Hold the Oxo!

Hold the Oxo!

A Teenage Soldier Writes Home

eBook - 2011
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Canada was young. As many as 20,000 underage soldiers left their homes to serve in World War I. Jim, at 17, was one of them. His letters home gloss over the horrors of war, focusing on issues of the home front: of harvesting, training the horses, and the price of hogs. His letters rested ninety-five years in a shoebox decorated by his mother.
Publisher: Toronto : Dundurn Press, 2011
ISBN: 9781554888719
Characteristics: 1 online resource


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SPL_Childrens Jul 29, 2014

The subtitle of this book is revealing. Many of the soldiers who fought in World War I (and also in World War II) were just teenagers. Marion Brooker’s uncle, Jim Fargey (the writer of these letters to family members at home) was one of them. At 17 years of age, he volunteered to leave his small Manitoba farming community to serve overseas with the 79th Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders.

In his letters – especially those to his parents - Jim rarely mentioned the true hardships that he and other soldiers faced. The death, destruction and the utter horror of the battlefield – and the cold, the mud, the rats and lice of the trenches – were glossed over. Instead, he wrote of more “normal” things such as the weather and training the war horses. He often asked about the crops at home.

The text, poems and photos which accompany Jim’s letters reveal more of the true picture of what it must have been for a soldier fighting in the “Great War”. Life at the Western Front was harsh at best. The shelling and danger were constant. Food was in short supply, as was proper sanitation. Infection and disease were rampant, killing many soldiers.

Wounded at the Battle of the Somme in 1916, Jim died soon afterwards at only 18 years of age. His letters, which form the basis of this poignant and informative book, have been kept and treasured by his family.

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SPL_Childrens Jul 29, 2014

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