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Letters of a Canadian Stretcher Bearer, by R.A.L. [Ralph Beverly Watson]

Sergeant Ralph Beverly Watson (a.k.a. Joseph Ralph Watson) was born in Hull, England, on October 23, 1883, to parents Joseph Watson and Lavinia Sanderson. Moving to Canada sometime prior to the war, he settled in Ottawa where he married Beulah Bahnsen in January 1915. On May 25 that same year he enlisted from there as a Private in the Canadian Army Medical Corps.

He embarked for England on the troop ship SS Missanabie in July 1915 and was sent into action in France in February 1916. While hospitalized on several occasions, most seriously for gas poisoning, Watson survived through to the end of the war and was demobilized on February 3, 1919.

The Watson letters were originally published together in the book Letters of a Canadian Stretcher Bearer in 1918. The war was still ongoing at that time and the author was identified only as “R.A.L.” Other identifying details such as dates were also changed in order to preserve anonymity (e.g., the book gives his date of enlistment as May 31 instead of Watson’s actual enlistment date of May 25). The real identity of the author appears to have remained unknown for many decades, but has since been identified as Ralph Beverly Watson (born Joseph Ralph Watson, he was going by “Ralph Beverly” at the time of his marriage and enlistment).

Now in the public domain, Letters of a Canadian Stretcher Bearer was digitized by the Internet Archive Digital Library in 2008 from the collection of the University of California Libraries. The formatted letters that have been made available here were created from the Internet Archive book as part of a research project at Vancouver Island University.

External links:
Sgt. Watson's Service Record (Reg/Ser# 63) is available through Library and Archives Canada.
Letters of a Canadian Stretcher Bearer, by Ralph Beverly Watson, 1918, provided online by the Internet Foundation at, from the University of California Libraries Collection.

Collection Contents

Telegrams (1)
Letters (112)
Poems (1)