Letters from the Front

Private John Cushnie

Snowstorm in Londonderry

Private Collection

Sunday, January 27, 1918

Transcribed by: Anne Hales

25th Reserve Batt.

Bramshott Camp


Dear Folks at Home:-

     Two letters from home, of Dec 22nd & 30th , arrived in a Canadian mail today the first we have had for nearly three weeks.

     We have had beautiful weather this last few days.  I only hope it stays like this for some time.  The sun is out and it is quite warm enough to go around without a coat which seems rather strange for the end of January – doesn’t it?

     You must have had quite a busy time around Christmas with so many visitors. 

      I suppose I may as well tell you a little more a bout my little trip to Ireland.  I think I told you about my stay in Belfast so now I’ll talk about Londonderry.

      The morning we left Belfast for Derry by the 6.30 train, it was snowing heavily with that soft heavy snow like the first snowfall in Canada.  However it wasn’t cold although the people seemed to think it awfully cold.

     We found a compartment on the train and discovered that the trains in Ireland are not so up-to-date as in England.  Of course, being soldiers, we had to travel third-class as it is the cheapest.

     We went alongside the Irish Sea for quite a large part of the journey but as it was snowing very hard there wasn’t much to be seen.  We got to Londonderry about 11 oclock that morning and made straight for a little hotel that had been recommended to us by the Corporal of our hut.  It was indeed a fine place to stay and the meals were almost as good as home.

     We walked around in the afternoon although it was rather wet and sloppy underfoot.  Snow must be rather a novelty in Ireland because nearly all the people on the streets were snowballing.  In fact in Canada you would think everyone had gone crazy or something to carry on in such a manner.  Some of the kids had made a slide down a hill and were sliding down on rather crude looking sleighs having a high old time.

        It being Sunday and all the stores being closed.  Londonderry impressed us as rather slow compared to Belfast.  There were no trains to be seen or anything like that and it just seemed like a poky old town.

     There are some very nice churches and other prominent buildings in Derry although none of them are very new.  I had the pleasure of going to a Presbyterian Church – the first I had been to since leaving Canada.  I had quite a time persuading Eedy to come as he is a Methodist but I finally won him over as there are very many Methodist Churches here in England although very few Presbyterian ones.

     There is one part of Londonderry known as the “old city” and around this is an immense stone wall.  It is about 15’ high and so wide on the top that a coach and four can parade on it.  At various intervals the old cannons are still sticking out like they used to I suppose, when the walls were a great defence to the city.

     We had a great surprise the next morning.  Upon going into a book-store to buy some post cards we ran into Lieut. Pinkerton.  We were all very much astonished as you may imagine.  He is back from France where he has been for 6 months, on leave.  He looks well and says he rather likes it “over there”.

     Well I must close for now as Bill and I are going to Haslemere for church tonight.



This is part of the John Cushnie Collection. This is a collection of approximatly 98 letters from 1916 to 1918, and a diary with 220 entries from 1918. These letters and diary entries, were very gratiously provided by Anne Hales.