Veteran Stories:
Harold H. Simpson

Army

  • Harold Simpson tried on this kilt uniform while on leave in Aberdeen, Scotland in September, 1918. On the reverse, he wrote to his family: "To the Home Folks, Wad ye ken yer laddie in the kilties, Love from Harold."

    Harold Simpson tried on this kilt uniform while on leave in Aberdeen, Scotland in September, 1918. On the reverse, he wrote to his family: "To the Home Folks, Wad ye ken yer laddie in the kilties, Love from Harold."
  • Prince Edward Island members of the Heavy Artillery, 2nd Canadian Expeditionary Force. This photo was taken before the regiment from PEI embarked for England in the fal of 1915.

    Prince Edward Island members of the Heavy Artillery, 2nd Canadian Expeditionary Force. This photo was taken before the regiment from PEI embarked for England in the fal of 1915.
  • Harold Simpson and fellow soldiers with one of their guns overseas.

    Harold Simpson and fellow soldiers with one of their guns overseas.
  • While overseas, Harold Simpson became the official historian of his regiment and kept detailed records of the regiments travels and activities.

    While overseas, Harold Simpson became the official historian of his regiment and kept detailed records of the regiments travels and activities.
  • Harold Simpson sent this sketch home to his family in an attempt to describe what his dugout looked like.

    Harold Simpson sent this sketch home to his family in an attempt to describe what his dugout looked like.
  • Harold Simpson returned to Canada in 1919 and continued to contribute to his community throughout his life. Collection courtesy of Mr. Simpson's daughter, Anita Simpson Hagen.

    Harold Simpson returned to Canada in 1919 and continued to contribute to his community throughout his life. Collection courtesy of Mr. Simpson's daughter, Anita Simpson Hagen.
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Transcript

My dad's name was Harold Simpson, and he grew up in a small farming community on the north shore of Prince Edward Island, and the regiment which he was a part was a Prince Edward Island regiment. It was a regiment where he knew a lot of people and where he made close friends.

He wrote to his mother regularly, and in great detail, which makes for some very vivid descriptions, and one of them is a description of Christmas in France in 1917 – the last Christmas he had spent there. He was in a dugout which he had described earlier in great detail with a picture, which they had made as home-like as possible. For Christmas they had decorated with greenery and all sorts of things that they had gathered. So he said about this,

"In a word, by the time we had finished our home looked more like some farmer's paradise than a bare French cellar a mile and a half from brother Bosch," which was how he described the Germans in his letters. "On Christmas morning I was the first to wake up, so I got up, made a fire in the grate, had a wash and got the breakfast going, which I dished up to the other fellows in bed. Then everybody got up and got busy, and by nine o'clock we'd squared away for the day, and a fiddle was produced and we went all the way from the Sailor's Hornpipe to Leave Kindly Light. Next on the programme was dinner at 1 PM. It consisted of roast chicken with dressing, gravy, potatoes, carrots, and for dessert plum pudding with sauce, and of course in addition we had extras of our own in the shape of cocoa and cake, fruit, and to finish up Marguerite cigars which one of the fellows had received in a parcel from home. Not a bad dinner, when you take everything into consideration."

I might note that in all of his letters dad talks about parcels from home, and I was always amazed. Butter, sweets – the kinds of things that came were amazing – as well as mittens, socks, sweaters. All the things that supposedly would help to make them more comfortable.

Then they talked about what might be their next Christmas. Whether they would be there in France, others thought they would be in 'Blighty', and a couple thought the war would be going on.

"And so the day passed, and now it is Christmas night. There is just one thing that I would like this evening as I looked out over the peaceful scene, with the glittering white snow glistening under the moon. I could not help thinking what a perfect ending a nice sleigh ride drive would make to this Christmas."

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