In 1995, the Oshawa Community Museum & Archives received a donation from a gentleman named Warren Tait. Within this donation was a collection of letters written by William Garrow Jr., the great uncle of Mr. Tait. The collection includes over 18 letters written by William, most of them to his two sisters Leah and Lillian, while he was overseas during the First World War. It is a unique collection as it chronicles William’s time overseas, starting with his arrival in England, following him as he moved to the Western Front and ends with his family’s notification of his tragic death.
Additionally, the collection includes the official documents sent to the Garrow family informing them of William’s death and finalizing his estate. There is also a very personal letter written to the family from Lance Corporal French, providing the family with first hand account of William’s death and what it was like for the soldiers as they had to cope with death on an almost daily basis.
Readers are given a glimpse into what life was like in the trenches and the measures that families here at home had to go through to find out any information regarding the deaths of their children.
William James Garrow Jr. was born in Oshawa on May 15th, 1894, to William and Mary Garrow of 206 Albert Street. In 1915, he enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in Montreal. This collection of correspondences provides a picture of his experiences in the First World War, a perspective that cannot be found in text books.