Letter of Recommendation….

In the fall of 1918, George M. Wrong wrote a letter of recommendation for Peregrine Acland to Dr. Endicott Peabody, the founder of the Groton School and legendary headmaster.

The letter, dated September 18th, 1918 reads:

img023My dear Dr. Peabody:

A very promising man for your purpose is Major Peregrine Acland.  He is a returned soldier who was terribly wounded about two years ago.  He has been at Colorado Springs for his health and has recently married an American lady.  I wrote to his father, who is an official at Ottawa, about the son and now know that Major Acland is not definitely engaged for this winter.  He is a real man of letters and accustomed to move in good society.  You would be fortunate if you could persuade him to go to you and money would be an object, as he is a poor man.  I have no hesitation in saying that he is just the man for you.  I am writing to him by this mail.  A letter to him direct to the Post Office at Colorado Springs would be the best plan, if you have decided that you want such a man.  It may be too late or he may not feel strong enough for the work.  I will write you later if I hear of any other suitable person.  Forgive the hasty line.  Yours, George M. Wrong.

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Harold V. Wrong, Lt. Lancashire Fusiliers.  Late 1914 or early 1915.

Harold V. Wrong, Lt. Lancashire Fusiliers. Late 1914 or early 1915.

George Wrong was the head of the History Department at the University of Toronto when Acland was there from 1909-1913; what’s more Acland appears to have been a close friend of George’s second son Harold Verschoyle Wrong.  Born the same year, Peregrine and Harold both studied history at the UofT, were members of the XIII club, and together published a short-lived undergraduate literary journal called Arbor from 1910-13.

When war broke out, Harold Wrong was doing graduate work at Christ Church College, Oxford.  He applied for a commission in late ’14 and became an officer in the 15th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers, the same regiment (though different Battalion) as J.R.R. Tolkien.

Wrong’s Battalion was virtually wiped out during the frontal attack on Thiepval on July 1st, 1916, the first day of the battle of the Somme.  Like so many, his body was never found.

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Like Acland, Harold Wrong dabbled in poetry.  In 1922, his father collected several of his poems found amongst his papers, along with those that had previously appeared in other small literary journals, and published Verses, a memorial volume assembled by a grieving father.  All but two of the nineteen poems were written pre-war, and are typically late-Edwardian, undergraduate efforts.  Verses is extremely rare, and one is not likely to come across a copy.  However should you be curious, it can be downloaded from the internet archive here.  Had he survived, Harold Wrong would likely have contributed something greater to Canada’s literature of the First World War.

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The Wrong family has occasionally popped-up in relation to Acland during the course of my research.  In W.L. Mackenzie King’s diary of September 8th, 1942 for example, the Prime Minister muses about cultivating a greater friendship with Hume Wrong (younger brother of Harold) and Acland in the same paragraph.  I suspect George Wrong’s papers, housed at the University of Toronto, contain several more references to Acland, of the older man taking an interest in fallen son’s friend, but unfortunately it will be some time before I can visit Toronto and confirm it.


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