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Remember Me

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Comfort and Conscription. Letter #36 March 1st, 1916

March 1st, 1916 
21 Cranbury Place

Dear Mother
          This is about the eighth letter I have started to write in the last couple of weeks and before I have posted them I have changed my address but I think this will be permanent till the end of the war.

          I am here with the Base Medical Depot there are just seven of us and we are all billeted throughout the city and are allowed to eat at wherever we stay.  So you see it is quite all right.  It is by far the best job I have had since joining the Army.

          Conscription comes into effect on March 2nd and believe me there are sure a lot of the shirkers doing their best to get means to be exempt but very few manage.   

Very sorry to hear of Pa’s misfortune but I guess by the time this gets to you that he will be all okay again.  V-V is sure some Scholar when it comes to French. They must have had a great time when the sleigh upset by the way she described it.  I think that she rather enjoyed.

All Canadians on their way to the front have to leave from here and I have a chance of seeing a quite a lot of the boys I know.  There was a Winnipeg Regiment went out of here the other night and it sure was a good outfit.

          We are the only Canadians that are stationed here and naturally they use us very good.  Well Mother I am going home for dinner now.  So you will hear from me a little more regular now as I am here for awhile.  Remembrance to Dad and V-V.  With love from

Charlie seems to have at least one guardian angel watching over him during these war years. His first letter from England in October 1914 shares this moment: "The Canadian soldiers are getting a great welcome here. When we were waiting for our trains at Plymouth, there were thousands there cheering us. One old lady came over and talked to me. When I left she threw her arms around me, kissed me and said “ God Bless you my little man.”

He must feel God Blessed right now with his position in Southampton; living in comfortable, clean quarters, regular meals, real food; when he could as easily have been sent back to France or straight to a casualty clearing station. 

There are scant few letters from these first months of 1916 and I wouldn't fault Charley for enjoying himself a little.  After two years of service in France he will have seen a lot of boys at hospital wounded and broken and far, far too many dead.

His address at 21 Cranbury can be found on Google maps although of course the scene is one hundred years on.  His digs were about 8 blocks from the Itchen river.  
I learned that in the mid 1900's the Cranbury Place area was designated a Conservation Area. 

The document explains that "the area contains, within a relatively small area, several groups of distinctive buildings of special architectural or historic interest.  The abundance of trees in Cranbury Place makes a positive contribution to the Conservation Area. The inherent character of Cranbury Place Conservation Area lies in its simple but dignified Georgian style terraces."

Noted in The Hampshire Independent on 20 February 1852, when the property and its’ contents were being auctioned off, a neigbouring residence, No.14 Cranbury Place was described as an excellent and commanding residence with a good garden, front and back kitchen, scullery, larder, butler’s pantry, breakfast parlour, dining and drawing rooms, four good bedrooms and the usual domestic offices. The house was highly furnished with enriched cornices, marble chimney pieces in all the principal rooms and all the necessary fixtures. 

Charley would be quite comfortable for the time being. And coming from his point of view, rightfully indignant of 'the shirkers' in their midst.

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