Search The Archive

Search form

Collection Search
Date: January 1917
Newspaper Article

[From the Y.M.C.A.'s “CANADIAN MANHOOD” page 21]

London’s Welcome to Returned Soldiers

How Local Association is Measuring up to New Opportunity — Full Year’s Membership Free — Entertaining at Sanitarium and Convalescent Home — Meeting Men on Arrival.

Written for Canadian Manhood by E.R. Wilson, General Secretary.

LONDON, ONT., April. — The Association has been devoting considerable time to the work of the returned soldiers and Mr. R. Hudson is giving part of his time to this phase of work. Early in November a reception was held for the returned men at which there 120 present. A splendid programme had been arranged; addresses were made by Mr. P. Moore, president of the Soldiers' Commission; the president of the Returned Soldiers' Club, and Mr. A.A. Langford, president of the Y.M.C.A.

Full membership tickets good for one year were presented to all the returned men, and up to date we have issued a total of 267 membership tickets in the Association

Christmas Entertainment. — The returned soldiers held their Christmas gift and social entertainment in our Association. There were 350 present, including the parents and children of returned men. The Ladies’ Auxiliary of the Y.M.C.A. took charge of the serving of the refreshments.

Christmas Dinner. — Letters and invitations were sent out to nearly 200 returned men inviting them to citizens' homes for Christmas dinner Most of the men went to their own homes, those who could availed themselves of the splendid opportunity provided. The Association received quite a number of letters of appreciation from the men who were not able to come as well as from those who did have the pleasure of being entertained.

A total of 153 men, comprising enlisted and returned men, were entertained for Christmas dinner in various private homes in the city. Arrangements for entertaining was in the hands of the Y.M.C.A., and the Ministerial Alliance of the city co-operated.

Byron Sanitarium. — Once a week the Association puts on a concert in the Byron Sanitarium, where there are about 50 returned men convalescing. The Sanitarium is about five miles from the city and these concerts are very much appreciated. Within a few months there will be over 100 returned men in this institution.

Convalescent Home. — Sing - songs are conducted regularly in the Convalescent Home. Regular visits are made to the hospitals and papers and periodicals are distributed among the men. Once a week concerts are put on in the evenings. The Association assists in providing talent and co-operating with the returned soldiers in the various concerts given by them in the neighborhood.

Reception Committee. — At the request of the Soldiers’ Aid Commission a committee was appointed from the Y.M.C.A. to act with the Citizens’ Committee in meeting returned men. Mr. James Gray, who is chairman of the Reception Work of the Association, was made chairman of the Citizens’ Reception Committee. The Association is taking a very active part in the receiving of returned men.

Association Attendance. — The returned soldiers as well as the overseas men are frequenting and using the Association privileges a good deal. The swimming pool, recreation, reading and game rooms are in constant use.

Snap Shots. — A new feature has been added to our features among the soldiers. It is that of securing photos of the families of the men it the front.

These requests are made through the English Military Work and forwarded to us. We had two photos taken last week and they have been sent on to the men. Two of our members, semi-professional photographers, have volunteered their services to whatever work they can do along this line.

Duke of Connaught, in Opening Mr. Ross’ Hut for Soldiers at Shorncliffe, armly Commends “Y” Military Work.

Field-Marshall H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught, speaking at the opening of the “Laddie Millen’’ Hut in January, said in part:—

"I have personally seen a great deal of the work of the Y.M.C.A. in Canada, and I can only say that I have been filled with admiration, and have been most grateful for the splendid manner in which they have put up buildings, which have been of great advantage to all the young Canadians training there. Therefore it gives me particular pleasure at this large training centre of Shorncliffe to be able to open this hut. I feel convinced that it will be a great help to many of you Canadian soldiers of the King, and that you will always feel grateful to the Canadian branch of the Young Men’s Christian Association for having thought of you, and for having put up a hut that I hope will be very much used, and will be a means of recreation and good to you all. And I hope that you will also remember that, as we have been told, that it was put up to the memory of a good soldier and a good Christian. I have not got much time, but I assure you of the great pleasure it gives me to be here this evening, and to be associated with such an excellent work as has now been commemorated by the opening of this hut.”

Mr. John W. Ross, of Montreal, erected the hut, and Laddie Millen was one of Montreal’s finest boys who enlisted with the “Princess Pats” and made the great sacrifice on 19th February, 1916. Major Gerald W. Birks presided, supported by Major G.A. Wells, Senior Chaplain with the Canadian Y.M.C.A. at Shorncliffe, and Mr. Abner Kingman, of Montreal, Chairman of the Overseas Council of the Canadian Y.M.C.A.

[page 22]

Lieut. Copeland Writes from German Prison

Son of Y.M.C.A. Secretary, Officer of Royal Flying Corps, Tells of Experiences in Hospital and Officers’ Camp — Five Months Before First Letter Arrived from Home — How He Spends His Time — With Russian Officer and Rumanians at First.

IN our last issue there was announced the fact that Lieut. Arthur Copeland, son of Mr. C.M. Copeland, Y.M.C.A. Secretary for Ontario and Quebec, who was connected with the flying corps, had been wounded and brought down a prisoner behind the German lines. Since that time several letters have been received from him, and extracts from these of interest in the case of any Canadian, will be doubly so from one so closely connected with the Y.M.C.A. “family.” These letters are written from the hospital where he has been recovering from his wound.

“It would take the brush of an artist and the pen of an author to do justice to the different characters and the life here,” he writes, in one of his earliest.

"Can you imagine an old man hobbling around with a stick, a once colored handkerchief around his neck, a boy’s size, faded blue cardigan which refuses to come down to meet the well patched pants which were once part of a comfortable bed tick and bed shoes built for a giant of our childhood’s fancies, as he sat by a big log fire after a good meal of small boys and cabbage. Such an one is our major, not in full dress but deshabille.

"Then there is the ‘Possum’, who when not asleep lends a helping hand to those of us who are less fortunate, and cannot get around. The ‘spoiled boy,’ the eldest son of indulgent parents, who has yet to learn that there are others to be considered besides himself, and whose temper is as short as a guinea pig’s tail, talks more in a minute than the rest of the ward in a day."

[photo of Pete, the canine mascot of the 172nd Battalion, in the centre of page captioned “OR OTHER BEAUTIFUL SCENES.” “Lieut. Copeland wrote his father from a prison camp in Germany: ‘If you have any snaps of the family or other beautiful scenes, send them along to help decorate the wall above my bed,’ and this is what he sent – ‘I should worry’ (Pete) 172nd Batt. Mascot, Vernon. B.C.”]

One month later: "Just a line to let you know that all’s well and that I continue to make good progress. I no longer need crutches. . . . In my last letter I told you that I expected to be moved soon. It has come at last, for I am going to-day to another hospital in Germany, probably a sort of convalescent home. So far our treatment has been good and the doctors very courteous and considerate, so there is no reason to believe it will be otherwise further on. The food is not quite like mother used to make, but one gets used to it.

“A few days now and Christmas will be here. May it be a merry one for you both. It will not be very different from other days here, but that makes little difference so long as one is comfortable.”

One month later:
"Officers’ Prison Camp.
"Since leaving hospital there has been nothing very startling to report. My journey was not unpleasant, and on the way I met a Russian officer who could speak a little English, so we managed to pass away the hours. On arriving at camp I found that it was necessary to remain some days in a sort of isolation camp where one is inoculated against typhus, cholera and smallpox. My comrades at this place are all Rumanians, but as one or two speak some English, we are getting along very well. In a few days I shall be with British officers again, a welcome change. It is a relief to be away from the ‘spoiled boy’ whom I mentioned in some of my letters.

[page 23]

“When the British in the large camp learned that I was here they sent me some food, sox, books, and a couple of games, so that with these and a daily German lesson, which I am taking from an officer who spent five or six years in Germany before the war, the days slip by.

“How is everything going with the 'Old Folks at Home?’ The other evening one of the men was playing on the violin some of------ –––– old favorites and it brought back many memories, including some of the musical evenings when I used to be almost scared to death of the ladies; and a little less use at entertaining than the bump on a log. Most of the girls are married now, and by the time I get home I will be a poor old bachelor and probably well content to live on bread and cheese.

“Has Canada conscription yet? There are one or two fat lobsters I would like to see losing a few odd pounds under the eye of an old regular sergt.-major. Of course I wish no one any harm. It would so them as much good as it would me to see it.”

“Officers’ Prison Camp.
“The day after I wrote mother I came to the large camp and was warmly welcomed by my countrymen. There are a few other Canadians, and in all about twenty-four British officers in the place. As they have been here for some time parcels are coming to them frequently and all look well and are remarkably cheerful.

“I am getting quite well, and strong again, and in a few months should be as fit as a fiddle. Am much safer than in New York for there is no danger of being run over by a Ford or slipping on a banana skin.”

“Officers’ Prison Camp,
“Feb. 14, 1917.
“Last week I received seven letters, one written October 5. . . . . I was certainly pleased for they were the first since you had heard of me.

"Was very glad to get Mr. ——’s address, and wrote him at once for some things I needed. I have already sent quite a complete list to Dad, so before long now I should be getting fixed up ‘top-hole’ (quite English already).

“Am beginning to feel fine again. Walk four or five miles a day and read a good deal—everything from stories from old Saturday Evening Posts to books on English poets and finance. Also I study languages a little. So in one way and another the hours pass quickly enough.

“In one letter mother wrote. ‘Billy is very lame, has no use for one foot but sings beautifully.’ At first I wondered what in thunder my small brother had been doing to himself, but on further consideration, knowing that none of the male members of our family could be accused of singing ‘beautifully,’ I decided the remarks must have referred to one of mother’s feathered friends.

“So —— is married. Every one seems to be settling down. Hope they all live happily ever after. Personally I think I shall join the universal brotherhood of wanderers and roam unknown countries where it is warm, so it will not matter if I do not have a roof over me at night. . . . If you have any snaps of the family or other beautiful scenes send them along to help decorate the wall above my bed.”

A second son of Mr. Copeland is also an officer overseas.

Original Scans

Original Scans