University of Calgary

Letter from battlefield on display for WWI centennial

University of Calgary student donates letter written on fabric of downed aircraft to The Military Museums

July 24, 2014

On Monday, July 28, the centennial of the outbreak of the First World War, a unique battlefield artefact is going on display at The Military Museums: a letter written home by Canadian solder Edward Iley on the fabric from the wing of a German aircraft his unit shot down.

University of Calgary student Michael Hilton, Iley's great-grandson, donated the letter to The Military Museums. He stumbled upon it by accident and consulted war diaries and other documents in the university's Library and Archives at The Military Museums to research Edward Iley's unit, the Canadian 12th Railroad Division.

Hilton's research turned up just two more letters in the world - located in France and Australia - that were written on the fabric of airplane wings. His great-grandfather's letter, along with a pocket watch belonging to the German gunner of the plane, are among 300 artefacts from the First World War going on public display starting Monday at The Military Museums in the exhibition Wild Rose Overseas: Albertans in the Great War.

WHAT:     Media preview of letter from WWI battlefield                      
WHEN:     Friday, July 25, 2014, 10:00 a.m. to noon                         
WHERE:    University of Calgary Library and Archives, The Military Museums  
WHO:      Michael Hilton, great-grandson of the letter's author, Edward Iley
          Rory Cory, senior curator and director of collections, The        
          Military Museums