John Austin Williamson

Rank: 
Private
Regimental number: 
50786
Unit at enlistment: 
54th Battalion
Force: 
C.E.F.
Volunteered or conscripted: 
Volunteered
Survived the war: 
Yes
Wounded: 
Yes
Birth country: 
Canada
Birth county: 
Rural Municipality of Pembina
Birth city: 
La Riviere, Manitoba
Next of kin address: 
140 Cayuga Street, Brantford, Ontario
Trade or calling: 
Butcher
Religious denominations: 
Baptist
Marital status: 
Single
Age at enlistment: 
29

Letters and documents

BX July 12, 1915

Atrocities Wholesale – Pte. J.A. Williamson Tells of Germans Deliberately Firing on the Red Cross

In a letter singularly sincere and interesting, Private John Austin Williamson, a member of the First Canadian Field Ambulance Corps, through which branch of the service he is enabled to see most of the horrors and destruction of modern warfare, writes home to his mother, Mrs. J.W. Williamson, Cayuga Street, Brantford, and tells of his prayers that “we may have peace with justice very soon.”  Pte. Williamson states that the Canadians have again been through some terrific fighting, and though the losses have been heavy, they once more acquitted themselves like tried and true soldiers. The letter follows: 

June 13, 1915
Somewhere in France

Dear Mother,

Well mother, we have just been through another terrific engagement in which the Canadian divisions once more stood up against great odds and once more proved at a great cost that there are no better troops in all the world, not even Kaiser Bill’s Prussian Guards. This time we have to thank God that the field ambulance was not seriously exposed, as we worked some distance behind the firing line, carrying the wounded back to the motor ambulances. We were several hundred yards behind the lines, but could see a lot that was going on. We could see all the German shrapnel bursting and once during the night shells burst all around us. It is true that the German fire deliberately at the advanced posts where we are dressing the wounded and it is also true that they practice wholesale atrocities which would make decent people wild if they were really known.

Well mother, I am thankful to say I am feeling well and I could feel fairly easy in mind if I could only get mail through so as to know how things are going on in Canada. True there is a lot in this sort of life that tends to burden and pull one down in a spiritual way. However, I can thank God that I was fortunate enough to get into this branch of the service as in the first place we have exceptionally considerate and generous officers. If all the men really knew the worth of our commanders in this unit and did as they were done by, we would have, I believe, the most ideal corps in the contingent. Our commanding officer is Col. Ross of Kingston, Ontario, and as a man I have learned to respect him very highly.

We see at first hand most of the horrors and destruction of modern warfare, but it is surprising how one hardens up to this sort of thing. Now, mother, I know you are continually remembering us before the Lord. Let this be your prayer that we may have peace and justice very soon.

Pte. J.A. Williamson,
No. 50786, A. Section,
First Canadian Ambulance Corps.

BX August 29, 1917

J.W. Williamson, 140 Cayuga Street, has been officially notified that his son, Private John Austin Williamson has been wounded and admitted to No. 10 Field Ambulance suffering from the effects of a gas shell. Pte. Williamson, though an old Brantford boy, enlisted in British Columbia, where he has lived during the past six years. He enlisted at the outbreak of the war and went overseas with the first contingent.