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Remember Me

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Letter #7, November 23rd, 1914 from France

Letter #7 November 23rd, 1914.  
From Charles Roy Bailey in France to his Mother in Viceroy Saskatchewan, Canada. 

Charley's 7th letter home was written on some pretty nice stationary courtesy of the new home of the No 2. Stationary Hospital; the Golf-Hotel du Touquet.  In the 'War Story of the C.A.M.C.', Touquet is described as "the finest and best laid out golf course on the continent of Europe". The owner, Allan Stoneham reportedly "gave it over with great goodwill and donated an operating table for the purposes of the unit."   
One hundred years on, this resort's writing paper still feels like fine linen.

Golf-Hotel Du Touquet
Etaples (Pas-de-Calais)
Nov 23 /14

Dear Mother,
I guess your are worried at not hearing from me for so long, well we have been moving around so much that it was very near impossible to write more frequent. We were the first of the Canadians to land in France. Needless to say we are very proud of the fact. The weather here is grand and the place we are located at is beautiful. Talk about Victoria being a nice place well it is a desert in comparison to France.

The Hindus look quite different in uniform than what we saw in Vancouver and it seems to me that they are a cleaner class. France is a very funny place quite different to what I expected to see. The people are very anxious to do nearly anything in their power to oblige us in anyway.

As you will notice I cannot tell you just where we are in France but I have saw a few of pretty good-sized cities.

The hospital that we have is fine, the quarters that we sleep in was at one time a golfers club with pictures, bath, two fireplaces and a beautiful ground. The boys are in such good humor that it is more like a vacation than war. The Officers are so lenient with us that it goes a long way to make the work more cheerful.

I suppose VV is doing well at College. I am going to write her tomorrow. The girls at college I guess would look at it as a kind of novelty for her to get a letter from somebody at the Front.

Is business just as good as when I heard from Father? I never hear anything from Manitoba at all. Dads letter in England was all I have heard of any of you since we left Valcartier. So you see my transferring to the Hospital changed my address and all my correspondence was lost. But I don’t think it will be long till the war is over. The Germans are getting it on every side and the German public are beginning to realize what the German military officials are, and how they have been kept in the dark.

Well Mother I will be able to write often now. So I will close. My address you will find on the other page. Remembrance to Dad and V-V.

CR Baily
No 2 Stationary Hospital
First Can. Exped. Force

Bye Bye

Not mentioned in Charley's letter home is the note in his service files showing that on the 20th, 21st and 29th of November 1914 he was Absent Without Leave in Boulogne and was docked 3 days pay.
War Story of the Canadian Army Medical Corps 
The WW1 service files of Charles Roy Bailey Canadian Expeditionary Force  #34260  

Saturday, November 22, 2014

First Canadians to reach French soil.

Letter #6 of 88.
November 22nd, 1914 from Charles Roy Bailey, to his mom in Viceroy Saskatchewan. 

Charley's military records show that he entered France on November 7th, 1914 attached to the No 2 Stationary Hospital. It was this C.A.M.C. unit that was given the honour of being the first unit of the First Contingent to reach French soil.  

The unit responded so promptly when the call came from British Authorities that it arrived in France before proper arrangements had been made.  For almost three weeks the entire unit of officers, doctors, orderlies and some thirty five Nursing Sisters divided their time between Havre and Boulogne, before they arrived at their destination.

Charley was working as a Druggist in Winnipeg when he volunteered at the outbreak of the war.  Because of this, his postings over the next 4 years would be very specific to managing and dispensing Canadian Medical Stores.  This is his first letter home since October 31st and the only Field Service Post Card that exists in the 88 letter collection.


For some background on Le Touquet I offer this passage from `The War Story of the Canadian Army Medical Corps`. 

Le Touquet, some few miles beyond Étaples and on the outskirts of the small but very fashionable watering-place, Paris Plage, had before the war been well known to golf enthusiasts as possessing on its sand dunes the finest and best laid out golf course on the Continent of Europe, with a spacious Golf Club House, and in its immediate neighbourhood a small and cheerful Hôtel du Golf and several villas occupied season after season by enthusiasts of the game. The owner of the hotel, Mr. Stoneham, gave it over with great goodwill, and, what is more, donated an operating table for the purposes of the unit. The Royal Engineers made the necessary structural alterations to the hotel; the Officers were installed in "Robinson Villa," the Nursing Sisters billeted in a most luxurious villa belonging to a Roumanian noble, the orderlies in the Golf Club. By this means accommodation was secured for four hundred patients.  The furniture had been removed and stored by the proprietor, but bedding, sheets and kitchen utensils were left in the building for the use of the Hospital, which in a few days was ready to take in patients, receiving a first convoy of 115 on 4th December, the majority suffering from "trench feet," the others with slight wounds. Other convoys followed in rapid succession, and in three weeks the Hospital was operating at full capacity, under the administration of the A.D.M.S. Boulogne.

Tomorrow Charley writes his first `real letter` home from France.


War Story of the Canadian Army Medical Corps 

Thanks to Sue Light for a fascinating and unembellished history of the Nursing Sisters of WW1

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

November 11th, 1914

While I research and write and piece together Charley Bailey's story; today I pause to remember the young men and boys who were, for the first time in their lives, having to take another mans life.  I think about the poor souls who were fighting and dying on a battlefield 100 years ago today.

And I think of my Great Uncle Charley Bailey.  
Charley was not on the front lines. He was one of the medical personnel who were setting up to tend to those who were.
Charley's military records show that he entered France on the 7th of November, 1914.  On this day 100 years ago, he would likely be arriving at or just arrived at what was to become the #2 Stationary Hospital at Le Torquet.  

The weeks from late September through November 1914 have come to be known as "The Race to the Sea".  The first trenches were being dug about mid September but compared to the next four years of trench warfare, these were battles on the move.

First Battle of the Marne

German troops had been attempting to reach Paris. The French were determined to slow the enemies advance. 
As the armies maneuvered, their movement took a north westerly direction toward the  French-Belgian coast and the Channel ports of Calais and Dunkirk.

On November 11th 1914, there was an appeal in the Times of London for citizens to loan their motorized vehicles as the French wounded were suffering terribly owing to the delay in transport from the front to the nearest hospital available.

100 years ago today, the 'Great War' was in it's infancy. There are four bloody years of days and nights ahead till the Armistice is signed on November 11, 1918.  
We would not mark the first Remembrance Day until November 1919.  Lest We Forget.