Veteran Stories:
Edgar Patten

Army

  • Edgar Patten served with the Canadian Infantry, Central Ontario Regiment, "C" Company, 58th Battalion, during World War I. He was killed in action on October 26, 1917 at Bellevue Spur, Passchendaele. Collection courtesy of Dale Patten.

    Edgar Patten served with the Canadian Infantry, Central Ontario Regiment, "C" Company, 58th Battalion, during World War I. He was killed in action on October 26, 1917 at Bellevue Spur, Passchendaele. Collection courtesy of Dale Patten.
  • Edgar Patten's last letter to his mother written in Belgium on October 21, 1917. He commented that he had not received a letter from home in a while and that straw under one's bed roll made a big difference in keeping warm in tents.

    Edgar Patten's last letter to his mother written in Belgium on October 21, 1917. He commented that he had not received a letter from home in a while and that straw under one's bed roll made a big difference in keeping warm in tents.
  • Edgar Patten's last diary entries. On October 19th, some from his company were taken to the front at Ypres, while the others, including Patten, saw a model of front lines and had tea.

    Edgar Patten's last diary entries. On October 19th, some from his company were taken to the front at Ypres, while the others, including Patten, saw a model of front lines and had tea.
  • Edgar Patten was killed by sniper fire during battle. His family received word of his death by telegram on November 2, 1917.

    Edgar Patten was killed by sniper fire during battle. His family received word of his death by telegram on November 2, 1917.
  • Letter of condolence from a friend of the Patten family serving at No.7 Canadian General Hospital in France after she heard that Edgar had been killed.

    Letter of condolence from a friend of the Patten family serving at No.7 Canadian General Hospital in France after she heard that Edgar had been killed.
  • Although Edgar Patten's name is memorialized on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres, his family also included his name on the stone marking the grave of his parents and his sister.

    Although Edgar Patten's name is memorialized on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres, his family also included his name on the stone marking the grave of his parents and his sister.
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Transcript

My name is Dale Patten, and I'm going to be reading a letter sent during the First World War by Edgar Patten, who is the uncle of my husband. Unfortunately, we didn't know Edgar because he was killed at Passchendaele on October the 26th, 1917. He was the son of Charles and Millicent Patten of St. George, Ontario. He was twenty-six years of age. He was in the Army – the Canadian Infantry, Central Ontario Regiment, and his unit was "C" Company, 58th Battalion. He had just graduated from the University of Toronto, and was gold medalist, mathematics and physics.

The letter I am going to read was sent while he was on training in England:

April 15, 1917

"Dear Mother,

I have had no mail from home since coming here, so it may be that the boats are not crossing as often as formerly. I believe my last letter to you was written just after I reported here last Sunday. There are about fifty officers all told in the course, and about a dozen of these are Canadians. There is one New Zealander, but no Australians.

The work is not bad after battalion training. The camp is quite a large one, and is for the machine gun corps. You know, this is practically a branch of the service, just as artillery, engineering, or infantry. There must be somewhere near ten thousand men here on machine gun work. You know that there are whole companies who have no weapons but machine guns. One of these companies is allotted to each brigade.

The machine gun used is the Vickers, a heavy, water-cooled weapon, mounted on a heavy stand. The Lewis gun weighs only twenty-six pounds, and can be fired from the shoulder. It is the one used in the battalions, as it so easily carried, and then it is air-cooled.

There are four meals per day here: Breakfast 8 to 9, lunch 12:45, tea 4:30, dinner 7:45. Sugar is cut off the porridge, and golden syrup used instead. No fires are built in the morning in our rooms, owing to scarcity of coal. I was certainly pleased to see that the Canadians took Vimy Ridge. That will be a landmark in our history of the war.

Expect to finish here at the end of the week. Well, goodbye.

Love to all, Edgar.

P.S. Waitresses here at the mess are from the Women's Legion."

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