Letter to Jack Sunday March 17th 1918

March 17th/1918

32507/9 Batt York and Lanc Regt
C. Company
12 Platoon L.G.S
Dear Jack
I was pleased to receive your letter and tin of salmon. It is now Sunday night and it as been very hot we have had church parade this afternoon as we where all busy this morning cleaning up. We have just finished two days march, just over forty kilos so we had a good march and I had a pair of new boots so I went through it but I stuck it. I think we shall stay here a bit now, but we might get to a different part of the line. We had a grand place for scenery when last we were in the line, well the support line we were on Mountbello Hills I think that is what they call them. The mountains on one side and we could see right over the venetian plains for miles all fine country it was these plains what the Germans wanted when they made their advance. the Italians releived us when we were in the line they do seem a windy lot as soon as they got in the Austrians started to shell a bit, they all get in dug outs and they would not move. I don't know how they would go on up Ypres. The country is alright but I don't think much to the people a lot of the Italian soldier can speak English as they come from New York or some part of the States. If you see a small book any time which would help me with the Italian Language I should be very pleased if you would send it. I am glad you are both keeping well and I hope they are going on alright at home. I think it will be hot here in summer as some parts of the day now it is awful. We are having a quite time here, well it is a picnic against France. We cant grumble at the rations we are getting out here but of course it is the same thing over and over again. they are sending them on leave from Italy but I dont expect I shall get one for another three or four months yet time for the war to finish by then. I get your papers regular now and I noticed the piece you marked out in the guardian. I am sending you a view, I have been to this place a time or two. Write back as soon as possible and let me know how you are getting on.
With best Love to
you both

"Battalion moved by march route to Castlefranco on 15th inst & proceeded to BOLZANO the following day. The second day's march was long & tedious but no man fell out on either day." Extract from War Diary for 15th -16th March" Click to view full transcript

I do find it remarkable that Harry is using "Kilos" (Kilometres) quite comfortably - rather than miles. I'm not sure that his family would be quite so familiar with them. In the U.K. today, 90 years on, we stubbornly hold onto miles.

The "Guardian" is quite an up-market newspaper. Probably Jack's choice rather than Harry's! BL


Lou said...

Ive just read the whole blog from the start. Heard about it some time ago on Radio 4 but only just got round to it - so glad I did. Loved Wilfred Owen at school (36 yrs ago) and still remember lots of his lines even tho I failed the exam. He was saying the things that people like Harry couldnt expess - except between the lines. You really can feel between those lines...
Thank you for this brilliant blog - well its the first one Ive ever read as Im quite new to this all.
I'll be back tomorrow. Thinking of you Harry, keep on keeping on - Lou x

Anonymous said...

Harry gets regular copies of a newspaper. I wonder how much is blacked out? No way of knowing I suppose. However, he does seem to know that the war is coming to an end sooner rather than later and is appreciative of the conditions vis-a-vie France. Quite a long letter.

Michael said...

So good to hear from Harry again.
I actually hold my breath whenever I visit this page, hoping to hear from him again.
I really, really hope Harry makes a back alive.

Thanks for such a gripping and emotional project!

bikerted said...

Could it be that the road signs are still around giving the distances in kilometres and Harry is unable to convert them to miles?
I'm really enjoying reading a soldiers view of The War and urging Harry to make it home.
Like many people I've had a fasination of the Great War since doing it for O Level History back in the 1970s and have managed to visit Verdun and some of the battlegrounds in the area. When you see the mass graveyards and all the crosses, thats when the scale of the conflict hits home.

Anonymous said...

How lucky we are, that you were the one that had these letters and was willing to share them with us. It's so unfortunate that things like this are simply thrown out.
I have about a dozen letters from the 1830 period written to a girl living in Adirondacks hope to get them posted but the handwriting is difficult to read not anything as exacting as your material.
Thanks again for posting this for all of us. bob

Anonymous said...

Regarding "The Guardian", in 1918 this newspaper was still "The Manchester Guardian" and was probably very popular in the north of England. There's an archive of the entire paper online now. I think you have to pay, but maybe bits of it are free.