< Transcript of a letter from John Alexander Findlay to his brother Robert Findlay in Montreal, Canada, 1917

Transcript of a letter from John Alexander Findlay to his brother Robert Findlay in Montreal, Canada, 1917

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Transcript of a letter from John Alexander Findlay to his brother Robert Findlay in Montreal, Canada, 1917.

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8 Commercial   St;
LEITH, 6th September,  I917.

Dear Brother,
I last wrote to you immediately after the American declaration of war.  Having no reply so far my letter may have been torpedoed going across the Atlantic.
Had letter from Ogg 3 days ago in which he relates the stirring times they are now going through in the States, something similar to our own experiences during the past 3 years. I also wrote to him at the same time as you but he does not acknowledge receipt of that letter, which may have also gone to the bottom of the ocean.
As Frank would have informed you, we had the pleasure of a flying visit from him on the 1st of May. He then looked fit and well and felt anxious to get to France.  I have not heard from him for some time past. Ogg mentions in his letter of a Percy Law, only son of his wife's sister who came across with the Canadian Guards, was unfortunately wounded in the taking of Vimy Ridge where he distinguished himself, was promoted to Captain and was presented with the Military Cross by the King at Buckingham Palace.  He wrote asking Percy to call on me as he understood he was in convalesence here in Edinburgh.   Well, I got to know about Percy in a curious way yesterday, while sitting at lunch in the Resturant here.  Seated opposite me were two Naval Lieutenants with whom I got into chat.  On mentioning that I had two nephews in the Navy, mentioning their ships, one of them asked me if I knew Eddie Jezzard to which I replied that he was my nephew.   Then he asked if I knew Robert Findlay, Architect,

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Montreal. to which I replied he was my brother. He then mentioned that he was Lieut.  Elliot, Artie's chum, and that his patrol boat was in Leith under repair, and that he learned all about us from yourself that he lived a few doors from your house. On referring to him Ogg's remarks regarding Percy Law he stated that he knew him well and that he was at present stationed at Nairn. He also stated that Artie is at present undergoing a special course at Shoreham I think in the South of England. He then came up to the Office with me and had a long chat over his adventures.  He left for London last night on 8 days leave and looked fit and well. He stated that Artie expected to return north soon to rejoin his ship in northern waters so that I may have the pleasure of meeting Artie later on.  I wrote to him to Cromarty some time ago but have not received any reply so far.  Truly this is a little world when one begins to move about. The effect of this great War bringing as it does millions of men together from all ends of the world in one common cause of comrades in Arms forcibly reminds one of Burns well known prophecy that "the time would come when man to man the world o'er would brothers be an' a' that".
Well, the war goes on apace.  The enemy is receiving some heavy blows on the Western Front, gradually reducing his strength and manpower until the time comes for him to be completely overthrown.  This will take some time yet and I anticipate that hostilities will continue yet for a year or more.  We have not yet been beaten on the Western Front and you will hear of some big advances later on.  There has been several air raids on Kent and London within the past few days but these futile attempts will not frighten this country into submission even although our civilians suffer severely.  From the "Times"which I presume you regularly receive, you will get more details.

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than I can give here.   We are kept going quietly here with occasional shipments to the Allies but steamers are now becoming few and far between owing to the depredations of the enemy submarines.  Still, this old country is holding out well in this respect, and although about 20 steamers per week are being sunk on the average we do not feel much the effect of this.  From today's press reports 100 steamers of large size have been added to Lloyds List, in 6 weeks, mostly British. while shipbuilding is proceeding rapidly on all sides. so that virtually the Huns attempt to starve us out is already defeated.  On the other hand there are signs of an abundant and plentiful harvest with us of everthing - another death blow to the Huns.  We had a very wet August which laid low a lot of our grain crop but not seriously and with fine weather now prevailing the harvest is in full swing.  The potatoe crop is a huge one in splendid condition.  We are not badly off for food here. For next seasons crops about 5 million acres of additional ground is to be tilled throughout the British Isles and this will leave us pretty well Independent even of oversea supplies.  Assuming that the enemy may sink our last boat yet will we not starve.  But Germany can never beat down our mercantile marine nor the heroic spirit in which it is carried on.  Britain has the power and determination to win, and will win in the long run.   The position of Russia and the loss of Riga is unfortunate at the present time but I am still hopeful that matters will yet come all right with Russia.
I had to take my 3 weeks holidays in August, I deferred going away from home owing to such wet weather and remained at home dodging around with the children on their school holidays during fair intervals. The weather being now much improved (today is like a summer day)

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I took Mams and all of them down to North Berwick on Saturday last, lst inst. and there they remain for the next fortnight enjoying themselves in great glee on the sands of the sea-shore and bathing in the briny. I remained over the week end with them and will rejoin them each week end during the next two weeks.  Just as we were leaving the house on Saturday morning a basket of lovely Victoria plums arrived from Liz from Kent.   These we brought to the top of Berwick Law on Sunday forenoon and there we highly enjoyed her lucious gift in two senses of the word while we watched many of our coast patrol boats passing along in search of submarines, and several large battle ships of the British Fleet far out to sea.  We are sending Edythe to Queen Street School, Edinburgh, on opening of their session on 20th inst.  My office assistant is now away on his 3 weeks holidays so that I am left alone in the office in the meantime.
I have not seen Meg for some days past as she is now in anxious thought and attention on good old Miss Lawson who is at present seriously ill. I fear the good lady will not live long.  On the event of her death Meg has arranged to continue on in the same house with Miss Lawson's relative, Miss Gray, .with whom she will be very comfortable. Meg is now 13 years with Miss Lawson.
Had letter from Liz 2 days ago.  All are well at Sandwich. Her latest news from the boys report all well. Eddie expects to get home leave from the Mediterranean in December to which Liz is looking forward with lively hopes.  Frank is promoted from the Navy to the Royal Naval Air Service as an expert in "wireless" and is advanced to the rank of Warrant Officer at which we are all pleased.  He is at present on the Belgian Front.  Roddie Is still in the Salonica district. Maggie Jezzard's husband is also an officer and along with

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the big guns on the Western Front.   My brother-in-law D. McNicol is an Officer in the Black Watch and is at present stationed at Ripon Camp in Yorkshire.   He expects to get home to Corstorphine on leave at end of this month preparatory to going to France.
Gerard's articles on his experiences in Berlin regularly appear in full in the '"Scotsman" and form interesting reading.  They convict Germany more and more of her bad faith.   President Wilson's reply to the Pope's Peace proposal is just what we expected from him, a direct refusal and condemnation, and another severe blow to the Central Powers. The approach of the American hosts will seal the doom of Germany for ever.
I hope you are all well.  Will be pleased to receive an occasional paper from you as I like to keep posted with opinions from all sides.  Since my holiday at Banavie last year pleased to say I have maintained excellent health.
And now, for the present I must close, with kind remembrances anegards to self and all,
                                       Your affectionate Brother.
J.A.Findlay