30th January 1918

Bandsman W Metcalfe 46534, Colchester
Dear Emmie

I am now sitting up in bed writing this letter before the lights go out. We have had a very hard day today and marched over fifteen miles just to fire five shots. I saw a proof of the photos I have had taken and I dare say you will be able to have one if you come on Sunday. We had breakfast at 6.15. this morning and only had one biscuit and a piece of cheese up till 5 o’clock this evening and then we had too much. Dinner and Tea combined. I heard of the raid quite early last night and all our lights went out. I am glad to hear you are still safe after the raid you know my prayers are always for you. I suppose you get quite used to them now. The photo makes me very fat; I think I will have to take antipon or eat less. I don’t see how I am getting so fat on Army food. Well my Love I must conclude now

With Love From Yours Ever Will.

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30th January 1918

Colchester
Dear Emmie

Sorry I have not time to write a letter as we have been out all day on special training. I am writing this in semi darkness as there is a raid warning

Love From Will

I am glad to hear you are safe after the raid. will write letter as soon as poss.

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28th January 1918

Bandsman W M 46534, Colchester
Dearest Emmie

Yours to hand of the 26 inst. I don’t think I will make this an orthography lesson for you as peace and quiet surround me now. What have you been doing to feel wayward and wicked sounds quite dramatic. You say that you stayed up with those soldiers and enjoyed yourselves undisturbed, sounds funny doesn’t it? I am really glad you take thing so practical it is what people don’t generally do. There have been one or two lively times here this last week or two resulting from the difficulties in obtaining food. We had fish for dinner last Saturday and it was boiled burnt and filleted and when we got it I could not tell the difference between that and the parsnips we had with it. They made it up to us by giving us bully beef for tea. Your asstnt Station master is a wise man but he doesn’t take a broad minded view of things. I have noticed how you appear to be light hearted but I know different; I can see through that veil so one persons opinion does not distress me. You know I have mentioned about us moving from here soon well, I would like you to come down next Sun if poss. as I think that we are going further north-east and then I wouldn’t see you until my final leave. It is ten chances to one that we do not move before Sunday next but don’t be surprised should you get a letter to the contrary. I would like you to see something of Colchester before I leave it. Last Sunday I went on top of St Peter’s tower and obtained a fine view of the town. I am glad to hear C Hill is getting on both ways, perhaps it is worth taking stripes in his lot but it is not in ours. I forgot to mention that our C.B. finished up Friday last and that we were able to go out Sat. There is a lot of peace chatter lately so let’s hope that something comes of it. I cannot realise now what it is like to be free, when I get back to you it will seem like being in heaven after this life of ”?” Let me know what train you will catch should you be coming won’t you dear; I feel as if I could hug you now only I am not quite close enough: there is something hard in between up. Well my love I must be closing now as time is pressing.

With most affect: love

From Your Will xx.

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25th January 1918

Bandsman W Metcalfe 46534, Colchester, Essex
Dear Emmie

Yours to hand of the 24th inst. I am glad you like the badge. I did not think you would have liked a pearly one they seem too gaudy. Vous jouaient beaucoup Francais dans votre dernier letter et je avez comprendre elle. I dare say if you can understand this enough to correct it there will be a vast difference between the two but you will understand what I mean. We are being let out of barracks for 1 ½ hours tonight. The other Batt that was on with us last week is off of it now so I hope it will be our turn soon. I heard some time ago hat the guns had been taken out of London and that if any G others pass the barrage they will be attacked by our own aeroplanes. I hope the new minister can give a good sermon and stir the people up a bit that is what they want. There was a Confirmation service held at the garrison church this afternoon and one boy out of our Batt was confirmed. I will have my photo’ taken exactly how you would like it, which side of my face do you like beat, the left side is supposed to be the hanzomest you know. I am sorry I made a mistake about you Jenny Wrenchs’. I havn’t heard any more of St Alburns bissiness so I suppose there was nothing in it. It is what we call unluck having to be rationed. I hope you get enough to eat if you get a much as we do well you won’t starve although there is always a little corner that could be filled up. Of course you won’t have any canteens to go to. How will cook shops & resteraunts get on for food. We have had some fine weather lately but there is still a lot of mud in the fields. I went down in it about two feet this morning and one fellow went down to his waste and he thought he was going right under. I think French classes are being started here and I think I will go in for it. I have no more to write now so I will conclude

With Fondest Love

From Will. xxx

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23rd January 1918

Bandsman W M 46534, Band Room No 5, 52 Royal Sussex Regt, Googerat Barracks, Colchester
Dear Emmie

Yours to hand of 21st which I did not receive until this morn. somehow it caught the 1.15pm post yesterday. We did not have a train ride after all but we are still confined to barracks and I will be glad when I can get out so as to have my photo’ taken. We had some new boys come into our lot yesterday and to start with this morning they had a nice long route march which they did not like. I heard that we are moving to Canterbury next week but I don’t think it will come off. There havn’t been any strikes here at all. I am glad to here you liked “Ye Boyee” Mabel said she had been to see it in her last letter.

I noticed my mistake “foul” when I wrote it but forgot to alter it. I can’t quite remember what you said about Jimmie Wren as I havn’t got your last letter handy but I believe you said something about joining them; well you like sailors, don’t you. I noticed your way of getting me to explain that verse so I mentioned “tough birds”. I have a strange way of wooing havn’t I dear but it has served my purpose so far and I will be sorry and perhaps unlucky if it fails me. I am glad to hear you are able to get some meat things must be getting serious in London, I think the people here get sufficient. I hope the food question does end the war and quickly too in our favour.

I don’t see how you can imagine me getting thin. I think I am getting too fat. I will have to take antipon if I get much fatter. Rather a nice term to use “Bundle of Khaki” anybody who didn’t know would think you was talking about your rag bag. Well my love I haven’t made this a very comforting letter yet and you must excuse the numerous mistakes I have made. Well my dear you know how I long to be always with you and I hope I won’t be long before I am. I cannot ask you down for any special Sunday yet because I don’t know how long we will be here.

I now conclude

With Fondest Love

From Yours Ever

Will xx

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20th January 1918

Colchester
Dear Emmie

This affair which has confined us to barracks since last Wednesday is not a general mobilisation as we all thought but I think we are standing by in case the munition workers come out on strike. I find it is only our battalion and one other that is standing by and I think it will last up till next Tuesday or Wed. and in the meantime we are not allowed in town. Emmie dear I do not want your heart to freez it sounds too tragic. We have about six or seven inches of snow and after that it poured of rain so you can guess we had some mud. How did “The Boy” go off I hope you enjoyed it. They have one or two concerts every month at the Baptist Church. They always seem more friendly people than C of E. You know you are never a nuisance to me I cannot understand you writing like that. I do not know who the Jenny Wrens are, one of the boys suggested that they were some kind of foul. By mentioning that verse I did not insinuate that you were deceitful or vain because I know you are not. I was only looking at the latter part of the verse. It only means that there is often a tough bird under fine feathers. I played the organ at church this morning and the cornet with the band on the parade ground and we are giving “A” company a tune before they entrain for France tonight. I think we are playing them away to the station this evening.

I hope you got more than tripe for your dinner today we had some meat but it wasn’t very tasty. I feel very hungry lately I never seem to have has enough to eat. I played the piano for a sergeants dance the other night and we had a fine supper (the main feature). Well my “Little bit of Sunshine” I will be packing now.

With Fondest Love

From Yours Ever

Will xxx

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17th January 1918

Colchester
Dear Emmie

We are having some very exciting times of late, this morning we had to get full marching order ready and we have been standing by all day. I think we are going somewhere by train tonight. We are taking a blanket each with us. I will have my photo’ taken next week if possible I am afraid it is imposs this week. I have heard of “Brewster’s Milliions” I think it is a sketch is it? I hope you enjoy “The Boy” on Sat, I wish I were coming with you. I went out with the band on the last route march but that is the last time; I and all the other band boys have got to do exactly the same as the others now but we can play in the band on Church Parades Sundays. That is a very good joke about chewing Chin Chon. It made the boys laugh. The snow is very thick here and we had a snow fight with another company this afternoon and beat them back every time.

Tea Time


Tea is finished we had kippers and I could hear them at a good distance. I have settled down a little bit now but I am not over happy. I havn’t drawn my gloves yet but what I have seen of them they are not of very good quality. C.G. had a hole in his 2nd. day he wore them. I know you do want me to write even if I have not much time and you can’t say you don’t can you dear? I went out yesterday afternoon to an “At Home” at a Baptist Church where Desmond is organist and had a fairly good time. Free tea etc. The paper I am enclosing is a game. All these sentences are written down as one paragraugh with no punctuations and somebody who has not seen it before has to read it right through putting in their own punctuation getting a rather disasterous result, such as: “From th frying pan into the fire you put the baby”. The winner only made two mistakes. I went in a hat trimming competition and came third. Well my dear I fear I must conclude hoping we get to bed tonight and that this stunt is washed out. We are supposed to be going somewhere to calm some strikes this is a lively life

Good Night

With Best Love From Will xx

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17th January 1918

Colchester. Thurs
Dear Emmie

Perhaps by now you have heard of the General Mobilisation. We have our overcoat, blanket ground sheet and one of every thing on our back and I think we are out for a few days somewhere. I hear we are going somewhere by train so this time we mean business. You will know what has happened if you dont get a letter from me for a day or two. I don’t want to be out many nights because the snow is six inches thick. Will close now.

With Best Love From Will xx

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15th January 1918

Colchester
Dear Emmie

I am very sorry my letter made you so sad but I will have to take my chance the same as everybody else does. I know how you must feel, I get very despondent sometimes myself. Cheer up! There’s a good time coming. I went to see East Lynn because there was nothing else to do not to cheer me up. It wasn’t played very well so it did not touch me right to the heart. I hope you get on well with your Esperanto and “Miozot” [?] and I know you will do that. I was told by C.G. to read that Chapter of Prov: and as I thought it was alright I recomended it for you to read; I thought those two verses were the best so I chose them especially. I havn’t time now to explain them because I am playing with the Orchestra this evening. I havn’t even time to get a hair cut. The boys who havn’t had leave for six months are being picked out first and of course that is only fair. I hope this letter makes you feel brighter although it is scribbled. I had not really time to write this but I know I have wronged you in the past by putting you off for other things. I hope you understand my meaning. I nearly got into trouble last night for being out without a late pass but I have one tonight and all the week for we have a long job on again. We are not going to play the band on route marches any more because we have to get used to full pack we are only going out with the band on church parades now. I must conclude now as time presses

With Love

Yours Ever Will xx   real ones

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13th January 1918

Bandsman W Metcalfe, Colchester
Dearest Emmie

I havn’t your letter to hand so you must excuse me if I forget to answer questions you may have asked. I havn’t settled down again yet after that leave; I am quite home sick. I played the organ at church this morning and had dinner out; I am getting tired of army life and will not be able to express my joy when I come back to you for good. I have one consolation knowing that you pray for me night and day; but if anything was to happen to me you know you must always pray “Thy will be done”. I am going to Mr Behr’s to tea this afternoon; it all helps to while away the time. I hope we get someone at the Mission who will liven things up a bit I don’t think I would like to leave it although it is such a small place. A new system of leave has started so I don’t suppose I will see London for a couple of months. If the weather improves you will have to come down one Sunday because our first draught goes away next Sunday and I dare say my next leave will be final. I have a presentament that I will not be out there very long and I hope I am right. I do not want to depress you with all this talk so i will change the subject. I went to see East Lyn last night and it wasn’t bad for a small town I have never read the book but I think the play must have been cut short. I was on “coal fatigue” yesterday afternoon whereas I generally go to the pictures but half way through it I dodged it with C.G. and I don’t think anyone was wiser. Our Company has been issued with gloves but I havn’t got mine yet. The boys were also issued with identification discs while I was on leave so I have one or two more articles to come to complete my kit. Have you read Proverbs 31, 10th – 31st verse about “Lemuel’s praise of a good wife”. Verses 29 & 30 is my little message to you. Well my love I will now end my epistle.

With Much Love

From Yours Ever Will xxx

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