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James William Voyce

"I have been keeping my eyes open for you but guess you can not get away" James William Voyce, B Coy Canadian Pioneers 1916


BELOW IS A COPY OF A LETTER JAMES W. VOYCE TO HIS BROTHER ALFRED, WRITTEN ON THE 21st. MARCH. IT IS WRITTEN IN PENCIL ON BUFF RULED PAPER

Dear Alf,

Just a few lines hoping this finds you in the best of health the same as I am at present. I have been keeping my eyes open for you but guess you can not get away. We moved from the place where we were billeted more nearer to where I showed you so if you get around dont go down the road so far and turn the same way I would like to spend the day with youas it is greatly nearly all night work with me I had a letter from Tosh yesterday she has had two of thhe children sick but thhey are getting on alright now She has not heard from you for a couple of weeks I also heard from Fan and Harry they are alright If you cant get down write a few lines I shall always be glad to hear from you I am writing to Tosh today so dont forget to write and try and spend a few days together with the best of luck and wishes

I remain your affectionate brother

Jim No 166934 B Coy Canadian Pioneers

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Date: Sat Nov 23 2002
Name: Jeffrey Harold Voyce Ranson
E-mail: jeffrey.ranson@bt.com
Notes: James William Voyce, was born in Tothill St. London, just about a stone's throw from the Houses of Parliament. His father, James originally came from the farming community of Gloucestershire. James Snr. married in Birmingham, 1865. His wife was the daughter of a canal agent. James Snr. spent the next few years working on the top lock of the Birmingham Canal at Wolverhampton. The first child, Fanny was born in 1868. The year is now 1877 and James William is born. He was to be followed by a brother Alfred and three more sisters, two of which were twins. By 1881 the family found itself in Southampton Mews, Bloomsbury. This was predominately an area of hansom cab owners,drivers and grooms. Both James Snr. and Alfred were very involved in this trade. It was said by my mother, that Alfred ( her father ) was one of the last hansom cab drivers in London. It looks like James William did not share his fathers enthusiasm for horses. The census of 1891 shows James Jnr. to be a gold beater?? Nothing is known of his activities over the next 20 years. His father James Snr. was to die in 1897, only in his fifties.

It was said that there had been a disagreement between Alfred and James Jnr., possibly a misapropriation of money by James Jnr. This was felt by the family to have decided James to try a new life somewhere else. So around 1910 James W. emigrated to Canada with his older sister Fanny and her husband.

In November 1915, James enlisted into the Canadian Expeditionary Forces as a pioneer. After basic training they left Canada on the SS 'Orduna'. They landed in England early in 1916 to complete their training. It was then on to Le Havre in France, then up to the Western Front. Sometime after arriving in Belgium, it is obvious that James and Alfred had made contact, either in person, or by letter. Alfred was at the Western Front as a driver in the Army Volunteer Force. My mother said that, it is believed James and Alfred passed by each other, close enough to wave.

The copy of the letter I have sent, was written on the 21st. March. Two and a half weeks later, on the 9th. April, later James W. was dead. Where he died it is not exactly known, but I do believe that it was somewhere close to St. Eloi. I personally, would dearly love to know where James died, but I think I never will. In 1999 my wife and I went to Belgium and while there we went to Yperes. We visited the Menin Gate and saw James's name inscribed on the panel along with the thousands of others who perished on the Flanders fields, their mortal remains never to be found.

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