30th September 1917

Bandsman W Metcalfe 46534, Colchester
Dearest Emmie

Thanks for both letters; I received one this morning and one last night. I am sorry to hear you have been unwell and I hope you get better quickly. We get an air raid alarm nearly every night here. Last night we were warned about 6.40 and then again later. They have only dropped bombs here once and although people get so many warnings they never get scared. Perhaps it would be different if they had a few more bombs.

I hear that the people are not going to be allowed to go down the tubes during air raids, is it right. You did not tell me you had started at Mt Rolfs; you only said you were going home from there. I suppose we will get some sort of a leave before we move from here and I will have to think of an idea so as to get special leave. There is no reason to argue with yourself as to whether I am interested in any minor detail which you may write. I think I will let you consider and decide that question for yourself. The Colonel only told us the meaning of a few badges and how they were won; he also impressed upon us the need of discipline when on active service. He said that the companies would go out with six weeks interval and that the first one would be in December.

I am in C Company now but the batt. is reorganising this week so I hope I get out of C company and into either D or E. I also have that “little creepy” feeling at times when I think of the evenings I have spent with you (in the old arm chair) kind o’ takes ones breath away doesn’t it. My knee is still about the same, I think I will go sick with it tomorrow and get an easy days work. I did not know Ralfe Verlinden much; is that the one who joined up under an assumed name. I wish I was able to take you to Southend for a week end: never mind perhaps I will “apres la gare”. The band is not done away with; we go out on route marches and other special “stunts”. You must have been in a bad way when you wrote to me yesterday: you put 27th instead of 29th. We were not disturbed in the bombing of Essex towns; some of the boys think they heard the guns going off. Where is the GNR granary. I have never heard of it before. If I was with you I would hug you and stop your heart beating so fast. I hope this being the brightest night that the raiders are foiled in their attempt to reach London. I suppose in time something will be done to cope with them as with the Zepps. In what way did G Knowlton look funny. I like to hear your woes so as I can help you to bear them; or if I cannot do that I can sympathise with you.

C Gibbs is waiting for me and we are going to a Roman Catholic Church tonight. I played at St Botolph’s Church this afternoon for Childrens’ Service and I am going to Mr Humes to tea next Sunday. Well my Love I will conclude now

With Fondest Love

Will

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27th September 1917

Bandsman W Metcalfe 46534, Band Room No 5, 256 Infantry Batt., Googerat Barracks, Colchester
Dearest Emmie

I am in rather a bad mood this evening so please excuse the tone of this letter. I have had to do an hours extra drill this evening for no just purpose so I am going to see into it. I am sorry I did not think of Harvest Festival being this week but I don’t suppose I could have got off had I had a letter down. Only today we were told to get our hair cut short as there was no chance of any leave. I would like to know what you innimate when you suppose I have “other reasons” to prevent me from coming home. Do you think if there was a possible chance to get out of this den I would miss it? I am very sorry to hear about Harry Moore, I did not think he was out in France. I am sorry to hear that you are having such wretched times lately: I suppose you will be glad when this moon goes. Never mind! “Watch and Pray” and all will be well. You did not say whether you had started at Mr Rolfe’s or not; if you have how are you getting on with the piano is there any difference yet. Although I said nothing about the Christadelphians I have been thinking all the more. The Christadelphians or any other religion can prove their side without any opposition but the Church of England does not run other churches down; they take a wide view of things. Colchester is a fairly pretty place. We went for a route march yesterday and saw some of the country; it is decidedly prettier than Aldershot and district. There are some old churches and ruins etc here, there is also a part of an old Roman wall but I have not been to see them yet. We had a lecture by the Colonel today and by what he says I should think we will be going abroad (to where, I don’t know) any time after Christmas. Well Emmie dear, you know I don’t like expressing my feelings on paper, but you may be sure they are great. I now conclude

With Best Love from Will. xxx

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25th September 1917

Bandsman W Metcalfe 46534, Band Room No 5, 256 Infantry Batt., Googerat Barracks, Colchester, Essex
Dear Emmie

You see I still address myself Bandsman. This morning we all went on parade with the band for an inspection by the Brigadier General. He said that we have been extraordinary well treated and fed. I heard that the medical Officer has been treating the sick too kindly and has been “blown up” about it. Yesterday I did all parades with the company but they did not seem hard. I will resolve to write home directly after this letter. I am sorry to say that it will be too late for me to get home for the Harvest Festival; I didn’t think it was this week. You must always reverse your dreams when they are like that you know I wouldn’t leave you with an ordinary ta ta. Dear Emmie I am pleased to say that I do not think it necessary for that cross on my letters as I never forget that part of my duty. I went to church last Sunday morning and played the organ. I went in the evening and met Rev. Hume? who the twins know well. He was Mr Smith’s friend from Twyford Hall.

I will now close With Best Love Will xxx

P.S. Please excuse paper better next time.

Last night we had an air raid warning and I hear they got to London. I hope you are all safe. I dare say I will hear from you before you get this.

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24th September 1917

16, Tiber St
Dearest Will

Thanks for letter. I do not feel quite so cheered after reading the contents this time. In the first place I am sorry to hear about the band disolving, now I take it you will have to do those horrid route marches. Well, although I should not like anything to be very much wrong with you, I hope you succeed in trying not to be A1, for I really do not like to think of you going abroad. Are you not in the Training Reserve then, what do you call it now? Dear Will. I went to the Christadelphian meeting & I have become very impressed, but of course I shall wait until you come back as I want you to know about also, I really want to do what is right. Now here is another little point, in your letter you say you have not much time to write & you wish me to remember you to your people. I cannot do that Will, I shall feel as though I am taking all your time for writing to me so often. I think they feel it already, so please rather than not find time to write to them, I would rather you sent me perhaps a letter less and send one to them oftener. I hope dear you understand my feeling, for you know, I appreciate all the letters as heartily as you do mine. That’s all I have to cheer me up now, but still I do not want to occupy all your spare time for writing. Do not forget the Harvest Festival is this Sunday, so don’t leave it until the last minute if you decide to write to Mr Chapman. It is a strange thing for me to do, but I dreamt about you last night, you were up on a short leave, and I remember you said to me, “Emmie, I am going to the Swimming Baths this afternoon, so I shall not see you before I go. (and I had had the time off too) and you left me with just an ordinary ta ta. There is first other little thing I have been thinking of, I always used to look for the little cross in the top corner of your letters, lately, I have noticed its absence, you have not forgotten, have you Will?, it is not necessary to put that cross perhaps, but do tell me if you still think of what I said every night just the same. I do hope you get sufficient to eat, but you will let us know won’t you if you do not. Well my dear boy, I will conclude now, with best love from your ever loving sweetheart

Emmie xxx

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23rd September 1917

Bandsman W Metcalfe 46534, Band Room No 5, 256 Infantry Batt., Googerat Barracks, Colchester
Dear Emmie

I am now in a Christian Science room writing to you. St Botolphs adjoins Colchester which are both fairly busy places. You ask me if the band “is still in existence” Well I don’t think it will be after today. I think we have all got to parade with our companies tomorrow; some bandsmen who are unfit have been attached to us, so we will not be needed. The Brigadeer General here is very strict and he see’s that every-body who is A1 goes abroad. I am going to be less than A1 if I can manage it. I don’t exactly know what 256th IB. means but we are in that instead of the T.R.Bs. We still wear “hat buttons”. You speak of going to this Christadelphian meeting with Mabel; well I hope you are not prevented from our Church. I have not heard from Will yet. Do you mean W.L. Our barracks are about two miles from the station (Colchester) and one from the trams, which we can ride on anywhere for 1d. I have not written Mr Chapman yet but if the band does not stand, I will get leave to bring my cornet home. I would like all your letters headed with a Swastika: as you say it “might” end the war. I hope Mrs Shovell’s conclusions are right about the war not lasting much longer. I did not get your letter till late Saturday or else I would have answered it before. I hope you get on well at evening classes and I also wish I could come and meet you as last year. I keep my spirits up enough to keep me from a break down. I cannot be what I call happy hear and we get a fair amount to eat but not so much as Aldershot.

Please remember me to your people and also to my own as I do not get much time to write. I always like writing to to though.

Well my dear I will now conclude

Best Love Will xxxx

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21st September 1917

16, Tiber Street, King’s Cross, London N1
Dearest Will

Thanks for letters etc, it seems some time since I wrote to you. Do you like St. Botolphs any more than Aldershot. Rough luck, passing so near home, had I known perhaps I should have been there to wave to you. Is the band still in existence, you said something about the probability of it breaking up as you were all leaving. I notice in the address there is an addition, “256. Infantry Battn”. What does this mean? Will I thought about going to a Christadelphien meeting on Sunday evening with Mabel & Will, I have heard one or two points about it, & I feel a bit interested & I [hope]/believe there is some truth in it, it makes me very unsettled sometimes, especially after what I have heard, so I am going to this meeting. Have you heard anything of it at all from Will? Are your barracks very far from the station this time? I like the large photograph much better, it is clearer. Have you written to Mr Chapman re. coming to the service yet? I hope you can manage it. I like to see your dear old face as often as I can. The figure in the corner is a Swastika sign, & is considered to be a lucky mascot, hence the adoption, perhaps it will bring you home oftener, or it even might end the war, one never knows. Mrs Shovell, next door says the war will not last much longer, she said when America gets pulled up a bit & her aeroplanes are ready, all the Allies & America are going to send about a thousand aeroplanes over to Germany & the war will end with a battle in the air, theres a bit of news for you dear. I am going to post this at 12.30, I wonder if you will get it this evening, let me know will you, & tell me all about the place where you are stationed now, that is if you know anything of it. Mabel & I enrolled for evening classes last night, Tuesdays as last year. I don’t suppose I shall have anyone to meet me this winter. You used to come last year did’nt you. Well I have no more to tell you just now, do you like the colour of tis notepaper?

I will close now hoping you are quite happy and have plenty to eat.

From your Loving Lass Emmie xxxxxxxxxxxx

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20th September 1917

Bandsman W. Metcalfe 46534, Band Room No 5., 256 Infantry Batt., Googerat Barracks, Colchester
Dear Emmie

We are at last in our new barracks as you can see by the address. I don’t know if you can pronounce “Googerat” or not it sound rather funny. If you have received my card you will know how near I was to you this morning and you can imagine my feelings seeing Ye Olde York Rd, Caledonian Rd ect. We have to be very careful with the lights and all the boys are all in bed so I will have to be closing but will write more in my next letter. We got up at 2.30 this morning so I feel tired.

Will now close. With Best Love

To my Darling

Will

P.S. Please excuse paper as I wanted to write to you. Please write soon.

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20th September 1917

Dear Emmie

We have just arrived at St Botolphs one station past Colchester. I do not know the name of our barracks yet. At 7.15.o’cl. this morning I passed York Road over Maden Lane bridge. I did feel wild. so near and yet so far. A lot of boys were in the same position. Will write letter as soon as poss

Best Love Will.

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19th September 1917

Aldershot
Dear Emmie

Just a card to let you know that we are leaving Aldershot tomorrow at about 3.AM. I will let you know my new address as soon as poss. We are playing at the 98th T.R.B. Officers’ Mess tonight.

I now conclude

Best Love Will x

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