Letters From Private Bill

September 1, 2011 by Jennifer Morse


Private Bill Cameron could not know that enlisting in the Second World War would end with him shot through the back and left face down in the mud in France. He was just one of so many Canadian boys who volunteered to fight the Germans. For over a year he wrote home faithfully and those letters contain a detailed account of his experience overseas. In July 1944, the letters stopped.

On Sept. 1, Legion Magazine will begin releasing Pte. Bill’s letters and you can read them. Jump into our time machine back to 1943 and 1944, and this fall follow along on our blog as Pte. Bill tells you his story. Simply visit our blog at www.legionmagazine.com/blog.

In his own words Pte. Bill takes us from the drudgery of training in England to the shock of battle in a war he barely survived. Read how Pte. Bill tightened his belt notch by notch as the scarcity of rations hit him in the gut, how he got creative in avoiding the ‘schemes,’ the quick-marching across the muddy British landscape and how his heart’s desire was always to get home to that ‘swell’ family who waited for him in good old Pictou County, N.S. Reach back through time and join one soldier on his journey—from a lonely new volunteer stationed in England to a tough soldier with the Essex Scottish who couldn’t wait to show those Jerries what for. Read as the fighting in Normandy outside Caen forever burnt away the boy as he lay shot in the back and left to die*.

For 56 years, Bill’s story was largely untold, except for recollections passed down to his children. In 2010, his daughter travelled to Hopewell, N.S., to pack up the family home. There, in the back of a linen closet, she discovered a cardboard candy box crammed with blue airmail letters. The letters were scrupulously written with a blue fountain pen—every bit of paper scribed with neat, small penmanship. There were 147 letters and postcards and as she read she had the extraordinary experience of getting to know her father as he grew from the boy who loved his mother into the man forever changed by war.



This special project is intended to give you a personal view of one man’s war. We want to hear from you, so text us from Facebook, Twitter, or on our blog and tell us what you think. Share the stories of the veterans in your families. Perhaps Pte. Bill served beside a veteran you know, and perhaps together we can add to the historic record/understanding of what it was to have lived through the Second World War.

There’s more.

On Sept. 1, 2011, Legion Magazine is launching a blog, and we invite readers to visit us at www.legionmagazine.com/blog and begin reading Letters From Bill. The blog will also feature a wide range of news and information about military affairs and military history. From daily roundups of the latest happenings at the Department of National Defence to extensive coverage of Canadian missions abroad, the blog will be a continuously updated and continuously interesting source of military news. In addition, the blog will occasionally feature original reports from the field and from deployed operations. Be sure to check back this fall as Staff Writer Adam Day blogs about his return to Afghanistan to report on the new Canadian Forces mission there.

Email the writer at: writer@legionmagazine.com

Email a letter to the editor at: letters@legionmagazine.com
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