100 Years Ago: Month at Christmas for First Soldiers Possible, Letter from Corporal Roberts

The Intelligencer August 20, 1917 (page 1)

“Month at Christmas for ‘First’ Soldiers. London. The oldest troops continue greatly stirred over rumors of possible special home leave for men who have served at the front since the beginning.

The authorities declare any general scheme of leave impossible, but are heartily sympathetic towards the proposal that members of the first contingent who have done much actual fighting should receive possibly a month or six weeks’ Christmas holidays, or as soon after as possible. The proposal is only nebulous, but continues to arouse debate and anticipation.”

The Intelligencer August 20, 1917 (page 5)

“Seaford, Sussex. July 26th. From Corp. C. E. Roberts. Dear Mr. Editor:—I am writing for the Belleville boys in our hut. Some of the boys have received a number of your papers which I read over a dozen times. Some were dated the 3rd of July. We are all glad to hear that Mayor Ketcheson’s son has arrived in Belleville.

You ought to see the 254th Band and Bandmaster Hinchey drilling hard every day. They had the laugh on us when we used to drill in Belleville, but we have the laugh on them now for they are a lot clumsier than we are in their drill; in other words, they are like old women. All that we can hear around here is ‘fall in,’ ‘fall in,’ ‘fall in,’ from morning till night, and then we have to sit down and shine brass from suppertime till bedtime, for the O. C. Parade in the morning. …

Some Canadian mail has just arrived, so I will have to close; all the Belleville boys send their best regards and best wishes to the people of Belleville. We certainly get lonesome at times for dear old Belleville, especially for the Mothers and Sweethearts, which we left behind. I am Yours Truly, Corp. C. E. Roberts.”