Chandler and World War I

Raymond Chandler fought in World War I with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He signed up in the second half of 1917 with his best friend at the time, Gordon Pascal and they were both assigned to the Fiftieth Regiment. It is likely that Chandler joined the Canadian army because they offered support to their soldiers’ dependents and this meant that Raymond’s mother, Florence, would be looked after whilst he fought abroad.

What I had not realized, until today, is that Chandler sought exemption from the US draft in June1917. At this time he was living in Santa Barbra, where he managed a branch of the LA Creamery. He was twenty eight years old, tall and, according to his US army draft card, of medium build. His public school education at Dulwich College insilled in him a keen sense of his duty, one that would have made him want to serve in WWI. However in his US draft card he seeks an excemeption “on account of mother”. No further details are given but it goes to show  how Florence Chandler always had to be factored into all his thinking. He always felt that it was his first duty to look after and protect her.

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2 responses to “Chandler and World War I

  1. Through my genealogical research I have discovered that Gordon Pascal was married to my Great Aunt, Helen. I also found Pascal’s 50th regiment military attestation form which was witnessed by R. L. Chandler. Do you have any more information about the relationship between Chandler and Pascal.

    Thank you.

    • Chandler and Pascal were good friends but they may have fallen out over Pascal’s step mother, Cissy. She was married to Pascal’s father, Julian. Whilst Chandler and Gordon went to war, Chandler’s mother stayed at the Pascal’s house in LA. Chandler and Cissy probably wrote to each other during the war, possibly to exchange information about Gordon (who had joined the Royal Flying Corp whilst Chandler went to the trenches in Northern France). These letters may have taken a romantic turn – it is impossible to know – but, what is sure is that when Raymond got back to LA in 1919 he started a relationship with Cissy. His mother disapproved but their friends, being relatively bohemian, supported the new couple and arranged for Cissy and Julian to have a quiet divorce. Chandler and Cissy married in 1924, after Mrs Chandler died. Julian seems to disappear from is life over time and there are only a few references in the later letters I am afraid. I hope this was helpful and I’d love to hear more about your research. Do email me on tom.williams (at) gmail and we can talk further.

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