30th May 1917

Pte W. Metcalfe 46534, 19 Platoon, E Coy 100 T.R.B., Talavesa Barracks, Wellington Lines, Aldershot
Dear Emmie

I received your letter last night, last thing; and this is the first opportunity I have had to answer it.  When you speak of the "people in your street” and the “Zepps” it makes me think of the first time I was speaking to your Father and you ran up and caught hold of my arm.  By what you write I suppose you did not get my letter Saturday, as I wanted you to.  Did Mabel ask you if you would have liked to have come down Monday because Dad said he asked Mabel to ask you, and she said she thought you had settled about going to the ramble.  I do hope you enjoyed yourself.  The weather here is very hot now, but we had a thunderstorm last night which flooded us out.  About 6 acres were swamped with water, in some places it was knee deep.  In shallower parts boys were riding through it on bicycles.  Dear Emmie, if I do not get leave this weekend I would very much like to see you.  I put in my pass today but I do not know wether it will be washed out or not.  Will you feel safe if you come by yourself ?  Do not get frightened if you get a letter with “Urgent” written on it.  I will post one on Friday so as you will get it Saturday.  I did take Communion last Sunday as you will see by my other letter; and I also went in the evening.  I enjoyed the services very much.  I went to Church parade 9 o’clock Sunday morning so you see I nearly had a “Perfect day”.  I am sorry to hear of your bad news; do you think your Mother and Father will be back by Saturday.  On Monday I could not get a pass till four o’clock to go out with Mum & Dad so I took “French leave” at 1.30.  Nobody knew and nothing was said.  We went to the pictures and saw the “Beast”.  Do you remember it at the Rink.  Today we have had an easy time nothing but practice and not much of that.  This morning our sergeant major went round all the rooms and saw food in some of the cup-boards.  He said we were not to have any in the barrack rooms, but you know there are always a lot of rules which are never carried out.  By the way: I received that letter I said I expected when I got home that evening last Friday.  You see how well I am getting to know you.  I will have to close now as I am playing a bugle call in about half an hour called the “retreat” it is played twice a week; generally on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Yours very Lovingly 

Will xxx

P.S.  About a fortnight ago we all went to school & had Arithmetic, Dictation, and Composition.  About 20 passed out of 150 and I was one of the little number.  All the others have had to go to school four times this week.

I will let you know as soon as poss if I am coming up this week.  You can get your P.T in case my pass does not go through.

Leave about 12 noon 2/6/17 to 11.55pm 3/6/17

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27th May 1917

Pte W. Metcalfe 46534, E Coy 100 T.R.B., 19 Platoon, Talavesa Bks, Wellington Lns, Aldershot
Dear Emmie

This is the third attempt to write you this letter.  The Y.M.C.A. paper is no good.  I am glad to hear you are doing something to pass your long, lonely, lingering moments away.  Is it by chance “tuck” baskets you are learning to make.  I hope you will not have to work for your living when you are “old and feeble” as you say.  I heard that the Zepps’ were over again and wondered how you got on, but I am glad to hear you slept through it all.  It is a bad case about all those Germans sea planes which were over the other day.  I hope to see you next Sunday to help you with those songs of Mr Chapman’s and other nice things.  I am trying for leave and I hope I will get it.  I think all these boys who are deserting are stopping our leave.  Please do not forget to tell W.L.  not to get those buttons as we all have to wear brass ones.  I know you do not forget to do what I ask you, so please forgive me for writing in such a way.  (This is a bad nib)  I am glad to say that my tooth ache has stopped.  I think it must have been a cold I had because my tooth-ache went and my inside and limbs got rather stiff but it has worked off now.  I very often forget to ask you things in some of my letters; so I write them down directly I think of them; that is why they are perhaps jumbled sometimes.  I naturally, will be thinking of you Whit’ Monday and I hope you enjoy yourself as good as circumstances will allow.  I do not know exactly what we are doing tomorrow but I suppose it will be the usual.  I went to that church where those pretty bells were this morning to H.Com.  I was told by a corporal that I would not be allowed out before dinner; but you know the Army does not come first.  It was about the most interesting morning services I have ever heard.  Perhaps it was because I had not been in a real church for three weeks.  I am going again this evening so I will have to hurry up with this letter because it is now 5.30. and is a long way to walk.  It is now pouring with rain so I hope it will stop.  I know what I promised you and I did not forget xxx but I will try to make up for lost time when I get you in the parlour on your own; if you are still living in Rue d’tiber.  Have you thought of moving yet?  You know I do not make a lot of fuss in letters so I do not tell you all I should like to.  I like to be face to face with the genuing article you know it is a thousand times better.  There is something now I have forgotten to ask you but I may think of it next time I write.  Please remember me to all so I will now close Dear Emmie

Remaining Your ever loving

Will. xxxx

P.S.  What I was going to say is that I have read “A Roman Singer’ about Nino and Hedwig.  I think you had it some time ago.

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25th May 1917

Pte W.M., Company E.100TR Bat.19 Platoon, Stationed at Talavesa Barracks, Wellington Lines, Aldershot
Dear Emmie

I am writing to you tonight, although I have not yet received an answer from my last. I thought it would [be] such a long time from Wednesday till Monday before you heard from me; but still, I expect a letter when I return to barracks this evening or at least tomorrow morning. I spoke to an officer today who knows Mr Avery and he asked me if I was happy in the Army; I said “yes” but of course I am not really what I would like to call happy; I think I would be if I did not have you to leave at home. Some people are funny in expressing themselves; and I am one. I would rather be unhappy for one year to enjoy perhaps many years at home with you. I am having really an ideal soldier’s life, especially in the band but I would rather have a ‘collar and tie’ on.

I have not time to write more, but I wish I could express my feelings for you, more in writing.

Yours With Fondest Love

From Will.

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23rd May 1917

Pte W. Metcalfe 46534, 19 Platoon, E. Coy 100 T.R.B., Talavera Barracks, Wellington Lines, Aldershot
Dear Emmie

I received your letter this morning and I am glad to hear you enjoyed yourself so much; I could see you did not like leaving me and that was the only part besides the rain I did not like, you having to go home.  It seemed so short a meeting.  You say “W.L.” is talking of “joining up”; he has always done that.  I have had my name put down for a transfer into R.F.C. there are only two to be chosen in our battalion this month so perhaps I do not stand much of a chance.  I think the best thing for me to do is to keep in the band and not take promotion; if I stay in it always, in the end I have a chance of dodging the trenches; they put some bandsmen on stretcher bearing, etc. it is dangerous work but I would prefer that to “pig sticking”.  You may content yourself with the fact, that I will never care for to stay in the army a minute longer than I can possibly help.  There are all sorts of roumours as to where we are going to move to.  First it’s India, then Ireland, next Wimbledon, and now I believe we are going into some barracks about half a mile from where we are now; I think the best thing to do is to “wait and see”.  That storm started about ten o’clock and I went to sleep and it did not keep me awake at all; I am sorry to hear you got so frightened; perhaps you wanted me there with you.  I hope you enjoy yourself Whit Monday; I do not think we have any extra time off but we must put up with what we get; it is a silly thing being in the Army.  I do not know why some boys want to join.  One of the six boys that ran away last Saturday night one returned Sunday midnight and no one knew he was there until the morning.  All he got was three days pay stopped but the others will get it hotter.  He went home to see his brother who was home from the front so I do not blame him for his pluck.  Two of the others tried to escape before but were caught and let off so as to keep the new company from any black marks; I think they will get about a fortnights “CB” and seven days pay stopped when they are caught.  I have eaten all of that “hoard”, and I do not feel any weaker for it.  Dear Emmie, you cannot write too much at a time for me, if you took the hint from where I said I might fill four pages, you misunderstood me, because I meant the paper was so common that the writing was going through.  I received your lucky sixpence and I hope it will bring me good fortune.

I will now close, With my very Best Love, Your Will xxxxx

PS Please remember me to all at home and at the “Mish”

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21st May 1917

Pte W. Metcalfe 46534, 19 Platoon, E. Coy 100 T.R.B., Talavera Barracks, Wellington Lines, Aldershot
Dear Emmie

I am pleased to hear that you arrived home early and safe.  You do not know how your coming down has livened me up.  Today we were served out with full marching-pack, so it is a sure sign that we are going to move somewhere, but I do not know where.  I will let you know as soon as possible when the “advance guard” starts; they go about four or five days before us.  Today I had to report at the Company Office and they want me to go through a special course of training for promotion, but I do not think I will ‘have any’ because the N.C.O’s have too much work to do; for my liking.  I am now at a concert given by the ‘R.A.M.C.’ and it is very good.  What did you think of the storm last night; it was bad down here, but this afternoon the sun has been shining and it has been fine.  I would like you to thank your Mother for me, for those pasties they were very nice; and what is left of them, I know, will be as good.  I will have to stop writing now or there will be four pages of writing.

With my very fondest love, I remain 



P.S. I received your letter at 4 o’clock this afternoon.  Very quick post if you posted it this morning

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19th May 1917

Pte W. Metcalfe 46534, 19 Platoon, E. Coy 100 T.R.B., Talavera Bs, Wellington Lines, Aldershot
Dear Emmie

I am just having a little rest from band practice so I thought I would take this opportunity of writing to you.  We have not very much time to spare now.  Everything is getting short now, even food, and we all have to humble ourselves down to anything now.  I must first of all thank you for my wristwatch & the Mag: but I will be much more pleased when I can thank you personally, with a kiss.  I am waiting before I post this to let you know if I am coming home this week or not.  The weather down here was cold yesterday and it is pouring of rain today.  I hope it has not changed again for good.  It is very funny but I have noticed that as our letters crossed in the post I have answered about 4 or 5 questions you have asked me before I got your letters.  On Tuesday, our second day in barracks, we had to scrub the whole place out; it was a job and I was glad when it was finished.  I thought before that I told you how inoculation was done, but it must have been Mum.  Our arms are painted with iodine, on the back of the arm about four inches above the elbow.  The doctor then takes a syringe which is full of typhoid germs, or some other fine things.  The top has a rather blunt point which hurts more, and then he sticks it in a flame and gets it hot and then does the same thing in our arms and at the same time squirts out a certain number number of these little white things.  After a couple of hours these germs start fighting against our blood which lasts for about two days and makes a heavy feeling in the arm; not an acute pain.  If the new germs win the second dose of “nock” as it is called, does not hurt as much as the first.  We have to go out into some woods about 2 miles from barracks for band practice.  Yesterday we had two slices of bread for breakfast, The same for tea and some flaked maize after dinner which hardly anybody ate.  I could have gone the lot in one meal.  I am not putting too much faith in going to Wimbledon because most of the boys doubt it now.  Last night three other boys and myself went to a “Mission hall” and the speech was about “Daniel” which was good.  The streets in town look one mass of khaki with pleanty of “red caps” or military police here and there.  I have not been pulled up yet, but I have got a pass now so I am safe.  I am going to practice again now but will post this as soon as I know deffinate about a pass.

Dear Emmie

Am sorry I cannot get leave, but if you should care to come down on Sunday I think you have just time to let me know.  Please let me know the time of trains.  I can leave barracks any time after 11 o’clock Sunday morning.  Should you come down in the afternoon, my dinner time is finished at 1.30.

Hoping to see you soon 

With Love 

Will xxxxx

PS I heard from F. Champ yesterday.  Have heard from Dad once Mum once and Mabel once.  I rely on all your letters.

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14th May 1917

Pte W. Metcalfe 46534, 19 Platoon, E. Coy 100 T.R.B., Talavera Barracks, Wellington Lines, Aldershot
Dear Emmie

Whilst taking a walk through Aldershot this evening, by myself, I decided to pop into a “Christian Science” reading & writing room for Soldiers & Sailors which was the nearest of any, and drop you a few lines.  None of us have done any drill today because of the “moving job”.  We had to pull all our tents down and pack them up in little bags.  The barracks where we are staying now were condemned over thirty years ago, so I don’t suppose we shall be there long.  Most of the boys who were in my tent, and myself, have been put into married quarters, of the barracks.  (We are not yet married.)  I think I will like it better here when we have been here two or three days, because every thing is to hand.  It was rather warm work today, immagin us marching along with overcoats over our sholders and each carrying two parcells of “civies”.  I do not know what it will be like when we get our full pack.  This morning while I was on parade, the sergeant major, told me to go to the barbers.  My hair was not very long and I did not go to the army barber, but went to one in town.  I know you must have been very dissapointed at not seeing me last week, I was sorry but I will let you know as soon as possible if I am coming up next week, if not perhaps you will come down.  I am only waiting for the time when it is officially announced that we are going to be shifted to Wimbledon.  My inoculation is nearly better now, and it did not hurt half so much this time.  Last night I went to Chappel for an hour and it was a change.  How is Maud ? has she been bad lately ?  How are the Wednesday night services going on ? is the congregation any larger ?  I suppose Rue d’Tiber is still the same.  Have you had to go without potatoes yet ? we get them in the Army.  Please excuse writing as this is the first pen I have used for a fortnight, and I have had to choose this out of four which were all no good.

Will now conclude

With Best Love, 

Your Will.  xxx

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12th May 1917

Pte W. Metcalfe 46534, 19 Platoon, E. Coy 100 T.R.B., Talavera Barracks, Wellington Lines, Aldershot
Dear Emmie

I am writing this letter in the third hour of another twenty-four hours off.  You know this time what for.  I do not think anybody fainted this morning, and I hardly feel anything yet.  I do not think I will feel the inoculation this time as much as the last and that was not bad.  One thing that worries me is that if I am not very careful I shall be picked out for hair cut. (or crop)  This “crop” does the hair good, in the end, but if I am coming home next week (you see I am building high castles) I do not want my hair too short.  I have been to two band practices and missed two hot days of hard drill.  The other day the Bandmaster caught me asleep at practice but he did not say much.  It is very hot here, nearly too hot to move.  All I hope for is that I see you next week; I do not suppose I shall get more than Saturday & Sunday off, if that.  There are four or five others that have been granted leave so I stand a chance.  I dare say you have noticed the change of my address; these barracks are the nearest of any to the station. Now this is where I have a bit of (doubtful) real good news.  The roumour is very prevailent that after we have been at the barracks for a few weeks we are going to be shifted to either Wimbledon or Richmond Pk.  This would be a bit of good luck for then I would be able to pop home frequently.  I do not know wether the air makes any difference to our appetites down here but what was too much for us at first, does not seem to be sufficient to eat now.  When we get into barracks they may have better convenience to cook more.  It makes me laugh to see the boys trying to shave themselves and about 50% of them cut themselves.  It is rather cold washing at 5.30 in the morning so I generally have a proper wash in the evening and a “cats lick” in the morning.  The time seems to fly here for we only have a few hours to spare a day now.  I know how the time must drag for you, but I will have to make the most of it when I see you.  Please will you thank your Mother for me, for those little loaves; they went down very nicely thank you.  The things in our canteen are very dear e.i 2½ & 3d per little apple 2d bananas.  I think when we get to town the goods in the “Soldiers Home” & “YMCA” etc are very cheap.  How is Bert getting on with the piano? (Mum?) I will have to come round & hear him play.  The “cook house” has just sounded so I will have to run for my rashons.  One boy in my tent says “We’ve got whales for tea. 

– Interval tea – 

I had two bloaters and about 5 slices of thick bread for tea.  Of these I saved a slice & a half to eat later for we have to go from 5pm to 8am with nothing.  I think I have told you about all so will now close

Yours Ever Loving 

Will xxx

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11th May 1917

Pte W. Metcalfe 46534, 19th Platoon 15 Tent, E. Coy 100 T.R.B., 35 Camp, Rushmoor, Aldershot
Dear Emmie

I am very sorry to have to write this letter in the negative to your question yesterday, but it would not be advisable for you to come down on Sunday.  I would not like you to come into our camp & I do not think it would be allowed; although I want to see you very much.  I am trying for a leave next week-end which I hope is forth-coming.  One of the reasons I cannot get a pass is that I have not yet a hat-badge or belt.  The main reason I should have put in your last letter; as you asked me wether we were going to be inoculated again. I asked the sergeant major for a pass, and he said that we were either going to be done on Saturday or Sunday so you see how I am placed.  Do not worry about me I hardly felt the last lot compared with some of the others, and although the next is double strength, I think I will stick it without fainting.

I cannot write more as they are waiting for me for the band.

I am Yours With Much Love 

Will xx.

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10th May 1917

Pte W. Metcalfe 46534, 19th Platoon 15 Tent, E. Coy 100 T.R.B., 35 Camp, Rushmoor, Aldershot
Dear Emmie

I received your most welcome letter this morning which did not take one day coming down.  When I said I would write perhaps only one letter a week, I did not realise what it would be like, to be away from you; perhaps you will realise that by my last letter.  You may depend that I will write as often as possible.  I did not even read of the air raid last Sunday because it is hard to obtain a newspaper in camp.  Some of the fires I told you about are set alight by boys for so called “sport”.  Some are lit by the soldiers so as to guard against it lighting by combustion and causing a lot of dammage.  Do not go as a nursemaid, because you must wait until I come back for good.  I know it will be a long time and I hope it will pass quickly.  I might be able to get two days off in about a fortnight.  I am trying as hard as possible.  This afternoon I went to band practice while most of the others were drilling it was very easy: and when the Bandmaster was not there two of the boys went to sleep.  I am now in the room adjoining the canteen with two playing draughts and two more writing on the same table; so you can gess in what conditions I am.  We are going in barracks on Monday next and I think the same address will find me, till I tell you different.  I have got used to sleeping on boards by now but I think we will soon have beds.  I know how you must feel my being away but you must cheer up and I will try to keep you lively by letters if I can.  The other day we had a “hair cut parade” but they passed me by; otherwise I should have a proper crop; about ¼ of an inch all over with a little bit in front, which would not please “Hurbert Berty” very much.  How are ‘things' going on down the Church.  Dear Emmie I cannot explane my feelings as to being away from you but I think they are more than you would imagine. I do miss you very much but somehow I can’t keep saying so or else it might make you unhappy.

I will close now hoping to have news of my getting leave soon

With Much Love 

Will xx

PS Thank you very much for stamps.

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