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Friendly Letter - WWI
Transcript of Friendly Letter - WWI
NO 20 General Hospital
A.P.O. S.18, Camiers
14th August 1916
My Dear Mother + Father,
Yesterday your letter arrived telling of the War Office Telegram. Once again it beat my letter, though by this time I expect my letter has arrived telling you how trivial my wound is. They told you that I was wounded in the left thigh and back. This is a mistake on somebody's part because I'm only wounded at the "back of the left thigh."
Last night everybody who was for Blighty went
off to the hospital ship. All except another chap and myself. He has been out twenty one months, and I've been out ten. Everybody who went home had been out about 3 or 4 months only. One chap had only been out twenty four hours + then he got a nice little shrapnel bullet through the fleshy part of his left arm - lucky swine. I've never been so jealous in all my life.
The "wound" part of my thigh is nearly healed but all the inside of my thigh aches still if I walk. I believe it's that wretched bit
of shell which is the cause of it and unless all this aching goes by the time they want to send me away, I'll insist on them taking it out. I've heard of people before now, who have got bits of metal in them, who periodically (especially during wet weather) have a rotten time of it.
I think I never told you where we attacked the wretched Hun. At four o'clock on the morning of the 8th, you will see in the papers, we attacked at Guillemont. Out batt. were just on the left, holding Waterlot Farm. On
our immediate left was Delville Wood. It think these three places are the most terribly awful spots in the whole world. The sights one sees are like the most dreadful nightmares + life up there is a night-mare. Nothing but death and horrors everywhere. At night when you're being shelled + you can hear wounded fellows crying out where you can't get to them + when you do can't get them to the Aid Post because of the hellish fire. The stench is awful due to this boiling hot weather we've been having. Dead
men - friend + foe lie about in heaps often with their wild grinning faces turned to you - others sleeping peacefully.
Perhaps I shouldn't have told you all this but I expect now you understand why we all think the life of the infantryman a hard one + why he thirsts to get away from it. Everybody who has been there is the same - we aren't afraid of being killed but up there you see death in its most awful forms. In most trenches on the front there are deep dug-outs for you
to go into if you're being shelled. Up there you are lucky if you've got a ditch to lie in.
Our division is no longer in that sector and I believe we are going to another part of the line altogether when we are made up to full strength. Perhaps I might be nearer to Percy.
Nevertheless if I can get into something less aggressive I should prefer it - more especially if it would be somewhere where I could do more drawing. It's two years now since I left it and it'll need all
my time to make it up. Just think how splendid it would be for me to get some regular drawing in every day. I long for it. Do you think it at all likely that I could get into Soloman's Corps?
I must dry up now - with best of love to all at home,
Ever Your Affectionate Son
P.S. Camiers is just outside Etaples - not far from Boulogne.
In WWI (1914-1918) letters were the primary communication medium. There were no computers, internet, text messaging, e-mail, Twitter, or Facebook.
If soldiers wished to communicate with their loved ones at home, they would write and send “friendly letters.”
The following is a letter by Captain Cosmo Clark to his parents, describing his wounding during the 8th August 1916 attack near Delville Wood at Guillemont.
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Original documents property of Julia Rhys, London. Copy for eduational purposes obtained from
The 1916 Experience
, published by SevenOaks Publishing and the Imperial War Museum.