Letters to Kate and Jack

TWO letters written on Sunday 30th December 1917. The Battalion's War Diary records only that there was a church parade on that day, so he would have had the time to write. Reminder, the days in 1917 match 2007 so the 30th December was a Sunday for Harry also.

December 30 1917
9th Batt York and Lancs
C Company
12 platoon
L. G. section
BEF Italy

Dear Kate

I have received a letter from you and was very pleased, it is such a long time since I had one. I have not received the parcel yet and I hope it will come I am ready for it I think parcels will reach us all right after Christmas. It is very cold at night but in the daytime it is alright. I hope you got home for Christmas and found them well and enjoyed your holiday. Did you get the card I sent you. I have had a letter from Jack he’s getting on alright, I am pleased to hear it. I hope Connie is better when you receive this letter. Let me know how Willie is if you happen to get home. Has Annie been to see Jack since he got married. Ethel said she was very likely going after Christmas. Glad you are getting on alright at Leeds but I did not expect you would like it the same as London. I hope you have had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Write back as soon as possible and let me know how you are all going on

With love from Harry

9th Batt York and Lancs
C Company
12 platoon
L. G. section
BEF Italy

Dear Jack

I have received a letter from you and a box of biscuits all right. I got them on Christmas morning and you can bet how pleased I was. I have also had a letter from Kate she said she was having a holiday this Christmas the first for seven years. I hope she enjoys herself. I’m sorry to hear that Mr. Thomas’s son as got killed what date did it happen. I have had a letter from Mrs. Higgins I shall write back as soon as possible. Ethel says Connie has not been very well lately but I hope she gets on alright. I am pleased to here you are getting on all right and very happy. I hope you enjoyed yourself this Christmas. They all seem to be well again at home except Connie and I think she will be alright. Glad you liked the card I sent you. I thought it would suit alright. It is very cold out here at night but it is alright at daytime. Write back as soon as you can and let me know how you are getting on.

With best love from



Anonymous said...

It's understandable, I imagine, but Harry sounds so very lonely for his family. Almost as if, by merely writing each of thier names, he can somehow bring them closer. Most people today, with constant contact possible through cell phones and email, will find it hard to relate to his being so removed from his loved ones.

But for those who want to get a bit of a feel for Harry's isolation: try, for just one week!, not to have ANY cellphone, text messaging, email, facebook/myspace, or internet contact with your own friends and family.

-Gustav's great-granddaughter

Jimmy Pellas said...

Very interesting and educational idea .

will be checking Harry's world more often . Sad that it was called the 'great war' and 'the war to end all wars' and after all these years we now have 20 year old present day soldier/bloggers contacting this blog from Iraq............

Anonymous said...

What an inspirational idea to blog your grandfather's war diary. I only discovered it today and avidly look forward to future blog entries. Thank you.

hildA said...

Indeed, the loneliness and emptiness must have been unbearable at times. The relatives home not quite realizing the terrible conditions these young men were experiencing. So tragic, such a waste.

DanN said...

This is a fantastic insight to what it was like during the first World War. Thanks for these posts.

Is there any possibility of you scanning the letters as well as a typed manuscript in the future?


toby said...

I had two great-uncles who survived the First World War. One was awarded France's Croix de Guerre as a stretcher bearer. These letters are interesting to read as they never talked about their experiences.

Although, Harry also seems determined to avoid writing about the horrors we know he must have witnessed.

It is shameful that our society is still governed by donkeys who are so careless with the lives of others.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how he felt about being in Italy. I assume that, by late 1917, he was used to being moved about, and that Italy must have seemed like just another military camp, although one with intact countryside and villages rather than shelled wastelands. I don't know how common it was for people of Harry's background to go on continental holidays, if he ever expected to travel so far.

He doesn't seem to mention his fellow soldiers very often - perhaps he was worried about getting attached to people he might not know for very long.

community&leisure said...

What a fantastic way of bringing the horror of war into the modern world. It should be part of the cirriculum so all school children future prime ministers, politicians etc can read what was like from someone actually there living it day by day. Maybe it will make people think before sending someone else's children off to war.

Unknown said...

What a wonderful and very humbling project, thank you.

"We will remember them"

Anonymous said...

How I envy you. My father served as an infantryman in France and Flanders from March 1915 to Jan 1918 and in the 28 years that I lived with him he mentioned his experience only once when as a little boy I asked him if it hurt when he was wounded on the Somme. his reply was "not much" Later as an adult and exserviceman myself I respected his silence on the subject.
Since then I have spent many hours looking at War diaries and records at Kew but can only share his experiences through the writings of others so Harry's letters are very welcome.
Thank you
Malcolm C Smith.

Anonymous said...

January 5th 2008. Just heard about this Blog on Sky News in Israel. What a wonderful way to record history and more important to pass it on. How many of us finding old letters from our dead relatives just burn them. Do we ourselves pass on our personal history to our children & grandchildren!! Mores the pity that this kind of thing usually gets lost. Congratualions to Harry's grandson.

Anonymous said...

Great Blog. I have two grand parents who fought WWI. On the father side my grandpa was austrian, on the mother side my grandpa was italian. So they faught one against the other. That war was really a stupid thing.

haciendo click said...

Una feliz idea.

Anocsanamun said...

WOw - I am sure he is so proud of you for doing this - BRAVO...

Anonymous said...

thank you for sharing Harry's letters to us all. It is a great insight into what he and many other soldiers went through. I hope he comes out of it all ok. War is such a terrible thing, it seems the people in power will never learn from history. What will fighting solve?

Anonymous said...

I really found these letters so poignant. The extremeties are not the same, but I have been away from home the last few years, travelling, and these letters reminded me of how closely we regard our friends and parents back home. I can sort of empathise here even if the our experiences are vastly different and his day-to-day life far more traumatic.

I only came across this blog because of Reuters and I'm so glad I decided to read some of the entries. I will most definitely read from the beginning when I have time to dedicate to this extraordinary blog.

felipemaia said...

Great blog!!! Awesome!
I am brazilian and my grandfather fought in WW2, that´s really nice the work you´re doing!!
I enjoy reading it!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

A brilliant idea. Like 1000s of others I am now rooted, and like Harry expectantly awaiting the next letter from home, I am expectantly awaiting the next piece of his history.
What I can't help thinking though, that 90 years later , mankind is still killing & being killed, and whilst we walk this earth, we will NEVER be at peace with each other.The deep irony is probably 1000s if not millions of soldiers have probably felt the same over these last 90 years too !

Anonymous said...

January 12, 2008

I read some of the blogged messages. What a wonderful way to honour your Grandfather.

He seemed quite astute. Imagine being able to write in such war torn place. He mus have had the heart of a journalist.

Some of my mothers uncles were in WW1. They would have enjoyed reading these letter.

I also had some uncles/relatives in WW1 and WW2 and the Korean War.
So this information is always interesting for me.

Like your Grandfather, my uncles and relatives never wanted to talk about the war.

Thank you for your inspiration and your Grandfathers inspiring words and journal.

Sandra Boswell
Prince Edward Island
e-mail: isleofsky@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

Imagine that 100's of 1000's of soldiers & other fighting men & woman now fight wars all over the earth AGAIN. Some people in the weapon industry (including planes, tanks, auto's etc. etc.) are getting filthy rich from that!! Shame over them.

KennewickMusing said...

What a treasure!

Thank you!