This blog will record, in real time exactly 100 years later, the correspondence between Miss Emma Ash and Mr William Metcalfe during the First World War. From bundles of letters found under floorboards long after their deaths, we are able to witness the development of the later stages of the War through the eyes of a serviceman and his sweetheart, played out alongside a growing romance.
With no consideration of literary prowess, no thought that this correspondence would be seen by others (except perhaps the military censor), an unvarnished portrait of a different age and world appears.
The letters run from May 1917 to mid-1919, and will appear here in the order they were written, a century later.
Just a card to let you know I am at Brighton, the weather is topping.
Love from Emmie
16, Tiber St
In answer to yours. Work went down very funny yesterday, it seemed as though work & I had quarrelled, but of course we have got to be friends again or I shall starve. On Sunday I may be at Brighton I thought about going Sat. aft. And coming home Sund night, as Mother is going for the week. I have not lost all my brown yet, it seems to be more of a red hue though now, Gipsy tint, it is described. But this is all about “I” so will change le sujet. I was imagining you feeling not up to much after having your tooth out, but I hear you have not been, however I hope you will feel better than I did. How do you like the cake Will, have you had your teeth in that yet, you had better try it before going to the dentist in case, (enough said.) Are you at the theatre again playing then, if so, mind how you go on. I did not think you ‘felt less’ because you told me Sunday when I asked what you thought of me, “oh much about the same I suppose” it did not sound altogether tender, but I am satisfied if you did think the same, I know I expect a lot as you said before, but still, that is my, or one of my, many faults. Well I have no more to write this time, (Charles Hill is on leave I hear, looking quite fat & well). I will now conclude
With best Love, Emmie xx
Bandsman W. Metcalfe 46534, (Band Hut) 100 T.R.B., Albuhera Barracks, Stanhope Lines, Aldershot
Thanks for letter so soon I received directly I came off parade this morning.
I saw you getting into the train from the bridge and you looked up but did not see me. I know you had some difficulty in getting in but I did not go till I knew you were safe.
I don’t suppose I will visit the dentist tonight as I have to go to orchestral practise at 6 o’cl.I am going as a cornet player but tonight I will be on the piano. There is no need for you to worry and think That I feel less for you because, (as you said) “I have known you long enough” to know your saucey pretty little ways. Well my Dear it is about 5.55. now so I will close.
With Best Love Will. Xx
16, Tiber St
I got home quite safe, the carriage was very crowded though. I looked for you on the bridge but could not see you, did you go on the bridge? I am writing this as soon as I got in so that you should have it some time on Monday. I hope you feel alright after your visit to the Dentist, & dear Will, forget if you can, what I said to tease you, I am sorry, I could not keep thinking of it all the way home. I thought you knew me better, however I feel sure you could not have really believed it. Well I have to run out & post this before Midnight so cannot say anymore, Good night & God bless you, my one & only Love.
Just a card to let you know I am thinking of you. We do not live very far from this square. It is a nice morning this morning & perhaps we are going for a row.
Fondest Love from Emmie xxx
Thanks for letter, we are having a most enjoyable time & splendid weather, I am going to take Mabel rowing this afternoon, it is lovely where we are staying some very nice boarders & when we go up to roost we have such fun, you see there is a fellow in the next room to ours & the wall between is only a wooden partition & he can hear all we say, he was talking to us early this morning & then we do morse code on the wall. I am enjoying myself as there are plenty of Australians down here & we can have a pal if we want one, two or 3 have spoken to us, one said “let me hold your hand darling”, & then the 3 of them followed us a long way & kept talking to us. I shall have a lot to tell you Will, on Sunday. Wouldn’t it be grand if you were with us, I only wish you could come. I hope dear you enjoy Bank Holiday. By the way I solved the postscript, & I am sure I am not envious in that case. I will tell you of our adventure & several others on Sunday. It is very hot today, what kind of weather are you having at Aldershot? Well I have no more to say, or rather write, just now, but send me a line as soon as you possibly can. (I did not like that sentence in your letter, about my being bored Will, you must not say that, or I shall think you are taking things lightly. You know perfectly well I am not bored. I will let you know when I am. Well I will now close with fondest love from your Sweetheart Emmie xxxx
P.s I am not having anything to do with the soldiers or any other boys Will down here, there is only one for me you know.