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#814153 Pte. Donald Ross
1898 ~ 1918
Copyright Stephen Workman
Donald Ross was the beloved son of Mrs. Mable Ross, cherished older brother of Katie. Born,
Grafton Ontario, 1898. Died Sept 2 1918, after becoming lost behind the lines
and mistakenly entering German held trenches.
In 1903 Donald was to begin school. He cried inconsolably the first day and
refused to attend without his sister. She began school one year early. In
January 1916, not yet 18 he joined the Canadian Army, trained at Valcartier
Camp and was sent overseas in November, but not before proposing to a local
girl who refused him. He was wounded in the battle of Vimy Ridge and spent
the next 14 months in ‘Blighty’ waiting to be sent back to France at any
time. Many of his letters home from this period contain a foreshadow of his
eventual death. In several he mentions his aspiration to become a
His descriptions sent to his father, mother and sister of the Battle of Vimy
Ridge and the night before in which his unit was snipered mercilessly while
digging a jumping off trench are a marvel of understated horror. During the
time he was in England he became engaged to a young English woman, Alice
Folkes. He died after being sent back to France in August 1918 and was killed
the day before his wedding date.
Donald is remembered in his over 200 letters home, all of which have survived
in remarkable condition, and in letters of condolance sent by his Fiancees
family to his own. Perhaps most poignant is the letter which his mother sent
to Donald's ‘good friend Cormers’ begging for some details of her sons death.
Cormer was dead and so the letter had been returned and then added to the
collection. Whe I read the letter I imagine that it contains within it's
fibres the salt from tears which fell upon it 80 years ago. Donald's close
and loving relationship with his family has resulted in an openness in his
letters which is always tempered by his desire to prevent unecessary
suffering of his family and mother.
All the letters were kept for 79 years by his sister Katie until her death in
1995, when they were given to her daughter, (my mother), and then to me.
It is my intention to publish the collection in it’s entirety as I believe
this the most appropriate way for such a collection to be read and
experienced. The letters provide a unique insight into how this war was
experienced by both those at home in Canada and by the private soldier. At
this point I have transcribed over 120 letters.
Included below is an series of excerpts from his letters, originally
published in the Globe and Mail, Facts and Arguments Section, on Remembrance
Jan 1 1917
May 3 1917
Aug 1 1917
Dec 30 1917
March 15 1918
Telegraph From 'Wttawa' 17th Sept 1918
Grafton, Oct 23 1918
Oct 29 1918
Oct 29 1918
Oct 30 1918
Donald Donald Ross WW1 Letters submitted by and Copyright Stephen Workman
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