Reid E Beckett's Explaination of His War Experiences in a Letter to Leila McGee

Reid E Beckett's Explaination of His War Experiences in a Letter to Leila McGee

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This investigation will concentrate on the postcard, addressed to Leila McGee of Kemptville, Ontario. Signed “R.E.B.”, Private Reid Edison Beckett, was a member of the of the 11th Reserve Battalion from the time of his enlistment in September 24, 1914 until the end of the first World War. 1 Before the Great War, Beckett’s military service began with the 56th Lesgar Rifles based in Ottawa.2 Between his service with the 56th Rifles and his enlistment in the 1914, Beckett married and worked as a carpenter in the town of Oxford in Leeds and Grenville Country in Eastern Ontario.3

In enlisting on September 22, 1914, Beckett was assigned to the 60th Rifles of Canada, also known as the Saskatchewan Dragoons.4 While these Dragoons were based in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Beckett’s assignment seems to be simply for the purpose of organization.5 That is to say he was never a Dragoon in the practical sense. At the start of the first World War the 60th Rifles quickly dispatched thousands of volunteers from Moose Jaw to Valcartier to begin training as part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.6 After being commissioned to the 60th Rifles, Beckett would have been immediately assigned to the the 11th Battalion at Valcartier.7

The 11th Battalion was comprised of volunteers of units from Prince Albert, Moose Jaw, Regina and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg, Manitoba.8 Though not from Moose Jaw, Beckett would have been considered a volunteer from Moose Jaw. Soon after his arrival to Valcartier on the day of his enlistment, the 11th Battalion sailed from Quebec to Britain on October 3, 1914 aboard the S.S. Royal Edward.9 After 8 days on the Atlantic the 11th Battalion and entire First Contingent landed at Plymouth, England on Oc...

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...vastated landscape by emphasizing the horrors and his own bravery along with those of his fellow troops. He may have wanted to prove himself by choosing a photo of this nature to send to his hometown.

To conclude, the relationship between Beckett and McGee must have been a strong one if she deserved to receive a postcard from Europe. It is rare that a married man would send a postcard to a female individual who is not a relative. Beckett’s postcard to McGee proves an interesting and unique story among almost 50 million letters that were posted by Canadian Troops during the First World War.36 Without the Canadian Postal Corps our understanding of “La Grande Guerre” would be entirely different. Due to the effort of the men and women serving in the CPC, students and scholars are able to understand the individual during war and their sacrifice to the Allied cause.

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