27th December 1919. Harry's on the move!!


Harry's written this card to Jack on  27th December reporting that he'll be on the move on  the 29th.  Coincidentally, the Card shows Tortona - the same location as his first card from Italy back in November 1917. Then, he bought the card as the troop train stopped on the way to the front. Perhaps this will be his last stop before leaving Italy. Note that it's been "Passed by Censor". That must be a relief. I suppose that the military machine is always insecure. (I have just inserted a scan of that first card - not originally on the posting. Click on the link above to view it and see if Harry's writing has changed much in the intervening two years. BL)



Dec 27/ 1919

Dear Jack

Just a line to let you know that I have received the tin of tobacco. I was very pleased with it. Do not write again till you here from me as I am moving from this place on the 29 Dec. Will send post card as soon as possible.
Harry




Tortona is a few Kilometres to the North of Arquata Scrivia, his base for the last few months.  The town is on the main railway line across the North of Italy, towards France

Questions in the House, 28th December 1919.


With Harry in Italy for Christmas, questions were asked in the British Parliament's House of Commons, about Him and the other soldiers left in Italy. Winston Churchill provided the answers.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY asked the Secretary of State for War how many British troops are now in Italy; and for what purpose they are still in that country?
§Mr. CHURCHILL The present ration strength of troops in Italy is 3,250, including sick in hospital. These troops are required, partly for the guarding of Austrian prisoners, who number about 2,300, and partly for the custody, storage and handling of surplus Army stores which have been handed over to the Disposal Board, and are awaiting disposal. The prisoners will shortly be repatriated, and the Ministry of Munitions, I understand, anticipate that the disposal of the surplus stores will be effected in some six weeks' time or less.

Perhaps the end is in sight for Harry and his comrades. Thanks to Rocco for spotting it BL


Please note this is slightly out of Chronological order (a day or two early) but this is a deliberate decision. BL

From a loyal Harry Follower - Christmas greetings



Rocco, one of the most loyal and supportive readers of Harry's blog has sent the attached greeting.

May I join him and send best wishes to everyone who has made this website so successful and rewarding.

Harry clearly won't be home for Christmas with Ethel, Willie and Connie. At least, he's safe and can now, surely, anticipate the end of his military career.

Letter to Jack, 11th December 1919


There would seem to be no real sign yet of any progress towards home.

Harry has also been very unfortunate with leave. I had assumed that he had a leave in the summer of 1917, but from his letters it's clear that he went from his leave at the end of basic training, in the Spring of 1917, right through to September 1918. Now he has completed another fifteen months without a break. So much for the entitlement of two weeks leave a year! If he'd stayed with the York & Lancasters, it would appear that he would have, at least, had a leave by now.  BL


address now 1st Garrison
40843/ Royal Munster Fusiliers
A. P.O. L1
IEF Italy



December 11/1919

Dear Jack
Just a line to let you know that I am alright and in good health. I don't think it is any good writing about getting home as their is no chance of getting home for Christmas it looks like being more like the middle of April before I get home. I might manage it a bit before. all the prisoners are going home this month so it will make it a bit better after Christmas for us all. I am very pleased to here that all are going on alright at home & keeping in good health. I hope you and Agnes have a Happy Christmas & New Year. I am sorry that I shall not be at home for it but I am in good health so that is something. Write as often as you can and let me know all the news and send me a newspaper or two. I will write again soon.

With Best Love to you both
Harry
40843/ 1st Garr Batt
Royal Munster Fusiliers
D. Coy. 17 Hut
A. P.O. L9 IEF
Italy

Christmas Book Orders

If you would like to order a signed, personally dedicated copy of the book as a Christmas present, then now is the time to do it if you want to be certain of delivery.

Delivery to other continents e.g. the United States takes about 10 days, Europe around 5 days and the U.K. a couple of days - providing my stock lasts.

To order, click on the link to the left or here.

Letter to Jack, 18th November 1919


Nov 18
40843/ Royal Munster
Fusiliers
A.P.O Box L1 D Coy
I.E.F. Italy

Dear Jack,

Just a line to let you know that I am in good health, but am wanting to get home, and there seems no sign of it yet. the last train from here went 5 or 6 weeks ago. goodness knows when the next is going. It is over fourteen months since my last leave and I belong to the 1916 men, but in December. Young lads are getting home, 1918 men, on compassionate grounds. I would be glad if you would try and get me a leave by writing to the war office. dont write hear as it would be of no use, as only special leaves are going, if you write do it at once as we might be moving any time. I think I have earned a leave as it was 17 months before I got my first leave. I have been moved from the village Rivalto and I am now at a place called Auquato. Let me know if you write to the war office. I am pleased to hear that they are all keeping well at Ilkeston and to hear that Annie is keeping well, but they all want to know when I am going to come home as all the other chaps as got out of the army who joined up when I did. Write back as soon as possible as it is a long time since I had a letter. Hoping that this letter finds you all in the best of health.
With Best Love to all
Harry

Christmas Orders for the Book

If you're considering the book as a Christmas present, it would be a good idea to order quite soon. If I get my orders wrong and run out of stock, it's going to add another week or so to the process.

There are two links over to the left, one for a signed and dedicated copy from me, one for a copy from Amazon.

I also have a few sets of the "Harry" postage stamp, which can be added to a book order to complete a gift for a "Harry" fan. I'll add that to the book order page. Click to order.

Letter to Jack, 24th October 1919

Oct 24/1919

40843/1st Garr Batt
Royal Munster Fusiliers
A.P.O Box R L9 I.E.F.
Italy

Dear Jack

I have just received your letter and was very pleased with it. I am glad to hear that you and Agnes are keeping in the best of health, as I am in the pink only this last day or two I have had the tooth ache but I think it is a cold. I have had a letter from Ethel and they are all keeping well at Ilkeston. You ask me if I was cooking. No I have finished cooking and am doing guards and escorting Austrian prisoners but I can do it. I could have had a job yesterday cooking for two officers but I am not having it. never finished till 10 o clock at night and up about 7. you have no time for anything cant get out at all and they think no more about you when you have done it. of course the foods all good but in the camp were we are we live well. you can buy eggs and get all sorts of tin stuff from the canteen so we don't do amiss. I hope to get home before Christmas if not on demob I hope to get a leave it will be three years come Christmas. Dec 28th since I joined up. I don't know when we are moving out of this country but I hope it will be soon. i will let you know if I hear any thing. They keep getting rumours about that we are moving but they never come off. Write and let me know all the news send a newspaper next time you write.
With Best love to you both
Harry


Harry sounds in good shape. This letter was the first indication I had of the date of his joining the army. Before I read it, I had assumed that he'd gone to Rugeley Camp shortly before his first letter in February 1917. From this, it's clear that he went much earlier - at the end of December 1916. BL

Dieter Finzen's Blog - now in English. (and French)


A wonderful complement to Harry's blog is Dieter Finzen's diaries. Dieter is, as close as we are likely to get, to an equivalent of Harry on the German side.

The diaries are published in real time using the same "time-shift" process as with Harry's letters only with a shift of 93 years so that in "Dieter time" we are now approaching the end of 0ctober 1916.

Dieter finished his basic training and traveled to France, arriving in the combat zone, opposite the British lines on the Somme, in September 1916.

The Battle of the Somme initiating the “big push”, commenced, disastrously for the allies, on July 1st, and is reaching its final throes as Dieter arrives. Despite heavy losses on the ground, British aircraft retain air superiority and are frequently seen overhead.

Dieter is not yet involved in the fighting, and is going through some gruelling training of a kind instantly recognisable to anyone who has seen the film of Erich Maria Remarque's Im Westen nichts Neues / All quiet on the Western Front.

I'm sure that many of Harry's fans, may have been disappointed to find Dieter's diary only in German. Now that Roger O'Keeffe (Long time Harry supporter) has undertaken to provide a translation to both English and French, you might be interested in taking up Dieter's story and seeing what life was like on the other side. Sven Janke, the author, has supplied some very informative links, including one on 8 October to an excellent BBC animation that shows the the course of the Western front throughout the war on a map.

Maybe Roger could use his spare time to translate Harry's blog into German. (Only joking - well done Roger for this work)

Link to Dieter's Diaries

Letter to Kate, 9th October 1919


Oct 9/19

40843/1st Garr Batt
Royal Munster Fusiliers
A.P.O Box R L9
I.E.F. Italy


Dear Kate

Just a line to let you know that I am getting on alright, but have heard nothing yet about leave. There are some men with two or three months in more than I have got but I hope to be home before Christmas. I was very pleased to hear that Connie was getting on alright and to hear that she was very happy. I should like to hear of her walking. I mean paying her a visit the first chance I get. If I hear anything about coming home I will write and let you know . I have just wrote to Annie its the first time I have wrote since she was married. I hope it finds her alright. It is now nearly fourteen months since I was home so I think it is about time I got home if it was only for a leave. Ethel tells me theyare doing better at Trumans so thats a good sign of more work. Write and let me know how you are geting on. All the men who came up before 1st July have gone home except one or two and they are going home next week so it looks a lot better. Will write again soon.


With Best Love
Harry

"Trumans" is the lace factory where Harry worked before the war. The news about Connie is, really, a bit sad. Clearly, she isn't getting any closer to walking. A little more optimism about getting home? BL

Letters to Jack & Kate, 2nd October 1919

Oct 2/10/19
40843/1st Garr Batt
Royal Munster Fusiliers
A.P.O Box R L9
I.E.F. Italy

Dear Jack
I have received your letter alright and I am very pleased to hear that you are going on alright. I think it is a good job that you got the furniture before the railway strike came off as you might have lost it altogether. I don't think it is hardly worth while writing now, but you see it is a long while without leave thirteen months, and the war finished as they have been going at six months from Fuime out of the Y & L. I have seen some of them on the train at a place called Alexandra. I went down for a day's outing there and they were just going back off leave, they tell me what a fine place it is. There is a big do on at Rome next week and some of the R Cs [Roman Catholics] have got a chance to go for 7 days. I wish I belonged to the R.C. I might have had a chance I should have liked to have seen Rome before I left Italy. I hope to be out of this country before November is out and I might stand a chance of getting demobilised before Christmas. I would be satisfied then.. anyway we shall have to wait and see as leave as been stopped here to let the men get home that joined up before 1st July 1916. I think they have plenty of work at Trumans now but I don't know whether I shall go back or not. It will not be very nice at first being shut up after being out in the fresh air for about 3 years. Well theres one good thing to be thankful for. The place I visit is the chief place in the province of Alexandra and about as big as Nottingham. Write as often as you can.
With Best Love to you both
Harry


Oct 2/10/19
40843/1st Garr Batt
Royal Munster Fusiliers
A.P.O Box R L9
I.E.F. Italy

Dear Kate
I was very pleased to receive a letter from you and to hear that you are keeping in good health. I am sorry that Connie does not get on with her walking but we shall have to make the best of it. I have wrote to Annie so I expect I shall get a letter before long. There is no signs of me getting demobilised yet as there is some men here yet that come up here in April 1916. If I could get a leave , I could easily get demobed when I got to England but the thing is getting there as there is no leave going from here, only odd ones they are only men for demobilisation, but any way I hope to be home for Christmas. Write as often as you can and let me know all the news. I had a letter from Ethel and she said that Willie as had a cold but he is a lot better now. I hope he keeps in good health. The weather hear is very cold at night but the sun gets out well during the day. I will write and let you know if I hear anything about getting home.
With best Love
Harry

Not such good news about Connie. Harry seems to have had high hopes that the school in Liverpool would do some good. BL

Big thank you to Rocco and Family


I really must express a public and sincere thank you to Rocco and his family for their superb hospitality during my visit to Italy.


It was wonderful to be treated as one of the family and to be made so welcome in their home. It was very brave to have invited a strange Englishman. It could have been an extremely uncomfortable few days. (I certainly hope it wasn't.)

Especial thanks to Fulvia, Rocco's wife for her kindness and the wonderful evening meals that we enjoyed after each hard day's trek. It was a fantastic way to experience authentic Italian cooking.

The visit was particularly good as, with Rocco's local knowledge, it was possible to cover a lot of the important places in Harry's story. I just had to present myself for an eight o' clock start and my host did the rest.

The rest of his family also made me so welcome and seemed very pleased to practice their excellent English. We all learned to use the word "replete" after Fulvia's meals. Federico generously allowed me to play his guitar and Rocco's two lovely daughters Verena and Margherita were always helpful with the translations when language got in the way.

Thank you. I hope I'll be able to repay the hospitality one day.



The Piave Front 1917 -1918


This was a real anti-climax after the Asiago Plateau. There was no sign of the events of 90 years ago. Harry spent some time on the Piave front at the end of 1917 and in 1918 but all that is left is the river - and that with a much reduced flow. The only evidence of trenches are reconstructed ones that have been used in re-enactments.

Harry's battalion crossed the Piave where the main Autoroute from the North to Venice crosses the river there now.

In the battle of Veneto Vittoria at the end of October, the trench warfare gave way to a very mobile battle as the Austro-Hungarian army was forced back. Harry would have marched and fought across the plain. It was possible to identify locations where they stopped for the night outside Cimetta and Sacile, but there was no sign of it on the ground.

All I could gain was the impression that I was somewhere close to where my grandfather was fighting 90 years ago.

Asiago June 15th 1918, revisited


Armed with maps, war diary entries and as much material as we could carry, I set off with Rocco to find Harry's location on the day of the Austrian attack, 15th June 1918.


Unlike Flanders, where much of the topography has been disturbed and modified, the plateau has changed little.

It was quite possible to find out exactly where the 9th Battalion, York & Lancasters were on that day.

The trenches were there, clearly evident, in lines about 50 metres apart, with the front line sited a few metres inside a wood.

The sketch map from the 11th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters (p144 of the book) on the Y & L's right flank, made the job easy, especially as the boundaries of the woodland have changed little in the last 90 years. There was a track through the woods which was the boundary between the two front line Battalions. That is still there and so it was easy to find the very trenches that Harry and his comrades would have occupied. It was exciting and emotional to look out over the ground over which Harry would have seen the Austrian advance.


I have a load of pictures from the day. Click this link to view. The account of the day from War Diary can be found at this link. Harry's letter about that day can be found here.

Venice "It is a most wonderful City"


I can understand Harry's wonder upon seeing this city in January 1919. I, having seen much in books, on TV and in magazines, was impressed with the real thing. Harry, from a small town in the heavily industrialised east midlands of England, having seen none of that, must have been totally amazed.
I would think that little has changed in the last 90 years. (Maybe the prices have crept up a little. The aptly named "Harry's Bar" quoted me €150 (£125) a head for lunch.)

(I MUST make it clear that I have no problem with Harry's Bar prices. I emailed and asked and they told me the prices. It's too expensive for me, a retired school teacher, but it may well be worth every penny. We didn't eat there. And, Harry did warn me "things are very dear" when he wrote about his 1919 visit. )

With Rocco I called in at the Canal Hotel and asked if they would have the registers from 1919 - to see if Harry had signed in - but with no success. I did ask the young lady receptionist if she worked there in 1919. Apparantly she didn't.

Link to Harry's letters about his Venice trip.

Letter to Jack, September 10th 1919



40843/1st Garr Batt
Royal Munster Fusiliers
A.P.O Box R L9
I.E.F. Italy
Sept 10th
Dear Jack
            Just a line to let you know that I have received your paper and letter.  The explosion you speak of was at the dump we are guarding but it was nothing. it might have been worse I think one Austrian prisoner got killed of course biggest part of the men here belong to A.O.G and have seen no fighting at all so it would be terrible to them.  I dont know when I shall get on leave now as it is stopped for September expect for special leave when a man goes on leave from here he does not return but stops in England.  You can please yourself whether you write for a special leave but whattever you do dont write to this end.  if you could not get any thing from the war office dont write here I would rather wait six months. I expect I shall be home for Christmas.  Write as often as you can and let me know all the news.  Glad to here that you are both keeping in good health.  Ethel address is 19 Mill Street.  I think it is all this time. I will write again soon. 
with Best Love to you both 
Harry
If you write for leave tell them that I have only just been transferred to the 1st G RMF as this Batt as seen no fighting at all.  It is twelve months now since last leave.

Well, that's Harry's September leave gone. I've tried, unsuccessfully to find a newspaper report of the explosion. I'll see what I can do next week with Rocco's help. Also I can't recall what A.O.G. stands for. Any ideas? Something that indicates a non-combatant, I'm sure. To Harry a single explosion would hardly have been worth commenting on! 


A.O.G. - I've had the suggestion that it could well stand for the "Army of Occupation of Germany". O.k, I know it's in Italy, but they may be part of one of the non-combatant units raised for the German occupation. BL

Visit to Italy


Well, if Harry can't come home, then I'm going out there!

I've arranged a visit to Italy to see the battlefields and to check out where Harry visited. Rocco, one of our faithful contributors, has generously offered accommodation and to be my guide. I'm travelling out on Wednesday 16th September and returning on 20th. Ryanair has provided flights from Cornwall to Venice via London at a ridiculous price with ideal connections. Seems too good to be true!

If anyone has any wish for me to take photographs of a particular grave or location, I'll do my best to oblige. If you're in Italy and want to meet up, let me know Email and I'll try to sort it.


The local TV news announced yesterday that Ryanair was cancelling all flights from Cornwall! After a few moments of great disappointment, it was confirmed that the flights don't stop until Oct 1st. Thankfully, I'll be home by then. BL

Letters to Jack & Kate 23rd August 1919


Aug 23rd

Dear Kate
Just a line to let you know that I have received your letter. I am pleased to hear that the wedding came off alright and that it is all over. It as been awful hot out hear this month and we have had no rain for a long time. The grapes are just about getting ripe, well in another weeks time they will be getting
[harvesting] them. I hope to be on leave very soon as it will very soon be a year since I was at home. so I think it is time I had one I will let you know as soon s I hear anything about it. I am pleased to hear that they are all keeping well at home. I have been transfered to the Munster Fusiliers now so my proper address and No [Number]will be at the bottom of the letter. Write as often as you can and let me know how you are getting on. What did Annie think to Connie when she went to see her does she get any better. I will write again soon
With Best Love
Harry
Address
408432 Pt Lamin
1st Gar Batt
Royal Munster Fusiliers
A.P.O. Box R L9
I.E.F. Italy




40843
1st Gar. Batt
Royal Munster Fusiliers
A.P.O. Box R. L9
I.E.F. Italy
Aug 23rd

Dear Jack
Just a line to let you known that I am alright and keeping well. I have heard nothing about leave yet but I hope to be home in September sometime, if I have good luck. I am very pleased to know that you found Ethel and Willie well. I have been transferred to the Munsters altogether now, so I have got a fresh No. It as been awful hot out here this month. we have hardly known what to do. The grapes are just about to ripe I expect in another week or so they will be getting them. I am pleased to hear that Annies wedding came off alright and I hope she will be happy. I expect Willie will miss her for a bit but they will have to make the best of it.
With Best Love to you both
Harry


Harry has been officially transferred to The Royal Munster Fusiliers as, I suppose, the rest of his battalion has gone! At that time, a new regiment meant a new service number. Faithful readers may remember that when Harry first went to France he had several service numbers until he settled on the York & Lancaster Regiment. The British Army today assigns a soldier a unique service number when he joins up. That stays with him for the whole of his career. (Mine was 24108071 Sir! - and, 40 years on, I can still remember it)

Three letters in a few days suggests that Harry isn't too busy. BL

Letter to Kate, 19th August 1919


32507/9th Batt Y+L
att Royal Munster Fusiler
A.P.O. Box R. L9
I.E.F Italy
August 19th/1919

Dear Kate
Just a line to let you know that I have received your letter, I have also received one from Jack. Ethel told me in her last letter that Annie had got married I am very glad that it is all over. I think she will be alright. I was pleased to hear that Mr Leverton was their and Annie Bonser. I dont know when I shall get a leave but I hope it will not be long, write as often as you can and let me know all the news. It has been very hot this month out hear. We dont get to know much about demob I expect they will soon start now. write as often as you can
With Best Love
Harry

Harry's Song


Maybe we can use this community that has evolved from Harry's blog to benefit others.


Inspired by Harry's Blog, I've written "Harry's Song". With a singer friend, I've now produced a finished version that I can offer to you all.

O.K, it may not be your cup of tea. (English expression) but you may have gained some pleasure, education or inspiration from the blog, and could consider contributing a tiny amount to a deserving charity - One that Harry would certainly have known and supported.

The "Haig Fund" was set up by Field Marshall Haig to help ex-servicemen. It is now administered by The Royal British Legion.

View and listen to a small clip of the video version

video

All you need (should) do to make the contribution is to click on the "Donate" button. Donate by Paypal or Credit card £1 (About $1.70 USD ) and I'll email to you a link to download 2 versions of the song - one as an MP3 file for your ipod and the other as video file, complete with pictures from the book. Proceeds to the Haig Fund. (And it's better than the Radiohead song, IMHO).

Even if you don't like the song, it's a way to say thank you to the many who, like Harry, suffered in wars and to show some appreciation for what Harry's Blog has achieved. (The main blog has just passed an astonishing 2.5 million page loads and has inspired and moved countless readers world-wide.)







Letter to Kate, 8th August 1919


32507/ 9th Batt Y+L
attached Royal Munsters Fusiliers
A.P.O. Box R. L9 I.E.F. Italy
Aug 8/8/19

Dear Kate
I have received you letter and was very pleased. I with it. I have also had a letter from Jack. I have told him not to bother now as I expect coming home on leave next month perhaps before. It is very hot out here this month and we are still out in the country, but I dont get much time off. Write and tell me how Annie is getting on I have not had a letter for a long. I had a letter from Ethel telling me she had gone back to Mill street but both are keeping in good health Willie must get a rum chap as he is always up to some tricks I shall be glad to get home again but trade is very slack. I think I shall manage to get out of the army by about April next year. it might be before, well I hope so. Let me know what Annie said about Connie and if she is keeping in good health. If I hear any thing about leave I will let you know at once. Jack told me in his last letter that he enjoyed his holidays very much and that he found time to visit Ilkeston. Did you get the letter about me asking for one or two cheap handkerchiefs. Write as often as you can, but if you have not sent any handkerchiefs I should not bother.
With Best Love
Harry

(PS) Address same only L9. instead of L1

Letter to Jack, 6th August 1919

August 6/1919
32507/9th Y+L
attached Royal Munster Fusiliers
A.P.O. Box R. L.9
I.E.F. Italy
Dear Jack
I was very pleased to received your letter. And to hear that you had a good time when on your holidays. I dont think I should bother any more now about writing as I expect I shall get a leave before Septembers out I might get one any time now, as I have nearly twelve months in, and it is a long time to go without leave especially when then war is over. I expect I shall get out of the army about next spring if all goes well. All the men who joined up before July1st 1916 are getting released from the army as soon as possible, so I expect when this lot is gone. I shall be amongst the next. If I hear anything about a leave I will write and let you know as soon as possible. I am very pleased you paid a visit to Ilkeston and found them well but I hope Annie's face is better. I guess Willie gets a rum chap what had he got to say to you Ethel tells me he gets no better always up to some tricks. he was going to send me a parcel last time Ethel wrote all sorts of things bobbins etc. The weather hear is very hot. I think it is the hottest month of the year. I expect we shall be out of Italy by november. so if that is correct I shall have had two years in Italy quite long enough. Write as often as you can and let me know all the news. I will write again soon.
With Best Love to you both
Harry
(P.S) Address same only
L.9 instead of L.1

Harry seems a bit more optimistic about leave but his prediction of not getting out of the army for another 6 or 7 months isn't so good. We shall see, BL

Other Soldiers' Websites


It has been so rewarding to find that others have been sufficiently inspired by Harry's blog to use similar stashes of letters or diaries to produce their own web sites.

It occurs to me that some of my readers may be interested in investigating one or two of these others.

Quite early on, Florence Kaplow from the States contacted me. She had her husband's letters from World War 2 and wanted some advice on how to do something with them - similar to my efforts with Harry's letters. I explained how the system had worked for me. Wisely, Florence ignored everything I said and got some local help to prepare what has the makings of a superb website.

http://www.benkaplow.com is still "work in progress", but is a mighty impressive collection of letters from World War 2.

Sgt Sam Avery has followed Harry's lead. A doughboy's letters from the Great War follow Harry's, a year behind. So he is currently in July 1918, on the Western Front, heading towards the Armistice. His author has made many comments on Harry's website with the persona of Sam. You can find his blog at http://worldwar1letters.wordpress.com

I've recently been contacted by a German contributor who is about to start posting a blog, following Harry's format, of the Diary of Dieter Finzen, a German infantryman who served on the Western Front from 1916 to 1918. The blog will timeshift 93 years, starting to post in September 1916 (2009). The website can be found at http://dieter-finzen.blogspot.com/
I find the opportunity of following a soldier on the "other side" fascinating. I have just read a translation of Ernst J√ľnger's book: "Storm of Steel". I found it quite disturbing to be looking from the "enemies'" point of view, finding it indistinguishable from those of men on the "our" side. I also had some problems with the spatial configuration of the Western Front. Fixed in my head is a front line that runs from top to bottom with the offensive taking place from left to right. I couldn't adjust, mentally, to the German viewpoint, attacking from right to left. Very strange.

dieter-finzen.blogspot.com will find the introduction to this blog.

In addition, the author, Sven Janke, has assembled an enormous collection of websites containing diaries and letters from the Great War. I don't know how many, if any, were stimulated to appear by Harry's efforts! I believe that there are currently 170 entries with an estimated ultimate target of 300. Quite a collection of material.


The links to the third party sites are at www.war-diary.com

Well here it is, on sale.


I called in the local Waterstones bookshop in Truro, Cornwall as I'd signed a load of copies there last week.
They'd promised a display in the shop entrance. I'm very proud to see it there.

I'm still sending out signed, dedicated copies from this website. They make an ideal, personally dedicated present!

Click on the picture to enlarge. BL

Letters to Kate and Jack, 1st July 1919

32507/ 9th Y+L
attach /Royal Munsters Fusiliers
A.P.O. Box R, L 1
I.E.F Italy
July 1
Dear Kate
Just a few lines to let you know that I am alright and in good health I dont think I shall get leave yet a while well I am sure not, there are so many men with 18 months without a leave, I expect one before Christmas anyway now that peace is signed I hope it will not be long before we are all at home. I am still doing officers servant and cooking and we are still sleeping in the open field so we get plenty of fresh air night and day. I am pleased to hear that they are all going on alright at home, and I should like to know if Connie can walk yet she will soon have been their a year now it is a long time. I am glad to hear that Willie is keeping well and all at home. I hope Annie will be alright when married well I think she will be. Write as often as you can and let me know all the news and if you hear anything about demob in the papers. Jack as wrote to the office out hear about leave and a told him in my last letter not to do so as it was no use to write hear at all. I have never got the papers you were going to send and yesterday I got two of your letters together. Write as often as you can and let me know all the news and when Annie is getting married.
With Best Love
Harry
P.S I would be very pleased if you could send me a few cheap handkercheifs as I have not got any at all and also a tin of Pomard.

Connie has been at the school in Liverpool for almost a year. I wonder if Harry has had some unpleasant interviews with his officer over the letters from Jack trying to get him leave. He sounds quite agitated about it. Most unlike Harry. He seems relaxed enough to start to bother about a few of the finer things. Handkerchiefs and Pomard (Pomade - a fashionable, perfumed men's hair dressing.) is quite a change. Rocco has unearthed a spectacular account of civil unrest in England straight after the war. Quite unexpected to hear of race riots in Liverpool and Cardiff. BL

32507/9th Y+L
attached Royal Munster Fusiliers
A.P.O. Box R. L.1
I.E.F, Italy
July 1
Dear Jack
Just a line to let you know that I am alright and keeping in good health. The officer here as just had a letter from you asking him about leave, as I told you in my letter it is not a bit of good writing here as there is so many men with 18 months in without leave dont write here again whatever you do for I shall be surprised if I hear anything about leave for another four months at least anyway now peace is signed. I hope we shall all be home for good before long. I am still doing officers servant and cooking for him but I dont know how long it will last, I think I have kept the job. well I think I told you in my last letter that about a dozen of us were sleeping in a field in the open so we have plenty of fresh air night and day we have been out now for about five or six weeks. Do you think you will be able to get home for Annies wedding, I hope she will be alright I hope you enough (enjoy?) yourselves in the country it will be a nice change for both of you. Write as often as you can and let me know how you are getting on and if you see anything about Demob in the papers its about time they started about it. Is it true that these are are thousands listing every week in England again. I have had a letter from home and I am pleased to say that they are all getting on well could you allow Ethel 10/- a month of the money and begin the first week in July if so let me know. I will write again soon
With Best Love to you Both
Harry

A repeat of much of the letter to Kate, quite concerned about Jack writing to his officer. "thousands listing every week" refers to soldiers re-enlisting in the army. There was a huge problem with finding work and so one solution was to go back to the army. BL

Treaty of Versailles signed


"Peace" - as Harry referred to it in his letters - was signed on June 28th 1919, some 6 months after the fighting stopped. This treaty was between the allied powers and Germany. The other parties involved signed their own separate agreements at different times and places.

Negotiations to decide on the terms had been extensive. Germany had to accept the blame for the war and agree to pay reparations to the aggrieved allies. For a detailed analysis, click here.

Maybe removal of another obstacle will clear the way for Harry to go home? We shall see.

A blog follower has reported "sighting" the book in a library in Hamilton, New Zealand. Please let us know of any other sightings. BL

Letter to Jack 22nd June 1919


22nd June1919 was a Sunday, generally a rest day with time to catch up with letters. Harry's last letter was 1st June, also a Sunday..

Click on the letter for a large image.

June 22/19

Dear Jack
Just a line to let you know that I have received your letter and the towel you sent it is very good of you to send it. Ethel and Annie wants me to try and get home on leave for August, but its no use me asking from this end there is some men here now with 18 months in without leave although they are going
on leave from Fiume with eight months if they write for leave they want to send to the war office as it is no use at all sending here. any way I hope to be home on leave by October as I think it will get down to twelve months when peace is signed let me know as soon as that happens as we dont here much out here. I am still officers servant and cook but I dont know how long it will last. Do you think you could send Ethel 10/- a month and begin in the first week in July and then the first week in August till I get a leave and then I might draw some credits. No doubt they will ask you to write for a special leave if you do write to the war office as I should like to get home when things break up, any way let me know what you think best. Write as often as you can and let me know all the news, do you think the Germans will sign peace, if they do we should be demobed in six months time. I shall be very pleased to get out of it although I have not done any drilling now for about six months and I have always had eggs and bacon for breakfast while I have been a this country place and plenty of new potatoes and fruit I was surprised at the Derby winner. I will write a line to Mrs Higgins when I have time and tell her that I did not receive her parcel which she sent at christmas. Are you going home for Annie wedding she told me in her last letter that she had wrote and ask you, let me know if you do, Ethel tells me that they have given notice at Whitworth Rd. I dont think it will be very healthy for Willie at Mill street. I hope she gets another house. Write as often as you can hoping you and Agnes are keeping in the best of health.
With Best Love
Harry

Address
32507 9th Y+L
attached Royal Munster Fusiliers
A.P.O. Box.R. L.1
I.E.F Italy

put R.M.F in full

There is still no indication of when Harry will be getting home. This letter talks of "leave" in October - very different from demobilisation. Harry's last (only) leave was in September 1918.

He seems aware that the statesmen are meeting in Paris to work out a peace treaty that will finally, formally end the hostilities.

10/- means 10 shillings which was equivalent to £0.50, worth about £25 in todays values. I don't think Harry is missing the drilling and marching
. BL

Does the Book Work?


I just have to put in a few wonderful comments from readers. Gradually, I'm beginning to believe in the book. There are a few lovely reviews on Amazon.co.uk and several journals and newspapers have reviewed it and said some very nice things about it. I think it's O.k. (phew!) BL


Marcy said...I finished it today. You did a fabulous job and your grandad would be proud. This is definitely a book that can be used by scholars, not just interested persons. Kudos to you, Bill, you have a winner here.

Linda said...Yes... I know I said I would not read to the end, but The Book has been sitting and whispering to me for too long. So I finished it, it is absolutely brilliant, perfect to the very end and I finished the way I started, stroking it and thinking about when I should start to read it, again. You should be very very proud it's definitely a keeper (you won't see this in the charity shops, I'm sure). Once again, well done you.

Jackie said...I felt the same way as Linda. I didn't want to read ahead of the blog but I couldn't stop myself. It's a wonderful book, even better than the blog! I shed a few tears more than once. I would definitely recommend it to people.


Amazon is delivering in the U.S.


I've just heard that books ordered from Amazon.com are, at last, being delivered in the States. I'm very relieved as the publisher was talking of a year!

If you order a signed copy from this web-site, delivery seems to taking between 5 days and a week for most of the world. I'm pleased to add a suitable dedication to the book.

If you do have a copy, could you consider adding a review to the Amazon.co.uk site. There are now five lovely reviews there but would certainly appreciate more. (Unless, of course, you don't like the book. Then send your opinion to me via the "comments" utility. Bad reviews will be published there, along with the good!) BL

Letter to Jack, 1st June 2009


Click on the letter to enlarge

32507/9th Y+L
attached R.M.F
A.P.O. Box R.
L.1. I.E.F
Italy
June 1st/1919
Dear Jack
I have received the shirt alright it is very nice. but I have not got the towel yet I am sure it is very good of you to be so much trouble. but my shirt is in half it has been a job to get exchanges were we are but I think we shall get some before long. I am very pleased that you and Agnes are keeping in good health. and I hope you enjoy your holidays. the weather hear is very hot. We are at a small country place about like Cossall it is very pleasant there is only about forty infantry men here altogether. I think we are all being transfered to the Munsters that is not very nice as the Munsters have been here all the time we have been in Italy they were all old men and B1 or 2 you see they never went in the line but just did garrision duty about fifty miles behind the line but I dont care as long as I get home alright. Write and tell me as soon as you see anything about demob in the papers as we can get to know nothing about it out here. I have had a letter telling me that Annie is getting married. I hope she will be happy. I dont know what Ethel and Willie will do I am sure as it means giving the house up at Whitworth Rd. I am pleased to hear that you are thinking of getting a better job soon I hope you get to a nice place it will be alright. Write as often as you can I am getting letters pretty regular now.
With Best Love to you
both Harry
P.S It would be nice for Willie to pay you a visit if you are near Ilkeston I am sure he would enjoy himself.

Getting new kit would have been quite a problem in such a remote location and so Harry was resorting to getting stuff sent from home. This was not unusual. On active service, soldiers would use anything that made their life more comfortable.

Cossall is a close to Ilkeston in the East Midlands of England, right in the middle of D.H. Lawrence country. It is placed about mid way between Ilkeston, where Harry was living, and Awsworth, where he was brought up.

To answer a comment and to remind readers- Annie is Sarah Anne, Harry's sister. As far as I can tell, Ethel and Willie had moved in with Annie for the duration of Harry's absence. Whitworth road is about a mile (1.6 KM) from Mill Street and is in a much smarter part of town. (As a young child I used to get my hair cut in a barber's shop on the residential street, Whitworth road. My first school was just across the fields.) I suppose that if Annie gets married, Ethel and Willie will have to move back to the Mill Street address.

Harry is now attached to the 1st (Garrison) Battalion of the Royal Munster Fusiliers. This is not a good move. The Garrison Battalion is made up of the sick, lame, halt, old and the lazy (to approximate), soldiers who are not fit for front line service. Harry has joined a group who, not having seen active service, won't have a high priority for re-patriation. BL

Letter to Jack, May 13 1919


Dear Jack
Just a line to let you know what I have received your letter. We are in a out of the way place just now, if you have an old shirt or a towel will you send it on as soom as possible as it is very hard to get changes up here there is about 40 of us guarding a dump it consists of all sorts guns etc.. Write as soon as you can and let me know all the news. I am please that you and Agnes are keeping in good health. If you have got an old shirt send it on as soon as possible. my address is at present.
32507
9th Y+L
attached R.M.F
A.P.O.
L.1. Box R
I.E.F
Italy
With Best love to you both Harry
I will write again in a day or two and tell you a bit more.

Sorry, that's all there is. I suppose that there's not the urgency now that the fighting's stopped. No hint of any return home yet. Rocco has found a little more local evidence that Harry is billeted at Rivalta Scrivia. BL

Radio 4 Broadcast


The blog that has gone to a book, got a very warm and supportive mention on the national Radio 4 programme "Broadcasting House".

Click to listen

Supply problems with the book, U.S and other places?


I'm sorry that some of you are having difficulty in getting hold of "The Book". Amazon in the U.S. have cheerfully taken orders but aren't delivering. My publisher has informed me that it's due to on-going negotiations with potential publishers in the U.S.

Rather than wait for that to resolve, I'm quite happy to supply the book myself. Then, I'll know that the book's delivered and I can sign and dedicate to order - if that's wanted.

Click here to buy the book
BL

Radio Broadcast - Sunday 10th May


Readers may be interested in catching a BBC broadcast on the subject of blogs that have made books. This blog and the consequent book are included. I was interviewed by the trout stream in Derbyshire that has been a great love of Willie's life. The article should be included in the "Broadcasting House" Programme that is broadcast between 9am and 10 am on Sunday morning. Click to listen

If anyone has the book, I would appreciate comments/criticsm. BL

Letter to Jack, 26th April 1919


At last, someone's read the book and given their opinion. And it's an independant view. Thank you the Daily Express for the review. (Big sigh of relief - they like it!) Any other views?

The Times on-line has published an article I wrote on the use of blogs in school. That's where the idea for this blog came from originally. The article links to the blog and the book. BL

32507 9th Y&L
attached R.M.F
A.P.O
L.1. Box R
Italy
April 26/19

Dear Jack
Just a line to let you know that I am alright and in good health I have not had any letters for about six weeks now. but I have been moving about a lot I hope I am settled down now till they send me home for good send me a paper or two regular if you can. I have seen no news for a long time. The weather here as been very nice lately. we are in a little country place about like Strelly guarding ammunition etc. there is only about forty of us all together but there is a lot of Italians guarding it too. I hope Agnes is keeping well and all at home. I hope to get a letter from you soon. I expect Willie is getting quite a man now he is turned three expect I am for army of occupation as I have got my 10/6 bonus. How is things going on in England and what do you think about the Fuime job and America.
Write soon With Best Love to you both
Harry

APO = Army Post Office. L.1 Box R would be the specific address. Strelly is a small village close to Ilkeston in the East Midlands - when I was a child in the 1950s it was a favourite destination for a country walk or a bike ride. The 10/6 (10 shillings and sixpence = 52.5p) weekly bonus was paid to those soldiers who were entitled to be demobbed but were stuck doing some "useful" task. Harry was helping guard an ammunition dump at
Arquata Scriva a few miles from Rivalta Scriva.

For contemporary newspaper reports on the Fiume question - Click here. Thanks again Rocco. BL

Book Delivery Starts Now.


It would appear that the books should start arriving by post in the next day or so, at least in the U.K.

I'll be pleased to take comments and to publish them. However, I must ask that the "ending" isn't mentioned. I really want to keep the story going for those who decide they'd like to continue following the blog. I'll be ruthless and reject any comments that may give anything away.

I now am immensely insecure - worrying that the lovely, loyal, world-wide community of readers following Harry's progress, will be disappointed when they receive my best effort at a book.

If you have a moment, have a look at the stunning Cornish seascapes I've discovered. They just capture the light and atmosphere of the coast down here in West Cornwall. Click BL

The Book - In my hands!


I've just received a copy of the finished book, back from the printers, complete, exactly as it'll be in the shops. Until now, I'd only seen the proof copy which was not nearly of the same quality.

I am so pleased with it. Everything is exactly as I would have wished. However, I daren't read it in case I find an error now it's too late.

Hopefully it'll be in the bookshops and dispatched from the on-line sellers on Thursday.

I just hope that readers that have ordered a copy are as delighted with their book as I am. Let me know. BL

Half a letter - but quite significant


A second letter to Kate, within 3 days.

This is one instance where material is incomplete. There is no sign of the remainder of this letter, just a single sheet. BUT, it is very significant.

Harry has been attached to the
1st (Garrison) Battalion, Royal Munster Fusiliers .

April 8th 1919

Dear Kate
Just a line to let you know I am alright I am still in Italy at a small village called Rivalto it is very nearly in France it is alright I have finished cooking for a bit it is nice to get out D.H.Q broke up and all officers went to England so I was let behind my Batt had gone to Fuime in Austria what was left of them. I am now attached to the Royal Munster Fusiliers it is an Irish Regt they wear the shamrock behind the cap badge. I have not changed my badge. I still ....

Half a letter. The second page is missing.

There are several places in Italy with the name Rivalta. (Harry didn't quite spell it right.) This one is almost certainly Rivalta Scrivia about 6 miles (9 km) south-east of Alessandria, a couple of miles south of Tortona. BL.

Two letters. Not Good News

April 5/1919

Dear Kate
Just a line to let you know that I am alright and in the best of health. I had a letter from Ethel she told me you have had your letters returned no wonder they could not find me as I have been all over the shop lately. D.H.Q as broke up and gone to England so have finished working I was the only cook left so I did very well but such a lot of work. I had ten officers and more to cook for at the finish to much at it from 6.30 AM t0 10.30 PM they must have thought it was a restaurant but I pulled through we had the general with us to finish up with had a big dinner last night seven courses and I got congratulated on it so I was satisfied. I have not drawn any money since January 28 and I got 10/6 [£0.525] bonus from Feb 1st so that is about £9.00 to my credit and I have never had so much money while I have been in the army you see the officers gave us so much a week so I am set up now for a bit, I liked the job but I did not feel so well always being shut up I dont know how I shall get on when I get back to the factory again. I hope I shall be seeing you before long, how is Connie getting on. The weather here is very fine
My address at present is
9th Y+L Regt
G.H.Q Demob
Concentration Camp
I.E.F Italy

I might get one with a bit of luck but I can quite understand the letters going back as I have been all over the shop lately I am in a little place call Tavernelle in the province of Vicenza near the province of Verona you will see it on the map. I hope you get this letter and I hope I shall be seeing you all before long
With Best Love
Harry







April 5th/1919
Dear Jack
Just a line to let you know that I am alright and in good health I am not at Fuime but a small place called Tavernelle in the province of Vicenza it is next province to Verona. All the lads from our batt as gone to Fuime. I finished cooking two or three days ago when the D.HQ broke up. Ours was the only mess left and we had BGD general Beaman [Brigadier General A.B. Beauman, commanding 69 Brigade] with us the last few days so we had some big dinners all the officers thought me and the waiter was on the D.H.Q cadre and was going with them to England they were surprised we had to stop had they known we should have gone with them but it does not matter we should have been soldiers in England when I come home I want to get demobed. There is to much work cooking for officers 6.30 AM till 10.30 PM to much if I can get out I shall. We had ten officers and more sometimes to look after not bad I had a big dinner last night and got congratulated on it by all the officers and one or two had their wives with them so I was satisfied although I had a lot of work. Remember me to Agnes. If there are any more leave trains to Rome or Naples I shall try my best to get on one as I shall never get the chance again. I hope I do not have to go to Fuime I dont want any more guards or sloping arms, as I am fed up with that I would rather be up the mountains again. when do you think peace will be signed, cooking as been a good thing for me as I have not drawn any money since January 29 and I get the 10/6 bonus from Feb 1st so that is over £9.00 to my credit. My address at present is
32507 PT Lamin
9th Y+L C of G.H.Q
Concentration Camp
I.E.F, Italy
You can send a letter here I might get it with a bit of luck and I might not as I dont think we shall be here long
With Best Love
to you both
Harry

Harry has missed out on the moves. We can see from the war diary that a large proportion of the battalion has been sent back to England on "Dispersal Drafts". Another sizeable party has gone to do policing work at Fiume. 5 days earlier on 30th, the remaining "cadre" (a nucleus of skilled men) of around 20 men left for England. The 9th Battalion York & Lancaster Regiment has left Italy.

Harry, now cooking, with something approaching £500 (today's value) from his war bonus, must be the only one left! "Winning" the cook's job at DHQ seems to have backfired on him. Amazingly, he still sounds cheerful and up-beat. The bonus was paid to all soldiers who were due to be demobilised but were still serving, from 1st February. This extra pay was worth about £25 a week in today's values.

NOTE ON MILITARY ACRONYMS.
SNAFU - Used frequently in military circles - probably an anachronistic acronym, ( I like the sound of that) as it was almost certainly first created in World War 2. It stand for "Situation Normal, All Fouled Up." E.g As an answer to "How's the mission going?" The military language tends to be a little richer, but I can leave that for the reader to consider.

Many thanks Rocco. This link goes to a wikipedia explanation of various acronyms. Warning, they contain "military" language. BL

"Many a Slip 'Twixt Cup and Lip"


Some of the faithful few are assuming that Harry is on his way home and the story ends here. His family may have heard that the battalion is being disbanded and assumed the same.

"SNAFU" is a frequently used military term . BL

The Book - Out of my Hands, at last. War Diary update.

The final proof copy of the book has been checked, re-checked and checked again. At last, the deadline for delivery to the printers has arrived and, it's gone. I daren't look at the proofs again for fear of finding a vital error.

Nothing to be done now, just wait until 23rd April when it should appear in a bookstore near you. The only way to get advance information on Harry's ultimate fate is to buy a copy! It's available for order on-line now with a huge, pre-publication discount.

Meanwhile, I've updated the war diary. The final entry for the 9th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment states that.
"On 29th [March] the CADRE left TAVERNELLE for ENGLAND." What about Harry? BL

War Diaries - At last!


The war diary has been entered up to the end of March. Click here.

Virtually every other day men leave for their demob. Not Harry, I'm afraid.

By the end of February a number are shipped to Fiume and the Battalion is reduced to a "Cadre" of 2o men.
By the end of March, even the cadre has been shipped to England. Not Harry, still in Tavernelle, cooking.

Harry is very restrained in his letters. He must be very frustrated. BL

Willie's Birthday


Sunday 23rd March was Willies third birthday. Harry left for the war when Willie was 9 months old. Since then, he has only seen his baby son during his four day leave at the end of basic training and during a leave home from Italy last September.

Coincidently, my father, Bill senior, celebrated his 93rd birthday on Monday 23rd March in a nursing home near Sudbury, Derbyshire.

Progress on the Book


The publication date of the book approaches and I'm now getting the final few tasks to complete before the whole package goes off to the printers. There's still time for a final revison, but not much can be changed at this late stage.

It was quite a challenge to convert the material from the blog into book form. Of course, it had to be a different product but it has been really important to retain the simplicity and freshness of the original.

Today I received the proofs of the artwork - the layout of the book with the illustrations. I am totally overwhelmed. If you enjoyed the blog, I'm sure that you'll treasure the book.

I had all sorts of ideas of the way the book would look and "feel". This has exceeded all expectations. (I know it's my book and that may well not be a strictly objective view!)

Two letters, 12th March 1919

March 12
23. D.H.Q
9th Batt Y+L
C.Mess
I.E.F
Italy
Dear Kate
Just a line to let you know that I am alright and still cooking but I expect the Division will break up in a week or two. Your book came in very useful. I should not like to be without it. There was four messes on D.H.Q and ours is the only one left. I thought I should have to leave and let one of the other cooks come, but I still keep my place. I should like to be officers servant when we break up, but I expect I shall be with army of occupation till I get demobed. I dont mean soldiering if I can get a job any how while I am in the army. I hope I am out of it before 1920 any way. Write as often as you can and let me know how you are getting on I will write and let you know how I am getting on and where I get too.
With Love
Harry




23. D.H.Q
C.Mess
I.E.F
Italy
March 12

Dear Jack
Just a line to let you know that I am alright and still working. Our mess is the only one left we keep getting fresh officers but I still keep my place as cook. I expect the division will break up in a week or two. I dont know were I shall get to. I shall try hard for officers servant when we break up but I expect I shall be with the army occupation for a while. but I dont mind so much as long that I am employed I have had my share of guards etc. I have received your tobacco alright and was very pleased with it. I am lucky to be here till now as all the cooks from the other three messes have finished I thought they would take me place, but I keep as clean as possible I think that as a lot to do with it not the cooking but its a big job as you always messing with the fire. We have had the General for dinner but I got on alright. mind you I dont cook any poultry or game. Write Every week and let me know how you are both getting on
With Best Love to you Both
Harry

Letters to Kate & Jack 28th February 1919

At last, more letters from Harry. For the first time, Harry shows some of his frustration at his fate "no good to a man who as had two years in the trenches without a break."

"but it will take a lot to make me list" Harry is referring to re-joining the army. With a great shortage of work, many men, upon demobilisation, joined the regular army. Harry doesn't sound too keen.

Harry's extra money is quite a useful amount. 5/- stands for 5 shillings or 25P. Worth about £10 today. His location is, I believe, a place called Tavernelle.
BL


Feb 28/2/19
Dear Jack
I am sorry that I have not wrote for such a long time but you see I have been all over the shop, I am cooking at present in the officers mess for eight of them, three majors at that I dont know how long I shall be here. I have been here a fortnight, I expect I shall have to leave when they get an experienced cook. The only thing I am bottled at is pastry. It is all work I have not had a night off yet and dont look like getting one. I am at the Divisional Head Quarters these jobs are alright when there is a war on but no good to a man who as had two years in the trenches without a break. You see the cook as got Demob. I hope you got my letter telling you about my visit to Venice I am very pleased I went. I dont know when I shall get demobed I might have to go with the army of occupation, but I expect I shall be out of the army some time this year. I am very glad that they are going on alright at Ilkeston and that Willie and Connie is well. If you dont here from me you must write as I am so busy at present I get seven lires a week extra that is about 5/- English money. of course I live well, you can bet on that. but there is such a lot of work. Well the next time I write I might have another job, or they might keep me. I will let you know as we are expecting breaking the division up any time they address at present is
23 D.H.Q
C Mess
I.E.F.
Remember me to Agnes with best love
Harry



Dear Kate
I have received your postal order alright, but I could have managed alright. I have left the Church Army so I have finished making tea I liked it alright. But you see the Batt moved to another place so I had to go with them.. I have got another job now I am helping to cook at the Divisional Head Quarters mess but I dont know how to make fancy thing but you know I liked cooking, I should be very pleased if you would send me a small cookery book, it might be useful, but you see we cant get all the things we want, we have to make pies and pastry with self rising flour, you might give me a few wrinkles how to go on how to make small meat savours and a few sweets and so forth I am asking you all these things and I might get the sack but not out of the Army, I wish I could, I hope you received my letter telling you about me going to Venice, I enjoyed myself very much I am glad that they are going on alright at home, I shall be glad when I get there but I think it will be a few months yet there so quite a lot of our men taking on. I think it is this two & three months leave that is doing it, but it will take a lot to make me list I have wrote to Trumans factory but I have not heard from them yet Write as soon as you can well right away as soon as you get my letter my address at the present is
32507 Pt Lamin
23 D.H.Q
C.Mess
I.E.F
With Best Love
Harry

"The most wonderfulest City in Italy"


Feb 1/1919 32507/9 Y&L

Dear Jack
Just a line to let you know I am alright I have not much time as I am very busy man this week I have been working in the Church Army dishing tea out in the afternoon and night. I dont get away till 9.30p.m so I have not much time the job is alright, but I expect we are moving next week so I shall have to go back to the company, but address my letters the same as I get them alright We have a parson in charge of us of course he is like all the rest a bit of an old figgett. (fidget?) gets excited now and again, so you have to talk to him a bit. We have had supper with him these last four nights, of course we have cooked it between us. Well before I had this job I had a weekend at Venice, about three days, It is a most wonderful city, all built on small islands and their is some fine buildings. I went in S. Marks Church it is a wonderful sight, well I enjoyed my self very much, I got £5.00 to go with so I expect I shall be debt now but that does not matter so long that I am on the right side, and I thought I shall never get another chance. I will tell you all about it when I see you I hope to be seeing you in the summer time. Well write as often as you can I am pleased to hear that you and Agnes are keeping well. I hope you will write as often as you can. I am very pleased that they are going on alright at Ilkeston, Ethel tells me what a rum chap Willie gets I shall be glad to get home again I would rather do any thing than go on parade and do guards in fact I think I would rather be in the trenches in Italy. I am just going to have supper now.
With best love
to you both
Harry


32507/9th Batt
Dear Kate
I am getting on alright and am sorry I ask you to send me a shilling or two as the next day I was given a week end leave. I got £5.00 and went to Venice it is one of the most wonderfulest cities in Italy, it must be a sight in summer time to see the boats on the river and canals We put up at the Grand Canal Hotel, and we was alright. I have bought Connie and Willie a broach and Ethel a present, things are very dear, but I did not mind, and I had a shilling or two left. I will tell you all about it when I get home but I dont know when that will be, I hope it will not be long, only men with slips are getting home and I dont think our firm have got any work so they not bother with slips. I am glad that they are going on well at home, and pleased to hear about Connie I hope she will be able to walk soon I am working in the Church army Hut this week so I dont require any money, the job is all right plenty to eat, so you bet I dont grumble I have just made supper stewed meat, onions and potatoe and a piece of toast not bad, I dont think I shall be here above a week. I will write again soon but write as often as you can
With Love
Harry

War Diary Update.


I have just received an explanation from the Public Records Office at Kew, regarding the non-availability of the 9th Battalion York & Lancaster Regiment's War Diary. Apparently, they are being used by the Ministry of Defence. I'm sure that they'll learn a great deal from them. The PRO has asked for them back but haven't indicated any timescale. "We can confirm that the document is currently in use by the Ministry of Defence. We have requested that it be returned to us so that you can place your order, and will let you know when the document is orderable once more." BL

Book Publication Date Change


I've just heard from the publisher that the book release date will be three weeks later - 23rd April instead of 2nd. Apologies for that. I'm sure that it'll be worth waiting for. The editor wants to be sure that the illustrations are all properly sorted. BL

Letter to Kate, 22nd January 1919

32507/9th Y&L
C.Coy
I.E.F
Jan 22/1919

Dear Kate
I have just received your letter and was very pleased with it, it was such a long time since I heard from you. I am glad that Connie is getting on alright I hope she will soon be able to walk. I have not wrote to the firm yet I think it is not much use, as I dont think they have much work. Ethel has not said anything about the other men writing I dont think they all have if they want us they ought to send for us. I am going on as well as possible but I am just about fed up. Well I think we all are its about time we all got home but I expect we shall have to wait a bit and be patience things are very dear out here and I am very short of money as we dont get much pay. Glad to hear that you enjoyed you holiday with Jack and to hear that he is getting on alright. Write as often as you can and let me know all the news. If you can spare a shilling I should be very pleased as it would come in alright, hoping to see you soon
With Best Love
Harry

Harry's frustration is clear in this letter. "The firm" would be the lace factory where he worked before the war. He doesn't seem to be very optimistic about a job there. You may recall that Connie, now 9 years old, is at school in Liverpool, around 100 miles (160 Km) from home. BL

The Book is Available World-Wide


Amazon have now offered the book of the blog on all its sites. Search for Bill Lamin on your national site, and there it is.

They are accepting pre-orders at a discount in some countries. (Oddly, it's discounted in Canada but not in the USA.)

I find the whole thing astonishing.

War Diaries Explained!

One of our regular commentators has contributed a set of explanations of some of the terms used in the War Diary. He has looked through the September 1917 War Diary and pulled out any terms that may need explaining or clarifying. Re-reading the Diary along with Roger's contribution may help with comprehension. His words are included as comments on the War Diary posting for September 1917, as well as in the "Readers' Comments" Blog BL

Arzignano

Harry's battalion was stationed in a small town in the foothills of the mountains, about 50 miles (80Km) due West of Venice. Harry would recognise the location as they wrere there for a short stay the year before, in April 1918. It is in a small valley and so, in the winter may not see a lot of the sun.


Rocco has turned up some traces, left by the British troops, on the walls of the castle there.

Letter to Jack, 2nd January 1919

32507/9th Batt york & Lancs
C. Coy 12 Platoon
I.E.F, Italy
Jan 2/1/1919

Dear Jack,
I am sending you a few lines just to let you know that I am alright and keeping in good health. It is a long time since had a letter from you, but I got the pipe alright which you sent. I am glad that you and Agnes are keeping well, and I hope you a have had a happy Christmas although I expect you have both been very busy Christmas was very quite out here, but I enjoyed myself in a way, not much money but we had a good dinner. We are in a little town called Arzignano it is a very damp place as it lies in a valley between the mountains. I dont know when I shall get home but I hope it will not be long. All men going on leave now are alright for if they get work while at home they can stop so it makes it better for them. About all the miners have gone, some which came up in April 1918 have got away. Let me know next time you write if you got the cards I sent. I am glad to hear that they are all keeping well at home and are keeping free of the flu. I guess you must have a busy time in Hull with so many prisoners of the war coming in. Everything is so dear out hear the money now is thirty lires to a pound, we used to get forty at one time but still things are no cheaper rather dearer Willie must be getting a rum chap as Ethel tells me some funny tales about him in her letters. Write as often as you can and let me know all the news, I hope soon to be able to write you from England. Wishing you both A Happy New Year
With Best Love to you both
Harry

No real sign of any movement towards home. The "Spanish" 'flu was rampant in the winter of 1918 - 1919, causing an estimated 25 million deaths - a greater toll than the War. But Harry's got his new pipe. BL