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Postcards from Somewhere in France -8- Discovering Will

January 1, 2016

If you follow this Blog you may recall the wonderful postcards from France that were found last fall when cleaning out my parents things before their move. I posted some of them during Remembrance Week in November. Buried in a Burkes Jewellers box, this stack of postcards had been sent to my Grandmother, Gladys (Harmer) Murray from her fiancee, Will, from the front during WWI (see Postcards from Somewhere in France).

57A- Will

Will Haskins in Uniform

We talked a lot about Will and what he may have been like, and about how his death, near the end of the Great War, changed the course of events for my Grandmother and for us. Who was Will? That was the question I asked my father, and he answered. His name was Billy Haskins!

Once we had a name, we were able to learn so much more about him. There are lots of resources to research WWI soldiers and their resting places.

A visit to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website and some smart searching and we began to find out a lot more about Will Haskins.

W H A Haskins, as he is listed, was the son of Mr. W. Haskins, of 427, Courtland Avenue, Kitchener, Ontario. Grandma was from Stratford, not so far away. We still wonder how they met.

Will was a Corporal at the time of his death, although the photos we have, show him in Private and later Corporal, uniforms. He was in the Scottish Regiment of Canadian Infantry, 16th Battalion. He died on the 28th of July, 1918, just four months before the end of the war. He is buried in Wanquentin Communal Cemetery Extension.

His casualty details can be seen here, which can also be downloaded as a certificate: HASKINS_W_H_A.

There are some other documents pertaining to his service and death.

This document, in The Supplement to the London Gazette, August 8, 1918, indicates he was awarded a medal: WillHaskensMedal . It also lists him as a Private in the Machine Gun Corps. We think that medal is still in the personal effects of my Grandmother and we may still have it. We’re still searching!

This Headstone Schedule confirms that he was in the Canadian Scottish Regiment, although it lists his date of death as July 26th, 1918.

WillHaskensHeadstoneinfo.JPG

Rest in Peace, Will.

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Postcards from Somewhere in France -7- We Will Remember Them

November 11, 2015

Today we remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Stop and remember those, who in the service of their country, did not return. Think too, of our current military staff who have suffered from their experience serving our country.

Will’s observations about life on the battlefield are reflected in these cards. He even honoured the enemy prisoners in his comments. It was tragic for all sides.

35A

35B

Somewhere in France. May 17, 1917.

This is what the ground looks like after the attackers have passed on well into Fritzs lines. At the bottom left hand corner you can see what is left of a dugout entrance.

41A

41B

Somewhere in France. May 17, 1917.

This card, of the tower in Ypres, shows the physical destruction of war. The horrible effects on the bodies and minds of people is unmeasurable.

42A

42B

Somewhere in France. May 15, 1917.

We never let Fritz prisoners come out without bringing out our wounded. The majority of the German doctors captured (as well as their Red Cross men) are very quick and clever in helping dress our wounded.

Postcards from Somewhere in France -6- Humour from the Front

November 11, 2015

Will’s postcards vary from serious to sublime. Here’s one that pokes fun at the enemy.

8A

8B

East Sanderling Camp. August 10, 1916.

“They have quite a number of these sort of cards about old Kaiser Bill, and they will be interesting to look and laugh over in years to come. Sadly, Will did not get a chance to muse over any of these.”

 

This one is as close to risqué as it gets.

30A 30B

East Sanderling. March 26th, 1916.

“I wonder if the guy in the picture is right? I suppose that is what I’ve got to put up with when I return. My heart swells with sympathy for myself!!!”

 

I’m sure there were some fun moments at the officers’ mess, but maybe they were few and far between.

46A 46B

Somewhere in France. May 17, 1917.

“This is how we always dine out here ?!*!?

Postcards from Somewhere in France -5- My Grandmother, Gladys

November 9, 2015

My Grandmother, Gladys Violet Murray, was a wonderful lady. She came to Canada as a young girl on the Carpathia, the ship that first rescued the Titanic. She loved to entertain, and I am pretty sure that the character Hyacinth Bucket in “Keeping up Appearances” was probably based on her! Grandma’s Sunday roast beef dinners were extraordinary!

In the stack of postcards is this wonderful picture of her wearing a military uniform. I’m not sure to whom the uniform belonged, but clearly a person much taller and longer in the arms! There is nothing on the back, but you can see “Glad H” on the front above her head.

49A

Grandma’s sister, Ivy Harmer was a WREN, a member of the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service.

Here is the birthday card that Will sent to Gladys in July of 1918.

29A 29B

France July 20, 1918.

Many happy returns of the day, mon cheri. Fondly yours. Will. XXXXX

P.S. Very much rushed just now. Letter follows first opportunity.

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