Thursday, 1 October 2015

Letter from a Wilstead Soldier

Wilstead, 1914 [Z1306/134/6/1]

Friday 1st October 1915: Percy Gambriel, who is serving in France with the 2nd Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment, has recovered from a wound and is back in the trenches. Writing to his mother on 23rd and 24th September he said:

[Thursday] “I could not write before because we have been in the trenches nearly all the time since I came out of hospital … I am pleased to tell you I am going on as well as you may expect hoping you and all at home are quite well. I received the contents of the parcels quite safe … it took it 10 days to come as it went down to the hospital. Now we are hoping to get relieved very shortly. … I would like for you to be here now and see our aeroplanes flying over the German lines, and they’re not half banging away at them. I can tell you we are having it a bit stiff at present. This morning 5 of us had to go down to a village on ammunition carry and they shelled us like Hell but not one of us happened to get hit, but I thought my number was up as the shells were dropping around us like hailstones. … I would like for you to see us now, just 7 days since I had a wash and shave. You would have a job to see us for dirt. I look like someone about 50 but I am like old Frank said rough and ready. I was sorry to hear about Charlie’s brother but I suppose he’s alright for Blighty. Here sits my mate ticking out. We have a tick out everyday. I put the clean shirt on that you sent but that was soon as bad. I think I will cage a few for when I come home. They are some decent chums.”

[Friday] “I am pleased to say we got relieved last night, and it was a rough night too … The last three hours it poured with rain. It ran down the trenches just the same as it does the brooks in Wilstead when there has been a heavy rain, about a foot deep in places but it was fine as soon as we got out and we had a very long march to the billets, just about done up when we got to them. Now I suppose we are having a day or two’s rest. … I shall be glad when the d--- war is over but that won’t be yet … we must cheer up and look on the best side.”

Source: Correspondence relating to Percy William Gambriel Z1270/2

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