Letter 29th January - More information

I've looked carefully at this "difficult" letter.

Firstly, the two sheets of paper are identical and are the same as the paper used for the last 3 letters.

The two sheets, if they were from the same letter, were folded separately into four. One sheet was folded long side first, the other, short side first.

The pencil appears to be the same and in a similar state of sharpness.

There is no sign of any "impression" from other pages on either sheet.

I have no other letters with with similar paper that could have an extra sheet slipped in.

Thank you for all the suggestions. They are published on the comments page. I suspect that, unless some more material appears, we just won't solve the mystery of the letter of 29th January 1918.



Anonymous said...

Bill, I know that you are not involved with this petition, other than peripherally.

However, I do not agree with public holidays of this sort - they deflect from the importance of the day being honoured. In Australia we have two days that are public holidays - Australia Day on 26th January and ANZAC Day on 25th April. Australia Da has a PH on the closest Monday whereas ANZAC Day has a PH on 25th and if it falls on a weekend then that it how it falls. I much prefer this. A long weekend just means that people go away for a vacation and the real meaning of the PH is forgotten.

thorgrim said...

If you look at the first page, it is folded like an airplane would be, and the second is not. Perhaps these sheets are two seperate letters and sent to different people, but in haste were mixed up, if that makes sense.

Anonymous said...

Hi Brian
forgot to add in my previous comment the words used by Harry
"three or four of the team with them" makes sense if you consider a lewis gun usually comprised two soldiers one for firing the other for carrying and loading ammunition. Hence his use of the plural 'with them". My case rests.

Anonymous said...


My very Australian teenage kids don't have any understanding of the relevance of the PHs, they are just for a day off.


Autolycus said...

I'm agreeing with Julie on this one. Human nature being what it is, the only thing likely to be remembered on such a day is yet more DIY or other shopping.

We have formal commemorations on the Sunday, and in recent years have revived the Two Minutes Silence on the 11th itself. A public holiday is completely the wrong concept to be associated with the solemnity of Remembrance Day.

Anonymous said...

Alternatively, perhaps Harry had written the first sheet of paper, pages 1 & 2, before stopping and putting it in a pocket; then wrote the second sheet, pages 3 & 4, at a later point. I could see that kind of thing causing the disjointed break in his thoughts, especially if he wrote page 3 late at night or in a frontline trench.

All kinds of things could have caused the need to suddenly stop letter-writing: being ordered out on patrol, incoming enemy fire; or simply having grabbed a few precious minutes, and then quickly resuming his duties.

-Gustav's great-granddaughter

Anonymous said...

If the British guys that 90 years ago died for anything, it would of been for the freedom of the children they never knew, to of voted freely. If we are to be given an extra Bank Holiday then the least we can do is honour it to them.

Anonymous said...

We have two holidays like that here in America. Memorial Day and Veteran's day. Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

The "rum bottle" question would be most easily resolved if someone could make an educated guess about which newspaper is referred to and check its archive for a couple of weeks before the date of the letter.

Regarding the fighting patrol, Harry is a likely candidate because the patrols normally bring a lewis gun. The full team is clearly more than two or three, because of the need to carry bulky ammunition drums. His battalion hasn't been lucky because the purpose of the patrols is to capture a prisoner to help build up a picture of the enemy opposite. But because of the long approach (across a half-dozen islands in a wide but shallow river), they are spotted each time before getting close enough to the enemy position.

any said...

Many thanks for this. Although there are many books addressing the fate of soldiers in WWI a I hope you will turn this into another one.
My interest stems from my two great uncles whop served 1915-1918 and my Grandmother´s nephew who was killed in August 1917. Although the common soldier suffers in every war it seems to me that the soldiers of WWI were put through a particularly hellish life for very scant success. It´s a wonder that any of them came out sane.