March 25th, 1916
Dear Mr Mackenzie,
You will, I think, be pleased to hear that three of your "old boys" Robin, Joe, and Vincent, are doing their bit for the Empire.
Robin is a Sergeant in the Canadian Engineers 4th Section, Sixth Field Company and Joe is with him - a sapper.
Robin in a letter just received says, "Joe is going strong", and in earlier letters he has more than once said that he was doing "fine work"- his experience in railway construction work no doubt serving him well.
When the war broke out Robin joined the Officers Training School, commanded by Colonel Lang of the Science School of the Toronto University and qualified for a commission in the Infantry, and later he enlisted in the Engineers.
Some effort was made to get a commission for him after the company went to Ottawa for further training, but without results until just as they were leaving for England, when General Sir Sam offered it to him if he would wait for the next lot to go to England,
He preferred to go with the others which - as it turns out - is a pity.
About the end of last December his cousin who is one of the assistant managers of the Bank of Mondreal, London, England, wrote Mrs. Crombie that Sir Max Aitken at his instance had put in a recommendation for him for a commission and I am hoping that he has got it by this time, or if not then it will soon come to him.
I don't know that it will be needed in his case - it being so long since he left school - and he has a splendid letter from Mr. W.K. Pearce, the Manager of the main branch of the Dominion Bank here, whon whom he served several years in Hamilton, but a letter from you would be a good thing to have, and if you would so word it as to include all my boys who were with you I shall be very much obliged - Willie as well as the others.
Willie is the only one left to look after his mother and sister, while the others are taking the risks of war.
He is doing splendidly, being Engineer-in-charge of the construction of a Dam on Grassy River, about 30 miles south of the town of Timmins, Northern Ontario.
He is employed by a wellknown firm of Consulting Engineers of New York, who have sub-let the contract and has been told by them that they will want him all through the summer in connection with other work they have in the Porcupine district.
I thought if you would, in your letter, first say what you can about Robin, and then vouch in general terms for all the boys, it could but be helpful.
You have heard, no doubt, about poor old Brad's death, which occurred on 23rd May, He had been home with us for four months - confined to his bed all the time.
We moved up here from Bedford Road on 1st August, and a few weeks ago found we had as a neighbor Reggie Blomfield, of whom I had so often heard Brad speak. He was a hero to him.
Mrs. Crombie joins me in kindest regards to Mrs. Mackenzie and yourself.
P.S. I am just writing to Dr. Macdonald, of St. Andrews College about Vincent, and as I thought you would be pleased to read what Robin says about him I send you a copy of the letter.
I wonder if you know any of the commanding officers of Battalions at the front. In sending in an application for a commission it is necessary that then name of one who is agreeable to take the applicant on the strength of his Battalion, and has a vacancy, should be given.