A Window on the Great War: 100 Year Old First Letter Home

One Hundred years ago, Hugh C. Wright from Shepody, Albert County, NB arrived by train in St. John on Saturday, Nov. 22 and signed up to join the 26th Battalion on the same day. He was only 19 years old. His first letter was written to his father Monday, November 24, 1914. After training in St. John for 8 months the 26th Battalion left for England on June 13, 1915 on board the ship “Caledonia”.  

Hugh was one of the hundreds of Albert County men who volunteered for the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), the majority joining the New Brunswick 26th Battalion. It was because of their sacrifices that Albert County was awarded the 77mm field cannon which sits in the square in Hopewell Cape. The museum is in process of restoring this cannon to help preserve their stories.  If you have not done so, please donate to the Victory Cannon Campaign. You can donate online here. 

(Notes from the letter: Harvey was Hugh's oldest brother who was responsible for the farm at home. Clarke was another brother who was working at a bank in St.John,  he joined the 26th Battalion on Oct 19, 1915 and went overseas. Albert Steeves was killed overseas.)

With many thanks to Hugh Wright's great niece, Dawne McLean who kindly submitted the letter.

St. John Armory, 5th Company

November 24th, 1914

Dear Father,

I got here Saturday night at 5:30pm. Clarke was at the station, but I had to come up to the Armory with some soldiers that they sent down to meet us. They took us into a restaurant to get our supper.

Danahy and I fell in with a couple of men from Chatham and one fellow is a Boer War veteran and is Sergeant of our Company. So I am all right.

We haven’t been over stocked with grub till today at noon. They got things straightened out and we had a good dinner of boiled meat and potatoes, parsnips and carrots. They have bread there three times a day and tea and jam and beans for breakfast and bread and jam for supper.

I fell in with Albert Steeves, Jud’s boy on Sunday and I tell you was he ever glad to find someone from his own hometown.

Howe Stevens is here some place but I haven’t spoken to him yet, but am going to hunt him up. There are a lot of very nice fellows here and our officers are all nice.

Albert and I got a pass out last night and went to the theatre. We met Clarke and he went with us. A soldier can walk right in and doesn’t have to pay a cent. I am going to get a safety razor and a fountain pen right away.

The buglers are getting ready to blow the fall in call and I must get ready for the afternoon’s work. I will try to write again in a few days. Send my mail to 5th Company, 26th Battalion, St. John Armory, St. John, NB


P.S. I would write you more but I want to write a letter to Harvey.