Private Cecil Ennis
The following two letters were written to Cecil's sister and brother-in-law after the November 11th,1918 Armistice.
Belgium November 23rd, 1918
Dear Lillian and boys:
I am very slow getting my mail answered this time for we are almost continually on the road toward Germany. Well Lillian you were not very far wrong when you bet your five cents to a doughnut we would be back by Xmas, for it won't be long after. I can't realize yet what it all means and I guess we won't until we pull into the Union at Toronto again.
It certainly was a great windup to the 4 years of turmoil. We were close on the great city of Mons when Cease Fire came. It will be a happy day when the Peace Treaty is signed for we cannot leave until then. Where we are now is only a few miles from the old battlefield where Wellington defeated Napoleon just outside of Waterloo and not very far from Brussels, the capitol of Belgium. I is still a long way from the Frontier.
I do not know how or where Wesley is. If he is in convalescence why he may be home very soon, but I believe he has rejoined his Unit. Say, Lilly, we are getting a great reception everywhere we go. The civilians are certainly giving vent to their feelings.
There seems to be an awfull scare of the flu around Canada. I am hoping none of you have got it and I am anxiously waiting for the mail. There has been none in now for over ten days, can't catch us up I guess.
I did not get this finished so will add a little more. A Canadian mail has come in and I got letters from home and Edna, and one from Pearl. I suppose you will be settled in your new home in Beamsville by now as Edna says you had rented the house in Toronto. Has Ira succeeded in getting rid of his khakis yet. I won't be far behind him with mine just a few more months. Will close and answer some of the other letters just received. Will write again from Germany and hoping soon to be starting back. I remain your ever loving brother and uncle.
Oberath, Germany Dec 25, 1918
Dear old Ira:
Well this is Christmas day in Germany. Who would have thought it last year that this is where we would be this year. But the thing of the most importance now is where will we be next Xmas. Rather vague yet but some where in Canada I hope.
I got your letter written on the 10 of November the other day and was certainly glad to hear from you and what you're still doing. I expected to hear of you being out of the Army but I guess you won't be out much before the rest of us now. We will have to have our holiday together.
You were wondering what we would be doing when you wrote. Of course you know now. On the 19th of November we were within a day's march of Nivelle where we got a great reception. It is a town of about 25 thousand and they sure made us welcome. It was the 6th of December when we crossed the border into Allyman country. When we were crossing the border a Belgium family gave us a cheer and had a big flag flying. Since then everything seemed to die, towns with no one on the streets and blinds drawn. It was that way until we hit Cologne and say boy that is some town. It was the 10th when we got in and crossed the Rhine and came up here on the 13th.
But Cologne is certainly a fine city and it's a sour pill for Germany to have to swallow to see Canadian troops in possession of everything. The only thing is we can't get much extra to eat there for the people there are very hard up. You cannot buy candy or chocolate anywhere and their bread I don't think our old cat at home would eat it unless it was starving. But nevertheless we had a good time there. Restaurants twice the size of any in Toronto. We went into a place one night, there was four of us. Of course not one is allowed to go about alone. This was an inviting looking place all lighted up in front and we saw people going in and out so in we went. It was a great big drinking saloon about the size of the arena. There must have been at least two thousand people in there all sitting around little tables just like a restaurant only drinking beer instead, and a fine orchestra playing and in the whole place there was not another soldier. We could hardly back out so we sat down and had a glass of beer.
Waiters were all dolled up, talk about the Kind Edward being classy. The one who served us could talk perfect English and was as nice as pie, treated us like a Prince or something but the eyes of the whole place was on us. Any one who passed our table lifted his hat. I think they must have taken us for Officers thinking that no ordinary Private would have the nerve to come in that fashion.
I believe the cathedral is the largest in the world now, it is the oldest being somewhat over 900 years and was hit by one of our bombs but has been repaired.
We are having a fine time here, Ira, not much work and nothing to bother you and lots of Xmas mail coming including parcels. I have has the luck to get 4 up to date and to-night is going to be a big affair. We have decorated up the largest place in town for our Xmas dinner. That's all I have been doing for the last few days not putting in evergreens and hanging up decorations. The Germans had a great big flag hanging over the entrance. We took it down and put up a Canadian one while the people looked on.
There is lots of rum in so it will be a celebration alright of the ending of the war and the last year on the continent.
Well it is time I was breaking off and getting cleaned up. How is your father these days. I sent him a Xmas card but I addressed it to home but I guess he will get it alright. I was glad they managed to check the cancer for it is generally very hard to deal with and I was anxious to know how he was getting along. Well I still have time to wish you a Happy New Year. Remember me to the boys and Lillian.
Your Affectionate Brother,