War Christmas in January!

28 Jan

Once again John Robert Colombo referred Dwight Whalen to me with this project. Dwight has laboured hard in musty old newspapers or their microfilm equivalents to assemble epistoles from the troops abroad in the two Great Wars received by their families and published in papers in The Niagara Peninsula. It is an excellent selection from soldiers seving in all three services. The blurb text is appended below along with an excerpt from “Reflecting Back” by Barney Danson.

What has been called “the human side of war” has been brought to the “home front” through this series of poignant letters, all of them penned by our troops overseas and printed in the correspondence columns of the hometown newspapers of the Niagara Peninsula during the Christmas season. Students of military and social history and of Canadiana should stand up and salute researcher and writer Dwight Whalen for the vast labour that he has undertaken on their behalf — and on ours.

— John Robert Colombo, author and anthologist

Dwight Whalen is a freelance writer who was born and lives in Niagara Falls, Ontario. His special interests are the area’s colourful local history as well as stories of the strange-but-true variety. He has published articles in the St. Catharines Standard and other newspapers in the Niagara area, as well as articles about anomalies in Fate magazine, Fortean Times, and The Anomalist.

Excerpt from interview “Reflecting Back” by The Honourable Barnett J. Danson, P.C., C.C., LL.D. (Hon.), Legion D’Honneur (FR)

Do you remember one particular letter with bad or good news?Yes, I remember a letter from my younger brother, who had run away from school and hitchhiked to North Bay. Once there, he enlisted with the Air Force. Writing from one brother to another, he admitted that he had lied about his age. My letter back to him is around somewhere. Other than that letter, I can’t recall receiving any that had any particular impact.
Did you have any troubles with the censors who used to read the letters that you sent home?No. Well, to be truthful, we used to treat the censorship as a bit of a joke, and we often made naughty remarks about the censors in our letters!
That’s a good idea! I wonder how the writing of letters nowadays has been affected by cell phones and satellites.It’s amazing, isn’t it. Email! Communications are ridiculously efficient these days. Why, in the old days, we used to be just hanging on for mail, just hoping to get some letters. Now all you have to do is pick up a phone and call.



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