10th December 1917

Bandsman W Metcalfe 46534, Colchester
Dear Emmie

Thanks very much for letter; it was a change getting one on Monday. I am sorry to hear you have hurt your finger and I hope that by the time you receive this it will be better. Last night I had a good time at a clergyman’s house. I think I should say yesterday because I had dinner and tea there. We had a very wet day yesterday so there was no church-parade; but I went to another church where C.G. goes and played on the organ there and also went home with the vicar. For all the good times in the army that I am ever likely to get; would give it all for just one evening with you. Whose christmas party are you going to. I hope you will enjoy yourself as good as circumstances will allow. You have guessed right as to what you left out of your last letter. Have you heard any more of Will Sharp. I hope he hasn’t been wounded.

Rathing strange thing: I played the Rosary yesterday evening on an old piano; perhaps it was me you heard playing. I hear that we are going out on a four days stunt some time next week so I suppose my address will be No.1 Open Air and we will have to sleep in the nice green fields. I heard that our first draught goes out on the v23rd inst they might let them see christmas in England. The other day just as I woke up I thought I could hear Dad getting the breakfast ready down stairs but as I opened my eyes I beheld the barrack room. One disappointment. I will now close

With Fondest Love to my darling

Will

xx

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7th December 1917

Bandsman W Metcalfe 46534, 52 Royal Sussex Regt, Colchester
Dear Emmie

Thanks for the letter; I wondered what could have happened not getting one yesterday. I posted one to you Tuesday evening in the canteen pillar-box and I suppose it was not cleared until the next day. I will not post one there again. That was C.Gibbs’ writing on the envelope; I guessed you would wonder who it was from. You had a very narrow squeak with that bomb; how is it that no one was hurt. I quite remember that cutting now but I did not leave it in the envelope and I forgot it when I wrote you. I thought it was good so I handed it round to the boys. See how you help to keep the spirit of the Army up. I am glad to hear that you are getting on alright with the piano; I am shure you will pass me and I will have to ask you to teach me when I come home. I am also very glad to hear that Bert is getting on well. What hopes are centered in that word! “Someday”; can you remember when you used to play that for my prospective Queen when I was Prince. If you had been Cinderella I might have been able to act my part more naturally. You know that we were supposed to play out last Thursday, well on Wednesday evening Drum major came in and said that there was a special Officers’ Mess night the next night so the orchestra could not turn out. Well we divided it in half and took the best half and were able to give the concert after all. We had to do something because all the programmes and bills had been printed. You left something out of your last letter; can you remember what it was? For a wonder I have taken to cigs: again; I suppose it is because I have nothing else to do. I will close now as I am going to get some soup for supper so Good Night dearest

With Much Love

From Will xx

PS. One original joke.

Schoolmaster. Where do you get glass from?

Pupil. It grows on the tops of walls.

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4th December 1917

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

How long has Mr Owens been dead now; I am glad to hear that the Mission is being so well patronised of late and I hope it continues the same. Have you done any more organ playing at all. I read through your letter of the 29t ult. and failed to see that huge joke which you called me impolite for not recognising. Do you mean “Peace is reigning now though” in your office “until the next time”. I am sorry you do not like my slangy expressions but I will try to reform. I will term you something nice when I see you next time. I have not forgotten anything of you yet; I still consider you are the prettiest and best girl that I have ever met. I shall very soon make you lose your shyness when I come home. Our “Army Council of Instruction” leave (6 days) has not started yet; week ends consist of four days now, from Friday till Tuesday. You don’t know how much I want to see you. When we were having breakfast this morning one of the officers came in and because one of the N.C.Os. did not stand up he started swearing at him at the top of his voice. About the worst flow of “French” I have heard and we get some variety here. This Lance corporal has charged the officer with swearing and has another officer to back him up besides about fifty boys. I hope he gets transferred into another batt. Well my dear I think I will leave you for a cup of Bovril now (one joke).

Fondest Love

From Will

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2nd December 1917

Bandsman W Metcalfe 46534, 52nd Royal Sussex Regt, Colchester
Dear Emmie

Thanks very much for the letter of the 29th ult. One month nearer the end of the war; I suppose you are thinking of Christmas now. I am sorry to say that we will be drilling Boxing Day just as ordinary days. We only get two days off in the Army they are Good Friday and Christmas day; otherwise I would be dying to see you but as we don’t get Boxing day off I won’t die but I hope to have four days leave soon after. Some scandle on at the office, what! Are you going to be bridesmaid for Mr Clark if so there is a chance for some more scandle somebody might say that you are going to be maid his bride. If I am up when Bertie is home I won’t be able to speak to him without saluting. I don’t suppose it would do any good to take stripes; N.C.Os. are always getting into trouble and they have to do the dirty work. I am getting very impromtuous? Lately, when the time comes, then will I decide. My crop is progressing very well; I was going to get a hair cut yesterday only I didn’t have time.

I am going on a gas course next Tuesday; I saw my name on the order board: I don’t know why they picked me. The railway men seem to be doing very well financially, have you heard anything of your rise yet. I have not heard anything of our increase yet, I still get along on my 3/6d fifty two-times annually. I am learning how to play chess; rather a hard game: it seems to make everybodys’ head ache.

The orchestra is playing at that Baptist church next Thursday and it is a very good programme too. I hope when I come home I will be able to turn those grey hairs black but a few white hairs doesn’t make any difference to the goods.

Well my dearest I will close now with Best and Truest Love

From your affectionate partner

Will

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28th November 1917

Bandsman W Metcalfe 46534, 52 Royal Sussex Regt, Colchester
Dear Emmie

Received your letter this afternoon and I am answering it before I go on parade this evening. We are on for an hour 5.30 to 6.30 storming trenches in the dark. We fired some rifle grenades or rifle bombs this morning and I have still the ringing in my ears. I am rather surprised at Mr C. getting “spliced” (excuse my slang) I hope he is made happy with his new bride. We were told that we are being fastly trained so that sounds suspicious. I know that I will be in England for Christmas and I am almost sure to have at least two leaves before I start doing my bit in another land. Nothing more has been said concerning the band. I have been in C.Coy. for about two months now; we changed over at Albuhera. All, or most instructors now have been wounded and are unfit for duties abroad so I do not stand much chance at being one. If I am to keep in the company I will try for promotion or that is the way I look at it now. It is ten times harder to get a stripe now that it was or is in a new Batt: “Regina Angelorum” means “Queen of Angels” I cannot understand Nil desperandum unless it means no desperation. I have only another five minutes for to be on parade so I will close

With Fondest Love

From Your Will.xx

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26th November 1917

Bandsman W Metcalfe 46534, Colchester
Dearest Sweetheart

Thanks for nice letter; it cheered me up wonderfully as I have been down in the dumps again. I am not sorry to say that 2nd class in firing is not good and it is not bad. I didn’t want to be too good a shot. I heard of the joy bells ringing in London but I don’t uphold with it. I suppose it is really to keep the spirit of the people up. I am glad to hear the service went well. I went to “St Mary’s at the wall” Colchester; it was the best church service I have ever been to. They have a fine choir and a F.F.C.O. organist. I hope you enjoy yourself if you go to Leicester; I wish I could come with you; you don’t know how much I want you. Trust me for liking to get up every week, I am not lucky enough even to dream of it. I love the dear old army like the devil loves holy water. I would love to have your arm round my neck as long as you like but not to exhibit in a shop window. I think the psalms are the hardest part of the service to play but it all becomes easy with practice. I have had rather an eventful weekend; I did play the organ on Sunday morning and it went fairly well. On Saturday afternoon our company officer came over to the band room and said that he wanted us to sleep with the company. This we had to do but we have all refused to play in the band any more. We have always had trouble with this officer but I believe he is leaving us and it’s good luck too. There are thirteen of us in C. Company but I am not superstitious. Of course we did the trick as neatly as possible so we were not put in the Guard room for refusing point blank to go on parade. I think we will still keep in the band; at least I am keeping the same address. I am in the band room writing this letter it seems like heaven after the company room. When I said I was going to church Sunday evening it nearly took their breath away.

I am on a special bombing course this week; we are doing a ten days course in five days and we will have a lot of writing to do this week. I couldn’t write anything this evening as we haven’t any books yet. This course is very interesting, all to do with explosives and the officer handles bombs as if he is a conjuror with balls. Well, my dear I have written a little longer letter and I hope I get time to write again this week; at all events I will write you a short line no matter how much bombing I have to write about. The weather is very cold here today. The puddles in the road are frozen over and it is snowing now. I think we are being given another blanket this week to sleep on at least I hope so. It was only Saturday that the sun was shining bright and giving out a lot of heat for November.

Des: fell out with the cold this morning and got light duty all day and I dare say he will go sick tomorrow. Well my regina angelorum I will close now.

With affect: Love

From Will xx

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23rd November 1917

Bandsman W Metcalfe 46534, Colchester
Dear Emmie

Thanks for letter it seems ages since I wrote you last. So sorry you feel so bad but you know there is one who is always thinking of you. I suppose you have heard that H.Day has another girl, I would like to see her as I have seen most of the others. I dare say you know what he said to my cousin Grace. If you did not write to me for a fortnight I would think that something very serious had happened. C.G. said he got a reasonable excuse but of course did not tell me what it was, so it is all right now. As I think that most of the old proverbs are wrong I side with you in ans. to that question. The weather has been very hot here today, just like mid-summer. We have been firing for the last time and I have got a second class. We have had the weather very much against us.

As we didn’t have much for dinner we had for tea:- stewed meat, potatoes and parsnips and suet puds with jam for after, two slices of bread one lump of cake and one mug of tea. I cannot be surprised at having indigestion although I saved half of that for supper. Don’t forget to ask me that question. I have heard of the good news of D.Haig and I think there is more to come. The concert met with every success and I think there is another coming off in about a fortnights time. Well my dear I will have to “pack up” now

With Love

From Will xx

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21st November 1917

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

I am sorry to hear that you were not well on Monday, are you any better now, I hope so. The organ question is rather serious. Could you get Claude to put you right with the stops. It would be good practice for you to play the psalms on our harmonium at home. There is a psalter and tune book there. That would get you used to the gliding fingering of the organ. Where is the “Ideal Kineama!” and who did you go with? Our concert comes off tonight and I am just going to have a practice. We have a star comic coming, so I guess it will be a success. I have had the afternoon off for a band practice but have not done a stroke yet.

We have a kitten here and it keeps us all amused with its tricks. I suppose you will say “Little things” etc. I feel mighty hungry but have a long time to wait for tea. Our dinner consisted of 1 potato and 1 sausage. Our afters were promised for tea time but it is another thing if we get it.

Well, I don’t want to trouble you with the shortcomings of the army but I only hope you are better dear. With

Best Love

From Will xx

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20th November 1917

Bandsman W Metcalfe 46534, 52 Royal Sussex Regt, Colchester
Dear Emmie

I have been disappointed all round this weekend and to crown it all it is Tuesday night and I have had no letter from the only one I look forward to. And yet another: I have just been down for some supper and find that there is none left. I had to go before the officer for being late of parade but it got washed out. We are playing out tomorrow night at a Baptist hall and I have a late pass. I dare say we will come off better there than we did at Officers’ club. We are playing Desmond’s pieces, he has written them out for the band. I will close now hoping to hear from you by the very first post tomorrow.

With Best Love From Will

C.G. after not hearing from his girl for a fortnight wrote the final letter; this is the second time. It seems to be made up again now. Does true Love run smothly?

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18th November 1917

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

Yours to hand. When I opened your letter I thought it was some more “calling up” papers by the colour. You will have another partner besides Mr C at your office now, I do not think he is lucky if he has developed asthma while in the army. You know it cannot be shaken off like a cold. I am sorry to hear that your cousin’s baby has passed away it seems like unluck to counter the luck of her husband getting his ticket. I hope you get on well with the organ, is Claude helping you at all. We are having very foggy weather here and through it, we had to go firing again today. Who do you get to blow the organ for you on Saturdays. I would like to if you would have me. Directly I had stuck your letter down I remembered that I hadn’t mentioned the “captain”. I don’t think we have any like that here, they get it knocked out of them if they are foppish. I liked your letter very much but it was spoilt by the last sentence. What did you mean when you asked me if I liked you as much when I wrote the last two letters, or why did you ask it? I am going to church this evening if I feel like it. I am getting terribly lazy lately. What did you mean by sticking one stamp upsidedown does it mean anything. For further news see previous letter. Sorry I can’t think of more to write.

Best Love

Will xx

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