Christmas at the Front – Rupert Henry Vaughan

Vaughan023The artist of this wonderful pen and ink Christmas card is Rupert Henry Vaughan. Vaughan, a civil engineer, emigrated from England in 1908 and worked in Nelson, British Columbia before settling on Vancouver Island. He worked in the surveying department for the E&N Railway before joining the 1st Pioneer Battalion on August 17th, 1915.

Sept. 2, 1915 Daily Colonist

Sept. 2, 1915 Daily Colonist

It’s interesting to note that Vaughan was as talented with bat and ball as he was with pen and ink. The Daily Colonist reported, just two days prior to his enlisting, that he “played splendid cricket for his 59, in which he hit nine fours, and followed it up with some rattling good bowling, taking seven wickets for 51″.

Vaughan came from a very artistic family having both a father and sister who sketched and painted. He carried a sketch book with him throughout the war and often illustrated his letters, some of which I will share in 2014. The detail and skill on display in his Christmas card, dated Nov. 9, 1916, is truly wonderful especially when you consider that he and the 1st Pioneer Battalion were busy digging trenches near Vimy Ridge at that time.

Rupert Henry Vaughan began his military service as a “Pioneer” but he rose through the ranks and received a commission shortly after the 1st Pioneer Battalion was re-designated the 9th Battalion, Canadian Railway Troops. Lieutenant Vaughan spent the remainder of the war constructing the light railway networks that carried men and supplies to the front.

When the war ended Rupert Henry Vaughan joined the Department of Public Works where he would continue his career as a civil engineer. He also donned his whites and returned to the cricket grounds he frequented prior to the war. He, along with his wife Beatrice and daughter Eileen lived in Duncan, BC for most of their lives however Rupert died in November 1955, shortly after he and Beatrice moved to the Okanagan town of Oliver.

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