A Window on the Great War - A Christmas Letter from the Trenches, December 20, 1915 Belgium

One Hundred years ago today (Dec 20, 2015), Hugh C. Wright from Shepody, Albert County, NB was busy fighting with the 26th New Brunswick battalion in trenches of Belgium. He was only 20 years old at the time. This was one of his letters home and was written December 20, 1915.  

A note on the Author - Hugh Carlisle Wright, from Hopewell,(Shepody), Albert County, NB, enlisted in the 26th Battalion on November 17, 1914. He was 19 years of age. He was in A Company, No. 1 Platoon while training in Saint John. He served in the 26th Battalion, 5th Infantry Brigade in Belgium and France and spent 17 months in the trenches. In February 1917, he transferred to the 4th Siege Battery, 2nd Brigade CGA and was a gunner for the remainder of the war. He was discharged in May 10, 1919...on his birthday!

Hugh's letters are addressed … “Dear Father” because his mother died when he was only 7 years old. Harvey and Clarke were Hugh's older brothers. His brother Clarke enlisted in October 1915, arriving in England with CEF April 1916. Harvey didn't enlist but stayed home to run the family farm in Shepody. 

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

Dec 20, 1915

My Dear Father,

I received your letter of Dec. 5th to day and was glad to get it. I have got the moccasins and the stuff alright. I had the moccasins on this last time in the trenches and I didn’t have to put on a pair of hip boots all the time we were in as I never was over the tops of these. They are fine.
I shall be on the look out for the parcel from Gordon. I had a letter from Uncle Silas while we were up in the trenches and he said that Mrs. Cook and he were sending me a large parcel, so with all the others I hear that are coming I will not do too bad. I saw a list of stuff that is in the boxes for us from home and it sounds good so I am anxiously waiting for them.
I don’t need hip rubber boots as we have them when in the trenches.

Uncle Silas said in his letter that Blair had enlisted and I think it will be the best thing for him as a good rough life is just what he needs. I haven’t seen many that have failed on it in this Batt.
I hope Clarke doesn’t get away before Xmas as he will enjoy it better home.

Our Company will be in as usual just back of the front line on Xmas Day. We go in there on Xmas Eve (some different place to go on Xmas eve than I had last year), but we will make the best of it wherever we are.

I haven’t had a letter from Clarke for some time. I was expecting one from him today but none came. You ought to get my pay alright as I fixed it up with the paymaster some time ago.

It would be a nice thing if the three counties could raise a Batt. I must write to Mrs. Carnwarth just as soon as I get time. I sent her a Xmas Card some time ago. I don’t know of anything I can send here for they don’t have anything over here any good. I have some good pieces of aluminum off the nose of shells, but it is hard to send anything like that home.

There has been terrible artillery fire for these last two days and it is still at it tonight. The report is here that the Germans tried the gas but the wind changed and it went back at themselves.
I think there is something going to happen pretty soon and the sooner the better and get this thing over as soon as possible.

Well, I must close and get ready to go out on fatigue tonight.

I just got a nice big parcel from Uncle Silas tonight with some cake, cookies and chocolate. It was a dandy box. Walter Danahy and Stevens were here so I gave them some and will give Silas some in the morning.

Good night, Hugh

(letter cont’d next day)

I received a nice parcel from Aunt Berta last night so I have plenty to eat for a few days anyway.
This writing paper is a little tablet that we got in a little book with envelopes in it - a present from the women of Canada.

This is all for this time.

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.