16th October 1917

Bandsman W.Metcalfe 46534 Colchester
Dear Emmie

In answer to yours of the 13th; I am sorry you had to wait in Saturday evening but you know that I was not certain until 12 o’clock Sat.

I thank you very much for the parcel received this afternoon; I have tried of the rolls and they extreemly satisfy my taste thank you. I don’t suppose I will want to take revenge after anything from the contents of that box. I have been to the pictures tonight and have left it rather late in writing this. I will be able to make some Oxo before going to bed tonight; we have a fire and plenty of water.

Fancy that policeman visiting you at such an early hour: What was you conversation. I guess it turned you a bit didn’t it. It just shows you what muddlers the English are. I bet such a thing wouldn’t occur in Germany. I don’t want you to think that I am a pro-German but you know what I mean. I have just remembered to say that I was not cross with you when I wrote last. What made you think so? I went through (Axphyxiating) poisonous gas last Sat. with a gas mask on and I was not layed out. There were no casualties. I am in the Christian Science place writing this and it is just on closing time.

I will endeavour to write you a much longer letter next time my little dear. How I wish I was with you now! I wouldn’t be thinking of going home now 9 o’clock. See how I am improving. Well I will now conclude

With Best Love

Your Will xx

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14th October 1917

Bandsman W Metcalfe 46534, Band Room No 5, 256 Infantry Battn., Goojerat Barracks, Colchester, Essex
Dear Emmie

First of all I must say that I am sorry that I was unable to get this week end off. I did not now until 12 o’clock yesterday whether I had my pass or not, or else I would have let you know. I will have to try later on and I might succeed in getting a couple of days.

Could you tell me whether Will Mayne at Aldershot is getting his extra money or not. I heard that they got theirs a fortnight ago. The food here is a little better now; it has been taken over by another officer and we get more now. I went to a Baptist church this evening and sang in the choir; the service was very good. No doubt you will wonder what is the matter with me going to all these different places, but I am just having a look round. For some reason or other I cannot think of much to write; I don’t feel quite up to the mark lately; I feel a bit home sick. We have to do all our cleaning up of a night now as it is such a rush in the morning to get on parade. Reveille goes at 6 o’clock and we have to be on parade by 7. I want to say something nice but I can’t think what to write.

Please write soon as I want to hear from you.

I now close

With my very Best Love
Yours Ever Will

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11th October 1917

Bandsman W.M. 46534 Colchester
Dear Emmie

Thanks for the letter. I am answering it just before I go on parade tonight. We are on night operations from 8 o’clock till 9.30 this evening. Sorry I have nobody’s warm hands to hold. The boys faint with cold and want of something to eat here. It is bad after Aldershot. I am properly fed up, or else I would not mention this. I heard that all leave was stopped only in the case of serious illness can it be granted. I will let you know if I get this week end or not.

Fancy you mentioning saving out of 7/- a week. If they give us seven shillings this week I think we will spend it buying our own food. I don’t think too much importance can be attached to the revolt in the German Navy it would not take much for us to revolt here.

Last year when the Zepps were over London the mobile anti aircraft guns were up and down York Rd. What has Mr Rolfe given you to practice? How is Bertram getting on? I have not played in the band since last Sunday but we can be in the band as long as we are fully trained. We are going through gas tomorrow with helmets on; it is not much, it is weak, and we are only in it ten minutes. I am also reading a tale of a man who is going to die a batchelor but through the influence of some woman I think he marries in the end. These rifles which we have are all breaking. It would be rather dangerous if we had to use them in France.

I will close now as I have to get ready for parade.

With Best Love

From your sweetheart

Will xx

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10th October 1917

16, Tiber St
Dear Will

In answer to your, thanks for the drawing. I wondered whatever it was, very lifelike too I must admit. I hope you are in no immediate hurry for the gauntlets, I went to the Scotch Wool stores this afternoon after work and they were closed when I arrived but I will hurry along when I get the wool, in the meantime if your hands are getting very cold, the only suggestion I can offer is, that you get someone with warm hands to hold yours, rather an economic suggestion don’t you think? I think I must consider that during this war time too and it will save me buying gloves.

It has been bitterly cold to-day red noses are becoming more popular now, I am meeting them by the dozens. Is it right you are going to have more money? That will make you 7/- per wk, irrespective of what your Mother receives won’t it? You will be getting quite wealthy sure on that. I suppose you will want to save now. I read in the papers to-night “German Navy Mutiny”, sounds healthy doesn’t it, also that typhus hunger is breaking out over several parts of Germany, so things seems a bit ruffled in the Faderland. Did you know that when those recent Air Raids were on, we had the mobile guns up and down the streets? They were along Copenhagen St I think, but I know for certain they were along Barnsbury. Guns are going to be run along the Railways for the next raid. “Some Barrage” we have got for the Bing Boys on their next visit, but I pity our hearing after it is all over. I hope you are able to get the week-end, let me know if you possibly can in case I happen to be going anywhere, for I suppose you would like to see me for a few minutes if you came home.

I went to Mr Rolfe on Monday. I think he is a very clever fellow, but I do not care for him very much. I noticed the photographs of some good old English gentlemen on the wall, bearing the names of Ernst, etc. I prefer “Horace” myself, sounds more British don’t you think? I do not know now exactly how you managed to remain in the band. I thought it consisted of unfit, and you are a fitun (no remarks please) so will you tell me? Well I shall be closing now I think and get on with a very interesting story I have commenced. It is about a solider in France who loved his girl so much and was always thinking of her, and constantly had her in his mind through all the horrors of the battle he was in, and he got shell shock and was sent to a hospital, and when he was a little better he could not bear his girl near him, he simply would not see her, you see she brought back to him all he had been through as her image had been with him through all the terrors of the battle, so you see I am anxious to know how it all ends, rather sad don’t you think, but as I read it, it seems very feasible the way it is explained , however, things like this, they say, must be after a famous victory, so I will conclude now with fondest love to my dear boy. x

Emmie x

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9th October 1917

Bandsman W Metcalfe 46534, Colchester
Dearest Emmie

Thanks for letter received this afternoon. Although the work is harder now I don’t think it effects me much. I am still the same “Will”. Things do seem to be looking up lately and I hope the war is over before Christmas. I did not go to Mr Humes to tea after all; he was called away to a military hospital and so I am going to his place later on. I went to the R.C. Church last week just to see what it was like. It was a grand service and the sanctuary was beautiful and lit up with about 100 electric lights and 20 candles. Most of the service was said in Latin but I followed it in English. The only thing I can’t get on with is praying to the saints to pray for us. No wonder G Ray gets home very frequently. I wish our batt. had gone to Wimbledon as it was supposed to some time ago. I don’t think we will have any manoeuvres this week; the wether is too bad. I don’t know for certain; we have drawn our waterproof sheets. I was not going to tell you in case you are disappointed but I am going to try for a week end this week but it is ten to one whether I get it or not. I hope the Mission keeps up: I would not like to know that it had to close. I do dream about you. The other night I dreamt that I fell in love with E.V! I don’t know why and after a little while I found out my mistake and did not like asking you to go with me again. But it was all a dream. I do not like these dark evenings much but I have to put up with them. I am sitting on a box writing this and another boy wants the box to sit on it to write a letter so I will have to conclude. I hope this cutting is sufficient for you to go by and if I come home Saturday I will be able to thank you properly. I now conclude

My very Best Love

Will

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6th and 7th October 1917

Bandsman W Metcalfe 46534, Band Room No 5, Goojerat Barracks, 256 Infantry Battn., Colchester
Dearest Emmie

I am sorry I did not answer your letters yesterday evening, but I was so tired after yesterday’s manoeveres that I went straight to bed. We got up at 5.30, had breakfast and started away with about 2 sq ins of bread and meat (at 7 o’clock) as day rations. We marched about seven miles and had a rest.

One good job was that we were out as a band. We were supposed to be having a battle, but all I saw of the enemy was one prisoner. We returned back to barracks at 5 o’clock: making 10 hours marching (over 15 miles) on not enough food for a cat. We had a good meat tea and then turned in. We are starting fires in our rooms now, it does strike rather cold lately. I would to make me a pair of woollen gloves please, there’s a dear. I cannot describe how I miss you and I will try to get leave soon. You know I am very lucky having had three leaves; most of the boys have only had one. One of the band boys tried for leave last week with the excuse of going home to get his cornet mended. The captain wrote on the back “Try parcel post”. I havn’t got your letters to hand now so I will answer them tomorrow. I hope you are not troubled so much with air raids lately. I think you have had your dose. I hear we are going to have one of these manoeuvres again next week, it will last two or three days so I don’t know how I will go on about answering your letters promptly.

Oct 7th. 17.

Dear Emmie

I have just come back from Church parade; it is pouring of rain here this morning and we got soaked through. I hope it is not like this next week when we are sleeping in a field especially if the gate is open. Please tell Mabel that I am not going to write home any more I am tired of waiting weeks for answers. It might wake her up a bit. Harold always seems to be going through the wars, perhaps it will do him good having a holiday. I would like to know where G Ray is stationed he seems to get a lot of leave. Our captain says he dare says it pays to send 9d home to a chum for to send down a telegram saying that a brother is home from the front. One boy wanted leave because his uncle had come home from France: another boy wanted leave because his chum’s uncle had come home. All the band has put in for a week end so I will let you know how we go on about getting it. I meant that we got rifles to drill with from the stores: we have not had them before. I should certainly try for a rise if I were you; don’t you think you would get it. This afternoon we are playing the orchestra for the benefit of the boys as it is wet. This lasts from 2 till 4 o’clock and then I am going down to St Botolph to tea with Mr Hume. That means that I must go to this evenings service there so I will have to stop writing now to get ready.

I hear some rumours of six days leave but I will not mention that now in case nothing comes of it. Well I now conclude hoping you get this first post Monday morning.

With my fondest Love to my only girl in the world

Will xxx

PS How about [swastika] I missed it last time.

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4th October 1917

Bandsman W Metcalfe. Colchester.
Dear Emmie

It has been a wet day today and I see by the papers that the people in London are clapping their hands as it is anti-air raid weather. We are on a big “stunt” tomorrow a retreat from Colchester: it will take all day so I don’t know whether I will get time to write. I think we get our rise tomorrow; we can all do with it.

Love from Will.

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4th October 1917

16, Tiber St
Dear Will

I received your post card yesterday afternoon. I sent you a letter on Monday 6.30PM post, have you not received it yet? I am writing this just before going to work as I have been waiting for the postman & he has just past but left me no letter. It is pouring with rain here this morning. We had no excitement last night by way of a change. Well it is just 9 and I must be going so I will close hoping to hear from you soon.

Best Love From Emmie x

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3rd October 1917

Bandsman W Metcalfe 46534, Band Room No 5, 256 Infantry Battn., Goojerat Barracks, Colchester
Dear Emmie

Thanks very much for letter received this morning. I also had one from Mr Wander this evening but not from home. I would like you to remind them that they havn’t answered my letter of over a week ago. I am sorry to hear you were annoyed again Sunday night: last night was the first time for about ten days that we have had a light to get to bed with. I missed the route march today as I was put on fire picket. We have to stay in barracks all day in case of fire. One of the band boys and myself beat about 150 in running out of the fire hose at practice; we got the water running in 44 seconds. I do not remember if I told you but I am going to Mr Hume to tea next Sunday afternoon. I cannot carry on an argument in letters but I did not “dump” what you told me as a “minor detail” I meant to say I am interested in anything you write no matter how small. Do you mean the front wall is chipped by shrapnel (the one that very often held me up) They have rockets here for night warnings and syrens in the day. I hope that by the time I do get leave I do not get a military haircut; every body seems to be having them. I went sick yesterday with my knee; the doctor said its only growing pains and gave me M.W. Medicine and duty. The medicine I had was a dab of iodine on my knee and now I suppose I should be better. I am too fit yet even to get light duty. Today we all drew rifles; they were covered in vasaline so you guess we have had a fine time cleaning up. They are smaller and lighter than the old rifles, they are the 1917 patern made in U.S.A. Two of the band boys have broken theirs already so I don’t know how we will go on if we have to use them in any fighting. I have just been told that the fire picket have a lively time in the night being called up in case of an air raid. I think they serve us out with ten rounds of amunition each; what for I do not know. I hope you will excuse this paper as I have been unable to go out and get any this evening.

Well my dear I think I will be closing as the pen is running dry. I have that “creepy feeling” now as if I want to be with you; O! for peace time again.

Greatest Love

From Your Will

xxx

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2nd October 1917

Dear Emmie

I am just writing you a card as I havn’t had a letter from you today. I think it must be due to the raids that the post is delayed. All letters are coming in late. Today we had an air raid warning an we could hear the gun going off. We have had to turn our lights out every night for about a week. We are playing the band for a 3 ½ hours route march tomorrow so think of me between 9AM and 12.30. I see by the papers that you have been having a lively time but hope & trust that you will be kept safe from any harm. I went to the pictures last night and saw Charlie. C. It reminded me very much of Pykes Circuit, Seven Sisters Rd where we sometimes went.

I now conclude

Much Love Will x

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