Clarence Fenton was Lt. Fenton’s brother and served in the 18th Battalion. The relationship to Alex Robertson is unknown as is his regimental number.
Awarded Military Cross per London Gazette, October 16, 1917, Supplement 30340, page 10713
Friends with Pte. Sydney Hampton with a mention in a letter dated August 16th, 1916.
No 53040. AA Q Staff. 18th Battn.
West-Sandling Camp. Hythe
August 16th 1915
It is so long since I wrote you a letter I am afraid that you will be thinking that I have forgotten you, but I couldn’t do that. George is quit [quite] well and we getting along fine. Do you know that William Fenton is with us? He is sitting at same table with and Is also busily engaged writing letters and wishes to be remembered to you. He is looking well and this life seems to agree with him, he is a fine fellow and gets along fine. He is in the Pioneers and sleeps in the same room with me. He and I went for a good walk around the country last Sunday and went to an old ancient church at night. We have very comfortable quarters here and think the army is alright.
We are very busy these days with Brigade training and maneuvers, last week with our Brigade (4th) had a sham fight with the 5th Brigade as our enemy. We outmaneuvered them after fighting hard all day.
Say it was splendid to see our artillery come into action. They came galloping up hard us with our guns and tenders, and when they reached the top of the hill they swing the guns into position, took the horses off and opened fire, and all done while you could say Jack Johnson. Oh this is the file and the real lif [life] too. I wish Walter were with us he would certainly enjoy this life.
We are soon going to begin divisional training and that means a trip across the channel to meet our friends the enemy[.] I hope only I get about half a dozen of the “Huns” before they get me. If I come back from this turn out I will come and see you but I intend of making my home in the west. I often dream of Canada, but alas I am awakened by the sharp notes on the bugle which tell us to get up and get busy. I do not think this war will last all winter, hope it doesn’t anyway.
How are the crops this year? We hear that you have had sme [some] violent storms lately. I hope that they have done you no damage. Kindly remember me to all the folks and let us know how you and the children are getting along.
LETTER FROM BELGIUM[i]
The following interesting letter was received by License Inspector Joseph M. White from his nephew, Private W.H. Fenton[ii], a Bruce County boy from Tara, who enlisted in the 18th Batt. and is now on the firing line in Belgium. Private Fenton is head carpenter of the 18th Batt. A cousin, Major Nelson of Southampton, was recently wounded and is now in England. Pte. Fenton writes:-
Belgium, Feb 3rd, 1916
Received your most welcome letter dated Jan. 18th, this evening. It was the quickest mail yet from Canada as three weeks if the average time. I will answer to-night as we are on the reserve for six days and not much to do. Well things are going on very quiet on our front just now. A little shelling back and forward is going on nearly all the time but probably this affair will not last long as something more interesting will start here before long. Our trenches here are in very good shape just now as the mud is drying up a little. It has been very wet for some time yet very mild weather for this season of the year, no snow or frost yet.
I can’t give you very much news about what is going on as our mail is all censored. The Bruce Boys of our Battalion are all well so far, for myself, I have spent about eight weeks the hospital with rheumatism but am back with the boys again. I had a good treatment so far as good [may be].
We are looked after in very good shape as well as could be expected under the circumstances. We have no doubt some hardships as well as could be expected under the circumstances which no on can describe, yet we are of good heart and have all kinds of [full?] great experience for any man who will be man enough to come over here and fight for freedom. When one gets in the firing line he gets a feeling a feeling of determination as we know that Britain and her Allies will win this Colossal struggle [and] will feel we stand between personal freedom and militarism. We all that the spirit “What we have we’ll hold” and have taught our enemies that the Canadians are no mean fighters and that our devotion to our King, to our Country and to those we love is something that is deeper rooted in Canadians than in any other people of the world.
I received the Tara papers to-night so am interested in the Bruce Battalion. Well, Uncle, I think I will close for this time. I hope all are well with you. Was pleased to know Russell[iii] had enlisted, be never sorry for his experience. I might say Norm Huck[iv] and Bert Cartwright[v] are with us in this hut and they are well.
[i] This letter was transcribed from a letter printed in the Walkerton Telescope. March 16, 1916. Page 4. The format includes the inclusion of paragraphs for clarity.
[ii] Fenton, William Henry: Service no. 53225 (Military Cross).
[iii] White, Joseph Russell, reg. no. 527513. He joined the C.E.F. on September 5, 1915 at Niagara Camp. He survive the war and served with the Canadian Army Medical Corp.
[iv] Huck, Norman: Service no. 54021.
[v] Cartwright, Hebert: Service no. 54005.
Robert Alexander Robertson was the brother of William Fenton’s second wife, Amy Beatrice Robertson. His first wife, Agnes Spence, died young of tuberculosis.