Private Harry Lamin - Introduction


Harry Lamin was born in August 1887 in the East Midlands of England. In 1917, aged 29, he joined up to fight in the First World War.

The picture shows Harry at school. I've marked him - he's on the second row from the front. Unfortunately, there's no date but he looks about 7 so the picture must have been taken around 1894.

During his time in the army, he wrote letters home to his brother and sister. They were kept and handed down to me, his grandson.

I have transcribed the letters and added commentary so that references can make sense.

What has been produced is a moving and poignant account of an ordinary man's experiences in an extraordinary situation.

I have edited nothing. The spellings and grammar are exactly as Harry wrote them.

The intention of this blog is to publish the letters exactly 90 years after Harry wrote them. His first letter from the training camp was written on February 7th 1917. It will be published on the blog on February 7th 2007.

Each letter will appear on the correct date from then on. There are gaps where no letters are available for several weeks. I have no explanations. Maybe they were lost. I have no idea.

If you wish to find out Harry's fate then you'll have to access the blog as the new letters arrive.

Please feel free to let me know if you are interested in following the blog. There is within, a fascinating insight into the fate of the ordinary soldier in those horrific times.

Those who are even more interested in the Great War should look to study online.   WW1.

88 comments:

Anonymous said...

This looks really interesting. Will you release how many letters there are ahead of the Publication?

Anonymous said...

Are you continuing with this project? It looks really interesting - I'm looking forward to it:-)

Julia Mendels said...

My fifteen year old grandson who is living with me has a history assignment. We live close to a street called Messines and he had decided to make the Messines Ridge Battle the subject of his assignment. His great great uncle Lance Corporal Matthew Carroll 34th Btn AIF was killed at Messines on the 8th July, 1917. I have postcards from him to his family and other old papers. Very interesting and very sad.
The research he has been doing has sparked a strong interest and we are looking forward to reading your blog.

Kilgore D Sprout said...

Caught you being interviwed on BBC radio Five live and got interested.

I'm enjoying reading this and have added your site to my 'blogroll' as I believe it's great idea and a damn good read.

Judith van Praag said...

Dear Mr. Lamin,
Just today I discovered your grandfather's blog. What a wonderful idea to post his letters online 90 years after they were written. My father, who lived in the Netherlands also joined the army in 1917, he was 19 at the time. I'll be reading more with great interest. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

From a patriotic Englishman.....I cannot tell you how grateful I am to share this blog, we owe our lives to gentlemen like Harry, so glad he will never be forgotten now he's found the worldwide web.....

Anonymous said...

I only heard about the blog on Five Live today, but I will be a constant reader from now on. As more time passes since WW1, there are less and less people who can pass on their memories. Reading Harrys' letters can help us to understand what these brave men went through and remind us of the debt that we owe to his generation.
These letters must fill you with so many different emotions, but I hope that pride is one of them. Thankyou.

tinkertaylor said...

I heard you being interviewed on Radio 5 and today have accessed your diary of Harry Lamin. It reminded me of the family trying to get Grandfather to talk of his experiences in 1917/18 and the horrors of those times. He never did. Harry's letters are quite remarkable in their modesty as he does his best to allay the fears of family at home. You are to be congratulated on an inspired idea to share them with so many enthusiasts. Well done!

arctic dreamer said...

Every year in November, I find myself gearing up for Remembrance Day (always a big commemmoration in Canada) & start looking for new material, TV shows, films, etc. And here's your blog; I'm so glad I found it. It's just the most marvellous memorial of & to the common men caught up in duty & honour. You are very very lucky to have these letters & very very kind to share them with the world.

Thank you so much

Marita

Yellowknife, NWT, Canada

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

I think this was your first post but I'll need to go back and check that. Just so you know where I commented. What a truly fantastic idea for a blog. I came across it from the blogs of note. My eldest boy and husband will be fascinated to read it.

Selma said...

is this real ?

Jeff said...

I just finished reading "Ordinary Heroes" by Scott Turow and had my interest in the World Wars re-kindled. I realized I knew quite a bit about WWII but very little about the Great War. This blog is brilliant and I love the way you are releasing the letters. I intend to read all the backlog and then read them everytime one comes in. thank you for the work you are putting into it.

Jeff Couch

P.S. If you like poetry, both pretentious and otherwise feel free to check out my blog, spunthreads.blogspot.com

smallbutmighty said...

I heard about this Blog on Radio 4's Broadcasting House programme (in the review of the year - not sure when you appeared on it) and followed their link to find this site.

What an inspired idea to publish the letters - and on the appropraite days makes it so much more real and gives asense of time - no doubt Harry himself will give us an insight into the 'place'. I have lots of catching up to do to get onto real time (it's 31 December 2007 as I write this) but I'm looking forward to reading the letters.

Congratulations on your efforts, a wonderful lasting tribute to Harry.

Rachel said...

Wow this looks really interesting!
I found it after my english teachers (Mr W) wrote a post about it!

I feel I may be spending the next few hours catching up! :D

Rachel
x

kristel said...

hello,
i'm from holland. today i saw a article about your site at the paper (algemeen dagblad).
that's why i take a look at it.
i have not much time right now, but when i come home this afternoon i will read more. i think it's realy interesting, my grandpa (he fights at the world war 2) will read this to i think.

sorry for this english, it isn't that good

Petula said...

I read about this blog in yesterday's Telegraph (4 Jan, 2008) and I will enjoy catching up with all of the correspondence. What a great idea to do this and how informative - thank you for sharing these letters.

Ines said...

I read about this blog in today's Corriere della Sera(5 Jan, 2008) and I'm enthusiastic for your bright idea.

Thank you very much for this treasure - online- room.


Ines

Rome, Italy

5/ 01/ 2008

Anonymous said...

Hello from Italy.
I read about this blog today, in one of our main newspapers.
Here my reading starts, right from this post, here where the web becomes Poetry and History. Thanks for this precious blog.
Anna

Duccio from Italy said...

Great idea! My grandfather was in the folgore but I guess his letters may be unfortunately lost! Good luck with your project. Duccio from Italy.

Jose Enrique said...

Hi Mr Lamin.I founded your blog on a spanish newspaper today "el Pais".My english is no good.Thanks for sharing this amazing history with us.

Marco Antonio said...

Hi Mr. Lamin.
I'm a brazilian 22 years old guy who is about to read about your history. I think you would be happy to known that your history is today known in a far way land. Brazilian press has noticed this blogg adress.
See you soon.
São Paulo, SP, Brasil.

Anonymous said...

Just read about this blog on an online article. I am from Australia, my Grandfather was in WW2. I will be reading this from now on with great interest. What a great idea.

Gideon. said...

Thank you for doing this.

Bloggernovice said...

I found this blog by accident leafing through an old and discarded newspaper and feel fortunate to have done so.

I work at a police station in Wells, Somerset next to where Harry PATCH lives, Harry for those of you that do not know of him is I believe the oldest surviving WW1 veteran. Harry is a fantastic chap who just views what he did as 'doing his bit'. Without such people as the 'Harry's' I dread to think what may have happened to our beautiful country.

Congratulations Bill on a fantastic blog!

Krissy said...

Hello,
I came across your site via an article on news.com.au. I just wanted to let you know that I think this is a great idea for a blog and I look forward to working my way through the letters.
Best regards,
Krissy

Anonymous said...

This is fantastic. I saw this written up in today's (January 8, 2008), "The Washington Post" and logged in. Thanks very much for taking the time and energy to do this!

Michelle in Colorado said...

I'm an american who just learned of your blog from the msn.com news site. What a wonderful idea! As an amateur genealogist, I'm always interested in what our forebearers experienced in their lifetimes. I look forward to learning more about history and family from "across the pond". Thank you for sharing your precious artifacts! Now on to read the blogs from the beginning and catch up!

Anonymous said...

What a tremendous idea and gift to the world. I'm the son of a WW2 veteran who unfortunately knows virtually nothing about his service. I hope anyone with even a passing interest in military history finds this blog! Thank you so much for sharing this with all of us.

DrAwkwArD said...

I can't wait to start reading. Thanks so much for taking the time to post Private Lamin's thoughts.

We live in a society that often looks forward too frequently without ever looking back.

Tink said...

My husband sent me the link and I am looking forward to reading each and every letter. I have always been very interested in history of all ages, but several years ago I had to opportunity to scan in pictures my boss' father took during WWII. I was hooked.

Kimberly said...

I am very thankful that you are sharing this with all of us. What a great gift of history for us and a gift of honor to your grandfather and to your heritage. Thank you for the time and effort that you are spending and know that you are also passing this down to all the members in your family who will be able to have the blog to share from now on.

Kimberly said...

I am very thankful that you are sharing this with all of us. What a great gift of history for us and a gift of honor to your grandfather and to your heritage. Thank you for the time and effort that you are spending and know that you are also passing this down to all the members in your family who will be able to have the blog to share from now on.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to read all of them. Thanks! S. West - Chicago

Anonymous said...

Hi. I have only just tuned in after reading about this on www.news.com.au. I am from Australia and am researching my family history. I am currently looking into my Great Grandfathers WW1 involvement. This blog will really set the scene and help me understand what went on during those times. Thank-you for the insight. Joanne.

Greg said...

I've just discovered your blog and think it an excellent idea. Thank you for sharing.

I am a New Zealander and have visited Ypres and surrounds twice (as well as Gallipoli in Turkey) and have a family member buried in Polygon Wood.

Perhaps Harry's letters will add even more to the story of the Great War.

Thanks.

Joan said...

I've seen an article about this blog published in a Spanish newspaper http://www.abc.es/hemeroteca/historico-08-01-2008/abc/Tecnologia/un-blog-de-la-gran-guerra_1641543339851.html
and have recommended it to my high school students here.

Skeptical Simon said...

Having stumbled across your blog from another blog dealing with dead military bloggers, I think it is a great idea. I love reading about history, espically when it is firsthand accounts. I support your efforts and look forward to reading this blog.

Henrik Sultan said...

Just found this blog and its a great idea! Im hoping for the best (havent read more than one letter yet but I have all night :p)

Henrik Sultan

Patricia said...

Hello! I'm from Portugal and i just heard about your blog today (January 10, 2008) on the radio.
Wonderful idea!
In fact, letters are more than written emotions and expressions, they are history.
Thank you for sharing that with us.

Icarus said...

Like Patricia just before me, I too am in Portugal (no connection), but with a difference. I am English and my Grandfather, as a Territorial, did the whole WW1 from August 1914 until the end. He died in 1949,not from wounds sustained, but from the illnesses he took home to London with him. 30 years to die.
I've been passionately intrigued by the Great War all my life and, like many others, learned of your wonderful blog idea only a week ago on BC World TV. So, now I wiull start the read and will doubtless comment again. And sincere thanks.

Joao Batista said...

Hello

I´m from Brasil and follow a link to your blog. I love WW histories and your idea is fantastic.

I´ll read everything!!

Congratulations

Anonymous said...

I'm from Malaysia and the local newspaper, The Star, featured this blog. Its a great idea!

JennyBS said...

This is a great blog, I look forward to reading about the fate of Harry and his life. Thank you for doing this!

Goffs said...

Hello,
I'm from Western Australia and my father Jesse Hill MM no.16267 was with C Company 9th Bat.Yorks & Lancs from 28th October 1914 to being demobbed in March 1919, but he didn't talk much about the war.
Looking forward to more episodes
Godfrey H Hill

Guido G. said...

Congratulations Bill on this exceptional work. I heard about your blog when it was shown on Germany's major news program (Tagesschau) last night. It is great to see history and technology being combined this way and I've already been captured by reading about "little Harry". I am very much looking forward to catch up and learn more about all the things Harry whitnessed and shared in his letters. Thank you very much for the energy you put into this.

Best Wishes,
Guido Grillenmeier, Germany

Claudia in Toronto said...

I am French-Canadien. I am in my seventies. One uncle was a soldier in the First World War. He wasn't well. My mother said he had been "gassed", a chemical used in the war. He never spoke much. I'm interested in knowing about your grand-father's experiences. You're a fine young man to share him with the world. I heard about it in a French blog from Paris. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Hi My name is Juan, I live in Argentina, Buenos Aires and your blog was taken by one of the most important newspapers in my country (Clarin) and publish it today.

It is an excellent and innovative idea around WW stories and information, big welcome to new things like this one.

Looking forward to read all letters.

Cheers from Argentina.

Juan

Emory said...

your Blog just appeared on NBC Nightly News, here in the US.

I aam going to follow this, your grandfather's story with great interest.

I lost several members of my family in Flanders and Picardy. I am a direct decendent of one who lies in Rouen. Died from wounds March 29th 1918 - South Lancashire Fusiliers he was a Mons Star holder, having been in France since 1914.

Thanks for this important effort.

nonnamack said...

Hi, I just heard about this site on MSNBC News. What a great thing you are doing...sharing such intimate, heartfelt, and perhaps "stirring" letters with us. Those of us who may never be on a battlefield will never truly know what experiences our men and women face who are in harm's way. Thank you so much for helping us see some of those experiences in a more personal way. Good luck with all you are doing. "nonnamack"

Jeanne Mal said...

Just saw your story on the NBC Nightly News. Although I' m not a history buff, I enjoy history from the personal perspective. I am looking forward to following his story.
Jeanne
Pawtucket, RI

bakekc said...

I look forward to reading your blog each day--I have many letters written by my Father during WW2--it would be great if someone started a site where people could post family heirloom letters and share them with others.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for publishing these letters. I only have a postcard that my father wrote to his mother. My father fought in WWI on the front lines in France, born 1893, but he didn't marry and have kids until he was in his 40s. He was 52 when I was born. He didn't talk much about his experiences so this glimpse is priceless to me. And when I see movies of the war, I try to picture my father there. Thank you for this. I will read each entry.
Ruth

G said...

i'll be following this til the end great insight this is a real treat thanks for your work and effort

pat said...

pat
my uncle was in ww1. american artilary from 1918 to the end. was in frances. only wish i have i didn't talk to him like i did my father who was in ww 2 keep it going as long as you can only vary few left from that war like maybe two in the usa thank you

harleymama said...

We live in Nebraska USA...listened to your report on NBC news...I have enjoyed what I have read so far, and certainly plan on keeping up each day with your great efforts. Thanks for sharing one man's history with the world. I believe that history stories are a great way to learn about the world around us.

sk said...

I have similar letters from a U.S. soldier during this exact time period.

I'll have to do a little research before I could attempt a project like this. Other relatives may have more info I could include.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to comparing the letters and the events. The paper he used looks familiar to the paper the Red Cross issued my great grandfather.

It's my first visit to your blog or any blog for that matter! I look forward to sharing your experience.

Cheers!
sk

Anonymous said...

Thank-you so much for taking the time to share your grandfather's letters with us. I enjoy studying history and am especially interested in the time that Harry lived. I am an American and heard about this blog on NBC. I look forward to reading through the letters and I hope it encourages others who have such treasures to share them with the public so that we never forget the amazing bravery and resoluteness of such "ordinary" men and women like your grandfather.

dontneed said...

hey dear bill lamin! i am not very into praise militarism but this project of your is great. it is a nice way to publicize universal type of memories. i am sure many people all over the world will enjoy your effort to bring a human destiny to light. i call this project beyond art.
i learned about it through an article in the frankfurter allgemaine zeitung today. thanks for sharing it. i will read you grammpa's letters. even if this whole project could be just a way to promote a future book it still great. the net still doing wonders for us.

Roger O'Keeffe said...

Congratulations on a wonderful initiative. It's both of great human interest for just about anyone, and a marvellous pedagogical tool for history teachers.

Mimi said...

Thank you so much for honoring your grandfather this way. I just now found out about the blog and I am already hooked. I am a homeschool mom who is always looking for great history stories for the kids to read. This will top my list when we come to WW1 again.

Anonymous said...

From Zeeland, Michigan, the US.

Thank you for publishing your grandfather's letters. They are a treasure to be sure, and it's very kind of you to take the time to share them with the world.

The character profiles are helpful, and I enjoy the extra details that you provide.

Wishing you all the best!

Libelle said...

Hey! I'm from Canary Islands and I read about your blog on a history magazine. I just want to tell you that I will love to follow up your blog, I think it's very interesting.

Thank you for share your grandfather experiences on this blog.

Tennessee Dave said...

I am from Tennessee and just read about your blog in "The Military Times" magazine and I haven't read any of the posts yet, but you can bet I'll be doing some catching up. It is interesting for me being half-English and hearing from my mother about relatives that fought in WW1 and WW2. Most of her stories were from the WW2 era. Her father served on an AA battery in London. Various uncles and cousins served in other theaters of the war. There are a few pictures and I've managed to scan all the ones I can find.
More people ought to take an interest in their own past as well as history in general. It would help them to understand the world as it is today.
I will also add this to my favorites and will check back regularly to learn the fate of Private Harry Lamin.
I applaud your efforts to bring the story of your grandfather to light. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

This is all so fascinating. I live in Illinois in the US. My great-uncle fought in WWI. My mother has a handkerchief he brought to her when he returned home. It has so much more meaning now that these letters have given me a context. Thank you for sharing.

Helen said...

My Dad, Herbert Everett, (from New Zealand) was wounded in The Battle of Messines. He lost both his legs. He survived WWI and lived to be 91. He had me when he was 55years old. Consequently, my youngest son, Jesse, who is 22years old (born Jan.9,1986) is probably the youngest living grandson of a WWI veteran. I can be contacted at << hbnz@rcn.com >>
Helen Bockweg (Chicago, Illinois)

Andy, Italy said...

Dear Bill,

I read about your project on the NYTimes site. On another site I read you might want to write a textbook for schoolchildren. Please do!! I think children need to know what a horrible thing war is. They have a badly distorted idea of war, from movies and TV. Especially now that there are few veterans left, it's up to good people like you to keep memories alive.

I am Italian. With my family drove through France this summer and stopped at Vimy Ridge, where the Canadians fought (my wife is Canadian). I showed them the trenches and the cemetery with hundreds of white tombstones, some of them with no name. They saw me almost moved to tears, but I'm not sure they were able to grasp the scale of the tragedy that produced those graves.

Great job Bill!

Andy

Mandy in Manitoba, Canada said...

What a precious gift you've given to the world! More valuable than even the brightest jewel. For this is the jewel and so much more. Thank you for sharing and thank you to your grandfather and thank you to those who kept his story, his letters, safe all these years.

stefanie said...

I just found your blog through a link on another blog. What a brilliant thing to do! I'm hooked and I haven't read anything but this introduction page. I'm inspired by the family literary thread that would cause Harry to write so many letters, those before you to preserve them, and you to pour so much of your time and energy into organizing, researching and presenting them as a gift to the world in such a creative fashion. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

It is wonderful to have the ability to have the insight to a soldiers thoughts during war. I often wonder about my uncle who was killed in Africa in 1943 during WW11. We should never forget what these brave men did for freedom

Heather (aka Mum) said...

I stumbled across your - well your Grandfather's blog, just now. I'll look forward to exploring it!
Cheers from the Yukon, Ca.

Joanne said...

My son has ordered your just published book for me for my 76th birthday. What a treasure! Jo Thompson in Placitas, New Mexico, USA

staring-into-space said...

my dad told me about this sight ages ago and i was amazed to see the letters were still being published!
this is really special thanks so much for sharing them!!

Anonymous said...

Im 13 and i have history project on what soldiers had to endure in the great war, i was wandering if you could post some updates about the letters and life in the trenches (if you spell it like that.

Anonymous said...

this was great for my h/w

Anonymous said...

I have a copy of one letter my grandfather wrote his brother while he was serving in World War One. After reading these letters, I so wished to have been able read more letters of my grandfather's.

katelynn said...

wow this is really kwel i hope i can do somthing kwel in the furter somthing some one will remember

Kenneth Nall said...

Bill

First off, I am glad that Harry finally made it home after his long wait. Second I wish to express great appreciation for the time that you have spent over the last years on this blog. All the letters and then the further research you added to it has made this a great piece of history. Now that Harry is home I shall get the book and also keep checking in to see what else may come out of this. Thank you for sharing this part of your family history.

kenneth.nall said...

Bill

Recently I traveled to England and spent a couple days in London. On one of the days I visited the Imperial War Museum. Being from the US, it was interesting to see material from another country. One of the most interesting was a life size model of the trenches during WWI. It had the close quarters, area for the wounded, ladders to climb out, sounds of the soilders and fighting, and even the smell. It really helped add to the experience that Harry must have had. I reccomend it to anyone that has followed the blog and may be in London.

Beatriz Gallo Luño said...

Bill,
I just want to tell you that today I used some of your grandfather's letters to tell my students of English about the human side of wars.
Our assistant teacher from Liverpool read them aloud and we were all thrilled. Reading became today a very meaningful activity in my lesson.

Thank you very much.

My kind regards from Tenerife, Canary Is.

Ultimate said...

i am brasilian,and study ww1 in my classes of history.I loved all of your posts.I could never expect that someone like your grandfather could help me ;)
Thank you

Pamela Wile said...

Hello, I arrived at your blog by clicking on a link from the blog "Anglers Rest". I haven't yet read all of your posts, but will do so in short order. I have recently begun a blog called "Clarences Letters Home" at http://www.clarenceslettershome.blogspot.com My grandfather, Clarence Arthur McCann, was born in Windsor, Nova Scotia, Canada. He enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in March of 1915. Our family is fortunate to have over 100 of the letters that he sent to his family from the time he enlisted to just before he came home in 1919. Please drop by and have a look. Leave me a comment so I know you were there!

Beery said...

Just found your blog. My great granddad, William Wheelhouse, must have fought alongside your granddad in France and Italy in 9 Y&L. My granddad's service number was 32606 - just 99 away from your granddad's. They must have joined 9 Y&L around the same time in 1916 - possibly they were even friends. Anyway, I just wanted to say you've done a lovely job and I'm looking forward to reading the excerpts of the battalion war diary that you've posted. I'll also be sure to buy a copy of your book, which will be a valuable resource for my own research. If you (or anyone reading these comments) want to contact me, my email address is ianbrettcooper@gmail.com

Thanks again - Ian.

World War 2 said...

Hi. Just found this. Read first few posts and this is really interesting. Thanks.

Adam Dobrik said...

Hi, wow I love reading about someone's experiences during major points in history. It makes you realize that it is more than just the facts you are taught in history lessons.

So far what I have read is really interesting and I will definitely come back to read some more.

My family found my German grandad's memoirs during WW2 and I have read some of it which has amazed me. I posted some of his experiences on my blog: http://epiphenomenal-qualia.blogspot.com/. He told the story of having to shoot a sniper and trying but ultimately failing to escape from the Russians in 1945 among other things.

many thanks for sharing.

Blogging Guides For Beginner said...

Hi, I'm really interested on the topics about World War history.
Thanks for making the blog, I like it.

Linda said...

I found the blog of both of you today. I am touched and grateful that you took your time and give us this treasure that belongs to your family. I will follow the sequence of the letters as they are published. Thanks from the bottom of my heart.

Jeremy Merrel said...

Thank you for posting these letters. I recently received a diary written by my great grandfather during World War 1 and have just started blogging it. I thought you may be interested in reading it. I know I am enjoying reading the letters you have been posting. www.wwifirsthand.blogspot.com

Neve Rendell said...

The Baz blog has been sent two letters that are claimed to have been written by the actor Basil Rathbone during ww1, and we are looking for anyone who can help authenticate them


Here they are
http://thegreatbaz.wordpress.com/2012/08/28/biography-week-two-unidentified-ww1-letters/

any suggeations or opinions welcome!