Cecil Gray Frost (1897-1947) WW1 Correspondence  
6th Brigade Canadian Machine Gun Company
Cecil Gray Frost (1897-1947)
WW1 Correspondence 1917-1919


The 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.


Cecil 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.

The 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 demobilization.

    1. 3 November 1917 - Somewhere in France - through London to France
    2. 7 November 1917 - Flanders - with the 6th Bde C.M.G. Coy.
    3. 26 November 1951 - Letter from Pte. Kary J. Zufelt to L.M. Frost - re. CGF's first trip
    4. 3 December 1917 - In The Field - up the Line again ... everything "Jake"
    5. 4 January 1918 - Somewhere in France - a dandy Xmas and everything fine
    6. 24 January 1918 - In The Field - from my dugout ... rations mighty good
    7. 3 February 1918 - The Imperial Hotel, London - on leave already ... send Thirty Pounds
    8. 21 February 1918 - In The Field - back here again ... all is "jake-a-loo"
    9. 24 February 1918 - In The Field - shocked ... mater ill ... getting along fine
    10. 10 March 1918 - In The Field - in command ... left wing ... 2nd Div. School of Machine Gunnery
    11. 20 March 1918 - France - never better ... first prize in the inspection
    12. 23 March 1918 - In The Field - Don’t worry about me.  I’ll be all O.K [the start of the German offensive]
    13. 31 March 1918 - Easter Sunday - from a hole in the ground ... morale good
    14. 25 April 1918 - In the Field - Leslie wounded ... in command of M.G. Battery ... working hard
    15. 24 June 1918 - France - received a parcel ... the great war keeps on going
    16. 26 July 1918 - France - nine months in this country now ... windy and rainy ... the Yanks are coming over
    17. 13 October 1918 - Ottawa - Telegram from Records: regret inform you ... CGF officially reported wounded
    18. 16 October 1918 - France - an extremely slight wound ... saw the fall of Cambrai
    19. 20 October 1918 - France - absolutely OK ... looks as if we are winning, doesn't it
    20. 21 October 1918 - London - Telegram from LGF: Cecil slightly wounded on head not serious
    21. 23 October 1918 - Le Treport Hospital - Wound very slight
    22. 17 November 1918 - Mons - some place eh, what! ... war is over ... everybody just grinned
    23. 20 November 1918 - Belgium - marching marching marching ... one long “Triumphal March”
    24. 4 January 1919 - Deutchland - rumours of demobilization ... Prof. of Modern History & Civic Government
    25. 13 January 1919 - Deutchland - news of a coming move ... baseball ... basketball ... horse races
    26. 3 February 1919 - Floreffe, Belgium - absolutely nothing to do ... this room is cold ... time for “hash”
    27. 9 February 1919 - Floreffe - nothing much doing in this dump ... Demobilization is the prevalent topic
    28. 14 February 1919 - Belgium - snow and frost ... no means of heating ... a cold cold bed
    29. 24 March 1919 - Floreffe, Belgium - another trip to Brussels ... dance in the Hotel Astoria
    30. 7 May 1919 - London - last night in London ... We sail in a weeks time for good old Canada – hurrah!

I am 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.

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