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


  1. This is amazing. I've been researching my family tree for years and never found anything so personal for Percy. He was my Granny's Cousin.
    Where did you find this? I'm wondering it there is other material of interest out there but it's hard to know where to look sometimes.

  2. At Bedfordshire Archives we hold a collection of items relating to Percy Gambriel. If you go to our online catalogue at and put Z1270 into the Reference search field you will find a list of what we have. We are currently closed due to coronavirus, but once we open again you would be welcome to visit and look at the documents. You can find more information about visiting us and the services we provide on our website:

  3. Wow that's amazing. I went a few years ago now and didn't find all this. Thank you. I wondered if family (i don't know) passed it on.
    That's great.