following are transcripts of the letters written by Lieutenant (later Captain)
Cecil Gray Frost (1897-1947) to his parents in Orillia, Ontario, from the
front. They comprise material from the time that CGF arrived with
the 6th Brigade CMG Coy. in early November 1917, until May 1919, shortly
before he was demobilized from what had become the 2nd Bn. C.M.G. Corps.
Telegrams notifying his parents that he had been injured are also included.
The correspondence forms part of a much larger collection, known as the
the "Leslie M. Frost and Cecil G. Frost fonds" (Accession 77-027),
located at the Trent University Archives, Thomas J. Bata Library, Trent
University, Peterborough, Ontario K9J 7B8, Canada. They were deposited
in that institution by CGF's older brother Leslie Miscampbell Frost (1895-1973),
Premier of Ontario from 1948-1961, and author of "Fighting Men",
after the death of CGF in 1947. Accompanying the transcripts are
typed explanatory notes inserted by LMF. A letter written to LMF
in 1951 by Private Kary J. Zufelt,
who served under CGF in the 6th Bde. C.M.G. Coy., describes the latter's
first trip to the front in early November 1917.
Gray Frost (1897-1947) and his brother Leslie Miscampbell Frost (1895-1973)
- later Premier of Ontario from 1949 to 1961 - enlisted in the 157th Overseas
Battalion at Camp Borden, Ontario. After training in southern England
during the summer of 1917, Leslie was posted as an infantry officer to
the 20th Battalion, while the younger Cecil, then a lieutenant, was transferred
to the 6th Brigade Canadian Machine Gun Company, just in time to take part
in the Battle of Passchendaele. Cecil remained with this unit until
the end of the war, although he spent a few weeks out of action as the
result of a stray machine-gun bullet during the Battle of Iwuy. Prior
to the major German advances in March-April 1918, he was given command
of "L" Battery, and was eventually promoted to Captain.
letters included here were written by CG Frost to his parents in Orillia,
Ontario between his arrival in France in early November 1917, and the eve
of his departure from London for home in May 1919. While much of
the content deals with family matters, there are occasional descriptions
of everyday life at the front - at least from a junior officer's point
of view. Far more important, however, is the series of snapshots
captured, of a young man forced to grow up very quickly in an extraordinary
environment. Initially he is a keen, youthful trainee officer, ready
to do his share of keeping the Hun at bay, learn from the old hands, and
eager to demonstrate his talents. The anxiety with which he faces
the enemy onslaught during the Spring Offensive is clearly evident, but
the Allied retaliations in August help to restore some of his self-assurance.
Flushed with the success of the Canadian Corps as it pushes east in the
final phases of the war, he develops into a confident battery commander.
Finally, as he endures the boredom and freezing weather of post-armistice
occupation in Belgium and Germany, the war-weary soldier ponders life after
November 1917 - Somewhere in France - through London to France
November 1917 - Flanders - with the 6th Bde C.M.G. Coy.
November 1951 - Letter from Pte.
Kary J. Zufelt to L.M. Frost - re. CGF's first trip
December 1917 - In The Field - up the Line again ... everything
January 1918 - Somewhere in France - a dandy Xmas and everything
January 1918 - In The Field - from my dugout ... rations mighty
February 1918 - The Imperial Hotel, London - on leave already
... send Thirty Pounds
February 1918 - In The Field - back here again ... all is "jake-a-loo"
February 1918 - In The Field - shocked ... mater ill ... getting
March 1918 - In The Field - in command ... left wing ... 2nd
Div. School of Machine Gunnery
March 1918 - France - never better ... first prize in the inspection
March 1918 - In The Field - Don’t worry about me. I’ll
be all O.K [the start of the German offensive]
March 1918 - Easter Sunday - from a hole in the ground ... morale
April 1918 - In the Field - Leslie wounded ... in command of
M.G. Battery ... working hard
June 1918 - France - received a parcel ... the great war keeps
July 1918 - France - nine months in this country now ... windy
and rainy ... the Yanks are coming over
October 1918 - Ottawa - Telegram from Records: regret inform
you ... CGF officially reported wounded
October 1918 - France - an extremely slight wound ... saw the
fall of Cambrai
October 1918 - France - absolutely OK ... looks as if we are
winning, doesn't it
October 1918 - London - Telegram from LGF: Cecil slightly wounded
on head not serious
October 1918 - Le Treport Hospital - Wound very slight
November 1918 - Mons - some place eh, what! ... war is over
... everybody just grinned
November 1918 - Belgium - marching marching marching ... one
long “Triumphal March”
January 1919 - Deutchland - rumours of demobilization ... Prof.
of Modern History & Civic Government
January 1919 - Deutchland - news of a coming move ... baseball
... basketball ... horse races
February 1919 - Floreffe, Belgium - absolutely nothing to do
... this room is cold ... time for “hash”
February 1919 - Floreffe - nothing much doing in this dump ...
Demobilization is the prevalent topic
February 1919 - Belgium - snow and frost ... no means of heating
... a cold cold bed
March 1919 - Floreffe, Belgium - another trip to Brussels ...
dance in the Hotel Astoria
May 1919 - London - last night in London ... We sail in a weeks
time for good old Canada – hurrah!
very grateful to Jodi Aoki, Archives & Special Collections Coordinator
at the Trent University Archives, who arranged for the selected correspondence
to be photocopied. The letters were transcribed by Brett Payne, but
remain the Copyright of Trent University Archives.