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20 September 1915: Morin, Joseph Albert, Port Arthur, Ontario. Occupation: Bookkeeper. Military Service: Private, Reg. No. 622963, 44th Overseas Battalion, 1st Canadian Engineers, Attestation Papers.
23 October 1915: 622963, Private Joseph Albert Morin, born in Canada, no previous military experience, next-of kin Mrs. Lenora Morin [mother], 17 Machar Avenue, Port Arthur, Ontario. Enlisted at Camp Hughes on 22 September 1915, embarked with the 44th Overseas Battalion from Halifax on the S.S. Lapland, 23 October 1915. Nominal Roll of the 44th Overseas Battallion, Bob Richardson Collection.
Additional Biographical Information
Pte. Morin was a Canadian prisoner-of-war at Friedrichsfeld Prison Camp, which was located in Germany near the Dutch border. For photographs of this prison complex, see Camp in Winter, Camp in Summer, and Cosmopolitan Group of Prisoners. For more information on the type of prison life Morin experienced there, see Pte. Mervin Cecil Simmons’ story in Three Times and Out.
1916-1918: Prisoners of War like Private Joe Morin had stories to tell. Some of these have survived in letters written to people back home, including three from Pte. Morin to Elizabeth Beaumont, an English immigrant to Manitoba, who did her bit for the war effort by writing soldiers in the field. These letters seem straightforward enough on the surface, but a closer look reveals a puzzling discrepancy between their contents and other records. Read on!
7 January 1916: Letter from Pte. Joe Morin, 622963, 1st CMR, Camp Friedrichsfeld at Wesel, Germany to Miss Betty Beaumont, Box 3, Franklin, Manitoba.
Dear Miss Beaumont
Rec’d your 2 letters of Nov 12 & 5 OK. Owing to the little correspondence allowed I’ve been sending my parents all letter[s], but will send you the next. (15th Jan). I am well hoping youre [sic] the same. I wish you a prosperous New Year. I remain, Yours Sincerely, J.A.M.
7 October 1917: Letter from Pte. J. A. Morin, 1st C.M.R.s, Camp Friedrichsfeld près Wesel, Germany to Miss Betty Beaumont, Minnedosa P.O., Manitoba.
Received your letter of Aug 12th. It takes some time to get here. I am in good health, hoping youre [sic] the same. As you say at the bottom of your letter, dollar & Cents. Well for my sake do not send money. I have no use for it here. You may send your photo. I will. “Joe”
25 August 1918: Letter from Pte. J. A. Morin, Dülmen i. Westf. Germany to Miss Betty Beaumont, 87 Oak Ave., Norwood Grove, Manitoba.
I’ve been receiving letters from you regularly every weeks [sic], but I’m very sorry to say that I could not answer you, as I’m only allowed two letters a months and four cards, and it keeps me all my time to answer my parent’ letter [(Excuse scribble, as I am in a hurry) J. A. M] and my sisters. But now as they are all home together I can send a letter or a card for all of them, so as to spare some for other writers.
You asked me in one letter If I’m Irish. Well I’m of Irish decent [sic], but was born in Canada. In a place called Port Arthur, in Ontario.
I have been around about your part of the country. In fact, I was in Winnipeg in 1914, and from there to Valcartier, Quebec.
I was wounded in the first do in Ypres in April 1915, I came back to England to a hospital in London called the University College Hospital on Bower St., from there I went to a convelescant [sic] Camp in Reading and stayed there till August 1915, then went to Shorncliffe and left with the regiment I’m in now for France again or at least Belgium. The only difference now is that my Reg. No has 622 in front of my old one that was 963.
Well I don’t know whether this interests you or not but I have to fill up the paper with some thing or another. I don’t know what to write
as it is the same thing day after day, and that is ARBEIT (work or at least slavery in English. I’m in best of Health, hoping you’re the same. Well Good bye and God Bless you. I remain Yours sincerely “Joe.”
Discussion: Although he claimed that he had been wounded in April 1915, then convalesced in a British hospital until August 1915, Pte. Morin did not enlist with the 44th Regiment until 22 September 1915 and went overseas on 23 October 1915. At some time after he arrived in England, he was transferred to the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles. How can the discrepancy between his statements and the official records be explained? Was he trying to impress a young woman? A German censor? Other prisoners?