Letter to Jack 30th April 1918

April 30th 1918

32507/ 9th Batt Y & L
C. Company
12 Platoon L.G.S.
Dear Jack
I am writing a few lines to you hoping that you are both in good health. It is a long time since I wrote to you till this week so I expect you will get two letters at about the same time. I should be pleased if you will send me a small book on the Lewis Gun and one which I think is called the soldier it gives you all information about guards, salutes and all army regulations etc. if you cant get one, send the best you can. I expect we shall have to do guards out here. I think they are getting on a bit better at llkeston now. I don't know when I shall get a leave, all leave is stopped out here for a bit. I hope you got that letter telling you I was amongst the snow and rain on the Asiago Plateau front, it did seem strange to be amongst the mountains for a month. I was very sorry to hear that Mr Thomas's son as got killed it is very sad. Write as often as you can as I cant get letters off very well when I am in the line.
With Best Love to you both


Anonymous said...

Checking this a couple of times a day now.

The closer Harry gets to the finish line, the more I find myself being apprehensive as to his fate.

His requests for letters from home are very poignant too.

Hope he'll be alright.

Anonymous said...

Like the previous commenter, I too am checking with increasing frequency..... in the end, will we, as his self-appointed new "family", be worrying over Harry as much as his wife and siblings did?!? I too feel real fear for him, and pray Harry makes it safely home.

And I take your point, Bill, that Harry had no idea when the war would finally end; but the sheer weariness of the past almost four years must have been building to a cressendo. I think I'd better check up on my history, but wasn't this coming summer, the summer of 1918 that is, very brutal?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what the "Lewis Gun" book is and why would Harry need one anyway? Seems like an unusual request.

Anonymous said...

Well, WW1 came to an end by November 1918, I believe (for sure some when that year) and the Italian attack ended before that, so Harry might very likely slowly see an advantage for his troops. Therefore it seems natural that he expects parades to happen...
That's at least, how I understand his request "all information about guards, salutes and all army regulations etc"

Anonymous said...

The Lewis Gun was the machine gun in common use in the BEF at the time. Incredibly, it appears from his note that Harry needed a manual on it, probably to be certain that he was cleaning and maintaining it properly. Perhaps the climate in the mountains had created problems in its operation. If I recall correctly from earlier posts, he was a machine gunner in his unit.

Anonymous said...

@anonymous - A Lewis gun was a type of machine gun invented in 1917. It might be that Harry wanted to know more about the weapon so that he could get to use one. The feeling of safety from being behind such a powerful weapon was probably very attractive. The book might be a manual or maybe he's just interested.

I notice he also asks for a book on soldiering. Maybe he was looking for a promotion (or a posting to a guard post) and wanted to brush up on his knowledge. The two cannot be unrelated.

Anonymous said...

We all know what a Lewis Gun is (I presume!)but, if my memory serves me correctly, Harry was a 'Number 2' on one, so you'd think there would be some knowledge available to him within the regiment. What struck me was the desire for knowledge about 'guards, salutes and army regulations'. It suggests that these men were very poorly prepared for anything other then the vital art of trench fighting. Anything more then that would be nice to have, but not vital.
Brilliant blog, keep up the good work.
Paul - New Zealand.

Pte Harry Lamin said...

Apologies if we are delayed with the next post or so but some sad, malicious individual has told blogger that this is a "spam" blog! New posts are not allowed until Blogger has investigated. Probably pay back for my report about receiving spam via comments.

Anonymous said...

A Lewis gun is a two man machine gun. It had a man to carry the ammunition and a man to carry the gun. The 2nd was the feller that fed bullets into the gun and replenished the supply when it ran out.
Lewis gunners were targets for grenades, snipers and all sorts of "hate" and usually had a short life.

Anonymous said...

Great blog! Keep up the good work!!! =)

Anonymous said...

im heading to london next week and will visit the iwm is there anything about harry on display .those poor guys went through some sh1t and should never be forgotten
irish reader

JoK said...

I am appalled that someone should have reported Harry blog as spam. What can we do to assist in getting the spam notice off your blog?

To whom would we write to confirm you are not as reported?

Like many others Harry has become a *virtual* brother, and I check the blog daily, April was hard with so little news of him.

Strangely like Paul I am also in NZ :)

Kindest regards

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Harry being put on a Lewis gun is not good news for Harry. I know in WW2 my grandfather was given a BAR (a type of automatic rifle) during fighting in Italy and he apparently "lost it" in the river to save his hide - because he was enough of a vet to know the guys with the BAR's were the ones that go killed the quickest.

VetMichael said...

I also am aghast that some malicious person can derail such a wonderful Blog - If need be, I would be most happy to add my two cents to whomever need be petitioned to restore your blog.

As for the request for the Lewis Gun book - I wonder if Harry is not running into a common problem during the latter days of WWI; supply line breakdown. Some soldiers found it easier to get supplies (such as boots or food) from home than it was through the quartermaster. But this is pure speculation, but Harry's request does seem to fit.

I am "crossing my fingers" that Harry makes it home safe and sound as well!

Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

I also found it nothing short of amazing that he would be asking for training manuals on basic soldiering and on the operation of his primary weapon to be sent from home by his family! One explanation may be that the supply system all the way in Italy was not up to par, but another might be that the entire battalion was so ill-trained that no one from the Lt Col on down had these particular skills. Given the appalling casualty rates and how rapidly replacements were rushed into battle, such a situation is at least plausible.
On another note, the BAR of WWII was the Browning Automatic Rifle, firing the same cartridge as the M1 Garand semi-automatic rifle that every infantryman carried. It was found at the squad level and gave the squad some rapid fire capability without the weight of a full up machine gun. I have never heard that the casualty rate for soldiers carrying it was any higher than others, but it sounds reasonable. This concept is still in practice, at least in the US. Each squad has a machine gun called a M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) that fires the same 5.56 mm round as the M-4 or M-16 rifles issued to each infantryman.

Roger O'Keeffe said...

Harry has been a Lewis gunner for some time at this stage. The "L.G.S" in his address stands for "Lewis Gun Section".

The Battalion diary has frequent references to training since moving to a quiet sector in Italy, so it's not accurate to assume that the unit was poorly trained. Manuals are just one of many kit items which were in short supply: some officers in France and Flanders even bought wire cutters for their platoons because the regular issue ones were so inferior.

My guess is that he may want to be sent on a potential NCOs' course (which would get him to an even safer location), and therefore wants to brush up on general soldiering including blanco and bullshit as well as the specifics of the Lewis gun.

Here is a link to a privately-published US manual for the Lewis Gun, which refers to the lessons learnt from its use by the British Army "during the present war": http://www.fenrir.com/free_stuff/lewis/index.htm#index

See scan 65 for a description of the duties of Lewis Gun teams, which in open warfare comprised five soldiers including three ammunition carriers (they would carry their rifles and ammo in addition).

BTW, I've just spent a couple of days in the Verdun area, very moving.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you want to post someone else's website address or not, but I found a site, www.greatwar.nl , that is full of photographs of WW1. And if you click on the section "pics by mad photographer Frank Hurley", you can find a photo of two soldiers firing their Lewis gun.

molliek said...

Just registering an interest. Been to Asiago couple of times, father-in-law was wounded there June 1918, has the Asiago medal, very rare. Worcs. Regt. My father, Northamptonshire Yeomanry was on the H.Q. Staff. Just discovered the Blog, anniversary of battle is coming up and was wondering if Asiagi is commemmorating.

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