Author of Letter: Noah C Draper, 29 yrs old, b 1887
Dated: Jan 3/1917
Mailed from: Royal Naval Barracks, Chatham, England
Attached to: HMS Pembroke
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 some of his previously posted courtship letters to Ethel, where his first page is the front "cover", then he's opened it and written on the right side, then moved over to the left side - turned the page sideways - 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, 26 yr old Ethel Isabel Nelson Draper
Mr. Butts - 60 yr old John Butts is Noah & Ethel's lodger/hired man*
- Mildred* aka Midge, 3 yrs old
- James David* aka Jay, 7 months old (later called JD)
Places/things mentioned in this letter:
Adams* - Noah & Ethel's homestead. See C.N.R. at Adams, Saskatchewan
lanyard - a rope or cord most commonly used to hang something around neck
sunburst - a piece of jewelry
- Keswick - where the Ontario side of the family lives
- London - 35 miles as the crow flies to the Chatham Barracks
- Royal Navel/Naval Barracks Chatham - aka HMS Pembroke
- hut - barrack building
Word or Phrase Use:
car - short for automobile this time as no street car from Adams to Regina
navel - Noah's spelling for naval barracks
brade - Noah's spelling for braid
* 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
No 16 hut East Camp,
Jan. 3/1917 Royal Navel Barracks,
Mrs. N. C. Draper,
My Dear Wife; -
Well we have started the
New Year at war, but hope
to spend the next at home
in dear old Sask. it may be
cold but it is home & not
foggy, that means a lot
I can tell you but would
like to see this country in
the summer time.
I hope you are all well
& the children good would
love to see them you dont
know how I miss you all
but cheer up this war can
not last for ever & I will be
back some time.
We are pretty buisy here now
getting new hammocks and
blankets and getting them
marked. will be able to do any
thing by the time I get home
yesteraday we had to put
holes in our blankets & then
work them and brade strings
in them to hang them up
by to dry after washing also
2 bed ticks & an extra
hammock. think I will start
a tailor shop at Adams.
I done a wshing tonight
4 handkerchiefs a towel & 2 Lanyards
Have you heard from Mr. Butts
well I saw the sun to day for the
first time since I landed here
I guess fog is the usual winter
I think if I get a weeks leave
I will go to London for 3 or 4
days & then go out in the
country the rest of the time
have not had a glass of milk
since I got here but lots of tea
and cocoa. Well I guess I will
have to close for this time
hoping to hear from you
soon, kiss the kiddies for
me & tell Mildred I wish
she could write me a long
letter. Well ByeBye. for
this time I remain your ever
loving husband. N. C. Draper.
History Note 1 - Hammock
We are pretty buisy here now getting new hammocks and blankets and getting them marked will be able to do any thing by the time I get home yesteraday we had to put holes in our blankets & then work them and brade strings in them to hang them up by to dry after washing also 2 bed ticks & an extra hammock. think I will start a tailor shop at Adams.
As mentioned at the top of this post, the postcard shows a barrack room at the Royal Naval Barracks at Chatham. Sailors are standing around, and some are still in their hammocks. On the right wall are stowed hammocks.
According to The Naval Officer's Manual, Noah would have been issued a 5'6" x 5'4" hammock which, when properly tabled, or squared, measured 5'2".
Noah's tailoring skills refers to the method of tabling as he would have had to fold over the ends and sew them down if this hadn't been done before stocking in the dockyard. His reference to holes included making grommets and eyelets around the hole for strength since the hammock needed to hold his body weight and more. The brade/braid is the method used to secure the hammock to the ring, or clew/clue, which secures the whole thing to wherever it's going to hang, whether it be on a hammock bar, or a hook attached to a wall or beam.
Detailed diagrams and instructions for making a naval hammock can be found at:
History Note 2 - Bed Ticks
Noah says that he received 2 bed ticks to go along with his hammock. My guess is he's talking about thin mattresses. I couldn't find a naval photo that showed exactly what they looked like, but when we add the bits of information I found through different sources, we get a fairly good idea.
According to the Sleep History site, Italian documents ca 1000 A.D. mention theka as a casing cloth for bedding, or a mattress. In English, the word evolved into tick or ticking.
Although the Royal Navy used horse hair to fill their ticks, I could only find a photo of a feather tick.