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Walker, Harold Cecil, Hargrave, Manitoba. Occupation: Farmer and student Manitoba Agricultural College, Class of ’18 (B.S.A.). Military Service: Sergeant, Reg. No. 150680, 79th Overseas Bn., Attestation Papers. Diary References: “Meeting of the Philomathian Literary Society … H. C. Walker, secretary,” 1:4 Nov ’14; “Went and paid Mrs. Jones Brewer a visit tonight with C. Walker,” 1:8 Nov ’14; “I met H. C. Walker and fourth year [Wm. R.] Roberts and the three of us went round to Mrs. Jones-Brewer’s for supper,” 1:20 Mar ’15; “Last night Lt. [H. C.] Walker came along. Awfully glad to see the little fellow. He is a sniper in the 26th. His officer is old [A. G. S.] Fleming who used to be a private in our platoon,” 3:14 Sep ’16; “P.C. [postcard] from H. C. Walker, wounded at Courcelette in left calf on the 15th Sept,” 4:9 Oct ’16; “Tonight while I was writing a letter to H.C. Walker the S.M. [Sergeant-Major] came in … ,” 4:8 May 1917; “Letters from home, H. C. Walker and Jean [Irving],” 5:2 Jun ’17.
Additional Biographical Information:
Undergraduate, H. C. Walker, 150680, 26th Canadians, C Co., 13th Reserve.
University of Manitoba, Archives and Special Collections, Managra, v. XI, No. 1, Nov 1917, p. 9.
150680 Sergt. H. C. Walker,
A Co., 13th C.R.B.
Jan 5th, 1918
Dear Professor Sproule:
Your letter, which arrived yesterday, gives me more pleasure than I can say.
Drafted into a New Brunswick regiment (26th), I have been isolated from all fellow-M.A.C. students, and have gradually lost touch with all but a very few of my classmates, the brilliant exceptions being H. Beaumont, F. Whiting, I. Jenkyns [sic - Jenkins] and Rogers (Rusty); in fact my short span of college life seems like a pleasant pipe-dream – I was falling away.
But the united efforts of the Faculty and other college organizations have made me realize that M.A.C. still tugs – and desires to be an important factor in my future, should Fate – the joker – decided to let me have one.
Some weeks ago a parcel arrived from the M.A.C. Red Cross Society; last night brought me a pair of socks and a genuine warm-hearted letter from Mrs. Reynolds, which I must acknowledge at once.
The Managra has also made its welcome appearance and I cannot write a letter worthy of insertion, will you kindly give the staff my love and tell them I am a bit shy.
My war experiences are not worth relating. The Ypres salient was my first home (?) in the trenches, after less than three months in France. I was wounded in Courcelette at dusk on Sept. 16th, when the first three “tanks” went into action. My wound was a “cushy one,” but G.G. [gangrene] set in and nearly cost me my legs – five months in hospital and I was considered fit for training once more. The tissue removed from my legs, however, has taken a great deal of the spring out of me, and I found the most strenuous parades a bit heart-breaking.
Being interested in shooting (I was sent to France as a sniper), I was put in for a musketry course at Hythe last summer and have been a musketry instructor ever since.
Thus, while not wasting my time I have side-stepped a lot of toilsome routine.
Our reserves are getting down pretty fine now, so I am likely to be for draft on short notice if anything disagreeable starts up on our part.
I think you would soon weary of my drowsy style, so this page will be all today.
That growing list on the college walls will be a source of pride to us all, perhaps it will prove a source of strength, for every time “killed in action” is inserted it should stiffen the back and steel the determination of every man and woman connected with the M.A.C.
But I promised that this page should be the last, so with best wishes for yourself and every member of the staff, I remain
University of Manitoba, Archives and Special Collections, Managra, v. XI, No. 4, (Feb. 1918), 41-42.
A Christmas in Hospital
E ward prepared to celebrate, as after all Christmas was Christmas in spite of the Huns. For a week before the day all private needle work was laid away by the troops, and anyone failing to assist in the making of artificial flowers or other decorations was voted a piker from Pikeville.
A prize had been offered by the O.C. for the best decorated ward, Nurse Knott wanted that prize for E ward, so whenever she saw flower production falling off she would take a bunch of flowers, hold them at arms length and with head tilted, lisp “Aren’t they just thweet?” – for some reason, - dear readers, they were “thweet” when she held them up in such and such a manner, and said so, and for a while production was encouraged.
Up patients were sent out in the snow to hunt evergreens, especially holly with plenty of berries on; elderly lady visitors brought bundles of mistletoe along with their regular weekly offering of flowers and fruit, and the nurses, bless ‘em all! Spent some of their meagre stipend to provide Japanese lanterns, candies and extra smokes for the boys.
Before retiring on Christmas Eve we had arranged the decorations, under the direction of the nurses, and tried out some of the most happily placed mistletoe; the centre of the big mirror had been frosted over to make a background for “A Merry Christmas to All” in small tiny leaves stuck on with soap.
With blankets drawn well up to its various noses E ward was prepared for sleep, when a party of strangers piled in, arranged themselves so that their voices would mix properly, struck the keynote on our piano, said “one! two! three!” and we heard – some singing that was – it really was.
The carol singers’ had just gone, when Lance Corporal Aubrey Bullivant, a school teacher, drove off a hostile, night-shirt patrol from his dug-out (a little side ward) with a soda siphon with which he had wisely, privily, and previously provided himself.
After that, I don’t remember anything particular till my next recollection came when nurse put on the light and said it was time to get up. Christmas mornings are much alike – this one was anyhow but I felt all right after I was up awhile. There was much to do. Merry Christmas and breakfast over, some started to wax the floor of the big ward, others to polish door-knobs, brass work and silver ware, for the good people who were providing our extra Christmas fare were coming to help and see us enjoy it.
The dinner was good and every patient who could possibly sit up in a wheel-chair was at table. Cramped for room a bit we were, but a merry lot; visitors, nurses, and patients for all that. We pulled crackers until everyone had a paper hat or a false nose, and we ate nuts and fruit and wagged the gladsome jaw until the stage for our concert was ready.
Just about this time two nurses caught me hopping along without my crutches, plumb under the mistletoe, in vain I asked them to post-pone this embarrassing effusion for more suitable seclusion, they would not.
The concert was a success and full of surprises. Nurses and patients whom we never knew could sing went up to the piano and sang well – others recited or gave readings. In this way, most of the afternoon was spent.
After supper, called tea over there, every patient received a pocket book and a silk handkerchief from the hands of a bonny youngster dressed up to represent Cupid. Old Father Christmas carried the bag of gifts. Cupid tugged him from bed to bed and distributed them out.
Next came the whist drive, which lasted about an hour and a half, the bed patients could not move from table to table so the tables were moved to them.
The entertainment ended in a dance, most of the beds were pushed into the long ward and the patients propped up to see the fun. One bright laddie with both legs off above the knee, seemed to realize his loss at sight of the dancing – he trundled his wheel chair out into the dim corridor and hid his misery.
Hospital hours must be early hours, pulses, temperatures and other dire calamities are bound to follow irregularities, so before ten o’clock the ward was in order – dressings adjusted and all patients in bed. H. C. W. ’22.
University of Manitoba, Archives and Special Collections, Managra, v. XIII, No. 2 (Dec. 1919), 48-49.