20th May 1918

Dear Emmie

It is now Bank Holiday Monday and the weather is glorious. We all walk about without our tunics on and then it is too hot to do much strenuous work. We are now out for a short rest and I hope that by the time we go back this heat wave has passed. We had a cold shower bath yesterday and it was grand. I haven’t received a letter from you for three whole days now I suppose they have got held up on the way. You see I have some writing paper now. Dad sent it in parcel which came just at the right moment; just as we got into our billit from the line. We had some Stew for dinner today (with a capital “S”) and plum duff with no plums in it.

Yours just received of15th and 16th inst they enable me to write a little longer letter. I havn’t met this newly discovered cousin yet. I think he is in hospital but I don’t know what ails him. Will won’t be able to carry on the F.W.D. now I see Gertie is taking it on I guess she misses him but she is only one among many. If I remember correctly you went on a ramble Whit: Monday last year. I am looking forward toward the time when I can accompany you. When accompanying the Lord’s Prayer and Creed in a monotone I always used to extemporise it is very easy and you’ll get used to it; I cannot write a piece without having the key-board in front of me but I might try one of these times. You put it very mildly about the “bounders” but you would find them ten or twenty times worse in factories. I hope I am not condemning myself.

I notice you write “huns” with a small “h” aren’t they worth a capital now. You have solved that puzzle correctly but our sleep is not often disturbed. I am sorry I cannot “Ecris vous une longue lettre” as there’s nothing to write about. Well ma Cherie I will conclude now

With Love

From Will xxx

P.S. Please excuse writing as nib is going “wonky”


17th May 1918

Dear Emmie

In answer to yours of the 7th inst. You will be surprised to know that we have been in “les tranchée” since May 1st but by the time you receive this we will be out. No I haven’t met any rabbits yet but there are plenty of rats here which would go very well stewed. Sorry you had to toss who should have the meat. I had to do that yesterday with myself and decided not to have any as it was too bad to eat. It happened today that a Lieu: Colonel came round and saw our dinners which literally weren’t good enough for dogs and I think he is looking into it further. I suppose by now you have been vaccinated have you had much pain with it I didn’t. You tell Bert that I would wear knickers if I could and that if he wants to help win the war not to go in for trousers as they take more material.

I think you must have read that card of 5th wrong. I don’t think I said I hadn’t heard for you for a long time; if you have it read it carefully again. I don’t know the song “The Great red dawn” but I see plenty out here. I like that piece of poetry very much. Yes I do know how fond you are of it. You don’t “gas” too much but I would like you to use both sides of the paper even if you only use one sheet; if my dad was to see your letters he would have a blue fit if you know what that’s like. I am sorry you haven’t heard from me for a long while by your letter of 12th inst but you know I have no writing paper. This is the cleanest sheet out of my note book which you see I had started to use. I am glad to hear that the congregation of the Church is good and I would like you to remember me to  Mr Chapman and tell him I wish his concert a success helping to pay for the organ repairs. Yes, I was at Aldershot having a holiday this time last year. We have been in two or three more holes since that first one I spoke of. Old German dug-outs are much deeper than our own but I prefer ours because some daylight gets in at times. I didn’t know W.Mayne had been to Italy. I asked his where-abouts when I wrote home last. I was just about to write for some Harris’s Pomade and it is very thoughtful of you getting me some. I don’t get much time for writing now todays work is, on duty 12 mid night to 5am. breakfast 5.30 sleep 6am – 12 noon dinner 12.45 work from 2pm to 5 tea 5.30 stand to from 7-8 on from 9 till 12 mid. No wonder time flies. I have had one case self inflicted bullet wound through bysept muscles upper right arm. Accident. Bad wound. 5 inch by 1½ and out another hole through the other side. You must excuse all these scraps of paper as I can’t get any other stuff. You see one letter is about a week old but you must excuse that as I hadn’t an envelope. I think I will have to come on you for another note book now as I have used it all up in letters.

(W.R.M. says life here is rather monotonous but it will not last long.) [Transcriber’s note: Using their prearranged code, this suggests that William is in Loos, France] This is a very quiet part of the line and there is not much going on. Our artilary send one over about 10 to every one of Jerry’s. The first night I was in the line I might say I got unnecessary “wind up” but that is all over now. Old Fritz has just woke up again I can hear some wiz-bang crackers going off. Well my dear I will have to conclude now

With Fondest Love

From Yours Ever

Will xx

P.S. Please will you call at Mrs Gibbs, 121 Roman St, Clerkenwell E.C.1 for Charlie’s address for me at your own leisure. My Pa will direct you to it: it is near the reservoir on the top of Pentonville Hill. It is a Singer’s sewing machine shop. I met Mrs Gibbs when Charlie was on his final leave.


14th April 1918

Dear Emmie

I am now sitting on some straw in the loft of a barn just waiting for church-parade. Of course there are no C of E churches here so I suppose we will have an open air service. I am going to H.C. this morning at 12 o’cl it will be the first time since I left Colchester. I met C.Gibbs last night he is stationed at another village about three miles from here. They are having a much easier time than we are; our first parade is 6.45 in the morning and another one at 9 o’cl until 12.30: I do not attend the latter one as I am on S.B. course but I think it is a long time for men who are out of the line for a rest. There is also a parade from 2 till 3.30 in the afternoon for organised games. For some reason or other church parade is washed out so I will proceed with this letter. I would like you to send me some “ink tablets” s’il vous plait. This is a sample of only one in a pen. I think two would make a better colour but “beggars can’t be choosers”. I had this one given to me. I would like to know the general opinion of this last affair we cannot get a paper here. This is rather an old fashioned town they have a town crier and the shepherds blow horns to collect their sheep like we have bugle calls to fall in etc: Women and girls wear no head-gear; sometimes they tie a kerchief round their heads which looks like a monks hat. They mostly wear clogs which doesn’t improve their walk at all. My friend has a job in the orderly room and he has a lot of work to do which keeps till 10 and 4 o’cl at night. Our food is fair and the tea the cooks make is farely good but being in tin cans it does not taste so good as it would out of china cups. I am sorry to say that H.C. has been washed out I suppose the clergyman has been unable to come. I was offered a lance-corporal’s stripe the other day but I refused it so as I could go on S.B. I have not heard from you yet but I hope to have a letter by Monday. It is very cold here but I dare say it will turn warmer soon. I broke the glass of my watch the other day but soon had it replaced at a watch-makers in the village. I will let you hear from me as often as I can but we have no post box and sometimes we miss the corporal when he comes round for letters. I have spoken to some of the boys of the 52nd who have been up the line and one would think that they had been on a beanfeast to hear them talk. One boy was hit in the arm and also the first and second finger if is right hand and he still stuck to his machine gun and when I saw him he hadn’t had any medical aid: his fingers were nearly better but his arm was a bit sore with a bit of shrapnel in it.

My address is W.M.19073 A Coy. 3 Plat 9th R.S.Rt B.E.F. France. Please write often; I will every day of I can but I think that is rather imposs. Field cards are issued to us about four a week but I have not seen a blue envelope yet. Well my dear I must conclude now and “Que dieu vous lénisse”

With Fondest Love

From Yours Ever

Will xx

P.S. Please remember me to Ma & Pa.

[Transcriber's note: Letter is incorrectly dated 14th May. Should be 14th April].


13th May 1918

Dear Emmie

A kind friend has been good enough to spare me a sheet of paper and an envelope, hence these tears [?]. Yours to hand of the 7th inst. received Sat. last. It is now Monday I am told. I cannot make out how the days go so quickly. I don’t say “peut être” about motor rides because I don’t know what it means. Sorry to hear it is so wet at home but of course that is nothing compared with (?) We have been having a lot of weather lately. I guess that clergyman is a peculiar character is it the same one that was there when the choir sang “Christ and his Soldier” there. I thank you for those ink pellets again if I did not in a previous letter, they come in very handy. I remember thanking you for the parcel but I forget posting it. I have been waiting for a green envelope for nearly a fortnight and it has messed me up not coming and I really forget what I have written. What do you mean by “We will all have a jolly good holiday when the war is over”. How many does the “all” stand for, two I presume. You want me to tell you “lots” well I would if I could but I Can’t with a capital “C”. I answered that question in French in another letter in the positive I think I read rightly. Please let me have some writing material – we are a ragtime lot here nothing is done with any method we haven’t even a canteen what we can use. Some Regts have canteens as far forward as the front line and here are we can’t even get one at the “back” line. I think I will drawn to a close because if I moan too much this letter won’t go through. You know you can’t always tell ones character by ones hand writing. Well my dear I will have to conclude now as time presses

With Fondest Love


Will xxx


10th May 1918

Dear Emmie

Yours received of the 2nd inst. And also parcel of the 3rd for which I thank you very much. I think your make is “très bon” and cannot find any fault with it although made with war-time material. I will tell you something rather interesting about that parcel perhaps another time. Please thank your mother for me for the gingerbread and tell her it was just right and not too hot. I have written an answer to yours of the 2nd inst but am waiting for a green envelope to post it in; perhaps it would be too touching for the officer to read or he might even feel envious. I have just discovered that I have a relation in this Batt. I heard from Battle yesterday and they say that I have a cousin in the 9th R.SxRgt. but he is “sick” in hospital now so when he is discharged and rejoins the Batt. I will introduce myself to him. To my knowledge I have never met him but I have seen some of his people who live at Ninfield which is near Battle. I noticed that you posted that parcel on the anniversary of my joining up. I do not want too many 3rds of May to pass me in the army because I think it is an absolute waste of time. Of course wars will come but this one has stayed too long; if I remember correctly this war should only have lasted six months but one or two “heads” must have become so attached to the game that they don’t like leaving it. I have answered your little bit of French in the other letter. I think I have made a mess in the spelling but you will understand it. I also understood that other piece of writing which I have answered in a similar way. I would like to know how Will Arnold goes on. I shouldn’t think he will stick the army long for although he will get perhaps more medical advice I think it is of a rather different nature compared with the late Dr.B.

Well my dear I must be closing now to catch this post.

With Best Love

From Yours Will xx


7th May 1918

Dear Emmie

I noticed that writing on the cover of book and at first thought it was some scribble until I held it up to a light and then I was able to read it. My answer is [written backwards] I love you more than I used to if that is possible “I love you with all my heart” far more than I can describe on paper. I am always thinking of you and those thoughts help to keep me cheerful. I am longing for the time when I can take you in my arms and give you that birthday kiss. If the censor reads this he will feel envious. I found out my mistake about Mr Rolfe soon after I posted that letter and I corrected myself in the next. I am just as bright as when I first came out here. I do feel depressed sometimes but your letters always cheer me up. If we hadn’t have moved I might have got into the orchestra but perhaps it is for the best where I am now. Music generally cheers me up if I can partake in the making of it. Thanks very much for those two books they will help pass a few idle moments away. I have a little suggestion to make. When you write me will you put in some paper and an envelope for the answer: it is impossible to get any here and this is my last piece. One of the other chaps suggested it to me and I think it is a very good idea.

We had some rain last night and now the mud is 3-6 inches thick outside. Yours to hand of the 2nd inst. It is very strange that you should write that in French which I have written on the first page of this letter. My answer is J’avez aime vous de tout mon cour mon Cherie. Je penser cett il la correct response, il n’a pas. Can you understand this. Perhaps you will not call it French. I am glad you enjoyed the social I thought of when I used to wait for you. It does not seem a whole year that I have been in the army time flies so. I wish I could come to the Albert Hall with you you was with me the last time I went I think. If you were able to write twice a day it will give me something to write about as there is nothing doing here. I don’t want you to debar yourself of anything by sending me anything that is rationed. I am not bored at anything you write. Emmie dear it is more likely that you should get bored with these scraps of paper. Now that I have come to the end of your letter I am at a loss to know what to write about. Please will you send me some sulphur tablets as my blood is out of order. We have been working lately and I haven’t had any sleep for about 36 hours and yet I don’t feel extra tired so I think I will get 20 winks before and 40 winks after dinner. I might tell you I have been having a very cosy time compared with the others. I am waiting for a green envelope to put this in that is why it is in so many “bits”. Well my love I will now conclude with all my thoughts and love for you.

From Your (Soldier boy) Will xxx