmas Soon Here. Now is the time to get ready. You may commence mailing right away. In any case allow a full five weeks for delivery. Take into consideration the increased amount of mail carried at Christmas time. But don’t forget! If you cannot afford to send a parcel, write anyway.”