This investigation will concentrate on the postcard, addressed to Leila McGee of Kemptville, Ontario. Signed “R.E.B.”, Private Reid Edison Beckett, was a member of the of the 11th Reserve Battalion from the time of his enlistment in September 24, 1914 until the end of the first World War. 1 Before the Great War, Beckett’s military service began with the 56th Lesgar Rifles based in Ottawa.2 Between his service with the 56th Rifles and his enlistment in the 1914, Beckett married and worked as a carpenter in the town of Oxford in Leeds and Grenville Country in Eastern Ontario.3
In enlisting on September 22, 1914, Beckett was assigned to the 60th Rifles of Canada, also known as the ...view middle of the document...
George G. Naismith describes the difficult conditions that the Canadian Soldiers endured at the Salisbury Plain.11
“Cold high winds, saturated with moisture, accompanied the rain, and the Canadians, though accustomed to a severe climate, felt the cold in England as they never had before.”
In the 4 weeks of flooded conditions no Canadian solider was excluded from discomfort and injury at the Salisbury Plain. Naismith remarks the number of Canadians Soldiers at the Canadian hospital at Bulford Manor rose from 150 to 780 during this torrential downpour.12 Shortly thereafter, the 11th along with other Battalions formed the Canadian Training Depot at Tidworth Barracks in Wiltshire.13
The 11th battalion was officially denominated the 11th Reserve Infantry Battalion, CEF on April 29, 1915.14 As a Reserve Battlion, the whole of the 11th did not participate in Allied operations. However, sections of the 11th did reinforce in supplementary roles to other Battalions on the Western Front. Members of the 11th played significant parts in reinforcement during the battles at Ypres (1915,’17), Somme (1916), Arras (1917,’18), Vimy (1917), Passchendaele (1917), Amiens (1918), the Battle of the Drocourt-Quéant Line (1917,’18) and the battle of Canal du Nord. (1918).15 It is unclear in which campaigns Private Beckett personally participated in, though it can reasoned he was involved in the multiple Allied attempts at capturing the town of Souchez in the Pas de Callais region of of Northern France. This town will be examined further in the section Front of Postcard.
While it is quite difficult to assume any of Private Reid E Beckett’s actions during the years while serving oversees in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, it is clear that in the year 1916, Beckett mailed a postcard to Miss McGee, a schoolteacher in the village of Chesterville in Eastern Ontario.16
Notes on the Canadian Postal Corps
The Canadian Military Postal Service was established in 1911 as a part the Canadian Militia.17 The Base office was located in Toronto with detachments in London, Montreal, Quebec, Halifax, Winnipeg and Calgary. Included in the First Contingent overseas in 1914, the CMPC ensured that soldiers could send and receive mail. The Postal Service continued to France with the First Division and through a network of Field Post Offices were able to relay mail from the Western Front to the central British Army Postal Office in London.18
In total, the Canadian Postal Corps distributed over 100 million articles to Canadian Troops and posted 60 million letters, registers or parcels from Canadian Troops between 1915 and 1919.19 The CPC succeeded in it’s efforts to connect soldiers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force from the European theatre of war to their families and loved ones in Canada.
Front of Postcard
Above is the front of the Postcard sent by Private Reid E Beckett to Leila McGee. It is entitled “La Grande Guerre 1914-15-16”. Based on the watermark, one identifies...