100 Years Ago: Canadian Casualties, Letter from Harry Bateman, Peter Robson Killed in Action, Y.M.C.A. at Vimy Ridge, Final Concert by 254th Battalion Band, Y.M.C.A. Committee Campaign Letter to Citizens

The Intelligencer May 21, 1917 (page 1)

“Casualties Among Canadian Troops. KILLED—H. Leslie, Trenton; H. H. Barnum, Trenton; R. Brant, Deseronto; E. Brown, Deseronto; W. Pinn, Shannonville; E. R. Goodfellow, Corbyville; M. Wannamaker, Trenton; H. W. Robson, Holloway. DIED OF WOUNDS—E. M. Gould, Stirling. WOUNDED—D. Shute, Trenton; A. Calberry, Belleville; A. Daly, Bancroft; J. W. Dobson, Trenton; A. Reid, Springbrook; H. Brant, Deseronto; R. Brant, Marysville.”

The Intelligencer May 21, 1917 (page 1)

“From Gunner J. H. Bateman. Dear Mother:—Received your very welcome letter and parcels, of which I was very glad to receive and everything was all O.K. except two of the eggs were broken, but the rest were all right. I put them in some hot water, and they were all right. …

Well, we sure have been busy and I guess you have heard of our good luck, so I won’t say much about that although I would like to be able to tell you of our great work that we have been engaged in for the last five days, and we are still at it. …  I tell you the parcels we have been getting lately sure came very handy to us for several reasons, and I must say the last one I received came in very handy. The socks were needed, and so was the tobacco.

I am thinking of sending to England for some money. We are able to get things at the Y.M.C.A. as there are several of them here now, and they are almost up at the front line for the purpose of the infantry coming and going to the trenches. It is a great thing and some of the places give hot cocoa or coffee or tea free of charge, and it sure is a great thing for the boys coming down the line, and for us also after being out all night. Well I must close. Hoping this finds you all in the best of health. Your loving son, Harry.”

The Intelligencer May 21, 1917 (page 2)

“Peter Robson. On the 3rd of May, Private Peter Robson, who left Belleville with the 155th Battalion, was killed in action. The brave young soldier’s home was near Holloway in the Township of Thurlow. Private Robson was very popular with a large number of associates and his death will be sincerely regretted.”

[Note: Private Peter William Robson died on May 3, 1917. He is commemorated on Page 318 of the First World War Book of Remembrance.]

The Intelligencer May 21, 1917 (page 5)

“Right on the heels of the dashing Canadian soldiers at Vimy Ridge, the Y. M. C. A. men were serving out biscuits and chocolates free to the tired men. Brigadier-General Odlum, 11th Canadian Infantry Brigade, bestowed high praise on them in the following letter to Capt. J. Wallace, Senior Y.M.C.A. officer in France.

‘My dear Wallace:—I want to let you know how much I was impressed with the work done by the Y. M. C. A. during the recent operations. It was simply magnificent. Almost before the place was consolidated, your representative had a distributing centre at the top of Hill 145—the crest of Vimy Ridge—and was serving biscuits and chocolate to the men.

All ranks are enthusiastic. I have taken the liberty of recommending one of your officers for a Military Cross, and I sincerely hope it goes through. The Y. M. C. A. has endeared itself to the soldiers in France as no other institution has. Very sincerely, (Signed) Victor Odlum, Brig. Gen.”

The Intelligencer May 21, 1917 (page 5)

“At Griffin’s Opera House last evening a large number of citizens assembled to listen to a band concert given by the 254th Battalion Band previous to going overseas. It was the last concert which this celebrated band under the leadership of Bandmaster Lieut. Hinchey will give in Belleville. The programme rendered was much appreciated, each number being liberally applauded. …

Before the last number Bandsman Shunk thanked the audience on behalf of the band, for their patronage and informed them, as far as known, this would be the last time Belleville would have the opportunity of hearing this band in concert as the band was to be shortly broken up. Those physically fit to go overseas to do their bit and those not to proceed to be Special Service Co. No. 3, Kingston. The band appreciate very much those who assisted in the programme and the citizens generally for their interest in the organization.”

The Intelligencer May 21, 1917 (page 5)

“To All Patriotic Citizens of Belleville. Few of us realize the magnificent service that has been rendered and is being daily rendered to our soldiers by the Y.M.C.A. From the first day he enters the barracks or training camp until his final discharge he is constantly within range of the refining and helpful influence of this splendid organization.

Athletic sports, indoor games, libraries, reading and writing rooms, canteens, rest rooms, concerts and religious exercises, all fall within the sphere of its operations. In every branch of the service from the dugout to the hospital the good work is being energetically and systematically carried on. From the raw recruit to the Commanding Officer we hear nothing but praise for the Y. M. C. A. and thousands of letters from boys taken from every walk in life and now serving in the army attest to the painstaking care and devotion of the loyal band  of Y.M.C.A. workers attached to every unit of the Canadian Overseas Forces.

The demand for funds to carry on this work is very urgent at the present time and a special personal appeal will be made directly or indirectly to every person in our city to assist in meeting it. This is a cause which no one can afford to overlook and to which everyone should liberally contribute. We aim at raising at least $5,000. Several other towns about the size of ours have each given more than this, and we feel that Belleville will be just as generous as any of them.

A campaign committee of fifty prominent business and professional men will undertake the soliciting of funds during Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. …  Donations from Sunday Schools, Public Schools, Patriotic and Fraternal organizations will be gratefully appreciated.

Every dollar subscribed will go to the benefit of our Canadian soldiers.

Executive Committee. Mayor Ketcheson, Hon. Chairman; John Elliott, Treasurer; D. V. Sinclair, Chairman; E. P. Frederick, Secretary; H. W. Ackerman, Vice Chairman; L. W. Terwilliger, Chairman Finance; F. S. Shepard, Executive Secretary.”