100 Years Ago: Letter of Thanks from Melbourne Sprague, Appeal for Veterinary Hospitals, Letter from Billie Riggs

The Intelligencer January 11, 1917 (page 3)

“To the Members of the Reception Committee, the Firemen and the Citizens and not forgetting the dear school students and children. I deeply appreciate the fine reception you gave me on my return to the City Tuesday.

It was a great pleasure to return to my dear home and people and to know that the people of Belleville appreciate the efforts of their boys in doing their duty for a cause which stands for Right and Liberty.

In this coming year many of you will be called upon to make great sacrifices which will entail many sorrows to those we love, our fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers and friends yet that sacrifice has got to be made in order to know peace and happiness here and hereafter.

There is one thing in particular I would like to mention, that is the boys of the first contingent. They are the fellows who paved the way for those of us who have to follow, they were not afraid of sacrificing their lives for those they love and care for, they are the boys we should be proud of, they are the boys to honor.

I also wish to thank every man of the Band, also my comrades-in-arms. I also wish to acknowledge the noble rescue work of one of the Belleville boys, when on June the 2nd with three or four others he rescued me, when I fell, by carrying me and placing me in a dugout where I would have better protection. I am so sorry that I am only able to give the name of one of my noble rescue party, he being Pte. Harry MacDonald, a Belleville boy. I know right well he did his duty on ‘No Man’s Land’ otherwise I would not be here to pen this acknowledgment of a noble son of Belleville.

I trust some day I may be able to learn the names of my rescuers that I may speak of them in the same personal manner. I plead with the citizens of Belleville to give Pte. MacDonald the reception he such deserves. After having been placed in the dugout there to remain, I heard my companions calling one to the other to come and help dig out other fellows who were buried.

In conclusion, I desire to acknowledge the beautiful flowers handed me on my way home, also those that were sent to my home, some without names. Consequently I am unable to acknowledge otherwise.

Again thanking one and all for their many expressions. I remain Melbourne P. Sprague.”

The Intelligencer January 11, 1917 (page 5)

“Appeal Made to Horse Lovers. Canadians Asked to Provide Hospital for Equines in War Zone. Toronto. Mr. R. H. Rees has come to Canada to seek help for the wounded animals in France and Belgium. Mr. Rees represents officially the Fund for Sick and Wounded Horses, organized by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, London, the principal patrons of which are his Majesty King George and her Majesty Queen Mary.

Soon after war broke out the equipment of the splendidly organized Army Veterinary Corps was found inadequate to efficiently succor all the sick and the wounded horses at the front, and the co-operation of the R.S.P.C.A. was offered the British War Office and accepted. This gave birth to the fund, which has already provided at the front four new veterinary hospitals, with ‘wards’ and ‘beds’ which ensure treatment for 4,000 horses at the same time. In addition to these hospitals are quarters for the men, 40 motor and horse ambulances, corn crushers, motor lorries for fodder, etc.

The first appeal made by the society was answered by over $500,000. But even this large sum has proved unequal to the task, and Canadians are now being appealed to, to provide sufficient funds to erect a hospital for the treatment of Canadian horses. Since the war started 934,265 horses and mules have been shipped from the American Continent to the war area where there are now millions of animals within a five-mile fire zone, chiefly because motor traction is impossible there. The Canadian Veterinary Hospital is estimated to cost $60,000 and will care for 1,000 horses at the one time.”

The Intelligencer January 11, 1917 (page 7)

“Mrs. Walter Riggs, who resides on Bridge Street West, received the following letter from her son, Billie, who was for some time a faithful employee of the Intelligencer Office, and who is now fighting for King and Country: Dec. 27, 1916.

Dear Mother:—I received your letter a few days ago, and was glad to hear from you. I spent Christmas pretty good. We were out of action at the time, back in a little French mining town, quite a few miles behind the firing line. We came out of the Somme about the last of November, and came out to this village, supposedly for a five weeks’ rest, but after we were there for two weeks we were forced to go into action for the days on the Arras front, and came back two days before Christmas. We had a pretty good feed, and had a good concert at night.

I have not had my pass yet. Going into action stopped the passes. I will not be over there for New Years either, for there is only one man going from the battery, and he is going to-night, and is taking this letter, which won’t be censured. …  I don’t know where your parcel with the cigarettes and other things are. I guess it must have got lost on the way over. I received Lois Thompson’s and Evelyn Cooke’s parcel and I want you to thank them for me.

Well, Mother, hoping this finds you all well, with best love to all. I am Your loving son, Billie.”