26th February 1918

Bandsman W Metcalfe 46534, The Band House, 52 Royal Sussex Regt, Cromer
Dear Emmie

I haven’t yet received a letter from you today so I am writing in advance. We have had a hard day today, walking through swamps and lying down in them. One boy was covered with thick mud right up to his shoulders and then had to drill like it afterwards. We are playing at the Y.M.C.A. this evening, the people here like our music very much and it is the talk of the town. We were wakened from our sleep yesterday morning by two loud reports which at first I thought were antiaircraft guns but it turned out to be rockets fired from a vessel in distress as there was a very rough sea at the time. I do not know if any people were drowned or not but those saved were taken into Yarmouth harbour and the life-boat was just being put into the shed.

-  Interval for tea -

Yours to hand just received; I am finishing this letter by candle light. You must be getting on well with the piano if you are on Chopin’s Valses; I am becoming very envious I think, I will have to have some more lessons when I come home. I am sorry to hear the organ is in such a bad condition the best thing to do is to start an organ fund I think, it ought to be well patronised. One meets with so many doubtful characters in the army, I was simply sitting on the pier when they tried to make trouble but it did not come off so all’s well that ends well. I don’t suppose I will see you before the final and I don’t suppose that will be long now. “B” Company goes out next week. I heard of a man in France who would not have leave because he didn’t like the going back part; but I am different to that you know if I got a chance I would spring to it as a drowning man clings to a straw. I do not mind you asking “when I am coming home” I only wish I could give you an answer that would please you. I am sorry to have to “pack up” now but I have to wash and dress in a quarter of an hour for this affair tonight. I get ready a little quicker now than I used to.

I remain

Yours Ever

Fondest Love

From Will xx


24th February 1918

Bandsman W Metcalfe 46534, Band House, 52 Royal Sussex, Cromer
Dear Emmie

Thanks for letter it was a bit better than the last one. Somehow I knew that you would guess I hadn’t heard of the raids, have you had any more yet. I don’t think that you usually leap before you look because I know that you are in no way narrow minded and that is one little point that I like about you. We are having fine weather here lately and it is nice walking along the cliffs in the moonlight the only thing I miss is you. I havn’t seen any “vio's” yet but if I do I will not forget you. I have an idea that I have seen Alma house somewhere so I look out and let you know. Who is it you know down here? (excuse me asking, your other boy perchance. I hope you get enough to eat when you are rationed, there seems to be plenty of meat in the shops down here. Last night I had a kipper for supper bought it and cooked it all by myself. I can’t tell you exactly what that dream was all about but you were in it so therefore it was nice. We are supposed to be moving to Keelem camp or something like that. at any rate it was condemned for German soldiers (prisoners). You know you will see me before I leave England because I have not had my final six days leave yet. I am glad to hear that you get on the organ frequently:  I went to Cromer parish Church this morning to the parade service and there is a four manuel organ with electric push stops there. e.g. instead of pulling the stops out by hand you just press the button and out pops the stop. – I have just finished tea but I have done a lot since I left this letter. We played on the pier this afternoon and the place was full. I think we get something for it. There is a Scotch regiment down here and the men still have that enmity which they had years ago. They say they are going to smash our lot up but I think they will find they are tackling a hard job. I nearly got into a scrape with about a dozen of them who were drunk but by a little bit of diplomacy we shook hands and parted good friends. I am now going to get ready for church so I will be closing this epistle.

With Fondest Love

From Yours Ever Will xxx

PS. There were 1,300 people on the pier this afternoon which is a record. One up for the Sussex.

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21st February 1918

Bandsman W Metcalfe 46534, Band House, 52nd. Royal Sussex R., Cromer
Dear Emmie

Thanks for letter, but I am sorry you are in such a bad mood. No doubt you will be surprised when I tell you that I didn’t know anything about air raids until a few hours before I received your letter. We get no London newspapers down here and I tried to buy one yesterday (a local paper) but they were all ordered. You know I would have written had I known so perhaps you will cheer up a wee bit when you know the rights. How was you nearly crushed, by a crowd I presume. I am sorry to hear there has been so much damage done. You know I always pray for your safekeeping. We have a very select six in our room and we say our prayers together at night. We have to be in our rooms by 9 o’cl at night and lights out is at 9.30. There is a wreck on the beach which has been blown in half by a mine. We got a lot of coal this afternoon so now we have a nice fire. I wish we were going to be here in the Summer that would be alright, but I hear we are only to be here for six weeks and then we are being sent to the worst camp in England but I hope not. Thanks for the Mag: I would like it every month just to know how things are going. Thanks for the stamps they will come in handy. I dreamt of you last night, a nice dream too, but I wish I was with you and it would much nicer. Well my dear I will conclude now

With Love

From Will.


19th February 1918

Bandsman W Metcalfe 46534, Band House, 52 Royal Sussex Regt., Cromer
Dearest Emmie

No doubt by this time you will be thinking that I have forgotten all about you, well this last two or three days we have been upsidedown. (I am sitting on the floor writing this.) We moved very early Monday morning and were C.B. Sunday except for Church Parade. We had dinner yesterday in a church hall but our proper mess room is the dining room of Marlborough Hotel. It is a shame the way these places have been knocked about by the troops. Last night we slept on the floor boards with one blanket each and no fire in the room so you can guess what it was like. I hope that by this evening we get some more blankets. There is a fine looking church here but I think it is “Low church” I don’t suppose I will be able to play the organ here but time will prove. We are back with the rest of the band now and our house in peace time is called “Russle House” There are no lights here of a night so we have to provide ourselves with candles. Opposite our window is a room in which there is a piano; so near and yet so far. There are six in the the room I am in, and we have a picture galary on the walls in which you have a place. This is not such a lively place as Colchester but there is a skating rink on the pier which is open three nights per week and I dare say we will spend some good times there. We can see the sea from our window and can hear it roaring in the nights when all is quiet. It seems quite a long time since I heard from you so write something nice won’t you. Well my Love I have to close now

With Fondest Love

From Will. xx


15th February 1918

Dear Emmie

Yours to hand of the 14th. I dare say you have received my postcard by now, pointing out that it would be impossible for me to see you were you to come down on Sunday. You often write with a dubious strain which seems to question my love for you. You must know that I would like to see you very very much and if it hadn’t have been for this moving job I would be seeing you on Sunday. I think I will turn over a new leaf when I come home but do you know that little song

“We are but little soldiers weak

our wages are seven bob a week

the more we work the more we may

it makes no difference to our pay.

We sing that on the march and of course the latter part is most important. I can’t imagine you queuing a 5 A.M. I am not getting robust “non queuing” so to speak. We have to line up in the canteen perhaps you can picture about 200 boys being served by four or five girls. I hope you are fortunate enough to get some meat especially if you get up at the time mentioned. Even I don’t rise till 6 o’cl. The other night there was a burglary in our canteen; about £50 worth of goods were stolen. That means more work for us by placing a guard there at night-time. I think the winter is coming on again: it has been very cold here today. How are you getting on with the organ now is it mended yet. I would like you to remind Mabel that I still exist because I think they have completely forgotten me again. I look forward to your letters as I do my meals for without them I would fell right “down”. Well my Dear, I will now go to bed and dream of you if possible so “au revoir”

With all my Love

From Will xxx

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13th February 1918

Bandsman W Metcalfe 46534, Colchester
Dear Emmie

You don’t say what you would never have done if that letter had been any shorter; but I know you would have written. You was not scared then when the mouse appeared in the office, I should say it is a rather funny sensation to have a mouse running up ones leg. (I mean the clerk’s) I guess you will be passing me if you are tackling Prelude; you will have to give me a few lessons when I come home I am very sorry in appearing to have forgotten your Mother for so long and I hope she is still enjoying the best of health. Don’t forget to tell her how sorry I am. We put our identification discs where we like they are only made of lead. I know what the “inevitable” means but I think I used the wrong frase there I meant the unexpected happens at times. What shall I call you when I mean to be serious What have you been doing with the organ, have you been dancing on the peddles. If you were going with some of the girls, you knew such as Eva or Maude I wouldn’t mind you going; but then you don’t want to work on a holiday. I have not done any work all day today dodging it as usual and I am going to try to get a light job tomorrow. You do not say wether you think of coming on Sunday or not. Our transport went to Cromer today and I shouldn’t be surprised to move off at any moment from now. I hope the war does come to an end pretty soon some people seem to think it will. I do not think you are too formal and I know you are not forward, you are just as I like you Emmie dear

I will conclude now

With Fondest Love

From Yours Ever Will. xxx


11th February 1918

Bandsman W Metcalfe 46534, Band Room No 5, 52nd. Royal Sussex Regt, Googerat Barracks, Colchester
Dearest Emmie

Thanks for nice long letter received this afternoon. You say you will not answer this if it is not long well, I would not like to disappoint my dear little girl, but at present I cannot think of much. I am glad to say that I have worked a new pair of boots off the sergeant snob so now I stand pretty firm on my feet. Although I will be farther away from you at Cromer I don’t think I will forget you, but of course the inevitable happens at times. I hope Cromer is a nice place, but I have heard quite the opposite. Some of “B” Company boys are on their final leave and I think they go out some time in March. I don’t suppose I will see much summer by the sea side. Of course if I was there when you had your holliday it would be tres bon! I think working on the railway is quite enough Government work and you would do better by taking a rest for your holiday. I am very sorry to hear of Mr Bryce’s death now we will have to find a new doctor. I would rather that you didn’t find a beau in platonic friendship but of course as somebody said before, you have a “will” of your own, is that not so? I am glad to hear that Bert has joined the C.L.B. but I don’t advise anyone to join the regulars. I have not heard much of a big affair in the spring, what is it about. You know there was going to be a big push last year but I don’t think it came off. I hope you get sufficient to eat when you are rationed I would not like to think that you were having to go short. I would like you to come down next Sunday if I am still here; we expect to be moving this week though, so I will have to let you know as soon as poss for certain. The weather was not unsettled hear when I asked you before although it was in London. I think you have known me long enough to suggest almost anything to me now I don’t know why you are so formal, you don’t like me to be. I am glad to hear everybody is satisfied with the Rev. Ferdedado? or whatever you call him. Well my dear I will have to close now with

Best Love

From Yours Ever Will. xxx


8th February 1918

Lion Walk Soldiers’ Club, Colchester
Dear Emmie

Yours of yesterday to hand; it does not matter what kind of paper you write on as long as I hear plenty from you. I am feeling a little better thank you except in the feet; I have the wrong pair of boots back from the snob’s: eights instead of sixes so I will have to get them changed. I am glad to hear that G. Todd is getting on alright I thought he would, it is easy enough if he likes it. I don’t think I will find it too tame when I come home it is a bit too wild for me here. We are going to Cromer next week I think; it is official this time because I have seen labels printed for our luggage Kit bags.etc. I still think that platonic friendship is possible but it is very seldom met with; I think it leads on to what is called calf love, sometimes. We are being billeted in empty houses when we get to Cromer and I think that all the band will be together again. We practiced the way to get into the train this afternoon, one silly idea I think. It rained here this morning so we didn’t go out otherwise we would have had a very hard day. I will have to pack up now as I cannot think of any more to write

With Fondest Love

From Yours Ever Will xx