Category Archives: WW1Letters

GWL 27th June 1917

Hot, but nothing really to complain about.  A thunderstorm every day and sometimes two. A flood about once a week.  This morning I started to learn the Braille alphabet.  I can quite see that it must be a blind man to learn.  Especially if he is not too sure how to spell things.  Everybody is to be stuck again – measles or something this time, I believe – Nothing of Arthur so far.

We start work early in the morning these days.  Knock off at 11 until 16.30 (sic!) and then go on again.  How are the plans for your summer?  Myself I don’t think I shall leave town!  Of course, it is very hot having to walk everywhere, with no taxis or things of that kind.  Oh what rot we do write.  The goats of some damn Greek came along the other night & ate more vegetable marrows.  This fellow will miss a goat or two some night; or perhaps his goats will miss him.”

On this day Prime Minister Venizelos assumed full power in Athens and the whole of Greece formally entered the War on the Allied side.

{next post 4th July}

GWL 25th June 1917

The Braille treatise you did me has just arrived.  The typing was awfully good.  I have not had time yet to go through it.  It looks pretty complicated.  The flies have become bad again just lately, but Master Mosquito is still fairly rare.  Not a scrap of news of any kind.  The hens are doing good work.  They manage to produce about 9 eggs in two days between 5 of them.  One of the small cats yesterday ate a whole dragon fly.  To-day she is feeling “just a liddle bit”.  We gave her some castor oil which seems to have done the trick all right.”

On this day the first 14,000 of the more than 2 million US troops who were to fight in the War arrived in St Nazaire.  At this stage they were poorly trained and didn’t enter the fighting until four months later.


US troops arriving at St Nazaire

{next post 27th June}

GWL 22nd June 1917

Very busy for the last week or so.  The thunderstorms continue, but it does not seem to make it any cooler.  There is not a scrap of news of any kind.  Last night we had that tin of corn you sent us for tea.  It was very good indeed, and nobody was ill after it.  Our friend the Boche comes over regularly every morning between 6.30 & 8.  Everybody has gone out to-day and the cats & myself have the camp to ourselves.  There is no milk in the land at all & I have an awful job to keep the cats supplied.  They are the only people in the camp who get it.  The people coming down here have developed a pernicious habit of turning up a day too early.  We get 12 hours off in a fortnight & that goes west unless they turn up on the right day.  Give my love to anybody, in that strange land, England, that wants it.”

On 21st June mutiny broke out in the Russian Black Sea Fleet based in Sevastopol as the Russian Revolution gathered pace.

{next post 25th June}


GWL 20th June 1917

Still thunderstorms weather, but so far to-day we have not had one.  This should arrive somewhere about your birthday.  Get yourself something you want.  I don’t remember Mayer down here.  But such a lot go through, one cannot remember everybody.  I am glad he enjoyed himself here.  Further foolishness this morning from Boche, but they say they bagged him.  I hope they did.  A great thing happened to-day.  Hetty the Hen laid an egg.  This brilliant feat was equalled later in the day by Emily and Agnes. I believe they have been laying all the time but that the transport men have been bagging them.  No sign of D. Burges Esqre yet.  Has he left?  These storms have kept things cool.  I cannot remember them last year.  I have just received a receipt from Cox’s….. which I enclose.

Well this grimy old world still goes round.  I should have thought it would have stopped, from sheer disgust, long ago.”

{next post 22nd June}

GWL 16th June 1917

We are having a month of thunderstorms.  One and sometimes two, a day.  It becomes rather boring after a bit.  We have just had a real big one and very nearly a flood.  The hut leaked like a sieve on one side; not mine; thank Heaven.  The little stream that runs round the camp rose to depth of 5 feet; its normal depth is 2 inches.  All the draining we have done in the last four months has, in about 5 minutes, all been swept away and has to be begun again.  We have managed so far to keep the mosquitos within moderate bounds.  The others have gone out to a concert to-night.  Cats & I have the place to ourselves.

Bad show that raid on London.

‘The Dolly Dialogues’ have arrived.  I see the book has Capt. McMahon’s name in the beginning.  I am so sorry about Grandage.  I was awfully fond of him.  A very good friend, always cheery and a jolly good doctor.”

The air raid probably refers to the raid on London on the evening of June 13th.  A number of large German Gotha bombers took part in the raid killing 162 including 18 children when a bomb came through the roof of Upper North Street Infant School in Poplar.  Below is the Memorial unveiled in 1919.

Upper North Street memorial, June 1919 (1)

{next post 20th June}

GWL 11th June 1917

We are all praying for rain.  Our unified efforts have so far managed to produce about half a dozen drops.  Not enough.  It is raining a little now.  No news at all, and no mail.  Are my letters arriving any better?  Two more drops of rain.  Further foolishness on the part of the aeroplanes yesterday and to-day.  I am afraid our hens are doing no war work.  They have not laid an egg since they have been here.

Just heard about the Messiness show.  Really it is wonderful.  Sat in front of that blessed position for some very unpleasant months.  Dear dirty old St Eloi, too.  The cats are in great form.  Will you send me a pair of marching boots?  This ground is awfully hard on boots and they mend them so badly.”

The Battle of Messines was a prelude to the Third Battle of Ypres and was characterised by the co-ordinated detonation of 600 tons of explosive in 19 mines under the Messines ridge, southeast of Ypres.  This massive eruption is thought to have killed at least 10,000 German soldiers.  The associated artillery barrage and infantry advance supported by tanks resulted in a significant Allied advance.

{next post 16th June}

GWL 8th June 1917

Not a bit of news.  Rather hot and blowy.  Boche plane over every morning about 8am as regular as can be.  He is generally so high that you can hardly see him.  Yesterday I played tennis for a bit and beat the ball with considerable violence but very little accuracy and got very warm indeed.  Then when knocking out my pipe I broke the mouthpiece.  On the whole it was a kind of mixed afternoon.  I do wish there was something to write about.  With the first new potatoes the garden subject is exhausted.  Nothing in the way of new arrivals amongst the livestock on the estate seems about to take place.  The small cats have torn up my mosquito net pretty effectively.  I think they are half wild.  They are awfully fierce.

I wonder what it is like to live in a civilised country.  These nature enthusiasts are all very fine.  Nature is topping when studied under good conditions but when you have to take her as she comes, “no wanchee”.  Do you remember that foolish book the “Centaur”?”

On this day the 10th Battle of the Isonzo ended.  Approximately 50,000 soldiers from both the Italian and Austro-Hungarian Armies were killed with only a very limited Italian gain.

{next post 11th June}