Private Albert Henry Schnell
The following letters were written by Private Schnell and his first wife, Annabel.
April 10, 1918
Dear Bob, Flossie and Rest,
Received your most welcome letter yesterday. I suppose you knew that Bert had reported on April 1st and yesterday was informed he would be leaving for overseas today. He called me up about noon telling me and it was such a shock I have hardly recovered as yet, but will try and drop you a few lines. I phoned Emma and she came in last night and is staying a few days with me and I am going back with her for awhile. We expect to be leaving here on Saturday so if you write me, address it as Harte, Manitoba.
Bert asked me to write you tonight and tell you about him having the Power of Attorney signed over to me. He said as soon as he was able to write you he would explain everything to you. He had a will made out and everything is settled.
I had to get a barrister to go with me to the barracks and am going up in the morning to finish settling with him.
Everything was done on such short notice that Bert will write and explain everything to you as soon as possible.
Karl Schnell is also leaving tomorrow for overseas and Emma and I are going down to see him tonight to see him off tomorrow. He is quite anxious to get away.
Bert did not get to read your letter so I will send it to him when I hear from him. He was so rushed and excited that he hardly knew what he was doing and just took a glance over it to see if there was anything important and had to leave it with me on account of the numbers of the lots.
I hardly know how to write so am sure you will excuse this short note at this time.
Trusting that the babies are well as well as both of yourselves. I remain yours.
P.S. He left this afternoon about 2 p.m. on a Canadian National Railroad train. He expects to be in Halifax for a short while. I never dreamed of him leaving so soon and am heartbroken.
October 29, 1918
Dear Bob and Floss,
Just came back to the hut a few minutes ago after taking in a picture show to help break up the evening.
I'm in the very best of humor this evening and why shouldn't I be? I got a parcel today from Annabel which I knew had been sent but never expected to get. She sent it August 10th and it just reached me today. Have not yet received the parcel you sent me and given up hope of getting same. Since receiving Annabel's parcel today, I am still hopeful that I'll get the one that you sent me.
I suppose you are aware of me making a "flying trip" to France. When I use the term "flying trip" I don't mean to say that I made the trip by "plane" but that I was only over there four weeks. I left England on September 5th and returned on October 3rd. Was only in France a short time but in my opinion I saw a few things that in writing would sound like a fairy tale so I shall keep them in store to tell you some evening by the fireside in the kitchen. I have a plan already drafted for this occasion. To start with, Mother says, "Pa, put some coal in the stove - tell Bertie." Flossie and Annabel are going to occupy two rockers, I am going to stick to an arm chair and you can sit on the wood box. Pretty rough on the old man to make him sit on the wood box!
I suppose you are aware that I was wounded on the 28th of September. We went "over the top" about 6 a.m. and after advancing about a mile and a half, we were compelled to take cover on account of the resistance put up by the enemy. Our only shelter was a few shell holes and it was while trying to take cover in one of these that I was hit. One bullet struck me on the third finger of the right hand. The bullet went through the joint closest to my hand and broke the bone. Another bullet went through my left breast. It went in on the right side of my left breast and came out straight across about five inches from where it went in. I got my wounds dressed shortly after I was wounded, walked to a dressing station, and from there was transferred to a hospital.
I am getting along fine although still feel a little stiff and I have to get the breast wound dressed twice a day and the finger once. At present I am at a convalescent camp at Empsom where quite a number of Canadian troops are sent after leaving the hospital.
What do I think of the present peace negotiations? I think that they are making good progress towards peace and the general feeling here is that the war will be over before Christmas.
I think that I shall come to a close. My hand is still a little sore and in poor shape for writing. I would have written you sooner but my printing press (hand) was too much out of order.
Best to yourselves and the kiddies.
January 10, 1919
Bertie's coming home, can you believe it?! I received a cable on the 5th (Sunday) that he would be, or rather, expected to sail on January the 20th so I have it all figured out that he will be in Winnipeg the first of February. Really, I am so excited my hand is just shaking like this~~~~~~~~~.
Received your letter yesterday afternoon and as regards to same, just let things stand as they are until Bert gets back. Because you see, Bertie's coming home. Hurrah!
Clarissa sends her best regards to you all and we have been wondering if you have escaped the flu. I had a letter from Annie and she said they had all been down with it at Christmas time except Dave. There were seven of them all in bed at the same time and Dave was the nurse.
As there isn't much other news of interest, either for me to write about or for you to read except for the first part of this short parable, and trusting that you are all well, this leaves me with best wishes. I am as ever.
Bertie's coming home at last!
[Sadly, Annabel died ten days after this letter was written.]