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War Letters of Gordon Hall Rutherford

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War Letters of Gordon Hall Rutherford

GORDON RUTHERFORD VISITS HIS FATHER'S BIRTHPLACE
Glasgow, Scotland,
June 6, 1917
Dear Father, --- I am at last successful in getting landing leave and have come to Scotland. I am staying at your relative's, Donald Cameron's, and have been having a fine time. We arrived here Sunday morning, and I must say that Glasgow gave us a hearty welcome. At the Central Station they have a canteen for soldiers and sailors where we had a fine lunch, smokes and a rest, all for nothing. Many of our battalion had stopped at London, but about 20 of us came on to Glasgow, so I had lots of company here. Sunday afternoon my chum Lyle Ramsay, and I started for Heath Field Terrace
.

We found our way all right, but stopped at the park, which is very beautiful at present. The flowers are all out in bloom though the season is very backward. We spent over two hours just walking through the park watching the swan and ducks swimming in the little river. After going through the winter-garden, which had many eastern palms and plants and beautifully colored flowers of all descriptions, we went over to Don Cameron's and had tea. After tea he took us to Rankin Glen, a large Glasgow park. It was very pretty. From old bridges over the streams we had fine views of the waterfalls.
On Monday we went to Ayr to see Burn's cottage and monument, which is one place I wouldn't have missed seeing for anything. Inside the cottage are many things that Burns used himself: ---an old chair, the writing desk which he used when composing his poems, etc. There is a book in which everyone who visits the monument registers, so if you ever come over you must look up and see my name on it on June 4, 1917. The old cottage is much the same as it was when Burns was there. At one end was the stable; and in the other part Burns lived himself. Many of the original poems in his own handwriting were also there, as high as œ150 having been paid for a single sheet. I read the original of "Scots Wha Hae." The large family bible is still there containing all the family history. It was bought from some of the relatives for œ1040. The day was much too short to see everything, but we certainly saw something worth while. On High Street we saw the Tam o' Shanter Inn where Robert used to get his horn of Scotch. It is still in the same business, but as the bars cannot open until six o'clock we could not have one on Bobby. Yesterday Don took me to Aberfeldy. The scenery in the highlands is wonderful. We passed Wallace's monument and Stirling castle in the city of Stirling.
When we arrived in Aberfeldy we visited Mrs. Burden, one of the many cousins, first. Then we went to the old house in which you were born. Although it is not owned by any of our relatives the lady was very kind and showed us through the place. I sat down and had a chat with her in the room where you were born. The kind old lady said, "It's noo grand, but it's verra comfortable". I thought much different; it seemed grand to me to be there. We went down to Robert Campbell's store, where we met Jessie Campbell, and from then on "The Canadian" was busy meeting cousin after cousin. They all seemed to know who I was for I had written that I was coming, but being introduced as "The Canadian" made it seem rather peculiar to me. We walked over to the Falls of Moness and the Birks of Aberfeldy, and I must say I never have seen more beautiful scenes than there at the three falls, lower, middle and upper. I had a drink at the lower falls as the water came falling down, just so that it would be something to remember.
I also saw the Black Watch monument where that famous regiment first mobilized on the Tay River.
We had dinner at Campbell's and by the time we had finished it just left enough time to catch the train for Glasgow.
I suppose you hardly know where I am at now, as I have been moving around so much. I was at Otterpool, when I left Wilfred Clemens and George Busteed quarantined on account of measles being in their tent. We went to the eighth reserve battalion and later to Witley, Surrey, in the 119th reserve battalion. We are in the 5th division now, and Lt. Ernie Hartwick is in this same battalion.
Your affectionate son,
Gordon[1]


Seven Mile Walk to See Old Friends.
Pte. Gordon Rutherford Visited Boys At Bramshott Camp.
119th Algoma Bn., C. E. F.,
Witley Camp, Eng.,
July 27, 1917.
Mr. J. M. Denholm,[2]
Blenheim, Ont.
Dear Merce,---- A short time before leaving Canada I promised to write to you and let you know how I am getting along.
As you already know we have much more strenuous work than when in Canada. I'll not need to say anything about it. It was rather hard at first, and the infantry training is so much different than artillery from which I was sorry to be transferred. I was very unfortunate landing in this country at a time when the Canadian Field Artillery had a great surplus of men and the infantry the opposite, having a shortage. Thus we were all transferred to infantry, only a few being lucky enough to be in quarantine at the time. When in the 8th Res. Bn. at Shorncliffe we experienced an air raid, something I will not forget for a while.
Last Sunday night Wilfrid Clemens walked into my hut. He had been at Bramshott Camp with the 186th boys. He stayed with me all day Monday, so we had quite a time together. Herb. was on leave in Scotland at the same time so he missed seeing him. It was rather unfortunate as one does not get many leaves now. He is still in the Field Artillery. George Busteed is in the 45's, a heavier gun than the 18 pounder. Wilfrid came back from mesopotamia in June and has been here once to see me. I am not sure whether I'll see him again as he is under orders to proceed to German East Africa now. I was rather sorry when he wrote that he was going there. I expected he would be going to France, and although he wouldn't be with me he might not be far away. The world is very small after all. One of the first men I met in England was Capt. Clive McAllister. He was at Otterpool then. On Dominion Day I walked over to see the 186th boys in the 4th Res. Bn. at Bramshott. They are just about seven miles from here, so it's not so bad when you have good roads to walk on. I heard that the boys in 63rd battery at Petawawa were doing infantry training. I hope not as it certainly will be a change from artillery and not a change for the better either. I'm not so bad off now as I am in the Lewis Gun Section, which is a very interesting part of infantry training.
Today we had an inspection by the king. We had a sham battle on Thursley Commons, blowing great craters in the ground, then the men would swarm in and take cover, and prepare for the next advance. I was not in the battle but was training off on one side so had a fine view. Of course you know what had happened to the other units shortly after an inspection by His Majesty. You'll have to take it for granted that we do the same.
I received several copies of the News-Tribune today and certainly was glad to get them. Erieau has suffered quite a bit this year through the coal hoist and ice house both being lost. Hoping to hear from you soon. I must close for this time.
Yours sincerely,
Hiker
Address 334098 Pte G. H. Rutherford
119th Bn. C. E. F., A Co.,
Care Army P. O., London, Eng.[3]


Gordon Rutherford Was at Mons.
Young Blenheim Gunner In Stirring Events at Close of War.
It must have been a never-to-be-forgotten privilege for Gordon Rutherford, only eighteen years of age after two season's campaigning with the guns in France and Belgium to have been chosen a member of the Canadian army that closed the war for the British by capturing Mons, the city from which General French began his famous retreat early in the war; and for the first time in Europe to have put a full date line on his letter, beginning as follows:
Mons, France, Nov. 15, 1918
Dear Jessie and all. - - -
It is with the greatest pleasure that I scribble you a few lines tonight. You will no doubt by now know more about the grand finale than I do so there is no use trying to tell you anything about that. The night before "Cease Fire" was given we fired a few brigade salvos over Mons. Fritz was on one side and we were on the other. On the whole there was very little shooting going on. The next morning there was a triumphant march through the city and I was one of the lucky ones detailed to go. We had to get cleaned up as well as we could in the time and then go. There were a few from each unit there all congregated at the "Grand Place", where General Currie spoke a few words to the troops. There are about thirty thousand civilians here now, so you can imagine the reception we were given.
At present we are cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, getting ready for the march through Belgium. It is rumored that we are going right in to Germany. We expect to start off on our journey on Sunday, so if you don't hear from me you'll know that I'm going on and on to the Rhine.
We are billeted in a house with a Belgian family. I must say they are great people, can't do enough for your --- coffee at reveille, all meals, and in the evening. One hates to take anything from them, knowing that they haven't a great deal for themselves. There is a whole sub-section of us here. Just imagine eighteen soldiers billeted in one house! The night we arrived here, about ten o'clock, madame made beaucoup cocoa for all, gave us all the bread and butter we could eat too, and maybe we didn't have some appetite after a march of about twelve miles!
I suppose you have been wondering all along why I didn't write oftener. I'll try to tell you now that Mr. Censor is napooed. Ever since Aug. 8th we have been "up and at 'em" all the time. Before that push we were in Arras. From there we took the train to Amiens, and lived in a woods and had to keep hidden so as to surprise Fritz. No lights at night and even if one did want to write he had to go up the line with ammunition, start about five o'clock, get back at six a.m., go to bed and get up at eleven to water and feed the horses, get more sleep in the afternoon, if possible, and then go up again. I was on the gang for that strife. I expected Fritz would have had more comeback than he did. We hadn't a casualty in our battery there.
After that we went back to Arras by forced marches. Then, just as we got in the scrap my leave came in. I guess you will know why I slept and ate well in Paris. Forget it! It's all over. I will be able to tell you all this when I get back, which will no doubt be several months yet as we have to see how things go. I haven't seen a paper lately but from all reports Germany is in a bad state of affairs at present.
Your brother, Gordon.[4]

Notes

  1. GORDON RUTHERFORD VISITS HIS FATHER'S BIRTHPLACE. Blenheim News-Tribune - June 27, 1917, page 4
  2. Denholm was Publisher of the Blenheim News Tribune.
  3. Seven Mile Walk to See Old Friends. Blenheim News-Tribune - Wednesday, August 22, 1917 - page 1
  4. Gordon Rutherford Was at Mons. The Blenheim News-Tribune Wednesday Dec. 11, 1918 page 1




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