Letters to Kate & Jack 28th February 1919

At last, more letters from Harry. For the first time, Harry shows some of his frustration at his fate "no good to a man who as had two years in the trenches without a break."

"but it will take a lot to make me list" Harry is referring to re-joining the army. With a great shortage of work, many men, upon demobilisation, joined the regular army. Harry doesn't sound too keen.

Harry's extra money is quite a useful amount. 5/- stands for 5 shillings or 25P. Worth about £10 today. His location is, I believe, a place called Tavernelle.

Feb 28/2/19
Dear Jack
I am sorry that I have not wrote for such a long time but you see I have been all over the shop, I am cooking at present in the officers mess for eight of them, three majors at that I dont know how long I shall be here. I have been here a fortnight, I expect I shall have to leave when they get an experienced cook. The only thing I am bottled at is pastry. It is all work I have not had a night off yet and dont look like getting one. I am at the Divisional Head Quarters these jobs are alright when there is a war on but no good to a man who as had two years in the trenches without a break. You see the cook as got Demob. I hope you got my letter telling you about my visit to Venice I am very pleased I went. I dont know when I shall get demobed I might have to go with the army of occupation, but I expect I shall be out of the army some time this year. I am very glad that they are going on alright at Ilkeston and that Willie and Connie is well. If you dont here from me you must write as I am so busy at present I get seven lires a week extra that is about 5/- English money. of course I live well, you can bet on that. but there is such a lot of work. Well the next time I write I might have another job, or they might keep me. I will let you know as we are expecting breaking the division up any time they address at present is
23 D.H.Q
C Mess
Remember me to Agnes with best love

Dear Kate
I have received your postal order alright, but I could have managed alright. I have left the Church Army so I have finished making tea I liked it alright. But you see the Batt moved to another place so I had to go with them.. I have got another job now I am helping to cook at the Divisional Head Quarters mess but I dont know how to make fancy thing but you know I liked cooking, I should be very pleased if you would send me a small cookery book, it might be useful, but you see we cant get all the things we want, we have to make pies and pastry with self rising flour, you might give me a few wrinkles how to go on how to make small meat savours and a few sweets and so forth I am asking you all these things and I might get the sack but not out of the Army, I wish I could, I hope you received my letter telling you about me going to Venice, I enjoyed myself very much I am glad that they are going on alright at home, I shall be glad when I get there but I think it will be a few months yet there so quite a lot of our men taking on. I think it is this two & three months leave that is doing it, but it will take a lot to make me list I have wrote to Trumans factory but I have not heard from them yet Write as soon as you can well right away as soon as you get my letter my address at the present is
32507 Pt Lamin
23 D.H.Q
With Best Love


Janell said...

Poor Harry. He must feel like a prisoner of war. But the economic situation at home must be discouraging, too, writing to the factory and getting no response. Maybe he'll learn to cook as he waits. I am so glad to hear from him. It's been so long.

MarcyT said...

I wonder what kind of work he was doing that kept him on the go all day---was he having to do all the food prep, kitchen cleaning, etc as well as cooking? He says he's cooking for 8 so that wouldn't be a huge number yet it sounds like they worked him hard. You'd think they'd cut these guys some slack considering what they'd just survived.

Bacon Dad said...

Technically 5 shillings in 1919 would be 60d, but that's not terribly important.

Hope Harry gets home soon!

Anonymous said...

Hello Harry:
Just to let you know I have recieved you letter. Can't blame you in the cooking line as I was too glad to be rid of the job when they made me Mess Sgt. for a time on the Border. Only good thing about it is being where the food is. Stop by for a read when you can. We're properly in the mix now, just as you are (HA). Keep your chin up.


Kittybriton said...

What a caper! Three months since the armistice and still no word about getting demobed. I'm curious about the mention of breaking up the divn. Does this mean you might get sent home? or just organized into another bit of H.M. Forces? Still, I am immensely grateful that the fighting is over and you are out of the heat (even if you are still in the kitchen!), and I doubt very much the hun will be in a fit state to make any more trouble for a good long while.

Anonymous said...

"two years in the trenches without a break" - didn't he get leave sometime last year?

Anonymous said...

There was an intersting TV program on where they traced someones family. He was a soldier in WW1 and died just after the war from the Flu epedemic.
I think little does Harry know it, but he is better of where he is at the moment.

Anonymous said...

Yep, he sure does sound frustrated, and justifiably so! Four months since the end of the war, and he's STILL in Italy, STILL doesn't know when he'll get to see his home and family, and, I'd say, he's getting really worried if there'll be a decent job for him whenever he DOES get home.

Poor Harry may be physically rested by now, but he's mentally exhausted. It's one thing to endure hardships as part of the group during a war, but it's quite another to be left behind like Harry must feel he has been, watching the lucky ones go home while he's 'forgotten' by the high command.

Anonymous said...

Poor Harry. He's really frustrated but what would he be coming home to? Unemployment probably. I didn't realise 'all over the shop' was such an old phrase.


Anonymous said...

The soldiers' disappointment can be very dangerous in a not so established democracy like Italy was (and I think is): Italian soldiers of the the great War were the most enthusiastic supporters of the first Fascism, after the false promises given during the war as land to till, job to find, pension to receive and so on.....
Many soldiers, after the return, did not find even their wifes, thanks to the draft dodgers fighting in the well warmed offices of the war burocracy.

Anonymous said...

This is really fascinating reading about how someone felt in the past.