Training Camp 1917

As you may have realised, there were no other letters from the training camp that were preserved.

It sounds, from the first letter, that Harry had just arrived at Rugeley camp and so we could work out roughly how long the training lasted at that time.

In 1914, at the start of the war, training was planned to take around eight months for an infantryman like Harry. By the spring of 1917, this had been reduced significantly. I can't find any specific evidence to determine the length of training, but I do know that Harry was in France by mid-May. Mid-February to mid-May is only 3 months.

We must realise that the previous summer of 1916 saw the terrible battle of the Somme where tens of thousands of men were slaughtered before breakfast. The trenches needed replenishing with men and the obvious solution was to reduce the training period. I suppose there was no real problem as no amount of training could prepare those young men for what was to follow.

"Dripping" in the last post, refers to the fat that was left after meat was cooked. Before the days of cholesteral and sodium, "bread and dripping" was a common dish in the industrial midlands of England. I can remember enjoying it in the 1950s. The fat from the Sunday joint was spread onto bread. Liberal amounts of salt was added and, that was it. Full of flavour, cheap and quite nutritious. Not too healthy.