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Stevens, Eric Herman, Bladworth, Saskatchewan, B.S.A. (1915), Manitoba Agricultural College. Military Service: Sergeant, Reg. No. 475466, 4th University Co., P.P.C.L.I. Attestation Papers.
Additional Biographical Information:
Eric Stevens, known as “Steve,” was with the P.P.C.L.I. along with Dick Richardson and Jim Brown. In the following light-hearted letter, his focus was a report on all the “M.A.C. boys” he had met. There is nothing to indicate fear or concern about what they were about to face in the trenches.
A Letter from Steve, ’16.
The ex-editor [Dick Richardson] has been intending to write you an account of all our doings but he is so busy cleaning his rifle, buttons and boots, besides attending to his heavy correspondence with his numerous friends, that he has not found time, so it devolves upon me to write you a few lines about our doings
To start with, Dick [Richardson], Jim [Brown] and yours truly joined in Montreal, where we also found our past instructor, Walt. Crawford. The four of us spent a month together in Montreal finishing up the training we had begun at the M.A.C. We left on November 25th by train for Halifax, going on board the S. S. [name not given] Our trip was enjoyable and exciting, especially in the danger zone. On the last night we all slept up on the deck. First class cabins and not first class food was our lot, and we arrived safely at Plymouth eight days after sailing. There we boarded one of those trains, so adequately described by Trimble, and reached the “Pats” camp after a 10 hours’ ride. We marched through the mud to our billet at 2 o’clock in the morning and managed to snatch a little sleep on the floor before reveille. In a week we were settled down to routine in our regular quarters, in which we have remained, a contented bunch, up to the present
After looking around camp we found Betts was still present wearing corporal stripes, having been promoted to instructor in musketry after transferring to a headquarters’ company. He is very much sought after by the M.A.C. boys to help them out in their training, but says that he is going to transfer back to the Pats, so as to go in the next draft.
Jenkins has left for the base in France, and is now finishing up his training by digging trenches and doing duck work. Hawthorne is also with us. He tried his hand at being a cook, but after a few days peeling spuds and washing pans, he found out that, not being a graduate from the H.E.’s he had not the practice necessary for such work, and in consequence is now back in the ranks with his rifle and pack.
Crawford is always very busy arguing with someone on the problems of life. He is still very much interested in stock. The other day he took a trip to the Scottish Stock Farms and saw the famous stock of Dunlops, Mitchells, etc., being mostly interested in Clydes.
On Sunday we were visited by no less than four M.A.C. boys. Mr. Blows blew in and made his usual amount of noise, telling us that he was over at Hythe in the signalling corps. Blake made a good second. I never knew Blake could talk so much or so fast. He had photos of many of the boys, and had seen a lot of them. He mentioned that he is still forming fours and doing fatigue work. But no C.B. His moustache is a credit to his class, but they ought to send him a ready made one. Also came our old friend Hughes, or rather Corporal Hughes. The same old boy, as quiet as ever, but a lot fatter.
Roy Billington is in camp and is just the same big Bill, taking life as it comes. He represented his company in London at the banquet held to Canadian troops.
Sam Jennings came over to visit before Christmas, and invited us all to his home to the wedding. He is on a draft which expects soon to leave for the front.
One night we wandered down to Folkestone to see the world and at the roller rink there, whom should I meet by A. Head, who is well known to the Sophs. He leave for the front tomorrow. He is tired of mud in England and wants to get there as soon as possible. He asked after all the ’19 class, Walt Moore in particular.
After the rink, we climbed onto a bus for the camp, where I spied one of the old red line in the personage of Corporal Harry Smith, just back from ten months in the trenches, to recuperate and fatten up. He is thinking of a commission in the British Army, and you’ll soon have to salute him. He is able to tell us some good yarns about the front and has had some experiences that few of us good men could imagine.
This concludes the list of the boys we have seen, but we know that Forbes, Cox, Williams, Cogland, and quite a few more are somewhere around, and of course we’re always on the lookout for them. We wanted to have a banquet but, on enquiring, we found it impossible for us all to get away at the same time, so it fell through.
We have learned that Sergt. Harkness is over here, and we have sent word for him to come and visit us this afternoon. In telling about us three I would say we are enjoying ourselves and find the work a little different to what we expected. But as a supplement to the “Arts of War,” with Mr. Hopper, we are able to understand Ruskin’s work more fully.
Jim Brown, known to the boys in the company as Farmer Brown, although there are no less than seven or eight farmers in our small bunch, is still able to look after himself, with Dick and I to look after him. He visited Scotland at New Year’s and found the moor and heather very pleasant, and we expect to go up next month. Dick, known as Richie, finds himself very busy, he says, looking after us two fellows. The pack is never too heavy or the route much too long, but what he says he can out-walk Farmer Brown any day.
For myself, I am just called Steve, the same as usual, and, with the others, always looking for mail from you all. We all send our tardy congrats. to the champions, and want to see the hockey team and baseball bunch. We are glad to see so many of the M.A.C. boys’ names on the list of those who have joined, and are looking for more in the spring.
Wishing we could be with you for the Old Boys’ Reunion, we are the boys at Shorncliffe, per
E. H. Stevens, ‘15
University of Manitoba, Archives and Special Collections, M.A.C. Gazette, v. X, no. 4 (Feb. 1917), 40-42.
Graduate, Eric Stevens, 4th Univ. Co., P.P.C.L.I (Home).
University of Manitoba, Archives and Special Collections, Managra, v. XI, No. 1 (Nov 1917), 7