Letter to Jack, 29th October 1918. Battalion in action.

Harry's Battalion is in action over the few days following this letter. The War Diary gives a useful account of what is going on. Keep up with their progress between letters by referring to the War Diary entries. Jono Wood has produced a fine account that explains a little more of the experiences of Harry's Battalion over these crucial few days. BL


32507/9th Y & Lancs
12 Platoon

Dear Jack
Just a line to let you know that I am going on alright at present and hope to remain so. I have received your papers and was very pleased with them. They seem to be getting on with the war now and I hope it will soon be over.. We have been in an Italian town for a day or two the biggest we have been in yet. It is a bit more like war out here at present, but I hope it turns out a success, and the Austrians retire. I think they want peace bad. I hope you are both keeping in good health and I hope the war is finished before it is time for me to have another leave. Write as often as you can and let me know how you are getting on.

With best Love to you both

I would guess that this would have been written early in the morning of the 29th. The War Diary shows that this was a busy and active day for Harry's Battalion. They certainly saw some action and recorded 31 casualties. To keep up with Harry's Battalion's progress, the War Diaries are an important source BL


Anonymous said...

For the book it might be interesting to includes snippets of news from the newspapers to get a better idea of what Harry was reading from home - and about what folks back home thought about the war.



Rocco said...

-Especially as the war progressed, it was rare indeed for a Battalion to be at full establishment. It was not unknown at times for Battalions with a nominal strength of over a 1000 men to go into fighting with perhaps only 200. (The Long Long Trail).
- If this was the average situation, 150 prisoners and 31 casualties indicate that the 29th oct. was a very hard day.
- it seems to me that Harry is hidding the truth to tranquillize his family

Dino said...

and now we're quite near to the end.
Harry, stay clean, there's only few days, and it will be over.

Dino, an Italian very proud of english that fought a mad war for us

Anonymous said...

A couple days before this there was a work detail of 400 men. So the battalion's actual strength was at least that high. The diary says "only 31 casualties", which would indicate the author at least considered them light.

Sumedh said...

this blog seems awesome, looking forward to following it.

Anonymous said...

Only 31 is perhaps a relative comment given the scale and previous statistics in this war. Take a trip to Flanders sometime and be very glad you live now and not then.

So glad to see a letter following the standard issue postcard.

Anonymous said...

We tend to think of 31 casualties as a large number, but in a war where tens of thousands of men could be obilterated in one battle, that's not a bad number. According to Wikipedia, there were only 374 British troops lost. The Allies lost 5800 men, as opposed to Austrians, who lost 100,000 men. Today, Oct. 29, the Austro-Hungarians are asking the Italians for an armistice, according to Wiki.

Cecilia in Michigan

Anonymous said...

After reading the battalions diary, it seems as if the combat was much more fluid than the more static combat of earlier in thte campaign. Was this typical of things towards the end of WW1?

Anonymous said...

In some ways, I think we here & now are more tense about this particular upcoming week: his real family just see more of the same on the horizon, with a constant level of associated worry; we, his '2008 family' if you will, know the war is coming to an end, and we're worrying more right now on that acount, not wanting to see our Harry lost in the final stretch.

Hang in there, Harry! We're all praying you make it home safely!

historytoday said...

Hello, and well done on this blog

Its an excellent concept and certainly one of the best First World War sites I've come across so far.

On our blog we have a new World War I section with complete listings of remembrance events happening across Europe from November onwards, if you are interested

Derry Nairn
History Today Magazine

Anonymous said...

Sorry but I have just tried to access the History Today site but it does not seem to be available. I'm trying to find out if there are any remembrance services being held in or near Timisoara in Romania this year.... Could you possibly help please Derry, or anyone for that matter?

Thanks in anticipation.


G. Tingey said...

"31 casualties" does NOT refer to the number of DEAD.
It refers to "Killed, Wounded, and missing (in action)"

Please remeber this.
It still applies, incidentally.

Sgt. Sam Avery said...

Hello Harry:
Just a line to let you know we've arrived at Neufchateau and look to be here for the winter. The French are instructing us. We use a full-sized trench system to work out problems of defense and attack, and we show the French a thing or two about how N.E. boys use the rifle to good advantage. The British have set up a school at Bazoilles to teach us how to come to grips with the Boche using just bayonets and our hands. Some stuff, what? Stop by for a read if you get the chance.


Baoky said...

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