Clarence Arthur McCann June 8, 1891 - June 2, 1947

Clarence Arthur McCann was born in Pembroke, Hants County, Nova Scotia to Arthur Frederick and Ella Jane (Carmichael) McCann. He grew up in Windsor, Nova Scotia, Canada.

He married Ada May Smith on July 27, 1912 in Falmouth, Nova Scotia and together they had 14 children.

In 1915, Clarence travelled to Fredericton, New Brunswick to enlist in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He embarked for England not long after and remained overseas for almost four years. While there, he wrote many letters home. Over 100 of them survived and have been transcribed. The originals have been donated to the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.

I offer these transcriptions to those who have ancestors who served in the Great War so they might have a glimpse of what that life was like for these men.

Monday, October 25, 2010

May 1, 1915 - Fredericton

Dear Father,

Received your letter O.K. with instructions about my money, but it is too late.  Wes signed the pay sheet the other day and Ada had told me what Mr. Russell said about my money, so I changed my assigned pay from your name to hers on our major's advice.  This will take effect this month and we expect our money between May 1 - 5, so she should get this at the same time.  Then the government takes a hand and says a man must send half his pay to his beneficiary and that would be her.

The separation allowance of $20.00 should be paid in about five weeks from the time I came here, so the Sergt.-Major told me.  It is stormy here - snow, hail, rain, and we have had two days off.

They never found that boy, supposed to have been drowned.  Some of the people are cleaning up their gardens here but no planting yet.  I paid A. Mathewson all we owed him long ago.

I have all of my uniform now except gloves, waist cartridge belt and spurs, that is all I know of.  Our uniform consists of two suits underclothes, two pair socks, 1 pr. boots, 1 pr. rubbers, 1 pr. puttees, 2 top shirts (grey), 1 toque cap, 1 sweater coat, 1 fatigue shirt and pants, 1 tunic, 1 pr. riding breeches, 1 great coat, 1 dress cap, 1 bandolier, 1 kitbag, razon, s. brush, knife & fork, spoon, boot grease, 2 towels, comb & brush, 1 pr. mittens.  That's all I can think of except badges:  Maple Leaf on cap, Canada on shoulder straps and Maple Leaf on coat collar.  Our drill is mostly marching around the parade ground in different formation and some physical training, semaphore (signaling with the arms), lessons in knotting and lashing, gun sighting, and laying (we have a dozen guns (12 pndrs.) and wagons here).  Then we have lectures on gunnery by the lieutenants.  Then the battery manouvres (at first with the guns but they were too heavy so we tie two sheets to a rope five ft. apart and four men represent horses so we can learn all right).  We have had two route marches.  I used to get tired at first because I was not used to walking so much, but now I feel fine.

Our battery consists of four 15 pndr. guns.  They are the best light guns in the world.  They always move on at trot, never walk except in case of fatigue or very rough.  We won't get our guns this side of England and as none of us every worked on one we will have a lot to learn yet, and more to do when we get our horses, etc.  Artillery is a combination of every other branch of the service apart from the guns, except the navy, so we will have a pile to learn.  Our parade ground is about 150 ft sq on one side of the main building and three times as large on the other side where the horses are and small pieces of ground scattered all around between numberless sheds, stalls and offices.  We have about 60 men of the 55th Infantry here and they only use less than half of the large building.  Next to us is a fine large trotting park and we see a number of fast horses and colts training.  We play ball and football there, too.  Boots are no good.  I know they won't stand water.  I got my feet wet last night on the pavement.  Hobnails weaken the soles.


P.S. The people here use us grand, that is the older church people.  They sent us pie and cake for supper three different times and that is all we ate.  Then they came up and darned our socks for us on Thursday night.  They put me in mind of Mrs. Nalder.  We would get more, only when the 23-24 Batteries were here it was such a chore and every one felt so bad about it they did everything they could for them and the novelty wore off, so we only have a few of the steady ones to do for us.   The churches here are fine.  The talk here is that we must be out of this place by May 15.  The N.C.O's think we will go direct to England.  I want to go home sometime in May in case we should go across.  I would like to see you all before I go.


© Copyright 2010 Pamela Wile. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

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