Veteran Stories:
John Cannon Stothers

Army

  • John Cannon Stothers when he first enlisted with the 170th Battalion, Mississauga Horse Regiment in 1916. Collection courtesy of Mr. Stother's great-nephew, Steven Stothers.

    John Cannon Stothers when he first enlisted with the 170th Battalion, Mississauga Horse Regiment in 1916. Collection courtesy of Mr. Stother's great-nephew, Steven Stothers.
  • John Cannon Stothers in the uniform of the Mississauga Horse Regiment.

    John Cannon Stothers in the uniform of the Mississauga Horse Regiment.
  • In 1917, Mr. Stothers was transferred to the 15th Battalion, 48th Highlanders. He served with this regiment in France and later as part of the Army of Occupation until 1919.

    In 1917, Mr. Stothers was transferred to the 15th Battalion, 48th Highlanders. He served with this regiment in France and later as part of the Army of Occupation until 1919.
  • John Stothers (left) and a fellow member of the 48th Highlanders.

    John Stothers (left) and a fellow member of the 48th Highlanders.
  • Cover of the program for the Canadian Corps Championship held in France on Dominion Day, July 1, 1918.

    Cover of the program for the Canadian Corps Championship held in France on Dominion Day, July 1, 1918.
  • The schedule of sporting events held during the Canadian Corps Championship. Events included the 100 yard dash, tennis doubles, sack race, volleyball and pole pillow fighting.

    The schedule of sporting events held during the Canadian Corps Championship. Events included the 100 yard dash, tennis doubles, sack race, volleyball and pole pillow fighting.
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Transcript

My great uncle is John Cannon Strothers. He's my father's grandfather's brother, and I came across letters that he wrote to my great grandmother in Ontario, and they were kept as a record of his military experiences within the family.

This is a letter written, France in February 1918, to mother:

"France, February 1918

Dear Mother,

I wrote you after coming out of the line. Since that time, I've been busy here and there without being able to do much writing. In fact, after sixteen days of strenuous line work, nine of them in the front line continuously, a fellow feels like letting things slide. To provide against giving information to you of value to the enemy, I'm not dating this letter. I suppose to let you know that we did a trip some time in February will hardly stall the censor.

Tonight, I'm on a picket guarding a 'mine' or a 'fossey', as I believe they call them among the military. It means being on a mild form of duty all night, so I'm utilizing some of my spare moments, attending to my neglected correspondence. I've planned out good descriptive letters while on post on the line, but a few days out here and it all seems to vanish into thin air. Impressions of a trip rapidly lose themselves in one's subconscious being, exposed as he is to new sights, new sensations, and an alter way of living or existing, I might more aptly call it.

No two trips are exactly alike. You are continually learning something by being confronted by new situations, new difficulties, and new tight corners. Not that I have seen anything exceptionally strange or wonderful. I could just dismiss it all with a wave of the hand and a few words now that it is over.

I might say that walking into the barrage of enemy artillery fire on the way to a working party near the front line had an effect not exactly exhilarating, but rather electrifying. The speed with which we covered the duck boards in that trench was about as exciting as the farmers' trot at Dungannen Fair. Old Dick Horn was playing 'the Old Soldier' and couldn't keep up, but when the shells started bursting in our immediate neighbourhood, we all got our heads down and sped along as though shod with seven league boots, and tradition has it that Dick Horn won by a nose. He showed a burst of speed that has seldom been equaled. I doubt if it was ever beaten, and five minutes before that he couldn't see and was continually getting out of touch. Speaking personally, I never was so glad in my life as when the Corporal in front was suddenly gifted with a glimmer of intelligence and dived into a deep sap. We weren't long in reaching the bottom of it, where we could listen to the burst of shells in comparative safety. So much for that, and it has suffered in the telling.

We pulled off a raid and captured a prisoner and machine gun, besides inflicting heavy loss on the enemy, with expense of very few casualties on ourselves. I was not on the raiding party, as I make it a rule not to volunteer for anything, and I don't believe in the value of such a minor operation. Luckily, ours was a success; as such things are viewed in military circles.

There's great talk of Fritz putting up a big offensive this spring. They have been sending over literature in big red paper balloons that have fallen in our line. I only saw one sheet of it. There wasn't much on it, although one hears all kinds of vague and fantastic rumours. We live on rumours, both in and out of the line, as there is always some witty or brainless person ready to start something going, that goes on its way, garbled at every turn, and passed along and accepted or rejected, according to the gullibility of the listener.

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