15th February 1918

Colchester
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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14th February 1918

Colchester
Dear Emmie

I am very sorry but we are moving Sunday afternoon so it would be no good you coming. Our transport went today and our advance party goes tomorrow. All we are doing now is packing up so it is official this time

Best Love From Will

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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

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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

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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

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3rd February 1918

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

I was very disappointed at not meeting you at the station this morning but if you are not feeling up to the mark it is wiser for you to have a good rest. Somehow, today I am not feeling very bright; we had fish for dinner yesterday and I do not think it could have agreed with me. I told you that I was confined to barracks for three days for being about two minutes late on parade, didn’t I! well

I was supposed to answer every hour from 6 o’cl in the evening until 10 o’cl. but I played at a sergeants dance and dodged it Friday evening, and on Saturday I went on Guard and dodged it again. Today the Captain let me off because I told him you were coming down and now I have to think out how to dodge it tomorrow as it is the last day. I feel very tired this afternoon, I suppose it is because I only had about five hours sleep Friday night and none last night. It is the first guard I have ever had to do and I don’t want another one in a hurry. I am enclosing my photo’ and would like you exact critisism of it. I hope you like it. As it happened, I was not asked out to tea today; I suppose I was too sure. I thank you very much for the parcel the contents of which were A.1. I liked those rock cakes with especial favour. I do not know whether I told you or not but we have lectures every afternoon on History and Geography and next week our officer is lecturing us on the causes of the present war and why we are fighting. I would rather listen to him “chew the rag” than form fours! quick march! On the square. etc. etc. I would like a nice long letter from you next time something to cheer me up you know dear. I believe you asked me if I am getting any leave, well I don’t think I will get any before my embarkation leave. No doubt you think I am always talking about it but the time must come and I hope the war will be over soon; I think it will. Well my love I must close now

With Fondest Love, From Will xxxx

P.S. Please give one photo to Mum and the other is pour vous

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1st February 1918

Bandsman W Metcalfe 46534, Colchester, Essex
Dear Emmie

Yours to hand of 31st ult. I am sorry to hear that you are not well. If you come on Sunday I don’t suppose I could get to the station until 10.45 but if the train is a few minutes late you won’t have to wait at all. We come out of Church about 10.30. Do not come if you are not well enough only I have got off Sunday especially as you are coming because I have three days C.B. for being late on parade. We have had a few misty mornings lately and the weather is a little bit colder but it has been like spring. I do not know where we are being moved to but I hear we are not going for three of four weeks now. If you do not arrive by the 10.39. train I will know that you are not coming. I hope to hear from you because I dare say I will be invited out to tea with you. I will now conclude as it is nearly time for parade and I don’t suppose I will have time tonight when I will be answering “Defaulters” and doing fatigues or extra drill.

With Love

From Will xx

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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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