August 10, 1915
The spirit of patriotism ran high throughout Newfoundland and Labrador in the early days of the First World War, families were proud that their sons signed up for the war effort and were only too happy to share any news that they heard from their boys overseas.
The Newfoundland newspapers of the day, especially the Evening Telegram, were aware of the keen interest that neighbours and friends had in the young men that departed our shores for Europe and would arrange with the families permission to publish the letters that they were receiving in the newspaper.
On August 10, 1915 Walter and Mary Crosbie of Bay Robert’s were pleased to find that the Evening Telegram had published a letter that they had received from their son, George (Graham) Crosbie, Regimental Number 1447. She wanted everyone to know that her boy had signed up for the war effort and that he was at Stob’s Camp in Scotland where he was training to be a soldier.
He wrote to his mother:
July 11, 1915
Just a few lines to let you know that I am well and in good health. I had a lovely time across, I was not a bit sea sick. I had a grand time in Gibraltar. I was talking to Peter Mansfield he told me to remember him to you.
I was talking to all the boys belonging home we landed at Liverpool the boys are as fat as bears, you would not know any of them now.
I think this is all I have to say now as we are not allowed to give any particulars.
You can send me some cigarettes and tobacco as the cigarettes and tobacco is hardly fit to smoke her. Give my love to all the friends especially Aunt Judy tell her I wish I could get some of her beer now.
I think this is all now, you must excuse this letter for I am writing it on the grass.
From your loving son,
Young Graham was so determined to sign up that he convinced recruiters that he was old enough. They wrote on his attestation papers or official record “his apparent age is 19.” The reality was that he was only 16 years old. He departed St. John’s, Newfoundland on the troopship the Calgarian, June 15, 1915.
One year after he wrote this letter George Graham Crosbie, age 17; died from wounds that he sustained at Beaumont Hamel, France on July 1, 1916.
His friend Peter Francis Mansfield, Regimental Number 37 from Jersey Side – Placentia survived the war.
George Graham Crosbie is buried in St. Sever Cemetery, Rouen; Seine-Maritime, France. His grieving parents established a gravesite at the Anglican cemetery in Coley’s Point where he could be remembered at home.
Recommended Exhibit at The Rooms: Beaumont – Hamel and the Trail of the Caribou. Level 2: The First World War had a profound impact on Newfoundland and Labrador. It involved thousands of our people in world-changing events overseas and dramatically altered life at home. Our “Great War” happened in the trenches and on the ocean, in the legislature and in the shops, by firesides and bedsides. This exhibition shares the thoughts, hopes, fears, and sacrifices of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who experienced those tumultuous years – through their treasured mementoes, their writings and their memories. – See more at: https://www.therooms.ca/exhibits/always/beaumont-hamel-and-the-trail-of-the-caribou#sthash.MOcZ7rZp.dpuf
Recommended Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives there is available 6683 individual service files, many have been digitized and are available at: https://www.therooms.ca/thegreatwar/in-depth/military-service-files/database This searchable database for military service records includes the attestation papers: name, service number, community and district of origin, next of kin and relationship, religion, occupation, year of enlistment, fatality, and POW status (if applicable). Take some time to read the stories of these young men.
Recommended Reading: Browne, Gary. Forget-Me-Not: Fallen Boy Soldiers, St. John’s: DRC Publishing, 2011. 145p.