Letters from a soldier

Jeep

With Remembrance Day nearly upon us in Canada, I’m posting a series of letters from Anthony Dembisky of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Dembisky served with the Canadian Fusiliers in A Company and D Company in the Second World War. The Canadians were sent to Kiska, Alaska under the command of an American force to take on the Japanese army which occupied some of the islands in the Aleutian Islands.
The letters were sent to his wife. Reading some of the letters one learns that Dembisky may have worked for Inco in Sudbury or Port Colborne, Ont. The letters to his home show addresses on Mitchell Street and Fraser Street in Port Colborne.
These letters were purchased at the Alphabet Bookshop in Port Colborne and came with a number of photos, which have no identification on them at all. I’m including some of those photos and other old war photos I have purchased over the years.

Naniamo B.C.
July 2/43

Dear Pat:
Wrote you some time ago and as yet have received no reply. I know mail has been all censored leaving this Island that may be one reason. I am not so sure whether you have received it or not. I am trying to work this one through somehow.
First of all I am feeling fine. We are leaving Canada very shortly and it may be Alaska. We were all issued with American equipment the other day and it seems we will be under American Command there.
So please try and write as often as possible even every day if time permitts. How did you get home and how long did you stay at Lea’s places.
I got rapped here for $42.00 for that drunk charge when I got back that conductor on that train laid the charges and sent them through the Provost Corps to my unit here. I’ve moved you may notice from Alberni but its just a matter of days before we leave here.
All I can say is wherever I am I will try and look after myself to the best of ability, so don’t worry your fool head off. I’ll be back better than ever.
Well honey I expect to get this letter through I must say good-Bye now and best regards to the kids.
I remain the same.
Your Loving Husband
Tony

Old photo 1

July 20/43

Dear Pat:
Somewhere at sea and wish to inform you that I am feeling fine. Have been sailing for some time, was subjected to a slight case of sea-sickness and am all over it now. Getting plenty to eat and can receive cigs for almost nothing. Unable to give you any details concerning my voyage due to our own safety.
Received your reply aboard and glad to hear that you finally got back. Would like to know how dad felt about me not going to see him during my short stay in Port Colborne. Don’t know the exact outcome of the trip as a matter of fact I doubt if the officials know themselves.
Did you see mother before leaving Sudbury. There will be undoubtly considerable delay with mail at my next point so try and write as often as time permits because mine will be limited.
Anxiously awaiting the day when we can see each other again.
I remain the same As Ever Your Loving Husband
Tony

Old photo 3

July 24/43

Dear Pat:
Arrived safely to my destination. Feeling fine and hope this reaches you all in the same state.
Unable to state any details concerning my duties while her. Was informed that outgoing mail would be quite satisfactory but as for incoming it remained to be seen. My voyage here was adventerous and never did I have a dull moment.
How are things in general back home. Have you seen anything of Herbie from Buffalo lately and his family; give them my best regards. How long did you stay at Lea’s and how did Bob feel.
Say how about stretching your letters a bit I sure have plenty of time to read them for there is nothing else to do.
The weather here varies. It sure must be swell back in Port.
Well Pat, censorship is so strict here that I really don’t know what and how to express my feelings so I’ll have to wait for a later date when circumstances won’t be so.
Awaiting patiently for the day when the curtain falls to end this awful mess we are in.
I remain the same.
Always Your Loving Husband
Tony
Best regards to all in my concern. Chin up

Old photo 6

July 30/43

Dear Pat:
Received your reply of the 13th and it was sure swell. A letter from home is like a God’s sent virtue these days and especially out here when a person has plenty of time to read.
So Herb’s family was over glad to hear it and I know you must of gave them the same kind and generous hospitality as they rendered us during our short stay while in Buffalo. They are sure a swell couple and well mated. Will drop Herb a card if you forward his correct address my memory has run short. Say you still forgot to mention dad. Received a reply from Nick this morning and he had said you wrote. Have you heard anything from Mary. Would deeply appreciate a good set of snapshots as you know I haven’t any real good ones.
Won’t be able to state my duties here at any time all you call do is stress your imagination and if I recall correctly your a wizard at that because there were not things I did back home that you didn’t know off. How’s Bobby is he still into everything and what is he like defending himself against those little brats that hang around the house at times.
Well Pat I’ll sign off for now and hoping to hear from you real soon.
I remain the same.
Always Your Loving Husband
Tony

A smile on her face

Sept. 3/43

Dear Pat

Reached our main objective and everything went quite well and wish to express that I am safe as well, so don’t loose any more weight. We are stationed on an Island recently occupied by the Japs.
Received all of your letters on one heap dated from July 22nd to Aug. 19th. This is my first opportunity I’ve had to write for a long time. Glad to hear that you are all well it makes things more easier for me here. I am safe to say that we are not on no picnic but conditions could be much worse.
You might as well save the clothes I mailed. I’ve got what you asked but I am unable to send it to you at present.
Received mail from Sudbury that was no so pleasant. You are in a condition to known more about it seeing you were there for 3 weeks. I am not going to discuss the matter for the present but will deal with it at a later date. I would deeply appreciate all the information or none at all regarding the same.
We may be located here for some time to come.
Cigarettes are plentifull but you may send me a few magazines such as life’s and look’s.
Time is limited so I must close. I hope this reaches you all in the best state of affairs.
I remain the same.
Always Your Loving Husband
Tony
P.S. I can’t understand why the International Nickel Company wanted those particulars.

Nurses

Sept. 7/43

Dear Pat:
Taking time to write and let you know that I am feeling fine. Conditions here are improving everyday and if winter finds us still on this island we should have a cozy little fox hole. For your information when we first occupied this island we lived for a short while on Japanese rations which were carelessly left behind the Niponese Army they weren’t what an average person could call good but they filled our hungry tummies. We took shelter in old broken down Jap huts upon arrival which was quite an experience. The weather varies from bad to better you will undoubtly have to use your imagination concerning it because weather conditions are so far ruled out by the censor who very seldom takes changes.
I am under the impression that the reason why the International Nickel Company wanted those particulars was that they are recalling key men from the armed forces they sure took their time considering myself nevertheless I’ve got my fingers crossed. Would be delighted if you dropped into a liquor store while down town some afternoon and send me a little bottle of something sure could use it haven’t seen any since I left its as precious as a relic around here. Will send what you previously asked for as soon a permanent post office is established. By the way I still demand some good snaps so don’t disappoint me.
If you were inclined to read current events sometimes instead of “Love and Loving” in your local newspaper you might be able to locate my situation which still remains a Military secret.
Best regards to all.
Your Loving Husband
Tony

Foot injury

Kiska Aleutian Ils.
Sept. 22/43

Dear Pat:
Haven’t heard from you since July 31st and have wrote several letters since. You may notice by the heading that we are permitted to give our location as it no longer remains a secret hence the Canadian News-papers must of been just fluttered with News from Kiska. For your information this island was the last of strong-holds in the Northern Pacific thus relieving the threat to the North American continent. Note do not use the above mentioned place as an address on your reply mail simply use former as on top left of envelope.
I am in receipt of a letter dated Aug. 28th from Sudbury which reads that mother isn’t doing so well in St. Joseph’s Hospital and Nick and Jackie are split up, the latter being no surprise to me at all.
The weather here is like what one can expect in the Northern waters. Living conditions could be much worse and the food is good. Cigarettes may be purchased at 45 cents a cartoon reasons are due because of Government Excise exemption. Standing shoulder to shoulder to our American allies and at all times exchange our warm affectionate greetings (swell bunch of lads). May be leaving for Canada shortly and from there is remains to be seen. As for health’s sake I am feeling fine and in return only hope this reaches you all in the same state.
Awaiting anxiously for a reply concerning statements in my previous letter. Best regards to entire family I remain the same Your Loving Husband
Tony
P.S. Slight change in address from A. Coy to D Coy

Soldiers and kids

Kiska Aleutian Ils.
Sept. 25/43

Dear Pat:

Received your reply date Sept 2nd was delighted to hear that all is well with your people. Sorry for not congratulating Bobby on his birthday. Circumstances prevented me from doing so. Rumours were officially confirmed the other day which brings us back to Canada very shortly. As for myself I am feeling fine. Should be granted some sort of leave upon our arrival only hope that it may be extended long enough to visit home.
Conditions are still the same. The weather is quite changeable. Can’t understand why you are not receiving my mail regular. Have heard no further on Mother’s condition. Are you going over to the school at all and by the way how’s your mother and father.
Cigarettes are reasonable around here bought about 10 cartoons at 45 cents each and will try and take them back.
I’ve got that Japanese souvenir but there are many items we will be unable to take away.
I seem to be out of words to-day for some unknown reason so I’ll draw this letter to a close and hoping it reaches you all in the best state of affairs.
I remain the same As Ever Your Loving Husband
Tony

Hospital

Kiska Aleutian Ils.
Oct. 1/43

Dear Pat:
Have not as yet heard from you; to my astonishment a batch of mail arrived to-day with non in answer to my name. Not surprised at mail conditions but never gave thought that it would be as bad as all that. Feeling fine and will undoubtly feel much better upon my arrival back to Canada which may be veery soon. Were included fresh fruit and vegetables for the first and it was sure a treat in comparrison with the dehydrated food we have been receiving in the past. Speaking in general every thing remains the same and the daily army routine remains unchanged. The weather is quite favourable in season.
Have been having a little trouble with my throat and ears lately chiefly caused by high winds but at no times serious.
Trying to get away with a few cartoons of old gold cigs and a few Jap souvenirs if I can will be disappointed if not.
Should be granted enough leave to return home when we reach Canada and am planning to visit Kirkland Lake. Mary has treated me while going out of her way twice to Sudbury to see my so I am doing it for gratitude.
Can’t say if I’ll be in Port Colborne or not it all depends on the reply I received on my inquiry about a few things that you are well acquainted with. Will inform you of any changes as soon as I am advised of same. In conclusion hoping this reaches you all in the best health.
I remain the same.
Your Loving Husband
Tony
P.S. Mother’s condition still remains a mystery to me.

Kiska Aleutian Ils.
Oct. 17/43

Dear Pat:
Received your letter dated Sept 28th stating that as yet you have received no word from me well I may add to that regard is you seem to be the only individual that has correspondence from Kiska that hasn’t. Of course I’ll admit thing are screwy around here, but not that bad.
As for health’s sake I am feeling fine and hope this finds you all the same in return. Speaking in general conditions here remain unchanged and the weather is ideal. Have and will be continuing a stiff course of training awaiting patiently when the curtain falls to end this mess we are all in.
Have purchased a war bond your benefit will you call at the Bank of Commerce in Port Colborne and pick it up arrangements have been completed here so that you may be able to do the above mentioned same,
The previous bond I’ve purchased will be delivered to you through registered mail which may be General Delivery seeing I forgot to mention your postal box no. so don’t forget to pay a visit to the G.O wicket within the next month and also the bank.
If unable to secure sufficient leave to get home upon arrival back to Canada will expect you to come out west so it would be advisable for you to be prepared for such move at short notice. I’ll make arrangements with you through telegraph or phone. Have been advised of military situation and almost date of arrival to Canada but unable to state reasons no doubt are for security. Will have sufficient funds for you at any set date to cover any of your expenses of your trip out west.
Awaiting a reply concerning any reasons why you should be unable to complete the above mentioned same.
I remain the same.
Your Loving Husband
Tony

Nurse and child

Kiska Aleutian Ils.
Oct. 22/43

Dear Pat:
I am in receipt of your reply of Oct. 7th.
Delighted to hear that all is well you, as for myself I am feeling fine. So you finally received my mail. I am writing quite often which leaves mail to you on its way at all times. Have received mail also from mother and Mary, mother’s condition has improved and Mary states she has not heard from you for quite awhile. I don’t think your as busy as all that.
Unable to say when I’ll be back to Canada but be prepared to make the trip out west at short notice and let money be no object, store you furniture at any rate. Don’t purchase any winter outfits because the winter is mild out on the west coast although its damp at times but you may buy clothing more ampt for rain than snow.
As I mentioned previously all expenses will be made from my account. Upon receiving both war bonds don’t cash them unless necessary.
Sure will be glad when I get that bottle haven’t had a drink in 4 months and a person sure can make use of one in this type of weather.
To my knowledge Nick is in Toronto and Jackie is hanging around Sudbury. I understand she took Nick for a few hundred before she left. I sure don’t think very much of her and as a matter of fact nobody else does. I want you to know now that the person you were insinuating had nothing to do with those unpleasant rumours at all. It came from a close friend of yours so give more consideration about the people you sometimes associate with, and as for the matter I am not yet satisfied and will be dealt with in time accordingly.
If this letter should reach you in time I want to wish you a happy Birthday and may yours be much more a pleasant one than that of mine which I had recently spent here in Kiska and if you recall correctly I spent my previous one on am isolated spot on York Island; all I am hoping in vain is that I may spend my next in civilization.
Would like to send you a token unable to do so with present position. Was thinking of getting you a new fur coat for your birthday. You may rest assure that its as good as yours as soon as I arrive safely back in Canada.
Seen “Andy Hardy’s First Love” starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland last night and it was sure a treat a movie here is like a God’s sent virtue.
Living conditions and rations are good considering the location, candy bars are plentiful a person may buy a box at times and cigs. at 50 cents a carton. I have 10 cartons stacked up and am hoping to get them through.
Well time is getting short so I’ll close for now. Best regards to all and may the present illness stricken on your family be only a short one.
I remain the same.
Your Loving Husband
Tony

Kiska Aleutian Ils.
Nov. 11/43

Dear Pat:
Received your letter of Oct. 23rd. First of all I would like to comment more on your subject but unable to do so on account that I am under the impression that our army sensor system is too personal therefore you will have to bear with me until such time when we meet
Secondily I’ll tell you this much that I received the mentioned information just about 2 days prior to our landings here on Kiska. With my life at stake not knowing the outcome of our invasion and the information I received from Sudbury on top of all that just tell me in your own simple words how in the hell did you expect me to too feel human, did you expect me to just grin and ignore it; if you did well all I can say in that regard is after knowing me for 6 years you still don’t know anything about me. I’ll admit I was hasty in the reply but the circumstances I was living under were to blame. As for that prolonged operation have it immediately cash the bonds which I mentioned in my previous letter upon receiving them.
My biggest disappointment is that I will be unable to spend this coming xmas with you as I have in the past. Have not received your parcel as yet but living in hope that it reaches here in time for xmas or otherwise it will sure be not only a dry one but also a lonely one.
I am unable to state my arrival back to Canada although I am informed – a section of the letter was physically cut out at this point by a censor.
I guess I am safe to say that I’ll wire you immediately when I do arrive. As for my health I guess you know that I’d write and tell you I was feeling fine whether I was or not so we won’t bother our kids about that. Winter is on it ways up here have had our first snowfall on Nov. 1st.
May I add that your worries will be paid for in dividends when I arrive home; should be granted at least a couple of weeks leave when I do get there after the experience we underwent here.
Well Pat what should I be expressing most of all is that I wish you a Merry xmas and may all of your coming days be merry and bright ones. Personally I am going to make a confession at this stage of my greetings. I am stunned and really I don’t know who to express them seeing that I never had to do this before as you know we have spent all our xmas’s together so you will forgive me if I just conclude with, May God preserve you all until my safe return. Best regards to you family.
I remain the same As Ever Your Loving Husband
Tony
P.S. Pulling for you all the way the day you enter the hospital and if anything should happen while I am away I’ll never be the same.

Nurse

Kiska Aleutian Ils.
Nov. 17/43

Dear Pat:

Wish to advise you that I have received your mentioned parcel in top shape. The bottle was swell while it lasted thanks a million. I believe you will be quite disappointed when you hear that I will be unable to home for xmas but in return I expect you to take it one the chin and bear it. At least you know I will be home and only time alone will tell. Will make up for everything. We’ll go over to Buffalo and spend a couple of days with your cousin and don’t worry about American money because we get paid in American currency ever since we left Canada.
Cash the both war bonds if you need to from what you tell me you must be able to use the money don’t wait for me to cash them either. Use some of the money to purchase the winter outfits and buy the best if you don’t you’ll hear from me when I get home. You might as well start shopping for a new fur coat on account I hear fur coats will be hard to get next season pay a deposit in it if you fear it might be sold to someone else and I’ll settle the balance.
I suppose you will want to know how steep you can go will I think you should do well with $125 at the most (no kiddin either). Jokes aside I am serious. You may wonder why I am playing Santa Clause so on a sudden well I tell you there is nothing too good for you or me either so if I make my mind up to do something why not do it the best. I’ll withdraw the money I got in the Bank of Commerce and spend it all in that matter. Just a little money set aside that you should know about.
As for the weather here it seems that winter is here to say with about 6 inches of snow.
Should be able to spend at least two full weeks at home when I ever get there and if I do stop off in Sudbury it will only be for a day. Don’t worry about losing time getting there. If this should find you before xmas I again want to wish you a Merry Xmas. Try and make Shirley and Bobby believe I were there. Best regards to Mother and Dad, Joe, Ruth and Bobby may all their days be merry and bright.
I remain the same.
Your Loving Husband
Tony

Old photo 5

Kiska Aleutian Ils.
Dec. 6/43

Dear Pat:
Received your letter of Nov. 23rd. Sorry to hear of your sudden illness. I was waiting patiently for a reply on account that your previous letter was dated back as far as Oct. 10th. yes I did mention in one of my former letters that I have received your parcel.
As for health’s sake I am feeling fine despite the unfamiliar climate here on Kiska.
Will have a few snaps when I reach Canada so I can have them developed. Your interest will soon disappear on one look nevertheless I will fulfill your desire. Hope you will be around and up out of bed by xmas as mine will only be just another day. Can assure you that I will make up for everything I missed when I get back.
Have been having a bad streak of luck in playing poker lately was up a couple hundred at one time, so I guess I am through playing for awhile although I still have my fingers crossed.
The bonds may take a little while but I see no reason why you should not be in possession of them by xmas. When you do get them don’t wait for me to cash em either.
Well I haven’t much more to say so I’ll sign off and if this again should reach you before xmas I want to wish you a merry one and may our days be bright.
I remain the same.
Your Loving Husband
Tony
P.S. Writing in bed reason for scratching.

Charles Christopher Goulding

CNW News

 


 

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