Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Background to this Blog

In the late summer of 2006, I was in Canada helping my mother comb through a number of items that belonged to my Nana. In one box, I stumbled across a non-descript white poly bag that contained a sizeable quantity of old correspondence. On closer inspection, it contained several hundred letters as well as postcards, photographs and some keepsakes (orders of service, train tickets, ship’s berth cards, etc) that were primarily addressed to Mr W C Young, Brampton, Ontario (my Great-great Grandfather). I had discovered the correspondence from my Uncle 'Car' to his family during his service with the Canadian Army from 1914 to 1919. Since 2006, although I have browsed the correspondence, I have not (until now) methodically reviewed it.

Uncle Car participated in some of the most intense actions of the war including Sanctuary Wood, The Somme and Vimy Ridge. Although his correspondence often refers to these battles, I have not read any 'history book' style prose nor has he offered much strategic overview of the conflict. Rather, his letters contain much of the minutiae of service life on the Western Front in 1916 and 1917 and, in this respect, he offers a glimpse of an individual soldier's existence beyond the pages of our history books.

Over the coming months and years I shall transcribe and publish Uncle Car's correspondence whilst concurrently grappling with the technology of web publishing. I shall also attempt to add some further background and context to his service with the aid of other resources employing, for example, the published War Diaries of 5 CMR. Please enjoy the Blog.

I welcome any inquiries, comments or tips that readers wish to make. Write in the comments sections or e-mail me:

J A Hart
Hertfordshire UK
3 December 2011


  1. How is his writing or script? I had a whole banker's box of letters to scan and also to consider transcribing. Since the writer had a "good hand", we simply published the scans. Could that work for you?

  2. His writing is variable and difficult at times. Some of his correspondence, for example, looks like it was scribbled hurriedly in a notebook. I have had a look at your letters and they appear to be much more legible. All good stuff though.

  3. My father and I would like to thank you for publishing this blog as we're descendants of Robert Young, Clarence Young's son. His letters are both fascinating and a great look at our family past aside from my personal interest in history. For reference, if you're building family trees- My name is Zachary Young and I am Cameron Young's son. Cameron Young as above, is Robert Young's son who is in turn Car's son. The links below are of two photos my dad has archived, they're a bit spotty in halftone dots because of how they were scanned but I figured they would be appreciated none the less. If you require higher resolution photos feel free to email me

    Clarence Young:

    Clarence's wife Dorothy Luela Potter:

  4. Zach, many thanks for writing and I am very glad to hear from you. I will most certainly post your 2 photos and drop you an e-mail shortly. Thanks!

  5. Hello! Excellent and interesting blog. I have a website for the 1st CMR at: , and links on there to the brilliant 4th CMR site, and the beginnings of the 2nd CMR site. Between us all, we've nearly re-formed the 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade! Overviews are all very necessary, but it's only from material such as yours, that you can understand what it was really like. 1st's War Diaries are two-thirds done (transcription). Best wishes and thanks, Pete Maxfield.

    1. Max, Many thanks for your kind comments. I have most certainly seen and been impressed by your 1 CMR and the 4 CMR websites (I will add your links). I still have plenty more material to publish - however my day job is busy at the moment! I have undertaken some patchy transcription of 5 CMR's War Diaries but would like to progress that, in due course. Cheers!

    2. Great! Will look forward to more postings when your work allows. Funny, how we're all in England - you, me, Ian (4th CMR), and Norette (2nd), yet all doing Canadian units. Pete.

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