14th December 1918

Dearest Emmie

Yours to hand of the 9th inst; received this evening. We are still at the same place and it looks as if we are to spend Xmas here. I have got over the hump and have settled down to the inevitable. We have started our classes, about one hour per day 11-12am and it certainly makes things more lively. All we are doing so far is simple fractions and a bit of reading. What I forget about is “square route” could you explain to me by a simple sum how it is done. The rations are certainly a bit better and perhaps in a way we come off better than you. When the canteen has it in we can buy Lyle’s Golden Syrup and I don’t suppose you get much of that. We can also get biscuits and sometimes chocolate and when these things are available they help us out with our rations. I do not [want] you to go without so as to send anything to me. I can guess how hard it is to get things and when I moan it is partly for the censor to read; it has made a difference and always does when we work together, “Oh this Green’n. As for being weary of writing to you I am sorry to think that you suggest it but I try to write something each time if it is only “With Love from Will”. It is impossible for you to imagine what little there is in our daily round to write about. One thing of importance is: the batt has opened a library and anyone with a book to spare gives it in and it is lent out instead of being lost. I would like you to get me a cheap edition of the “elusive pimpernel”. I have never read it but know it is good. I have read the “Scarlet Pimpernel”. I am now wanted to liven things up a bit with cornet so will write a bit more if poss tomorrow (Sunday!). I now have a book entitled “Roads of Destiny” by O.Henry. Have you read it? What do you think of our Regtl Christmas cards? We are able to but them at about ⅓ the cost price: the officers see to the rest. I am doing the duty of an organ at the church service this morning by performing on the cornet. There is a chap who sleeps two beds from me who is an everlasting grumbler he helps to make things dull. I think he is making himself ill through moping about, always thinking of home does it.

I am still longing for the time when I can be with you on my leave, if it is to be my ticket first all the better. (ça ne-fait-rien). Well my dear I must close now to get ready for church

With Fondest Love

From Your Ever Loving

Will xxx

scan_20190105_144340scan_20190105_144340_001scan_20190105_144340_002scan_20190105_144340_003

12th December 1918

Dear Emmie

Yours to hand of 23rd ult another one behind time I wonder if any more are going to roll up. I have only time to write a short letter this morning as we are tres occupè. We had some horse racing here yesterdays but it was raining most of the day so part of the pleasure was spoilt. The Middlesex band played but I was unable to go very near as I was on guard.

Is there much of a shortage of potatoes in England now? Hoe is your Pa now. I suppose he is short of work but it will be a rest for him. I guess apples and oranges will be dear this Christmas. I guess my Dad (although he is a lover of oranges) will not have a 750 crate this year. I remember the time when he has scrambled them to children in the street. That struck me as being rather funny when you said you “just coughed and walked out”. I suppose you didn’t want to but the shop. If you go to the Fancy Dress Ball as Cupid, I might lose you so don’t do that. I am glad to know the organ fund is complete. I think the Mission is better off now financially than it was in pre-war days. Did Mable get that form from the Min. Of Labour is it the one they are waiting for. Have you heard any more from me lately. I think I have written more. I didn’t vote this time because I haven’t read sufficient. I might have voted for Elliott but when the ballot paper came there were two more names on it; labour people I suppose. I don’t see why they couldn’t leave the election for another year. Well I will now conclude

With Fondest Love

From Yours Ever

Will xxx

scan_20190105_144312scan_20190105_144312_001scan_20190105_144312_002

10th December 1918

Dear Emmie

In answer to yours of the 20th ult. I have had one or two letters from you dated this month and yet another came yesterday of the 20 ult as you see above. I have still the swastika and also the lucky sixpence you gave me or to be precise, the lucky sixpence which I won of you. I’ll have to wear the [swastika] on my watch chain when I get home it has been through some “stunts”. If I was to become organist at the mish I would find an assist. from somewhere. Mr Ferrow told me of the organ heating device he has to keep the damp out. Do you think I will be under anybody’s thumb even when I get home? What did Mr Howard get for a wedding present I really forget. What is it that you are going to tell me that is going to make me so surprised; I hope it is not a shock. Have you left your office yet or are you still staying on. One of the boys says that if clothes are too dear when he gets back his full dress will be steel hat, bathing drawers and spurs.

I dare say I will get one leave before demobilisation but I could do with the latter premiere. Some chaps are going on leave now so as to return one day before Christmas; I think it is putting temptation in their path: of course they are punished for overstaying their pass. Some of the boys of just over 19 have never had a leave since they have been in the Army. They had 9 months training in England and never a leave and some of the poor chaps have been knocked out and their people have never seen them in khaki. What does Mrs Shovell say about the election? I suppose she doesn’t happen to give lectures on women’s suffrage. Well I will close now hoping you all keep free from the flu’.

Fondest Love

From Will xx

P.S. Please remember me to all at home.

Scan_20181210_212140Scan_20181210_212140_001Scan_20181210_212140_002

8th December 1918

Dear Emmie

In answer to yours of the 2nd inst. I think somehow the post is wrong; it is very irregular and I don’t think they can all get through what I send to you: all the chaps speak of the same thing. Have you received more than one letter from me this this week, you should have done. If leave goes fairly well I should be home about the end of Jan. Mr Ferraro did not write to me first, I did the trick for once. I have had some election Communication sent to me but of course not having read the papers much I cannot form an opinion. I think the govt. is frightened to wait any longer or they will lose power for a labour party. The weather has been glorious this last few days quite like spring really too good to last. I pity the chaos who have to go forward into Germany if they are having a worse time than us. I don’t think they will have much of a time.

The war is over and now the boys have started soldiering. Five guards instead of one have to be found every day out of the batt. The chaps have to clean their brass and equipment and be smart to look at and go without a bath for weeks. I think I will be in my eighth week in a couple of days time. I think I’ll write home for a bath soon to carry in my pack. I guess you will thinking me a frightful moaner but it’s an “Englishman’s privilege”. It would be a bit cheerful if we had a piano but I think the batt is frightened to carry one. I expect a nice long letter from you although I cannot write one. You would understand if you knew how empty this life is. I will now close hoping the time will pass quickly for us to move from here.

Fondest Love

From  Will xxx

Scan_20181210_212116Scan_20181210_212116_001Scan_20181210_212116_002

6th December 1918

Dear Emmie

Yours to hand of the 30th ult: I cannot understand you not getting more than one letter a week from me. I think this is the third or perhaps the fourth I have written you this week so please let me know if you have received the others. I know the last two letters I have written have not been up to much but you know you are not the only one who treads my correspondence. I would very much like to write you a nice long letter but I cannot make a lot out of nothing.

I have only been to the Albert Hall twice and once was with you, can you remember? Are concerts still held at the Central Hall now on Saturday evenings such as we used to go to? I would very much like to hear an organ recital by Mr Meale now, all the music we get is by banging a drum or pumping a flute. I think our Batt is frightened to carry a piano with them. I found the puzzle enclosed and now I see that I nearly worked it our before but didn’t get that shape. As for the one I set you, you can’t quite do it now but when I come home you will be able to. You have to use a mirror on the figures and you will see the answer. I gave my name in for a course of “Lithography” this morning, that will be très bon; I will soon get my hand in again. I didn’t think that they would open [?] for courses but as I said in my last letter I would like to get into an Army printing shop or school. I never hear anything of W.L. from home I think I will write to Mabel and ask her. I wouldn’t be surprised if they kept C.Os till the army is all demobilized.

Well my dear I will close now and write tomorrow if poss

Fondest Love

From Yours Ever

Will xxx

Scan_20181210_212046_003Scan_20181210_212046_004Scan_20181210_212046_005

6th December 1918

Dear Emmie

We are still at the same place, miles from anywhere worth going to. I dare say you think we are all having a good time now but I don’t want you to deceive yourself. We have been promised Civilian billits and I hope we get them before Christmas. I think I told you the name of this place is Mouchin; quite an appropriate name but after all perhaps it would be worse with a war on. Of course I don’t want you to think that I am right down in the “dumps” perhaps the continual moaning all round makes a diff. If we did any hard work we would have a good cause to moan and yet perhaps the monotony of doing nothing gets on ones nerves. Perhaps I should not say that or it might make it worse for all. When our classes start I will be très satisfait. What does the organ sound like now: is it any better than it was before it was repaired? I guess I will have to get some practice before playing for a service. Dad want me to attend St Bride’s Institute again when I come home. I would like to get into an Army printing shop for a short course while I am waiting my discharge but I don’t think it is possible. I have to fall in for pay now and for this letter to catch the next post I will now conclude and write a better letter next time, with

Fondest Love

From Will xxx

W Metcalfe

19013

Scan_20181210_212046Scan_20181210_212046_001Scan_20181210_212046_002

3rd December 1918

Dear Emmie

Yours to hand of the 27th ult. The common saying in France for “How are you” is Comment alez vous, literally “how go you” but I dare say “commens partey vous” is better French. I suppose G.Todd is home now (lucky dog). I think released Ps.O.W. get two months leave and £5 down but perhaps they will from some scheme for demobilizing them quickly.

Please tell Herbert Bertie that I would be quite alright in the middle of Sahara Desert because of the sand which is there. (Compre). Sorry to hear that the flu’ has broken out again I hope you will all keep free from it. We have bacon almost every day, or what is called bacon, but I think sometimes we get French boar which when salted is exactly like bacon. Yes! I hope to be home for good by next Summer and I think there is every possibility.

I think soldiers of 19 who are signing on are liable to be sent abroad. We are having a lecture or something on education I think this morning so I will have to leave this letter in a minute.

I read that piece about the lead swinger and the band and no doubt cases have occurred very similar: in fact is a musician was to get to a base, sick, it would probably mean a three or sometimes six months job in a band. Some chaps are excellent at it. How do you go on for butter and cheese in England now: I think there is a shortage out here, our rations are wicked lately. I suppose it doesn’t matter now the war is over. We are moving to another village soon and I hope things will improve there.

Has your office moved yet? Please will you send me a couple of candles if it is no trouble for you to get them, they will come in very handy. We have a canteen but as usual there is nothing in it. I think somebody else has a pick before privates. I have nothing any good to write now so will close

With Love

From Yours with the Hun

Will xx

Scan_20181210_212022Scan_20181210_212022_001Scan_20181210_212022_002

1st December 1918

Dearest Emmie

We are still at the same place but hope to be moving soon. It is Advent Sunday today and I went to H.C. this morning the first time for a long time. Please remember me to Mrs Thomson (your aunt) when you see her. What did Bertie think of the wedding or rather the marriage? I suppose he had something sausey to say. Glad to hear G.Todd is on his way home he will be in England soon. I reckon he’s been jolly lucky, don’t you? I feel sorry for Mrs Mayne myself she is left all on her own now but I know Mum will help her as much as poss: I am now going on parade for about half an hour and will continue this by some artificial light. I have still plenty of ink tablets left thank you. I don’t think I have used a third yet. I would like to have a go at “Christ & his Soldiers” on the organ, I’ve only tried bits but not all through. It is all easy enough on the piano. We generally have a tune of an evening now that it is too dark to go anywhere and there is also nowhere of any amusement here. I dare say we will have a better time when we settle down for the winter, if we do: it is rumoured that our Brigade is having a concert party out from England so that would be alright. Of course rumours are generally told the wrong way round with a bit added on by the time it has been through a few hands, so I will tell you. We might have a band sent to us, of course it is about time and it would be très bon. I might be able to get a little practice. While I am writing this there are two of the boys playing home sweet home on clalrinettes. How is Maude going on do you see much of her now or rather do you see her often? I hope you have a good time Christmas wish I could be with you, will let you know what kind of a time we have.

Donald is sitting on my left and are both stop writing and looking at each other every now and then as there is not much to write about so I will close; hope to get a letter tomorrow.

Best love from

Will

Scan_20181210_211939Scan_20181210_211939_001Scan_20181210_211939_002

28th November 1918

Dear Emmie

I have not heard from you for a few days now but hope to have a letter by tomorrow. I suppose they have gone to the Reception Camp. I was buglar on guard last night: the guard room was a stable and rather draughty and an old French woman was kind enough to give us hot coffee at 10pm and 5.30am. but the funny part I was going to tell you was how I had to get up about four times in the night to have a rest. I think it sounds rather funny but it is a common occurance when we are crowded. It has been raining today and is very miserable out.

We are now in a small village named Muchin [?] but I think we are going on to Tournai in a couple of days time. For winter billets it is suggested so I hope and guess they will not be barns as we are in now. We are having classes on various subjects and I am in for a bit of book keeping. (Please excuse the ups and downs of this letter but it is nearly dark.) The various particulars wanted for the classes are Name, No. address, religion, last job, experience and about one hundred and one other things. I was told that the Government are helping apprentices by making an allowance so if I go back as an apprentice it will not [be] so bad.

I think this last advance made by us was wonderful: the way the engineers got bridges over rivers was very smart. A bridge strong enough for any load could be thrown over a river at an average time of about 6 hours.

Towards the end I think Gas was used in nearly every shell by the Germans, but there was not so much metal in them. The nearest I had a shell burst to me was about 15 yards so I was lucky compared with some. I happened to be behind a cooker at the time and a piece of shrapnel broke the shaft and punctured a petrol can at my feet but the ear is over now and I don’t suppose all this interests you only I havn’t much more to write about. It is Thursday today so I suppose you are off to G.F.S. or club well I won’t be there to meet you for some little time but I hope that goes fast.

Well I will now conclude

With Best Love from Will

3422_0073422_0083422_009