WORLD WAR ONE: Private Roger Cook

Letters to Ada Trevan

Date: 1914 - 1917

A Collection of 34 Letters from Pte Roger Cook A Coy 5th Battalion (Western Cavalry from British Columbia) 1st Canadian Division to Ada Trevan of Hammersmith, London. The couple met before his embarkation to France is in July 1915, and the relationship developed through the correspondence and they met briefly again when he was on leave. His letters describe the trench experience, the continual wet weather and the mud are a constant "so much damn mud" He talks about death which doesn't seem much of a shock as men die everyday. He talks of narrow escapes with big shells bursting and bullets flying around we "Must be awfully Jolly". Rumours abound with the expectation that the war will be over by Spring 1916. He gets a well earned rest and with no excitement he volunteers for Trench mortars. As 1916 dawns he reports on daily straffing from Fritz. He mentions that he cannot send her flowers as the only ones are on soldiers graves. During early July 1916 he suffers under drum fire, though he manages to pick and send her a rose he found growing on a ruined Farmstead behind the lines. He sends photos home because going into a charge he is not sure he would get out of it. He proposes marriage to Ada and wants her to come back to Canada after the war. Sadly he completely misjudges her sentiments and she politely turns down his offer-she is young and clearly marriage and leaving England and her mother are not what she wants. Most of the letters are with the original envelopes with censor signatures. All the letters are legible and in a fine condition and are individually protected in archive sleeves, contained in an archive box. A fascinating and moving collection providing an insight into the trench experience and the suffering of the troops from all corners of the British Empire, sadly emphasising the difficulties of conducting a relationship from the battle zone with very few leaves in England. Extracts from Roger’s letters 27/2/1916 I am glad to hear that you had a good time while I was at home it was all we could do without over doing it as you had to go to work. I didnt think you need much practice in the kissing line you can do that to perfection... .....I have a strange feeling for you ....... I think the world of you and I long for the time to come when this damn war is over and I will be able to get back and see more of you. 2/7/1916 We had better stop chewing the rag about the munitions workers and their holidays. I am afraid they will be disappointed if they are looking forward to one in August, as their is only one month to go and if they uses as many shells as they have been the last week or so they will have to keep going to keep the supply. 2/7/1916 You want to know how I got those flowers well the pansy was sent from Canada and the rose was picked at a ruined farmstead just behind the line so they both have a bit of a history. 31/10/1916 Discussing pictures Ada had sent of herself ....the honest truth I think twice as much of it than I do of the new one maybe it is because I have had it with me when I have come to the conclusion that I would never get out of the line alive. .....if I have luck enough to get home again sometime before the summer comes again we could get a licence not a dogsbut a marriage licence and get the deed done. I am not exactly stony broke, you could live at home till I got through with the army then come back to Canada with me and we could bet a little home together.... Ada’s response 6/1/16 Your letter was a surprise. I hardly know how to answer you. Are you really in earnest. And marriage is a serious business. So many peoples letters give a wrong impression.... Love in a cottage fed on air-pie would not live long. No I don’t want a millionaire but I do like comfort and again undated ......some time or other we all dream of marrying of having a home of our own & then we plan our future according to our own views of life. In the present instance yours is the Canadian view & mine the Londoner’s. Mother is all I have ever had to care for & I am all she has there are no brothers or sisters to take my place - so I am not prepared to leave her. Roger 9/12/1916 ... I admire you for your spirit in not wanting to leave your ma .... Well I dont seem to be able to get very much ahead with this letter so I think I will have to give it up till I am in a better mood it is not a very inspiring day and one gets a jar from a trench mortar shell .....and is wandering if the next one is going to drop on you so I trust you will excuse this till I write something better.........

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