Letter to Jack, April 22nd 1918

April 22nd 1918

32507/9th Batt Y & L Regt.
C . Company
12 Platoon L.G.S.
Dear Jack
I am sorry I have not been able to write to you lately but we have been on a fresh front on the Asiago Plateau it was different altogether from the Piave. We went up the mountain first time in motor cars as far as we could get. When we was on the plains it was very hot. but when we got to the trenches it was knee deep in snow and freezing. After we had been up a bit it started to rain, we gt wet through time after time. There was nothing doing only patrols we had a rough time now and again, we had to do outpost duty, we should be about two hundred yards in front of our own wire, you can bet what it was like out there in the rain and snow but we are down on the plains now and I am in the best of health. By the time you get this letter I shall have been out here 12 months altogether. I was rather upset to hear that father is dead. I had a letter from Ilkeston telling me that he had died April 7th. I have not been able to send any letters for about three weeks so they will wonder where I have got too. I am pleased you keep writing to me, I hope you are both keeping inthe best of health. We don't seem to be getting on very well with the war in France it would not surprise me if some of our chaps dont have to go back. Write back as soon as you can and let me know all the news you can. I suppose you have had the Zepps around your way again. I hope they are all keeping well at Ilkeston. I have met one or two fellows from Ilkeston and one from Kimberly in our battalion. I will write again soon I don't think we shall go up the mountains when we go in the trenches again, it does seem strange to be up above the clouds, I can tell you we see some fine sights, you would like to be here in peace time for a holiday. I am going to write to Kate now.
With best Love to you
both. Harry

The Battalion War Diary makes some mention of the rain and snow!
Harry's notepaper this time is rather different. On the front is printed "FOR SCRIBBLING OR NOTES ONLY.", on the reverse, "Question.......... Write only on this side of the paper, and not on either margin." Ex- school Teacher Jack must have sent him some old examination answer sheets! BL


Unknown said...

This letter really encapsulates the experience of the war for so many men--out there for 12 months without much contact with family, his father died without his knowing or being able to go to the funeral, the weather extremes and the inability to feel there would be an end.....I feel more for Harry here than I have before. This may be his best letter yet.

Anonymous said...

Oh Harry! He sounds tired and frustrated (the weather and the continual trench warfare), lonely ('write to me soon! Your letters mean so much'), and sorrowful (his dad dying, with Harry not getting a chance to say goodbye). But there's also a glimpse of what I think of as the essential upbeat Harry: 'we see fine sights, a nice place for a holiday'. It's rough out there on the front, but Harry always seems determined not to drag down the folks at home. Take care of yourself, we're all praying for you Harry!

-Gustav's great-granddaughter

Anonymous said...

Well done Harry, I was getting a bit worried, with such a long time since his last letter. What a fascinating snapshot of the times this letter is, though. A mention of the zeppelins attacking england, progress of the war in france etc. Sad to hear that Harry's father has died, it's sad to think of him out there, at what must have in those days seemed an impossibly remote distance from his family. Looks like it's been a tough time as well, let's hope things get better for Harry, still, at least it's better than where he was before, eh?

Anonymous said...

April 25th is ANZAC day in Australia and New Zealand. (ANZAC = Australia and New Zealand Army Corps). The day, aka Poppy Day, commemorates the landing of the ANZACs at Gallipoli, Turkey, on 25 April 1915.

It was the first major military action for the ANZAC troops. The plan was to capture Istanbul, and knock Turkey out of the war. The campaign ended up taking eight months before the ANZACs were evacuated, having lost 10000 soldiers.

You read more at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ANZAC_Day

It is a day of remembrance and reflection for Australia and New Zealand, and I thought I'd mention it here as this blog provides an excellent insight into what was a very hard time.

Pope said...

I am having to follow these letters for school. I am in my final year and this does seem to fit in well with what we have to do. What i really want to point out is that someone left a comment that said "this is his best letter yet"... yeah well none of this should be anyones best letters and what sickens me about your website is that it seems like a game that we have to follow, and most of the people in these letters seem really stupid - though i imagine this can not be helped, the letters seem dull; i would imagine that they would be published in a book as well if any of them had any value besides dates in the war and what the common working man and the people who surround them say. I am sorry if the tone of this is unacceptable for some people but these events should never be paraded as if it were a game and none of these events should ever be seen as anything other than the disturbing events that they are . also nothing related to the war after 1916 should ever have been seen as anything but a hopeless attempt into saving the world. I hate this blog and if you had any decency about you, you would not tell with such high zest the old lie: Dulce et decorum est, Pro patria mori and you would not have made the blog look like someones room in the early 20th century - it is a false representation of what you are portraying - i just think that the person behind the first comment should appologise for saying something so ignorant. This particular letter is heart touching in the content but it is not the "best" letter yet, it is yet another example of hardship during the war.

Kittybriton said...

The reference to Zeppelin raids is worth noting; something we give little thought to, since the bombing raids of WWI were overshadowed by those of WWII. But probably, the raids were more unnerving in the Great War because the public had never been exposed to danger like that before.
Chin up Harry, we're all keen to see you safe home.

Autolycus said...

It's interesting how much operational detail he's allowed to put in his letters - I have the impression some of the things he says about where he is would have been heavily censored in WW2.

. said...

Brill site And great pics