Dated: Dec. 29, 1916
Mailed from: Chatham, England
Attached to: HMS Pembroke (21 Dec 1916 to 31 Dec 1916)
Profession: Farmer, Temporary Sailor
Rank: Ordinary Seaman
Addressed to: Mrs. N.C. Draper, Keswick, Ont.
Writing instrument: Fountain Pen with Black Ink
Writing Paper: 10" x 6.5" medium weight, semi-rough, folded into booklet form. Noah hasn't numbered the pages, but he's using the same technique he used for most of his previously posted courtship letters to Ethel, where his first page is the outside, then he's opened it and written on the right side, then moved over to the left side and written there, and finally, he's closed it and written on the back. For clarity, I'm posting the pages in the order they were meant to be read.
People mentioned in this letter:
Ethel* - Noah's wife of 5 yrs, Ethel Isabel Nelson Draper
Percy* - Noah's older brother, lives near Adams, Saskatchewan
mother - Noah's mother, Sarah Sophia Deverell* Draper, widow of David Draper
- Mildred* aka Midge, 3 yrs old
- James David* aka Jay, 6 months old (later called JD)
Places/things mentioned in this letter:
- Keswick - where Noah's family lives (the ones who didn't move west)
- Liverpool** - a huge busy port on the River Mersey (**see map below)
- London** - on the River Thames, the capital of England, and the U.K.
- Royal Naval Barracks Chatham - aka HMS Pembroke
- the N.P. - Naval Police (see Naval Police and Shore Patrol)
- whiffletree and tandem hitches (**see Historical Note #2 below)
- hut - barrack building
Word or Phrase Use:
car - short for street car
navel barracks - Noah's spelling should read naval barracks
* Look under the Categories/Labels in the right side column for more posts on this
person/place/thing, or use the search box in the header at the top of this page
** see History Notes below
Mrs. N. C. Draper,
My Dear Wife & all; -
Well I have arrived here
all safe & sound and right
side up & am fealing fine
got here last night after
midnight .left Liverpool about
2 P.M. but could not see much
of the country as it gets dark
about 4 P.M. here now. had
a fine trip over no rough
weather at all they said
although I was sick 1 day
but enjoyed the trip very much.
Say I wrote a long letter
on board (3 pages) but the
N. P. told me it was held up
as I was giving information
which I had no right to
give, but I dont know what
it was so will have to be
careful I guess the letters are
censured from Canada to
so private news is not
Al that came over here
with me are quartered in
one hut. about 50. and we are
quite comfortable. there is
two long tables & three is told
off for cooks for each day I
am cook to day.
Well I have not been out
in the city yet so can not
tell you much about the
place but you never see
a team hitched up as we
hitch them they are all
driven tandem or else
the tugs are hitched right
onto the frame of the tongue
no whiffletrees. but they
draw big loads, of course the
roads here are all good nearly
as good as our paved streets.
Had supper in London last
night was there about 45 min.
but just took the street car
from one station to the other
so did not see much (only Lady
guards) they take the railway
tickets before you get on the car
here & it saves a lot of trouble.
Well I want to write to
Percy & Mother so will have have
to close soon in order to
get my address on this page
it is N.C Draper.
Hut 16 East Camp
Royal Navel Barracks, Chatham,
Will try & send some little presents
next week if the stores are open
when I am out on leave, get out
every other night I guess. Well.
this is all for now. Write soon, love to
you and the kiddies. N.C. Draper
History Note 1 - Port of Liverpool
In this letter, Noah mentions that he disembarked at Liverpool and left there shortly after 2 pm, crossed the country, stopped in London for supper, and arrived in Chatham after midnight. Historical references mention Troop trains crossing England. I've also found reference to boat trains carrying troops. Boat trains are dedicated trains carrying passengers from a particular place to/from a port.
Germany wasn't fooling. In the seven-month period between March and September of 1916, 480 vessels were sunk by German U-boats in that area alone. In case you're wondering, a U-boat stands for undersea boat aka submarine. And that's where the image at the top of this post comes in... you never knew where the U-boats were hiding or if the ship you were traveling on would get fired on by torpedoes. We must never forget the brave captains, sailors, troops, and even passengers who risked everything by running the U-boat gauntlet, and to the ones who lost their lives along the way.
Whatever ship Noah sailed on to get to Liverpool, he would have had to go through U-boat territory, yet he doesn't give Ethel any inkling of the danger.
Upon disembarkation in Liverpool, it seems most troop ships used the Riverside Railway Station to send the troops on their way, and although I couldn't confirm this is the dock where Noah disembarked, considering that I don't know what ship he sailed on, the following shows the station as it appeared around 1914.
History Note 2 - Whiffletrees
In this letter, Noah mentions that the British don't use wiffletrees, so here's the definition of a whiffletree and it's other name variants.
To end this post, here's an image of two ponies being driven in tandem, much as you would see two riders on a tandem bicycle. I wonder if this is what Noah meant.