A First World War mystery

Editor’s Note: A little over a month ago, I was given an old cigar box filled with photos and letters that dated to the 1910s and 1920s. The box had been stored in the attic of a house on Beaufort Road, but had no connection to the current or previous owner. Two of the letters are from a Bill Wright, written to a William Wilson, who lived at 141 Lee Ave.
Please let us know if you anything about this young soldier?

Posted in an envelope dated Aug. 25, 1916:
Petawawa Camp, Ont.

Friday evening

Dear Bill,

We are here almost two weeks, the first bunch in camp and the last out. We have been awfully busy teaming & trucking for the different batteries as they come in and some of our fellows worked to 2 to 3:00 a.m., besides we had to give a meal to all the Advance Parties when they arrived, but now things are beginning to get normal again.

We believe this is a photo of Pte. Bill Wright (born on 06/01/1890) taken in the backyard of 141 Lee Ave.

The Batteries will all be in this week and also the C.A.S.C. Training Depot from Ottawa about 300 strong are expected tomorrow. We are transferred to Ottawa now and will probably be sent there when this Camp closes.
Corp. Len Tolson is here again with the 70th Battery. I heard Billy Whitehead has gone overseas with the last draft.
All the batteries are away over strength and they are getting them to do fatigue work for the present. We have had pretty good weather since we came with the exception of some showers.
I was down with Pte Jim Mole to Pembroke the second night I was here. It is just the same old two and six. What is new at the Beach these days? I guess you are so busy slogging the tennis ball these evgs that you have no time to think. I would prefer being at Niagara Camp any time to this out of the way Internment Camp, for that is about the size of it, therefore is it any wonder we cut up with the girls when we get back to Civilization and the Beach.
Well Bill, how is the best girl? You no doubt will be planning your holidays so that they will tally with hers this summer.
Taking everything into consideration I think we are as well as where we are, this looks like what an Irishman would say. This is pay-day so I hope to have another trip to Pembroke soon.
There is going to be 4,000 Infantry men from the west here this summer besides the Artillery, so we will have about 10,000 altogether. The war looks very serious these days, however I hope better days are dawning for the Allies.
I get the Toronto Mail every day, which gets here a day late.
I will close now hoping you are well, also your mother.
Your old pal,


M.F.B. 440
In reply please quote No. L—-86

October 24, 1918

Dear Bill,

We have got settled in our old Barracks for the winter, and are more comfortable than in tents. I am now in the orderly room and like it much better than my old job. I hope by this time you have got over the Flu and back to work again, after a good long spell in bed.
We are still on C.B. but expect it will lift some of these days. There has been quite a few deaths in this Camp, we just heard yesterday that one of our Officers died of the Flu. He was with us at Petawawa.
I suppose there isn’t anything new since I was home.
I had a letter from Charley and he was in a hospital in Calgary for ten days with the flu but has since been discharged and is at present in New Westminster, B.C. He expected to sail in a few weeks time.
I have not much work to do at present hence this type written letter. We expect our O.C. back to morrow he had the Flu bad when we reached Toronto.
All the Canadian troops have left except those in hospital. There seems to be a good many Poles in camp, owing to the Quarantine, as they have not sent a draft away for a long time.
You will notice I am not good at this typing, however I hope to improve.
The first four days we were here we had nothing to do, so another boy and I went out to the country and swiped all the apples we could carry home.
The following day we were marched out for exercise and then we rested, so being near an orchard we sent a couple of our men in for apples. The farmer told them to tell all the boys to come in and help themselves which we did. We have a bunch of Poles working for us for a few days, cleaning up around our barracks.
I was sorry to hear about Miss Edmonds’ death, there are some very sad cases in the paper these days.
It is now after six so I think I will have to bring this to a close, as I want to go out for some fresh air.
Remember me to your Mother, also Miss Dawes and Mr. Greenham.
I remain as ever your old Pal.

Pte. Bill Wright

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Wright lived at 89 Wheeler, just a block away from his friend Bill Wilson. He was a chauffeur, born in Belfast, Ireland. His mother’s name was Mary.

I am working on finding out more of his story and will get back to you asap.

Interesting to see the references to people dying from the “flu” which was of course the 1918 pandemic “Spanish Flu”.

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