Remember Me

Remember Me

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Letter #87, January 26th, 1919

It's Nicola here; Charley Bailey's biographer.  I have been dragging my heels on posting this letter as it is the last letter of Charley's that I have in my possession.  I do know more of his story but have none of it from here in his own words. 
There is one more letter written by his beloved Elizabeth dated 1942. She wrote it to his mother after Charley's death. 

Today I am mourning the last of Charley's letters.  
My first post on this blog was August 13, 2014.  Today is Feb 7th, 2019.  Prior to 2014, I had spent another full year organizing and transcribing his letters.  I have spent so much time with Charley.  I've cried and laughed with him, and I continue to be angered and saddened at the horrendous loss of lives that is the hallmark of the 'Great War'. 

My 'Charley Bailey' project took on a life of its own as his voice joined thousands of others these past five years.  So many of us from all over the world; descendants of those who served and lived through the First World War, joined forces again in 2014 on Twitter and Facebook, and with personal websites and blogs; sharing letters and diaries and stories of the Lost Generation. 

Do stay tuned for more news about Charley. Over the next few months, I'll post updates when he finally gets to go home, and who he's taking with him. 

Thank you So much for joining us (me and Charley) on this journey. So many of his letters sign off with "Remember me". It has been my honour and my privilege to have had this opportunity to Remember Charles Roy Bailey.  With Love. Nicola

January 26th, 1919 (posting February 7th, 2019)
Can Gen Base

Dear Mother
Well here I am at the Base Depot Mother but I find they are not sending any CAMC men back from here as there is a lot of clearing up to be done in Hospital etc.  I went down to the embarkation camp with the CFC expecting to get across to Blighty and to go from there to Canada but found I had to stay behind and report to my own Base. 
So here I am mother.  So far I don’t know where they are going to send me, so there is no use you’re writing here as I shall be away from here perhaps before you receive this, but just the minute I am able to send you a permanent address I will. 
          It is like being shut off from the entire world not having a letter from anyone for over three weeks.  There must be a lot of mail on the way here, but I have been moving around so much lately that it cant keep in touch. 
Well, Mother how has this winter been on the farm, better than last I hope.  It is snowing here so you can imagine how living in tents suits me in this weather.  How has Dad stood the cold weather this winter?  Gee, I often wonder how the cold is affecting him.  VV I suppose is still teaching I hardly think she will leave the school teaching and I think she is wise to stick to it.  I only wish she could get a school in town somewhere and then the poor kid would be able to get out among other young people.
          Well, Mother, there is nothing to tell you only that I am well and that I am on my way somewhere but don’t know where.
Remember me to Dad and VV and as soon as I get somewhere I shall send you the address.  I’ll close Mother with love to all
Love Chas

Monday, December 3, 2018

Letter #86, November 24th, 1918

November 24th, 1918


To My dear Mother,
Well here I am again, Gee what’s the matter with you all, I have had no word for ever so long, it is at least over three weeks.  I hope the influenza has not got out there too. I don’t know if I ever told you or not, but last fall I had a terrible dose of that influenza.  My temperature was 104 for three days.  Gee but I was a sick boy for a while.  The doctor wanted to send me to hospital, but no hospital for this chicken.  I saw enough of hospitals to do me the rest of my life. 
This looks like being a very dull Christmas for me.  You see Mother we are away up in the devastated country, not a civilian or a house for miles and miles. Of course, there are a lot of what were at one time houses, but they are blown flat with shell fire.  Well, it’s a good thing its all over anyway.  Just imagine Mother I'm going on my fifth year at this soldier business.  Gee that’s a long time when you figure it up and by all accounts, I have got to wait some considerable time yet before I am out of it. I wonder what it will feel like to have a collar and tie on again.  When we moved to this camp all the carpenters were awfully busy putting up quarters for the men to eat and sleep in and of course it was up to the rest of us to build our own huts, well you know how much I know about building anything.  Anyway, I got four German prisoners and dug in.  The darn prisoners didn’t know any more than I did and worst of all they couldn’t talk English and you know I can't speak German so you can guess what I was up against.  Anyway, I finished it but God help me when cold weather sets in because I am sure to freeze stiff in this place unless I build another shack over the top of it.
How is Dad and VV getting on?  Has VV given up the idea of quitting school teaching.  Poor kid, I am sorry she has taken up something she doesn’t care for, but I believe if she got a school in town somewhere that she would like it much better, it’s a certainty she won't get anything that’s easier and better for hours.  Well, how did the crops come out this year?  I believe they are going to let the farmers go home first.  Lord it looks like as if I am going to be one of the last to go home, as well as being one of the first to get here.  Well, there is one thing Mother, our family as small as it is, has done their bit, and that is a darn sight more than some of our relatives have.  By Jove, they get me sore, when I think of them.  It’s a mighty good job we are not all of the same breed.
          I may get a few days in England soon, if I do I’ll send the kid something for Xmas, but if I have to stay here I wouldn’t be able to send her anything only a few shell holes and they are not packable. 
Well, Mother, I have no news. There is no such thing here so I will close Remember me to Dad and VV and write soon.  I’ll close now
With love

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Letter #85, November 11th, 1918

November 11th, 1918

Dear Mother
Just received your letter and VV’s note.  We are settled again and things are coming on as well as can be expected.  Well Mother what do you think of the news.  By Jove the boys are sure in great spirits lately.  Things are surely looking good.  But now that when we have got them where they once had us, I would certainly like to see them get what they gave us in 1914.  The Bosh is a squealer when he is beat but darn little he ever thinks of justice when he is winning.  Anyway, things are fine and the fellows are in as good spirit as the day we first landed in France.

          Since I started this letter, Mother, I hear that the Armistice has been signed.  Gee Mother can you realize it.  Just imagine back home and into civilian clothes again.  Really you know I can’t believe it.  It is just too good to be true.

          Well, Mother cold weather is setting in again, but we are all so tickled with the war news that we don’t give a darn if it was forty below zero.  The French towns we passed on our way up were all flags and the people were nearly crazy with delight.  Oh Lord, but it did look good.  Never mind Mother we shall all be together before long as I think I am on the first list to go home.  Of course, I don’t know for sure but that’s the general opinion of the fellows.

          Now ask that Richmond crowd what they did in the great war.  How are Dad and the kid keeping?  In VV’s note, she was saying that Dad was not altogether himself just lately.  I hope he is himself before I come because I want to see him looking good.  I suppose VV will be looking forward to seeing her new sister in law.  Ha Ha Joke. No. Four. 
Tell her for me Mother that I shall bring the family along with me. I mean all the little Baileys. I want to teach them all about pigs and I am convinced she is all expert on that subject.
          Well, Mother, I must close forgive me for not writing just lately as we have been on the move.  Remembrance to Dad and the kid.  I’ll close Mother with

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Letter #84, October 20, 1918.

Oct 20th, 1918 (postmark)


Dear Mother, 
Received a letter today from you saying you have had no mail from me for three weeks, well Mother I can’t understand it, because it’s a fact when I say I write at least once a week.  Ah well, as long as you know I am well and I know you all are then alls well.  Say Mother do you mean to say old Jim Brown “Shakespeare” is out here, for heaven's sake get me his address.  Give his address and I’ll find old Spoke shaves if I have got to travel to France from one end of it to the other.  Gee I should like to see him.  

         So VV is going to give up teaching, well if she doesn’t like it why not let her try something else, there is one consolation Mother, she can always fall back on it.  Although I am sure she shall find the business world a great lot harder to get on in than she imagines, but as I said she can do herself no harm in trying it.  She can always go back to teaching.  Seems so long since I did anything but soldiering that it sometimes makes me wonder if I shall ever be any good for anything else.  Never mind Mother just give me the opportunity.

          Have given up cigarettes.  I suppose it will only be for a day or so and maybe not that long, this infernal pipe has got my tongue just about four times its normal size.  Gee but its hard to get accustomed to a pipe.

          Some great news in the papers just lately.  I should like to tell you all I know but of course Mother you know I am not allowed to tell you anything but what you have already seen in the papers.  Anyway, all the boys are in the very highest of spirits.  So that means a lot.  We don’t expect to be in this locality long but may be up farther soon.  Oh well I have absolutely nothing to complain of as it has been a very decent summer for us and I suppose only right that we should take our share of any of the hardships so by the time you receive this it will be a case of “you're far, far better off in the mud”
       Annie seems to be having quite a nice stay with you.  Say Mother you don’t mean to say Ireland is going blind, lord I hope it's not serious because I like that fellow better than any of them.  VV was saying that Harry and Ruby are having some queer old spats together at the coast.  Let them fight they don’t belong to us, but if the men folks were to come over here and do their fighting the rest of us would like them much better and would consider them more as men. Instead of staying home and quarreling with women.
          You were asking me about my medal.  Well, Mother, it came through in orders authorizing me to wear it, but the medal itself, of course, has not been issued.  I have been issued with a ribbon to wear on my tunic to show I am entitled to it so don’t worry you shall have it as soon as I get it.
        Well, Mother, I have no news only that I am enjoying good health and that I don’t think it shall be long before I get a few days leave in Blighty, which will surely help some.  Remember me to Dad and the kid I’ll close with love


Letter # 83, October 9th, 1918 "We are all in the highest of spirits."

37 Coy Can Forest
Can Exped Forces

Envelope postmarked
October 9th, 1918

Dear mother
          Just received your letter saying Annie was out there.  You are well fixed for visitors just lately.  Well, I am glad to hear it as it helps to make things much easier for you when you have company in the evenings.  I suppose you have seen in the papers our great victories well Mother believe me we are all in the highest of spirits.  If things continue we may be home before we anticipate.
           What had got into VV that she had taken such a dislike to teaching?  I am like you mother; I think that if she got into a town or city for awhile she would like it much better.  By the way, do you ever hear anything about the Richmond outfit joining up!  So Harry is a father, seems as if I am the only one left.  Yes, I guess my lot is a bachelor’s life.  “Eh What” Of course it is not much use trying to make you believe that.  But we shall see, No more word of my getting leave even to Blightly, never mind Canada.  Still, all the first contingent men that have kiddies and wives in Canada really should go before me, but after them, I come first.
          The weather has been rather wet here the last while, I hope it has been better at Holland, or poor Dad will surely feel it.  I should like awfully well to have you and Dad see this little dispensary of mine.  I have got it fixed up splendid it is by far the best around the locality.  In the back of it I have a little room for myself; the only thing that’s wrong about it is that the stove is so darn small it keeps me going all day chopping wood for it.  Oh yes, I am a regular lumber-jack now.
          Say Mother did you hear anything about returned soldiers getting any land, we hear all kinds of rumour, but of course, you can’t believe any of them.  Did you ever hear anything more about that rich uncle or aunt or whoever it was that was going to leave me millions, say how did that rumour ever get around?  Gee, you had me all upset.
          Well, Mother, there is nothing I can tell you from this side, as you know, so I really can’t make up a decent letter.  Tell the kid to drop me a line once in a while.  Tell Dad I am in the very best of health and I hope he is feeling well again.  With love to all, I’ll close for tonight Mother with


Friday, September 28, 2018

Letter #82, September 28th, 1918 to Holland Manitoba

Envelope postmarked
September 28, 1918
To Holland Manitoba

Dear Mother & Dad

Just received your letter, the first for three weeks so here goes to answer it at once. So, Hessie is married, well I am pleased to hear it.  She is getting on in age now and had she not taken that chance probably she never would have been married, it’s a certainty she would have been out of luck had she waited for yours truly. 
The girl from Buxton has been going around singing for the wounded lately.  Gee, she had a beautiful voice, and a darn nice girl but Mother I am not own of those marrying kind and sometimes I think I am not doing what is right by accepting their hospitality.  I know darn well they are under the impression that I intend on doing something.  However, we shall see later. 
Tell VV if she wants to drop a line to a nice girl in England, she can enclose a line or two in a letter to me and I shall forward it on to her.  I am so sorry to hear that Dad is ill.  Never mind I think he will feel better after all the hard work is done and he can rest for a while. 
How does the kid like her new school?  When she encloses a letter to my friend tell her to start it as “Dear Mabel”.  
We had a wonderful game of Ball yesterday.  By Jove, it was a good game.  Of course, we won.  Say Mother for Goodness sake let the Richmond crowd fight their own battles. Aunt Rach would be the first to criticize you if you were to side in with either of them.  Poor old Bud.  God help me if I ever get married and they start henpecking me.  I’ll beat it.
Well, Mother, there is nothing I can tell you of any occasion.  Only tell VV if she does enclose a letter to Mabel, she is never to mention it to a soul because I don’t want that Portage outfit to know a darn thing about me.  Remember me to Dad and VV I’ll close with love


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Letter #81 September 25th, 1918

September 25, 1918

Dear Mother,
          It’s a long while Mother since I last had any word from you, but I suppose you are busy now that it is harvest time.  It has been miserable weather here for the last few days nothing but rain all the time. Still, I have nothing to quibble about, my hut here is nice and as comfortable as one can expect on active service.
          Have you heard anything of the Richmond outfit joining up?  It’s a darn shame Mother that those fellows get off, if it was me, I should be ashamed to look a soldier in the face. Still, I suppose if the war lasts much longer they will have to come.  You know Mother the people of England seem to think that it won't be long before it is finished.  Just imagine I am going on my fifth year of soldiering.  Well, there is one thing comforting to know that is our little family have done their share.  But you know that Richmond crowd kind of makes me sore when I stop to think of the boys out here.
          How has Dad been feeling lately, I got a letter from VV not long ago, enclosed was a snapshot of herself, well I sent the photo over to England and in a few days had a reply saying that they never thought I had a Gladys Cooper for a sister.  Some compliment to VV “Eh What” Gladys Cooper is considered one of England’s foremost beauties.
          I expect to go on leave shortly, and as before expect to spend it in Buxton.  Gee Mother but those people are good to me.  A big majority of our boys are taking home English wives.  In future, the Canadian girls won't be so stuck up.  There will surely be some surprised people when the fellows get back.  It is hard to tell who is married and who isn’t nowadays.  Like an English woman once said to me “How many wives did you fellows leave in Canada” I told her we didn’t leave any more than we could handle and one or two extra never did anyone any harm.
          We went down to the District Sports a few days ago and were lucky enough to win the championship of all the forestry Corps in this part of France in Baseball.  Oh yes, we have got a good team here. 
          Say Mother you don’t know what outfit Albert Lloyd is in do you.  How does VV like her new school?  It being so near home will help to break the monotony for her.  Gee, she writes a funny letter, nothing but kids and pigs in them.
          Well, Mother, you know its hard to write a letter from this side so please don’t think its brief.  Tell Dad I hope he is feeling well and tell VV she don’t waste much paper on her brother.  I’ll close mother for this time.


Just for fun, here is a 1910's photo of Gladys Cooper (on the left below) - Dame Gladys Constance Cooper (1888-1971) was an English actress whose career spanned seven decades on stage, in films and on television. The photograph of VV  (on the right) is the only one I have from her younger years.

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