My Favourite Collection – Megan Pugh, Whitby Archives

Cullen Hay Perry Letters

One of my favourite collections at the Whitby Archives is the Cullen Hay Perry Letters Nov_24_1917_1from the First World War. Cullen Hay Perry was born in Whitby, Ontario on August 15, 1893 to John Ham Perry and Louisa Hay. His grandfather was Peter Perry the founder of Whitby. Cullen served with the Queen’s Own Rifles from 1914-1917 and sustained injuries at a number of battles including the Second Battle of Ypres and Vimy Ridge. Following the injury at Vimy and upon being discharged from the hospital, Cullen transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in September 1917 and trained as a pilot in Alexandria, Egypt. He was killed in action in a plane crash on February 3, 1918 in Alexandria and is buried at the Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial Cemetery.

Cullen Hay Perry’s collection consists of seven letters he wrote to his mother, Louisa Hay, between August and October through December 1917. Nov_24_1917_3From the letters the reader can see the journey he took from Reading, England to “near Italy” to Alexandria, Egypt as he describes the weather and other events of the war. In his writings, Cullen inquires about people and events from Whitby and tells his mother how much his misses home. In his final letter, written two months before his death, Cullen talks about plans for after the war and asks his mother to come visit him in England. The letters document the love and respect Cullen had for his mother as he ends all of his letters with “your loving son”. Come in and experience the letters for yourself!


Cullen Hay Perry in the desert in Egypt with two donkeys, c.1918



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DRAAG is the professional group for archives and repositories of the local history of Durham Region and surrounding areas.
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