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Friday, 22 October 2010

Letter Home - 23 October, 1915

R.A. Mess
23 October 1915

Dear Mother,

We have had no mail this week, and can't think what happens to it as other men got theirs early in the week. Letters seem to come along any old time. There has not been much during this week, anyway nothing out of the ordinary.

We have weekend leave today, and go up by the 12.30 train, coming back tomorrow night. This marriage business seems to be very catching. Freyda is to be married at midday to Pyman. It is sudden news to me, but one never gets excited over these sorts of things in wartime.

We are to meet Mr and Mrs Rutledge in town today, and our dining with them tonight. I have been taking a slight rest since Wednesday:  during battery drill I was No. 3 gunner, on a gun, and lumbering up got my hand slightly jammed between the lumber and jam wheel, but it was only a scratch. However, the hand is bruised inside and I have to take it gently till it works off. It is just about all right now.
I was very glad when my duties at camp expired, as living under canvas in old England may be a healthy life to lead, but it has its disadvantages.

Mr Gilliard came down last weekend, to see how we were. He stayed till Monday morning. I went down to Felixstowe on Sunday for lunch. Felix Hotel was crammed with military, and we got what the other people left, which was not much. In the afternoon we had a glimpse of Shotley and then motored home for tea.

On Wednesday morning, I was orderly, unluckily. as the sergeant major came and knocked me up because there was a Zep hanging about. It was 4.30 by the clock and very chilly. We rang up the Mess, and the Adjutant said he had no word about any Zeps, so I retired again. We were informed a few days later that they were testing a submarine engine in the government works at that time, so it was a false alarm.

The OC put two 18 pound guns in a pit about 2 miles out of the town and set them at an angle of 45° for the purpose of using them as anti-aircraft guns. The whole mess have had arguments as to whether it would be safe to fire them or not, and we came to the conclusion something would go if they were fired. During the week they were inspected by an ordinance man, who said they were useless.
We are now getting 2.15 pounder anti-aircraft guns to take their place, which I hope will give a good account of themselves next raid.


(the next post will be a letter home dated 6 November)


  1. Really interesting, look forward to reading more of the entries over the months to come.

  2. Thanks. It is such a full eye-witness account that it seems a good idea to share it with anyone interested. Once my grandfather is posted in mid-November, he begins a daily diary - until then the letters are only intermittent

  3. Fascinating that even this level of detail was allowed through.

    The arrival of the post looms large already. I expect, once he is in the trenches, that letters from home are essential for his mental health.

  4. The letter yesterday is even more revealing - I'm beginning to wonder if the censor only opened some of the letters, which meant others got through quite unscathed