Sunday, 10 December 2017

Cecil Unwin 2

[See post immediately beneath this post, for the other information on Cecil Unwin]

Text from Ron Meuse: Cecil, born 1883, came to Canada with 3 sisters in 1912, building a house in Oak Bay, leaving his brother and other sisters behind in London. He enlisted as a Private in the 88th Battalion, Victoria Fusiliers and fought in Ypres, Somme then was wounded while retreating from Vimy Ridge, 12 April 1917 with the 28th Battalion.

For two years, he wrote home to his sisters here and I have about 30 original letters of his describing his experiences. Seven of these letters have a passing reference to fishing or his boat. Attached is a transcription one describing what he went through during his convalescence, just over 100 years ago.

Also included, is a photo of his name plate. I thought it might be from his house or mail box, but it has been suggested it might be the name plate for his later boat. Also, some photos of his sisters in small boats, possibly in Cowichan Bay or off Oak Bay circa 1920.

DCR: here is a bit from one of the letters (you will notice the period way of speaking) that mentions the pain Unwin was in in the hospital, and how he tried to keep from succumbing to it by imagining fishing. He was only partly successful: 

“Now I became something of an expert on pain at the Ettappes(sic) & really one can do a lot with it with careful management. I remember one night when as it got bad I made myself think of salmon fishing & caught enormous imaginary fish till at last the pain got too strong & broke through. Then I got outside my body & considered the pain from an outside point of view counting the waves of pain as they came up & trying to think that the seventh wave was always the biggest. After a time, a wave swamped me & I fetched up in a litter in the middle of a village in the Himalayas. I had a very interesting talk with the inhabitants about goats & kept thinking how I must remember what they said to tell you, but I ought to have written it down for next day I could not remember a word. It was rather like Una & Dams experience. The only thing that troubled me was that although I tried desperately I could not get out of the litter. Next morning the night sister told me that I had yelled and bawled all night and tried to throw myself out of bed & really I had spent a very pleasant evening!”

And now, some images. The first two are Unwin’s sisters, circa 1920, and likely off Oak Bay.:

Now a couple of photos of Unwin himself with fish and trophy, as well as the silver VSIAA button he won for his 33 pounder in 1938:

Of historical interest though not about fishing Cecil Harrow Unwin's historical record:

Born in England, Nov. 1883, lived in Hern Hill, London
Arrived in Victoria with sisters Mabel, Effie and Hilda in 1913. Sisters Lizzie, Ada and brother Edward stayed behind in London
Built house in Oak Bay, 2178 Beaver St. (now Beaverbrook), just off Hampshire
Raised goats and chickens with sisters. Many Ads for eggs in early Colonist papers
Enlisted with the 88th Victoria Fusiliers Private #180685
Left on the SS Princess Charlotte with the 88th.  May 23, 1916
Then by train to Halifax then to England onboard SS Olympic with 5 other battalions in June, 1916
Wrote home to Oak Bay over the next two years, about 30 letters were among his belongings as found
Trained in Otterpool camp then East Sanding camp and Lydd, England
Assigned to the 2nd Entrenching Battalion, then 28th Northwest Battalion, (The 6th Brigade, 27th, 28th, Tobins Tigers 29th and 31st earned the named “The Iron Six” for the St. Eloi and Ypres engagements)
Went to Ypres and did the “Big Push” at the Somme
Witnessed the first use of tanks in Courecette, September 1916 and Aeroplanes in use over the trenches, the time flying ace William Barker was at same battle
Captured Vimy Ridge, April 9th 1917, up to the ‘Blue Line’ through town of Thelus
Got wounded while retreating from Vimy near Neuville St. Vaast on April 12th
Evacuated to Etaples hospital, survived due to the new Carrel-Daken treatment for wounds
Spent 9 months in various Canadian hospitals in England: Cambridge, Bearwood and Kinkaid
Married Clara Lawson before returning to Victoria, wedding announcement in same Colonist edition as the Halifax Explosion
Arriving home 18th Jan 1918
After the war, became a Postal Clerk, Clara raised goats and ran Oak Bay Dry Goods store
Later retired to Cowichan and loved salmon fishing, won several trophies
Passed away July 1948 in Duncan.
Local names mentioned in the letters:
Major E.A.I. Pym,Major Harrison, Lt.Co. Rous Cullen, 88th
Lt. Lukin (Rufus) Johnstone, (Cowichan and Colonist journalist), Lt. H. Pocock, Capt. Twigg, and Micky the 88th mascot
William Blakemore, editor ‘The Week’
Mr. Moore, Pte. H.I.B.Browne (180589 KIA Sept 1916, buried at Vimy Memorial), Dave Gay, Teddy Payne, Dave Gay of Victoria
Joe Rennie of Hampshire St, Oak Bay, Sister married C.H.Hinkens of Oak Bay
Richard Bledsoe(180734) of Port Alberni, Mr. Darcy of Pender Island
Inspected by Sam Hughes in Aug 1916, Robert Borden in March 1917
Sisters met the Duke, Duchess, and Princess Patricia in Victoria, summer 1916, He previously met the Duke in Ottawa

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