Thursday, 20 August 2015

The Great War in Europe that nobody was expecting!

Irish home-rule poster
When the first rumblings of war were heard in Europe during the summer of 1914, it took most ordinary British people by surprise. Most assumed that, if there was to be any trouble at all, it would be Ireland where the demand for home-rule had been causing mounting tension.

This was certainly the opinion of Maude Boucher, a mother of four from Bristol, when news of war came through after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinant in Serbia. In a journal she kept throughout the Great War, the following entry reveals how she - and many others like her - were taken completely by surprise:
The summer term was just completed and the holidays commencing, when on Tuesday, July 28 1914, the evening newspaper boys were shouting in the streets ‘War declared’. We had all been wondering and speculating as to whether there would be war in Ireland or not, as there has been much quarrelling and many disturbances there in connection with the Home Rule Question, so naturally one jumped to the conclusion that it had been decided at last to have war, but much to our surprise, we found that it was not in connection with Ireland  at all, but it was a little war between Austria and Servia [sic] which seemed, at the time, as though it would not affect us in any way.
Mabel called to see us and told us what a shock it had given her when she heard the newsboys calling out ‘War Declared’ as she quite thought then that we were to have a Civil War in Ireland. She said ‘I was so relieved to find that it was only a little war between Austria and Servia ... We none of us then knew or imagined what this little war was going to lead to.”
When Britain declared war on Germany a few weeks later, most Irish people backed the governement regardless of political affiliation, and the Irish 'troubles' died down for a while. But violence flared up unexpectedly in 1916 when republicans mounted an armed insurrection during Easter Week which lasted six days and became known as the Easter Rising.

Executed: Irish republican
Joseph Plunkett
The British Army used its vastly superior numbers and artillery to suppress the rising quickly and the ringleaders were rounded up, court-martialled and executed. Among them was Joseph Plunkett who came from a family of republicans. His brothers George and Jack were also sentenced to be shot, but both had their sentences commuted to ten years' penal servitude. They spent six months in the formidable Portland Prison, in Dorset, and their arrival on the island was witnessed by nine-year-old Mary Bool, whose recollections later in life are among many fascinating WW1 memories held by Portland Heritage Trust:
One day I was down the yard and was watching prisoners being unloaded. One of them was a member of the Plunkett family, a leader of the rebellion. They were difficult prisoners and the guards had quite a lot of trouble with them. When they were coming off the ship’s cutters and whalers and up onto Camber Pier, one of them got up on one of the bollards and sang 'Danny Boy' and there was loud cheering and hurrah-ing and all sorts. 
They were marched away up to the prison, and all night long they would be calling out from their cells to one another and keeping people awake singing Irish songs. Our home was about half a mile from the prison but, if the wind was in the south-east, we could hear them plainly. One of them, maybe the one who stood on the bollard in the dockyard had a very good voice, a tenor.
Mary Bool's recollections - and those of other children who grew up on Portland during the First World War - appear in my new book, Weymouth, Dorchester and Portland in the Great War, which is out in October 2015. You can read more from Maude Boucher's WW1 journal in my books Letters from the Trenches and Bristol in the Great War.

The formidable Portland Prison: 'All night long prisoners would be calling out from their cells'


Tuesday, 4 August 2015

A heartwarming welcome for the boys far from home

A cheering feature of the First World War - although not one generally remembered today - were the friendships struck up between soldiers and the families in whose homes they were billeted while training for the Front. Many volunteer soldiers were sent to distant parts of the country to prepare for the fighting and it was often a great comfort to stay with families like their own, especially for those had never been away from home.

In some cases, soldiers were even treated like sons - perhaps by couples who had already lost their own - and when the day came to say goodbye, plenty of tears were shed. Many kept in touch by letter, like this soldier who was billeted with a Mr and Mrs Otter on the Isle of Portland in Dorset. SJ James wrote to them from Gallipoli at the end of 1915, where the weather was turning nasty and the Allies were facing defeat. Sadly, one of the other men who had been billeted with him had already been killed:

The letter written by SJ James to his Portland hosts
 'Just a line to wish you all a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year. We shall be up in the trenches on Xmas day but we hope to have as good a time as possible under the present circumstances on New Year’s Day when we shall be in our rest camp. I am in pretty good health just now and hope you are all in the best of health too … I wish we were all there at Portland again having a good time billeted with you, but alas that will never be for poor Fred has gone under ... It is bitterly cold out here now and of course it will be worse when our winter really starts in January. There are very few of our old hands left now, and only one I can really call a chum. Again wishing you all the compliments of the season.

I discovered this letter at Weymouth Museum while researching my new book Weymouth, Dorset and Portland in the Great War (out in October). Interestingly, I also discovered that not everyone on Portland had such fond memories of the visiting troops. Ethel Braund was seven when war broke out, and her recollections of the Great War are held by Portland Heritage Trust:
‘Ours was one of the few houses that had a bathroom and they wanted mother to take an officer. She said she couldn’t undertake to look after an officer, she didn’t realize he’d have his own servant to look after him and she thought she would have to look after him. She’d got a big family of small children at the time so they, very meanly, billeted the three roughest men in the lot – and they were a rough lot – on her. I remember them; I remember them, they were terrible.’
At around the same time in Northamptonshire, a Mrs Searle had obviously grown very fond of Private Tom Fake, when he was billeted with her at the end of 1916 before being sent to France. Once he'd departed, however, she was unable to write to him because censorship prevented him disclosing his address, so she wrote instead to his wife in Bristol:
Private Tom Fake,
like a son to Mrs Searle
Dear Mrs Fake, 
Mr Searle and I were more than please to receive the photo also letter from you ... I am glad Tom is alright I had a field card from him, dated 15th Dec. but of course no address so I really could not write to him but shall do now at my first opportunity. I feel awfully grieved for you but I hope you will keep bright for your dear little boy's sake [the Fakes had a young son] and I hope and trust that Tom will be spared so that you will be able to live that happy and contented life once again. I remain yours very sincerelyMrs A Searle 
PS I shall be happy to hear from you again when you can spare the time
Tom Fake survived the war and more of his story and letters can be read in my books Bristol in the Great War and Letters from the Trenches. Sadly, I wasn't able to find out anything else about SJ James, except that he served with the Royal Naval Division. If anyone reading this can shed light on him, I'd love to hear from you.

Copyright © Jacqueline Wadsworth / Weymouth Museum / Portland Heritage Trust / JackieCarpenter

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

'We've come to deliver the knockout blow to Fritz!'

We're in it together: American and British servicemen share a
muddy moment at Yate air base in 1919 (Yate Heritage Centre
When American GIs were stationed in Britain during the Second World War, their 'un-English' ways put a lot of noses out of joint. 'Overpaid, oversexed and over here!' was a complaint muttered fairly often by locals who were unaccustomed to what they considered brash behaviour.

Similar feelings may have been aroused during the First World War, too, when American servicemen began arriving in Britain on their way to the Front, for accounts written at the time reveal that the Americans announced themselves as a fairly ebullient bunch. Among them was Corporal Ned Steel of Kansas City, who spent two months at the Third Western Aero Repair Depot at Yate, north of Bristol, in 1918.

'Twas the afternoon of April 20th when we arrived there, the first American soldiers to set foot in these parts, and we created no small commotion...Wherever we went in the next two months of our visit, the hospitality was unabounded. Talk about appreciation! Those Englishmen saw in us the reserve strength of the Allies come to deliver the knockout blow to Fritz.'

The ocean liner Aquitania, which served as a troopship in WW1
Steel belonged to a squadron of airmen that had crossed the Atlantic aboard the Aquitania, formerly a Cunard ocean-liner which served as a troop-carrier and hospital ship during the conflict. Its sister ship, the Lusitania, was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine in 1915 with the loss of many American civilian lives. This catastrophe was one of the reasons that prompted the US to enter the war in 1917.

During the crossing, Steel and his friends had been amused at the differences between themselves and the British. They gently mocked the way everything the Brits said was littered with mild curses. Even when the Aquitania's history was being explained, wrote Steel, every other word seemed to be 'bloody': 'The ship had been in the hospital service between the bloody Dardanelles and England. This was her first bloody voyage as a bloody troop ship.' The Americans also smiled at the British penchant for keeping meals simple, with Steel mimicking: 'My Gosh! Fish for breakfast?'

But the ribbing stopped when the Americans stepped ashore, to be greeted by warm and enthusiastic crowds. Perhaps for the first time, they began to understand the high price the British had already paid for the war:

'April 11, 1918 we awoke at the wharves of Liverpool. Then began our welcome in England. Ferries plying the muddy Mersey were lined with people waving handkerchiefs at us. And when we had landed a little later and were marching to our train through the uptown district of Liverpool great crowds along the way watched us. Crowds, mostly of women, they were - and rosy-cheeked girls. Young men were conspicuous by their scarcity, in fact were almost a minus quantity. It came to us forcibly then that England was doing her utmost in manpower, and some of our prejudice vanished.'

Steel appears to have been charmed by his rail journey south to Bristol:

'With a squad to each compartment on our funny looking coaches we started across "Merry Old England". The dinky little engine quite surprised us with its speed. What a beautiful country it was...green green grass covering every inch of untilled ground...stone walls...everything clean and tidy...for once the Californians were mum.'

He noted how few level crossings there were, with the train more often going over bridges or under roads: 'Only once in England did we see a wagon road intersect the railroad's right of way and then strong gates of iron shut out the traffic and the watchman tended them as the train went by.' At Bristol the men changed trains for Yate ('a town with one street').

Men of the American Air Service form a 'propellor' at
Yate air base in August 1918 (Yate Heritage Centre)
Steel's description of his time in Blighty is in a book he wrote about the history of his unit, the 822nd (Repair) Squadron, a copy of which is held at Yate Heritage Centre. I discovered it while researching my own book Bristol in the the Great War, in which I included an entertaining account of the Bristol girls he met. In comparison with the ladies he had left behind they were much more forward, welcoming Steel and his friends with open arms, offering to buy them drinks, scrounging cigarettes and even asking for a goodnight kiss !

In the workplace, Steel observed the different manner in which the two nationalities set about their jobs: 'The common impression among us in regard to Tommy was that he was slow but thorough. "Swinging the lead" (taking it easy) was quite universal in the [work]shops when the flight sergeants and officers weren't around. When it came to turning out first class products, however, Tommy was there'.

Meanwhile: 'Tommy was penning his impressions of us: how Sam carried himself as tho' he owned the world, was free-and-easy and took no rough talk from his non-coms [non-commissioned officers].'

Steel concluded: 'When the history of this war is written, let it be remembered that the American Aviaition Squadrons stationed in England did their bit by strengthening the hearts and wills of their English cousins at an hour when the war looked darkest to them.'

Confident words indeed, but after a few weeks in France things would often look rather different to the fresh young men who arrived from America with bags of enthusiasm but little experience of trench warfare. Such a caution were sent home by George Swales, one of the first American soldiers to arrive in France whose his story is told in my book Letters from the Trenches. In a letter to his wife he wrote:

I hope the Yanks don’t think they are going to have a walkover for they are in for a surprise. I thought I had a pretty fair idea of what it was and I expected it to be rough but it’s worse than what Sherman [an American general] said war was. It will take some of the swank out of them before they are two weeks in the trenches.’

Monday, 15 June 2015

The dreaded knock at the door that signalled bad news

Vera Brittain

The terrible moment when families received bad news from the Front has often been written about and is one of the abiding images of the First World War. Vera Brittain's account of the day she learnt her brother was dead is particularly chilling: ‘There came the sudden loud clattering at the front-door knocker that always meant a telegram. For a moment I thought that my legs would not carry me, but they behaved quite normally as I got up and went to the door. I knew what was in the telegram.’

Whether it was a telegram (usually reserved for officers) or a letter, the bald facts could not be softened: a loved one had been killed far from home and life would never be the same again. It was a natural reaction to try and find out more about the circumstances of death, how exactly a father, husband, brother or friend had died, and many wrote back asking for more details.

Far from home: graves at the battlefront
Painful as they are, the replies were often kept by families and some can be read in my book Letters from the Trenches. Below is one written to the sister of Second Corporal Rockett, who was killed on the battlefield in the spring of 1918. It was written by an army captain whose tone is weary, his letter almost formulaic: first the facts, then an offer of further help, followed by an expression of sympathy and praise for the soldier's heroism.

16th April 1918

"Dear Miss Rockett,

I duly received your letter of 11th inst addressed to the chaplain.  As there is at present no chaplain for this company I am giving you a short account of what happened to your brother 2nd Cpl Rockett. From the accounts of various men who were present at the time, your brother was shot through the head with a bullet. He was in the act of bandaging a wounded man at the time and his death appears to have been instantaneous. As our men were forced to retire from their position at that time, your brother’s body had to be left behind.
If there are any further particulars you would like I shall do my best to obtain them for you.
I should like to take this opportunity of expressing to you and your relations my deepest sympathy with you all in your great loss.
I myself had formed the very highest opinion of your brother and when I heard the sad news of his death I was more than sorry.
I trust that it may be some small satisfaction and consolation to you at this time of sorrow to know the heroic manner in which your brother met his death and also to know that he was very highly thought of by all the officers and men of the company. He was so thoroughly reliable and willing at all times, that his death is a great loss to the company.
Once again I would assure you of my heartfelt sympathy at this time."

An ambulance at the Front desperately tries
to reach the dead and wounded
There is no reason to believe that this isn't an accurate account of what happened to Second Corporal Rockett. But history suggests that families were often given a sanitised version of the truth, without the gruesome details of a death that may have been far from heroic. Not only was this kinder for all concerned, it was also vital if support for the war at home was to be maintained.

Such 'glossing-over' was the subject of one of Siegried Sasson's most disturbing - and heartbreaking -
poems...

The Hero

Jack fell as he'd have wishes,' the Mother said,
And folded up the letter that she'd read. 
'The Colonel writes so nicely.' Something broke
In the tired voice that quavered to a choke.
She half looked up. 'We mothers are so proud
Of our dead soldiers.' Then her face was bowed.

Quietly the Brother Officer went out.
He'd told the poor old dear some gallant lies
That she would nourish all her days, no doubt.
For while he coughed and mumbled, her weak eyes
Had shone with gentle triumph, brimmed with joy,
Because he'd been so brave, her glorious boy.

He thought how 'Jack', cold-footed, useless swine,
Had panicked down the trench that night the mine
Went up at Wicked Corner; how he'd tried 
To get sent home, and how, at last, he died,
Blown to small bits. And no one seemed to care
Except that lonely woman with white hair.

In the chaos of war, who could know where the truth lay?

Copyright © 1915 Jacqueline Wadsworth



Friday, 29 May 2015

Can you help put names to these WW1 German faces?

Above and below are photos belonging to an unknown
German soldier, that were found in a wallet on the
Western Front - can you identify them?
Can anyone help identify the faces in the photographs on this page? They show the family and friends of a German soldier of the First World War and were found in a black leather wallet on the Western Front by a British artilleryman, Arthur Youell, who kept them as a ‘souvenir’. Nothing is known about those pictured, nor the soldier to whom the photos belonged, and for the last 100 years they have lain unidentified in the keeping of Arthur Youell’s nephew, John Sherwood.

Mr Sherwood, who allowed me to use his uncle's letters in my book Letters from the Trenches has always been very keen to discover more about the photos, so I am hoping that readers may be able to shed light on them. Here is what we know so far ... 

Corporal Arthur Youell, a farmer's son from Malton in Yorkshire, arrived in France with the Royal Garrison Artillery in July 1916 – the earliest date the photographs could have been found.  He discovered them in a black leather wallet and the assumption is that Youell picked them up on the battlefield or in a captured German trench, and that their owner was already dead. It is not known exactly where on the Front they were found, but it was common for soldiers to send home 'souvenirs' of war.

The wallet contained 18 beautifully-kept photographs, among them were pictures of young boys posing proudly in military uniform, and a baby on a rug. Most were studio portraits but there were also pictures of soldiers in the field. One bore the postmark 'Feld-Art.-Regt. 27' and two had faint messages on the back (see below). Some were taken by studio photographers in the German town of Weinheim, and in March a story was published by the local Weinheim newspaper appealing for information, but sadly no answers were forthcoming. 

Arthur Youell wrote regularly to his family but there is no reference to the photographs in his letters. His correspondence was, however, full of vivid and well-observed description – ranging from the cacophony of battle to the everyday details of life as an artilleryman – and you can read extracts in my book Letters from theTrenches. Here, for example, he describes the awesome sight of Allied howitzers in action:

'Each time they flung their massive "iron rations" over the German lines we could see the projectile whirling away and growing smaller and smaller till it passed the culminating point and vanished from sight. These shells are so heavy that two men are required to lift one of them, so what enormous power must be concentrated in that small charge – power sufficient to throw one of those heavy missiles a distance of half a dozen miles and more.'

Corporal Youell, a gun layer with the 126 Siege Battery, survived the conflict and returned home at the end of the war to run his own farm. Like so many First World War veterans, he spoke little of his experiences on the battlefield, and certainly not about the mementoes he picked up.

So on Mr Sherwood’s behalf I am asking readers if they can help shed light on the photos, which obviously belonged to a soldier who came from a loving family. Sadly the soldier was probably dead when his wallet was found, but it's just possible that it fell from his pocket when he was alive and that he survived the war. To trace his family and discover what happened to him after 100 years would be wonderful, so please spread the word in any way you can - especially if you have contacts in Germany.

You can get in touch with me by leaving a message at the end of this post. Or via Twitter @soldiersletters. Or email me at jacwadsworth@hotmail.com.
I look forward to hearing from you.



Above, a message on the back of one
of the photos (can anyone translate it?)
and, below, the postmark on another



Some of the photographs with the black leather
wallet in which they were found on the Western Front

Friday, 8 May 2015

'You can never be sure at what hour you will be blown to atoms'

A post-war photo of Stanley Goodhead, second right,
one of Kitchener's more mature volunteers 
It's easy to imagine Kitchener's Army as full of young men in their teens or early twenties, inexperienced and still 'wet behind the ears' - but that wasn't the whole story at all. A large number of volunteers were mature men with commitments at home (careers, relationships, young families) who had weighed up the pros and cons and felt it was their duty to go and fight.

One such servicemen was Stanley Goodhead, a railway engineer from Manchester who was 26 and courting his sweetheart when war broke out. He joined Manchester's 19th 'Pals' battalion and was sent to serve on the Western Front. His experiences are described in letters he wrote to his father, several of which feature in my book Letters from the Trenches. All are articulate, considered, and written by a man who was well aware of the risks of war.

In the spring of 1916 Private Goodhead was in France preparing for the Battle of the Somme. This was the first big offensive that would rely on Britain's volunteers rather than the regular army, and tension was evident in his letters:

8th May 1916

'Do not think I have any doubt about not seeing you all again, that is not so, but to tell the truth, the part of the line we now occupy is a death trap and you cannot be sure at what hour you will have a bullet in the brain or be blown to atoms by a shell or rifle grenade. I have a number of friends laid low these last few days and one cannot help thinking things.  All the same I am trying not to get down-hearted and it is a good thing indeed that we have plenty of work to do as it takes our mind off things.'

28th May 1916

'There is one thing I want to mention particularly to you, that is, very shortly now I am going into very dangerous work and, of course, anything can happen. I am just telling you so as I do not want you to be taken by surprise if anything happens.'

'Over the top' in the Battle of the Somme' - 'The line
we occupy is a death trap,' wrote Stanley Goodhead
28th June 1916

'Very soon now I along with many others will be going into very great danger and I am taking this opportunity of letting you know so that you will not be surprised at whatever may happen. You will understand Dad that I am not allowed to say too much so I must leave it to you to read between the lines and use your own discretion as to how you tell them at home. We are all in splendid condition and in good spirits and to see the lads you would hardly believe there was a cloud hanging over them. We are at present getting plenty of food and good rest and our hard training is at an end for the present.

'Everything is being done to make things a success and nothing is being left to chance and I am confident after what I have witnessed that good results will be obtained and the lads will not be found wanting when called on. Now Dad I have said as much as I dare in this line but I want to impress on you that anything may happen so don’t be surprised. I am not quite sure yet whether my work will be with the signallers or with the platoon but you may be quite sure that whatever I am told to do I will do it at once and cheerfully and my one hope is that my nerve will hold out that I may go on and not halt once till our objective is reached.

'I will bring my letter to a close now Dad reminding you that I am prepared for anything and fully aware of all the difficulties and dangers that are in front but full of hope for the best. I wish to thank you Dad for the way you have looked after me whilst our here also when at home and you have my very best wishes. If this should be my last letter you will find everything in order and it is my wish that Mother and Jinny [his sister] have every care and attention. Watch the papers.'

Three weeks after the offensive was launched, Goodhead wrote to his father on 28 July:

'I am very well and keeping up through all this turmoil and your letters cheer me up, however do not be alarmed if you do not hear from me for some time. Things are lively here and do not get alarmed at huge casualty lists.'


Belgian civilians celebrate liberation in 1918
The Battle of the Somme dragged on for five long months, but thankfully Goodhead survived - not just the battle but the war too. At some point during the conflict he was wounded and sent to Endell Street Military Hospital in Covent Garden, London, which was run and staffed soley by women and specialised in treating head injuries and femoral fractures. Later in the war Goodhead was transferred to the Royal Engineers, promoted to lance corporal, and was one of the first to enter newly-liberated Belgium in 1918. And here, a happier and more relaxed tone coloured the letters he wrote to his father:

 'I shall never forget the day we landed in Ostend from Calais, on our arrival the people went mad with joy, kissing us, shaking hands, hugging us, and in every manner possible they showered their thanks on the "English Gentlemen" as they called us.'

You can read more of Private Stanley Goodhead's letters from the Front, and those of his fellow volunteer soldiers, in my book Letters from the Trenches.

Copyright © 1915 Jacqueline Wadsworth and Barbara Rosser





Thursday, 23 April 2015

In memory of those who died on the rocky Mediterranean peninsula

GALLIPOLI 1915 ...

‘Things were awful, dead and wounded men for our companions at all times. I saw so much suffering and death that it appeared to me to be the only thing to look forward to and expect at any minute.'
 
My word, our chaps are savage when they are fighting. I think the Gurkhas are ladies compared with Australians in a charge with their blood up.’

‘We live in dugouts cut in the side of the hill just like rabbits.'


'We are giving the Turks all the fight they want. They are very frightened of the bayonet. They squeal like blue hell when they get a touch.’

This weekend marks the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings and above are extracts from letters written by men who fought there, taken from my book Letters from the Trenches. Much will be written about the barbaric fighting on that rocky peninsula, the merciless Turkish enemy, and the huge toll levied by heat and disease during the campaign. So below are two letters from my book that reflect upon aspects of Gallipoli that are perhaps less talked about. One defends the Turks as honest, clean fighters - an opinion voiced by other soldiers too. The second reveals that the Mediterranean winter weather was every bit as severe as the scorching summer.

Private Ernest Hough
Australian Private Ernest Hough was a tram driver from New South Wales who enlisted at the beginning of the war when he was 30 and served as a stretcher-bearer at Gallipoli. In a letter home, he poured scorn on reports in Australian newspapers that the Turkish enemy was committing atrocities, and suggested such reports came from men who had experienced little of the fighting: 'Most of them were written by chaps that were on the shore from six to 24 hours before being wounded,' wrote Hough, adding sarcastically 'and they saw more than we, that have been now four months continually fighting.' He continued:

'We often read, for instance, of how our wounded have been mutilated by the Turks, and that is all rot, I can tell you in all sincerity, and I am sure the men of the battalion to which I belong will tell you the same, that is, the members that have been right through [the fighting]. The Turks have fought a good clean fight and are still fighting that way. I know of several instances wherein our wounded have been treated kindly by the Turks, and in no case to my knowledge has one case been proved where they have done anything offside. I think in justice to our enemies, that this should be said of them. Of course, I know what the Turk is capable of, but I do not think he is game to start, for he realises as well as we do that he will  receive just as much as he sends with compound interest added.'

The second letter was written in December 1915 by Private Sydney Town, a British soldier of the West Yorkshire Regiment. He describes to his brother the atrocious winter weather that troops endured at Gallipoli at the end of 1915, shortly before the peninsula was evacuated. A heavy rainstorm struck on 26 November and lasted three days, flooding trenches, drowning soldiers, and washing unburied corpses into the lines. It was followed by a blizzard at Suvla in early December, during which more men died from exposure. Like so many Great War soldiers, Town put a brave face on things:

4 December 1915

'Dear Brother, a line or two just to say your parcel arrived here the last day of Nov ... The apples had gone soft but not bad and had a spirity taste. The other cakes were hard but toasted all right. I am glad to say that I am keeping well. We had a bad storm here last weekend. The rain came down in torrents and the trenches were running with water 7 or 8 inches deep. Next day we had frost and snow and for three nights the weather was very severe.'

Private Town talked of men suffering from frost-bitten feet and rheumatism, and continued:

'They say this is only a taste of what we are going to get but at all events it won't be as sudden. We were enjoying almost summer weather during the week, cold only being noticed after sunset. The fly ointment arrived with the death of about the last fly on the peninsula. I hope you are all in good health at Wakefield and that you like you new house. With love and kisses to the children and with my best wishes to you.'

Although Town survived the horrors of Gallipoli, he was killed in France in September 1916 during Battle of the Somme. Private Ernest Hough survived the war and returned home to Australia. This post is written in memory of all those who fought and died at Gallipoli during the First World War.


Copyright © 2015 Jacqueline  Wadsworth / Sharon Fewings / Valerie Gilbert