April 24th, 1943

April 24th, 1943

Dear Mom + Dad

Just a few lines in answer to your letter that I just received and was I glad. I was broke and that $1.50 came in real handy. I got a letter from you, Bin, and Marg and was I glad. If yous ever have any extra money or stamps, please send them as I sure could use either one.

How did Ray’s cast turn out? Fine I hope. Is he home yet?

Tell Sweetipie to be at the Union station on July the 2nd and I’ll give her a piggy back all the way home.

Don’t worry about me as I’m having lots of fun and getting along well. Tell Ted to write and give me his address as I’d like to write to him.

You say Bessie say Halifax is a lovely place, well I’ll tell you everything there is.

Halifax

Somewhere near Halifax
Wilderness brush and sand
Where breeze and poison may be sought
Are found on water and land

You can’t go to the movies
The town is far away
You start to drill at daybreak
And drill to close of day

God could have worked another day
And spent it here quite well
I guess he felt a place like this
To show us part of Hell

The sand here is ten feet deep
The sun is scorching hot
The call it the eastern passage
The place the lord forgot

—-

I got your cigs to-day and was I ever glad, I sure did need them. The address on this letter is my new address, so don’t forget to write it instead of the other one or I won’t get any mail at all.

If you or Dad or Bin have any spare cigs, stamps, or money please send them I sure can use them. This is Saturday afternoon, our day off. Right now I am just lying in bed writing this letter, I guess I’ll write till I run out of stamps and that won’t be very long as I only got two stamps left.

:.

Hello Bin,

Well how is the big sister and all the rest? Where is all those cigs and parcels you  were supposed to send me – still waiting. Tell Jean Howie I was asking about her and all the rest. The carb you sent me won’t do any good because we’re all C.B. for 21 days because of Scarlet Fever, 6 guys have gone out of the hut with it.

Well that’s it for to-day.

Lots of love to
Mom xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Dad xxxxxxxx
You xxxxxxx
Marg xxxxxxxxxxx

[Shannan’s Note – Some Googling suggests that Gord’s Halifax poem is in fact an original. As mentioned earlier, Gord’s views during this time were all his own, so please don’t take offense if there are any local Halifax folks reading…]

April 16th, 1943

April 16th, 1943

Dear Mom + Dad

Just a few lines to let yous know I arrived safe and sound and very tired but it was a swell ride. I can’t say anything about the camp except that it’s a swell place. I’ve met all the guys I used to know at the Horse Palace. Demps and I are to-gether again for good I guess. Find out Earls address and I can drop in and see him.

If you have any spare old dollar bills lying around send them I can always use them. Take Demps letter to his mother and ask Marg to drop me a line as I’d like lots of mail.

Well that’s all for to-day. Write again to-morrow. Lots of love

Your son
The East End Kid
General

Be home soon I hope.

:.

[Shannan’s Note – Gord mentions a place called the Horse Palace in this letter. For those of you that aren’t native Torontonians, you’re probably left wondering if we really see our horses as royalty, worthy of a Palace for a home… Although incredible creatures, yes, the Horse Palace isn’t exactly a Palace in the usual sense of the word. Built in 1931 and once thought of as one of the best equestrian facilities in Canada, the Horse Palace is one of many buildings that make up the entire grounds of Toronto’s Exhibition Place. I will spare you the full history of the grounds themselves, but they are best known as the home to the beloved summer fair, the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), affectionately known as The Ex to us locals. The Ex started in August 1879, and aside from 5 war-era years, has been a Canadian tradition ever since.

From 1942 – 1946, the CNE would not be held. The Exhibition Place grounds (including the Horse Palace) were turned over to our Department of National Defence to provide a core training ground for soldiers. In 1945, after the war ended, Exhibition Place was converted from training grounds into a demobilization centre to help integrate returning soldiers back into society. The grounds were turned back over to the city in late summer 1946, but with too little  time left to plan the annual fair, The Ex would begin again in 1947.

Today, the Horse Palace is actually home to horses that may well be royalty after all, Toronto’s much loved Mounted Police Unit have been the main tenants since the late 1960’s and on any given day you can walk by the Horse Palace and see the officers and their four legged partners heading out for duty.]

Sources:
http://www.explace.on.ca/history/f__f_:_exhibition_place.php
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exhibition_Place#The_Second_World_War

April 15, 1943

April 15th1943

Dear Mom + Dad

Just a few lines to let yous know I am okay and having lots of fun. I bumped into Demps on the train in Montreal last night and I’ve been with him ever since so will you go up and let his mother know. It lots of fun riding on the train, we passed snow 3 and 4 feet deep. I seen nearly all of the St. Lawrence and lots of hills. We had dinner and supper on the train yesterday and breakfast and dinner to-day. We’ll be having supper too. My seat is awful sore from sitting and my back is tired of sleeping, but its lots of fun.

Demps and I will send a cable as soon as we arrive.

Well that’s all for now.

Your son
Gord.

[Shannan’s Note – I’m not to sure  where Gord is going yet, but the address at the top of the letter said “Somewhere in Hell”…]

April 13th, 1943

April 13th,1943

Dear Mom

Just a few lines to let yous know I’m okay. Well we got paid this morning, filled up our packs, and handed our blankets in. We have to get up at 4am to-morrow and you know where I said we were going. Well I’ll write as soon as I get there, so don’t write any more letters till I let you know my address.

Tell everybody good-bye for me and I’ll see them soon, even Marg I still think a lot of her.

Don’t worry about me, I’ll be good and have lots of fun. All my boy friends are going to, so that won’t be to bad. Will you try and get a picture of Marg for me.

Tell Gladys and Grace I’ll write and want them to answer.

Well that’s all I can think of for now.

Your son
Gord
Lots of love.
P.S. Remember what you asked me what SMRLH meant? Soldiers Mail Rush Like Hell

 SMRLH

[Shannan’s Note – EXCITING NEWS!!! I know who Marg is.. my incredible cousin Gail, who I have mentioned before as being instrumental in filling in blanks in the family, has been on the case and messaged me today with an answer… Here is where we were at:  We knew from Gord that Marg and Bin (my grandmother) were close. Bin was dating (and went on to marry) my grandfather Ted. Ted’s brother was with Gladys (mentioned above) and Galdys’ sister was Marg! I know it’s confusing, and it might not seem like that big a deal, but this is someone that has been mentioned in nearly every one of Gord’s letter so it’s obvious that she was very important to him during thistime, so this is such a  great bit of info for me. Thanks again, Gail!]

April 12th, 1943

April 12th, 1943

Dear Mom

Well we got back okay and did we ever have fun. My boy friend Pat came  tearing into the bus station just as we got on the bus and he had two bottles with him, did we ever have fun. Everybody was drunk when they came in last night. We didn’t get to sleep till 3 am. I don’t think we’ll be leaving till Wed. night so if you answer this letter as soon as you get it I’ll get it Wed at dinner time.

I hated to leave last night but soon as I met the mob it was alright. Gosh am I ever tired, we went on a five mile route march this morning and we have another to-morrow that’s why I know we’re not going to-morrow.

Has Net gone home yet? Don’t forget to tell Joe good-by for me and Ray to!

I got your picture out on my shelf and it looks nice. Everybody else thinks so too.

I seen Marg for 3 minutes last night.

Well that’s all for now.

Your son,
Gord

 Net and Amy

[Shannan’s Note – Net is Amy’s sister, Nettie. The picture above is of Amy and Net, year unknown. I am not sure who Joe is, but Ray is Gord’s younger brother.]

April 6th, 1943

April 6th 1943

Dear Mom + Dad

Just a few lines to let yous know I got your letter and was I ever glad. It’s the first letter for a long time. Write and let me know what night yous are going to have my going away party. I’d like to bring a few, 2 fellows, if it’s alright.

How is Ray getting along, fine I hope. I’m having lots of fun here with Fat and Waugh, we go to the show every night. There’s a stage show to-night and it’s at the drill hall, not very far to walk about 100 yards.

One of the fellows got a letter from Petawa and there’s still 5 feet of snow there. Boy is it ever cold here, darn crazy weather, can’t make up its mind. We offered it back to the Indians with $1000 to boot and they threw it back in our face.

Tell daddy not to forget the bottle for me to take away.  Well, that’s all I can think of for now except tell Bin to get some girls for the party.

Lots of love and kisses

Your son
The East End Kid
General Gord

April 6

[Shannan’s Note – When Gord mentions Petawa, I suspect he means Petawawa, Ontario, located in Renfrew County, on the west bank of the Ottawa  River. Petawawa is still a major hub for Canadian Military at the CFB Petawawa base.]

April 4th, 1943

April 4th 1943

Dear Mom

Well I made it back okay, and did we ever have fun. We met a couple of girls from Malton Airport sitting in the back of the bus so we joined them and we sang all the way back to camp.

To-day I’m working in the kitchen washing dishes till 6 o’clock then I go down to the guard as a spare that means if anybody gets sick I take their place but if they don’t I sleep all night, that’s not too bad.

Right now in the canteen all the fellows have got their girls here and a bunch of guys playing the piano and I haven’t even got a girlfriend to write to but I don’t care no more, I’m having lots of fun. Some young kid from town just now came in and he’s playing the drums.

Don’t forget the party next week and tell daddy not to forget to get me the bottle to take away.

We hand our rifles in tomorrow and will that ever be nice.

Well I can’t think of anything else. Write soon.

Your son
The East End Kid
General Gordon

Mom xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Sweetipie xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Rest xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

 Gord and Unknown Woman, Date Unknown

[Shannan’s Note – Since we started in on Gord’s letters he’s been asking after Marg, whom I believe was a friend of Gord’s older sister (and my grandmother), Bin. I haven’t been able to uncover much on Marg or the relationship that she and Gord may or may not have had, but I have a couple of leads that I am following to try and find a little more info on Marg, and who she might have been. I’ll keep you posted. The photo above is of Gord and an unknown woman, date also unknown… My cousin Gail, who has been an incredible help since I started on the letters, mentioned that her mom (Gord’s sister Geraldine or Sweetipie as you may know her) used to say that Gord was a…ahem…popular fellow who didn’t have any trouble finding a different lady-friend in every port or town… Did that get going after a love lost in Marg? Maybe we’ll find out more as the letters and the research progresses, but the romantic in me is just a teensy bit hopeful that it’s Marg in that photo…]

March 29th, 1943

March 29th 1943

Dear Mom + Dad

I’m sorry I haven’t wrote sooner, I didn’t have any stamps or money till yesterday and then I was on duty last night. Well we’re all through our training and are we having it easy, this morning we went out on a route march, came back at twelve, had dinner then went away back in the woods behind the camp and told stories till 5:15 then broke off for the day. On Sun when I was coming back I met one of the guys at the bus station, he drove me back to camp.

The next time I come home it will be my last leave until July so how about a little party, and how is Marg, I haven’t wrote to her yet.

How is Ray getting along pretty good I hope. We have been told where we are going but I can’t say, but it’s a two day and two night train ride.

I’ll try to get home for a couple of hours on Sat. If you can get any stamps send them, they are awful hard to get here. You can tell by the date I started to write this letter a couple of days ago but I didn’t have any stamps.

Well that’s all I can think of for now, see yous Sat.

Your son,
Gord
Or
General

10th Platoon

Gord and his Platoon at their training base in Brampton. 10th Platoon, C Company, 24th Regt. March 1943.

[Shannan’s Note – it’s tough to tell from the photo, but I think  that’s Gord in the front row, second from the left. I assume this picture was taken upon completion of their training]

March 22nd, 1943

March 22nd, 1943

Dear Mom + Dad

Just a few lines to let yous know that I don’t feel too bad. I went to the M.O. this morning and he gave me nine pills to take all at once so I took them and I’ve been running to the toilet all day, but it’s not too bad. I got excused duty, all I’ve been doing is sleeping all day and is it nice, I have to go back at 7 o’clock to-night, I hope he don’t give me any more pills.

I’ll be home about 8 o’clock on Fri night, maybe early, I don’t know for sure so tell Bin to buy a couple of films so we can take pictures.

It’s a real summer day here to-day, sun shining. We’ll soon be able to wear our short pants that will be lots of fun

Well I can’t think of anything else to say except write soon.

Your son,
Major.

P.S. If I don’t soon get promoted to a General I’ll quit.

:.

Well, here is another day. I didn’t have any stamps yesterday so I borrowed two today so I’ll send it now. If you have any stamps and change send it please. I feel lots better to-day

General.

P.S.
I got my promotion.

Amy and Edward

[Shannan’s note – The picture above is of Gord’s parents, Amy and Edward (nicknamed Bucka), year unknown. Amy was born in 1902 in Peterborough and was the oldest of 5 kids. Edward was born in 1897 in Tweed and was the oldest boy in a family of 7 kids. He and Amy married in 1921 in Peterborough. Edward was a Chauffeur at the time, and they went on to have 5 children. Edward passed away in 1955 and Amy lived, beloved by her family, for another 20 years.]

March 4th, 1943

March 4th, 1943

Dear Mom + Dad

Just a line to let you know that I got the box + registered letter and was I glad.

I won’t be getting my week-end this week because there was 4 Ptn so they tossed for it and I lost so we get ours next week. But I may go home on Sat, but I don’t know for sure.

I’m having lots of fun it’s getting to be a better camp every day.

We went into the gas chambers to-day at 2 o’clock and it’s now 6:30 and I’m still crying.

Boy is it cold here, our rifles were froze this morning. We had our first exam today in first aid and I passed. We have our Bren Gun test to-morrow I think I’ll pass because I had it when I was in the R.C.E.

How is Marg getting along? I hope she is being a good girl, does she come over very often?

You say Mill moved up, when you see her tell her to write, the time goes fast when you get lots of letters. Marg writes nearly every day. Well I can’t think of anything else to say. Write soon.

Major.

[Shannan note – this letter threw me for a loop initially…the mention of “gas chambers” had me a little confused because all other things point to Gord not only still being in training of sorts, but likely still being in Canada (the mailing address he provides for return mail to this letter is in Brampton, Ontario and there was a Royal Air Force base there, RAF Wyton). A little bit of research leads me to believe that he’s talking about mustard gas training.

In doing the research for this post, I found a great interview documented on The Memory Project website where a WWII veteran speaks about his experience with mustard gas training. You can listen to that here: http://www.thememoryproject.com/stories/387:george-ens/ . If you find Gord’s story interesting, I strongly suggest spending some time on The Memory Project website.

The Bren Gun that Gord mentions being tested on was the primary light infantry machine gun used by the British and Commonwealth in WWII and the Korean War. Gord also mentions using the Bren Gun when he was in the R.C.E, and all investigation suggests that he is talking about the Royal Canadian Engineers.

Lastly, I’m fairly certain that Gord is kidding when signs his next few letters “Major” unless he somehow managed to climb military ladder faster than anyone in history, also he signs a few future letters as General… 🙂 ]