Letters to Vimy
Correspondence with Private Oscar French, My Uncle
Private Oscar French was one of Ontario's farm boys who went off to war and never came home. While serving as part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force to Europe in the First World War, he wrote dozens of letters to his mother back home in Waverley, Ontario. She saved them in a flowerprint cardboard box which eventually wound up in the hands of Oscar's nephew, Orland French.
As a writer, Orland seized on the opportunity of creating a unique personal history of the First World War, even though he wasn't born until 1944, near the end of the world war that followed "the war to end all wars". He hopes to finish this project before the 100th anniversary of Uncle Oscar's death: April 9, 1917, on Vimy Ridge.
Oscar was a teenage farm boy when he enlisted in the Canadian army in 1915. During training, he became a machine gunner. As the famous attack on Vimy Ridge began on Easter Monday, April 9, 1917, he and another soldier were hit by shellfire. It is the intent of writer Orland French to incorporate his uncle's letters into a book on the First World War.
In October, 2013, a small expedition of the Elmer French family went to Europe in search of the grave of their uncle, Pte. Oscar French. They found it in Nine Elms Military Cemetery. For story and photos, click HERE
LETTERS TO VIMY BY ORLAND FRENCH
Uncle Oscar's Last Day, click HERE
Canadian Battle History HERE
Queen Victoria's Legacy: click HERE
Niagara Training Camp: click HERE
War cemeteries of Europe: click HERE
Private Oscar French's name is recorded on the Waverley Soldier's Memorial. For photos, CLICK HERE. Oscar's name is second from the top under Tay Township.
For a history of the Waverley Soldier's Memorial, CLICK HERE
In the summer of 2012, the Town of Midland honoured Pte. Oscar French by naming a downtown lane after him. For more story and photos, CLICK HERE
Remembrance Day essay in The Globe and Mail, click HERE
For Remembrance Day, 2013: New Page on War Cemeteries of Europe, click HERE
Great collection of World War One photos, click HERE
Every year the City of Belleville marks the Battle of Vimy Ridge, the Battle of the Atlantic and Victory in Europe at the Belleville Cenotaph in a ceremony in April.
Below: Canadian Army Veterans Motorcycle Group attend Vimy ceremony at Belleville, April 7, 2013
Below: Colour party with flags lowered at Vimy ceremony on April 7, 2013, at Belleville cenotaph.
Pte. Oscar French is buried in Nine Elms Military Cemetery (Canadian War Graves Commission) near Thelus, France. The cemetery is identified near the bottom of the photo. Canada's Vimy Memorial is visible north of Nine Elms, just above the forested area. Pte. French was killed as his division was liberating the village of Thelus, a few fields to the north of his burial site. Photo from GoogleEarth.
Nine Elms Military Cemetery (Canadian War Graves Commission) from a Google earth land camera. Pte. Oscar French is buried in a grave on the right side of the cemetery.
Page 240 of the First World War Book of Remembrance, showing Pte. Oscar French, 6th M. G. Coy. (6th Machine Gun Company) in left column.