Posted 4 years ago
A while ago I picked up a box of papers from an estate sale. While there were many good finds, including letters from a Civil War soldier and letterheads from my town, this particular and lonely letter from what I believe to be a Christian WW1 soldier (for several reasons) is probably my favourite piece.
By the time most of you will see this, it will be exactly 98 years since this was written by a man stuck in Egypt. He hasn't gotten a letter from his family in a few months and is trying to find passage home after the war has ended. He writes to his parents on Christmas Eve, the night before he will set out for the Suez Canal to find passage.
Albeit he does not emphasize it (and does not focus on it), the letter is not happy. He writes it more informational, though, rather than in a way to communicate his displeasure in his current state.
Dec 24- 1918
Dear [???] :
This is Christmas Eve in Egypt. But not much here to [indicate?] that it is Christmas in this part of the world tho. I am only about 150 miles from Bethlehem. The people here pay little attention to it.
I do not know how soon I can get a ship. I have been waiting in the [military?] for transportation now & am going to try and get passage by myself if I have to go this last 3000 miles on a tramp steamer. So I will go to Suez tomorrow and stay there until I can get out which I hope is soon.
Naturally I think of you very frequently and wonder what you are doing and how you are. My time here is 8 hours faster than yours and when I reach Judea will be 10 hours fast.
I can't [????] or where I wrote you last. I only know the last news I had from the family was Oct 13 and it will be more than Jan 13 before I get to my mail.
The weather is about like May except no rain.
Judging still warmer.
I have had my second [????] at the blue but in quite good shape again. I expect there have been some death there. The number here is hardly believable. I counted 6 funerals pass the hotel in 50 minutes.
I have visited all the important places of interest including the pyramids and sphynx.
I visited a camp a few days ago where they had 3000 camel in the correll.
The [nationals or nations or something??] are [interesting?]
In fact the life here is very ["orential" is what it appears to be spelled].
It is interesting examining the tombs of the ancients. They have the mummy of Phareoh of the Exedos in the measeum [the spelling there is so very butchered] here.
There are no bees in this section of Egypt.
I wish I had time to go up the river 1000 miles. The boats [being??] [down?] some interesting trade.
I am securing a great many photographs along my journey which I will enjoy [sharing?] you and telling you about.
I expect now that my return will be by the Pacific. I like that name it sounds better and I am not a good sailor as you know. I will speak to a camp service before I leave here tomorrow. May God bless you and keep you well and happy in cold old Michigan
your Son, George.
And that is the letter. I do not have a last name and haven't looked at the family tree of the Critchetts-- the family whose papers I have, dating back to 1863, including a very complete tree. As such, I do not know the relation of George, just as I do not know if he was a Critchett or got home or anything beyond what we see in the letter. There is nothing else in the box pertaining to him, not even the photos he was supposedly securing. There has never been another reference to a George in what I've read.
He is a most interesting and intriguing character in the story I've been able to put together from all the documents I've read/skimmed through. But, as is usually the case with the many letters I've posted over the last year, his story is incomplete and unknown to the living.
So, I will leave you to wonder if he ever made it home. A depressing Christmas for him. I hope yours goes much better.