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The End of Harry’s War




" [O]ur souls never die and should my body die over there Sweetheart, please ever remember that the soul of me which ever lives is still living with you inside, and that my wish and prayer is that you shall have happiness... You can be happy to know that I wasn’t afraid and that till the very end of all the worlds I loved only you. "

Harry, 4 Aug 1916

Letter from Harry Mason to Sadie Arbuckle, August 4, 1916
Click to see a larger image

Letter from Harry Mason to Sadie Arbuckle,
August 4, 1916
Sadie Arbuckle fonds
Reference Code: F 848
Archives of Ontario, I0070867

On April 22, 1917, Harry wrote his final letter to Sadie. In it, he describes the toll the war is taking on him, and it is evident that his perspective has changed tremendously. This is not the fresh soldier brimming with enthusiasm. This is a man who has seen the battle from the ground and from the air, and no longer cares for any of it.

Letter from Harry Mason to Sadie Arbuckle, April 22, 1917
Click to see a larger image

Letter from Harry Mason to Sadie Arbuckle, April 22, 1917
Sadie Arbuckle fonds
Reference Code: F 848
Archives of Ontario, I0071634

" [I]ts very strenuous Sweetheart and I’m tired... what’s the use Sadie of all this horrible slaughter, surely it has gone far enough now for the world to learn its futility... there are shell holes and craters (mine craters) filled with blood – it turns me sick – am afraid Sweetheart that this is getting on my nerves, the horror of it all is too continuous... This is a horrid letter Sweetheart I should never write to you of war I know, you already hear too much about it and am afraid you will worry dear – please do not... "

Harry, 22 Apr 1917


graphic of speaker

Click below to hear a portion of the letter above



Letter from Harry Mason to Sadie Arbuckle, April 22, 1917
Click to see a larger image

Letter from Harry Mason to Sadie Arbuckle, April 22, 1917
Sadie Arbuckle fonds
Reference Code: F 848
Archives of Ontario, I0071636
Letter from Harry Mason to Sadie Arbuckle, April 22, 1917
Click to see a larger image

Letter from Harry Mason to Sadie Arbuckle, April 22, 1917
Sadie Arbuckle fonds
Reference Code: F 848
Archives of Ontario, I0071635




Lieutenant Harry Mason was killed in action on April 28, 1917. His plane was shot down over Arras, France and he and his pilot were both killed instantly.

"Miss Sadie Arbuckle,
Toronto, Ont.
Dear Miss Arbuckle,
We received a cable gram from Ottawa that my brother Harry had been killed in action on April twenty-eighth. Harry often spoke of you and we thought you should know of his death. We shall probably get further word as to the manner of his death in a week or so and will send the particulars to you if you wish. We all feel his loss very keenly and knowing that you were very dear to Harry wish you to accept our deepest sympathy. Very sincerely,"

A. Ruby Mason 5 May 1917



Postcard (front) from Jack Wulff to Sadie Arbuckle, notifying her of Harry Mason’s death, [1917]
Click to see a larger image

Postcard (front) from Jack Wulff to Sadie Arbuckle, notifying her of Harry Mason’s death, [1917]
Sadie Arbuckle fonds
Reference Code: F 848
Archives of Ontario, I0071639
Postcard (back) from Jack Wulff to Sadie Arbuckle, notifying her of Harry Mason’s death, [1917]
Click to see a larger image

Postcard (back) from Jack Wulff to Sadie Arbuckle, notifying her of Harry Mason’s death, [1917]
Sadie Arbuckle fonds
Reference Code: F 848
Archives of Ontario, I0071640

Sadie had not yet received word of Harry’s death when she sent her final letter. In it, she makes one final attempt to be of some use to a man who is facing horrors she knows she cannot understand.


"Harry are you in need of sox, has your supply given out yet? You told me you had plenty but by this time you will have worn them out. Please tell me and isn’t there anything else you would care for – luxuries of any kind. If you were in the trenches I would know what to send you as it is I don’t know how you are treated or just what you are given to eat. Please write and ask me for something."

Sadie, 7 May 1917



graphic of speaker

Click below to hear a portion of the letter above



The Commander of the 67th Battalion wrote to Harry’s family to express his sympathy and to commend their son.

"Mr. W.E. Mason,Canton, Ont.
Dear Mr. Mason:

May I express to you my sincere sympathy in the loss of your gallant boy, while on Active Service, attached to the Royal Flying Corps. While with this Battalion, your son earned for himself a splendid reputation as a good Officer, efficient in his work and always having the best interests of the men at heart. For his good work while with me, I had recommended him for the Military Cross and it was only owing to his transfer to the Flying Corps that I was unable to obtain same for him, as he had left the Division. I should like to send you a copy of my recommendation, from which you will judge how highly he was thought of.

In your sad bereavement, you will have the conscious pride that your boy was a brave Officer and that he made the supreme sacrifice fighting in a good cause for his King and Country. Sincerely Yours, "

Lorne Ross
Lieut.-Col.
Commanding 67th Canadian Pioneer Battalion
3 June 1917



graphic of speaker

Click below to hear the letter above



Sadie went on to correspond with Harry’s family, but only the letters from the Mason family survive. These expressed a deep affection for her, and Harry’s father signed his letters to Sadie with “Dad.” We do not see Sadie’s response to Harry’s death in these records.

Letter from Harry Mason’s father, William E. Mason, to Sadie Arbuckle, [ca. 1917-1918]
Click to see a larger image

Letter from Harry Mason’s father, William E. Mason,
to Sadie Arbuckle, [ca. 1917-1918]
Sadie Arbuckle fonds
Reference Code: F 848
Archives of Ontario, I0071691

The Great War ended on November 11, 1918 and by that time 66,573 Canadians had been killed and 138,166 wounded.

Harry Mason was just one of these soldiers, but the letters between Harry and Sadie act as a reminder that each one of Canada’s fallen soldiers had an individual life, full of love, hopes, and dreams. The families and friends they left behind had to continue on, altering their future plans to deal with the stark reality of loss.

Reading the correspondence between Harry and Sadie helps us to remember the humanity behind an inhumane war. Through these letters, it is easier to put ourselves in the boots of these soldiers, or in the shoes of their loved ones at home. Spending time with Harry and Sadie helps us to remember all of those who fought in Ontario’s first World War.