Two letters, 1st January 1920. Definite progress.

Jan 1st 1920
Dear Kate

Just a line to let you know that I have left Italy and have arrived in France at Marseilles. I dont think we shall be here more than a day or two. we got in today at 4 o clock. and we are not allowed out of camp so i expect we shall have to stay in. I hope to be in England this time next week that is with good luck. I have got my papers for demobilisation so I expect to get demobilised within this next fortnight so I hope to be seeing you before long. I hope you had a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year and I hope Connie enjoyed her holiday. I will write and let you know as soon as possible how I get on.

With Best Love

Jan 1st 1920

Dear Jack

Just a line to let you know that I have left Italy. I am at present at Marseilles how long I am here for I do not know but I don't think it will be more than a day or two. We have just got here by train and we are not allowed in the place so I expect we shall have to stay in camp. We was on the train about twenty eight hours so we went well for a troop train. I received your tobacco alright it was very good. I hope you have both had a Merry Xmas. I expect you have been very busy. It is very cold here and wet I don't know what it is like in England I expect to be there within another weeks time with a bit of luck. I will write and let you know if I am so you need not bother writing till you hear from me.

With Best Love to you

This seems quite conclusive. At last, Harry's on the way home. BL


Rocco said...

white handkerchiefs winding on our hands at the italian boundary

Anonymous said...

Webmaster, I love your site. Thank you sooo much for working on it.

G. Tingey said...

Across France by train to Boulogne, channel crossing, train to Charing Cross?
Or steamer to Portsmouth/Southampton from Marseille?

Nanny (Shirley) said...

Hopefully we will welcome Harry home very soon!

Anonymous said...

Whoopee! It's starting to look like good news for Harry: he sounds quite upbeat and almost chatty --- he must have his hopes up that he's finally on his way home!

Kittybriton said...

Lumme! You should get a medal for endurance Harry.

Anonymous said...

In his letter to Kate, Harry mentions Connie's 'holiday' --- any idea what was happening? I would have thought she'd spend her school holidays with Ethel and Willie, rather than 'Aunt' Kate.

Roger O'Keeffe said...

The so-and-sos couldn't manage to get him home for Christmas, but better late than never.

Note that everyone is confined to camp in Marseille, again par for the course: the authorities are probably terrified that large numbers will try to make their own way home, and their personnel files will be left in such a very untidy state!

I would encourage all you Harry junkies to begin to migrate to Dieter Finzen's blog before withdrawal symptoms set in. An American student, Alex Seifert, has taken over the English translation and I'm catching up with the French, and now good old Rocco is translating it into Italian. Welcome aboard! So Harry's community lives on.

As Dieter's blog is a diary rather than letters home, he is much more outspoken about what he's going through than Harry, who - still! - has to worry about both the censor and the anxieties of his nearest and dearest. It's quite fascinating to see an account of living conditions on the front directly opposite the positions occupied by the British after the "big push" on the Somme has petered out. There is also information about how the "live and let live" policy worked out in practice.

Sven Janke, the person who is keeping the blog, has followed Bill's lead in accompanying the diary with extracts from the war diary of Dieter's Regiment. These give an interesting view from the "bigger picture" perspective. He is also posting photos that are not directly linked to Dieter, but that give a very good idea of conditions.