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Grand Bank Soldier: The War Letters of Lance Corporal Curtis Forsey

Bert Riggs

Edited by Bert Riggs

“The Germans started to shell us and give us some hot machine gun fire. A lot of our men died that day. . . . I got a piece of shrapnel in the ankle but continued to carry on until 11 o’clock when I got two bullets in the left thigh [and] I fell into a shell hole full of water . . .” – Curt Forsey’s description of the scene at Ypres, Belgium, Sept. 29, 1918.

Grand Bank Soldier consists of 51 letters that Lance Corporal Curtis Forsey wrote to his mother and father back home in Grand Bank during the 19 months he was on active duty in the First World War. He saw action with the Newfoundland Regiment at Passchendaele Ridge, at Bailleuil, and at Kieberg Ridge, where, in late September 1918, he was wounded by two bullets and a piece of shrapnel.

Mr. Forsey was recuperating in an English hospital when the Armistice was signed on Nov. 11, 1918. After the war he returned home to manage the family business, Patten & Forsey. Mr. Forsey died in 1993, a respected community leader and a man who lived a life of honour and integrity.

A review in the Newfoundland Quarterly states: “Riggs justifies this volume as ‘in no way a sign of disrespect but a tangible means of honouring [Curtis Forsey] and his fellow soldiers,’ a goal that is achieved in this valuable and carefully curated publication.”

Bert Riggs has been an archivist at Memorial University since 1989 and currently is head of the Archives and Manuscripts Division at the university’s Queen Elizabeth II Library. Mr. Riggs holds a BA and a B.Ed. from Memorial and a masters in information studies from the University of Toronto.