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Christmas Fiction Sad

 France, Wednesday, March 10, 1915

Dearest Mother and Father,

I hope that you are both keeping well.

I don't know what you are reading in the papers about this war, but it's not that bad.

We arrived here on Sunday (I'm not allowed to say where exactly - it's all hush-hush). We are some of the lucky ones, or so the Sergeant keeps telling us, as our billet is a big stone barn just outside a small village. There's plenty of straw to soften the canvas beds and it's fairly wind and water tight. I'd rather be here than in some dug-out. Then there's the chickens - I managed to convince the other lads not to kill them for supper but to encourage them to stay so that we could have fresh eggs every now and then. I think the farmer doesn't like us - he doesn't understand a word we say and we can't understand him - it's worse than Uncle Mick's Geordie, and that takes some doing!

The lads are telling me that it's my turn to do a brew, so I'd better close now and get on with it.

Look after yourselves and tell Vera to stick in at school. I don't know where she gets the brains from - must be making up for the little that Johnnie and I have!

With all my best wishes,

Your loving son,

Alec

Whitchurch, Tuesday, March 23

Dearest Alec

Thank you for your letter.

Father and I are so pleased that you have somewhere nice to stay. It sounds much better than what the papers say is happening over there. There is a lot of talk of rain and mud with men having to stand in it up to their knees. Please tell me it's not that bad.

Your Father had to go to the doctor on Monday - his breathing is giving him a lot of bother. Mrs Walters at the chemist's says that he needs to get more exercise and I told him that walking to the Red Bull doesn't count.

We haven't heard from Johnnie for a while - I hope he's alright.

Vera says to tell you that she has a new Geography teacher - a Miss Pringle - and that the boys are being silly in class with her - just like you were with that girl in the store. You boys! A pretty girl and you turn to jelly. Are there any pretty girls where you are?

Look after yourself, son, and write again soon,

All our love,

Mother and Father

France, April 17

Dear Mother and Father

Sorry that it's been a little while since I wrote to you, but we have been busy here. I'm always pleased to hear from you and of your news from home.

Tell Father that he should walk to the Plough for his pint - it's at least a further 800 yards - and their beer is better as well, or maybe it just tastes better because of the extra thirst worked up in getting there.

We lost most of our barn last weekend when Jerry started firing their canons at us. Some of the lads were shaken a bit, but no-one was injured badly.

I heard that Johnnie's lot were moved further east from here. They'll be closer to the main action, lucky blighters. We haven't seen much action yet and I'm worried that the war will be over before I get to shoot a Hun.

Anyway, you look after yourselves.

Your loving son,

Alec

Whitchurch, April 29

Dearest Alec

We do worry about you - and Johnnie - you with nowhere to sleep and Johnnie goodness knows where.

I don't think that is very nice about wanting to kill another man, even in this war. But I do hope that it will all be over soon, maybe by Christmas when we can all get back to normal again.

Your Father tried walking to the Plough as you suggested but he didn't like it as much as the Bull. He tried to fool me by saying that he would make up the extra walking by going to the Bull twice as often. I don't know - you men!

Vera is doing well at school. I think that new teacher has given her a bit of a boost. I just hope that she doesn't get distracted by the boys - I know what you are all like - that's how I met your Father.

Anyway, you stay safe, son.

All our love,

Mother and Father

France, May 23

Dear Mother and Father

Christmas seems a long way off but I do hope it's all over by then.

There are rumours that we'll be moving east as well to help out the lads who are getting held back by the Hun. I know you don't like talk of war, but we all joined up to see some action, and there has been very little of it so far around here.

A new platoon joined us a few days ago and one of the first things they did was kill our chickens for food. We gave them a darned good thumping before the sergeants split us up. No more scrambled eggs for us for a while - back to bully beef and bread.

You didn't say, but I hope that Father is feeling better. Tell him not to over-do things - and that includes the beer! And tell Vera "well done" from me.

Well, must go. I need to wash some of my uniform, socks and underpants at least. I do miss a lot of the things like this that you used to do for us.

Write again soon,

Your loving son,

Alec

Whitchurch, June 7

Dearest Alec

I so worry about you. No barn, no eggs and dirty underwear. It's a far way from home comforts.

Your Father was speaking with Mr Atkins the other day. Mr Atkins thinks that this war is going to drag on and on. I do so hope that he is wrong. He was saying that there has been a lot more casualties than reported in the papers - he heard that from a friend of his who works at the Town Hall. What have you heard? Is it bad?

Your Father is not getting better, I'm afraid. The doctor thinks that it could be his heart. Mrs Walters says that he'll be fine - I'm sure she's right.

Still no word from Johnnie - could you tell him to write when you catch up with him. I want no excuses, tell him.

Look after yourself, son.

All our love,

Mother and Father

France, July 26

Dear Mother and Father

We moved closer to what they are calling the "Front Line" and we can hear the big guns from both sides loud and clear. The noise is non-stop all day, only stopping when it gets dark.

We haven't caught up with Johnnie's lot yet - I don't know if he's close by or not, but I'll ask the Sergeant if he can find out.

Things are not that bad. It's certainly not a holiday, but we are all in good spirits. We play a lot of cards and football to help pass the time.

Tell Father to listen to what the doctor says. I know that Mrs Walters is a friend, but she's not a doctor, not even a nurse, so what would she know? I'm sure she means well, but don't take her advice before that of the doctor.

I hope that you are keeping well and not doing too much on your own. And I hope Vera is helping you.

Write again soon,

Your loving son,

Alec

Whitchurch, August 15

Dearest Alec,

We were worried when we didn't hear from you for nearly two months, but I am sure that you have been busy.

I am so pleased to hear your first-hand news of what is happening. That Mr Atkins is such a scaremonger. As long as it is just canons firing at each other, I am sure that you boys will be safe.

Yes, Vera helps me when she can, but I try to leave her to her studies. She is getting extra help from Miss Pringle some evenings - that's so nice of her.

I don't want to worry you, but I do fear for your Father. He has stopped going to the Bull because it makes him so breathless just walking there. And he spends nearly all day just sitting in his armchair. I am going to get the doctor to come and see him, see what he can do for him.

I have the church fete this coming Saturday, so that should be a nice afternoon out, if the weather stays nice.

Do you get to any parties out there? I am sure there must be many pretty French girls who turn your eye.

Write again soon and look after yourself,

All our love,

Mother and Father

France, September 18

Dear Mother and Father

I'm sorry to hear about Father. I imagine that he's missing his allotment and all his mates there. Did the doctor say anything about his heart?

We are being sent to support another regiment who have been here for a while and who need a break from the fighting. Sergeant says that it's our turn to give the Hun what-for, so we'll see some action at last. Me and the boys can't wait to get stuck in. Tell Father that I'll get him a souvenir from one of the Jerries.

We heard that Johnnie's lot were caught up in some fighting to the north of us, but that was all. There's no news of who won or what happened. We did hear that there were a number of casualties but I'm sure Johnnie will be OK.

Anyway, you look after yourselves.

Your loving son,

Alec

Whitchurch, October 10

Dearest Alec

I am so worried about Johnnie - We haven't heard from him for months now. I do hope that he is OK.

And what about you? I don't like the idea of you being so close to the fighting. I just don't understand it all. Why do grown men have to fight? It just doesn't seem right.

Please tell me that you will be careful.

Your Father is not much better, I'm sorry to say. He looks paler and weaker every day. I am hoping that the doctor can give him some kind of pick-me-up to make him more active.

The church fete was very good - we had a big turn-out. Vera came with me and we bumped into Miss Pringle and she was telling me how well Vera was doing. She thinks that if she keeps up with her studies she might get a place at university - wouldn't that be wonderful? Our Vera!

So, please be careful and write to us soon with your news.

All our love,

Mother and Father

Whitchurch, October 22

Dear Alec

I am so sorry to tell you that your Father passed away yesterday. The doctor said that his heart just gave out.

I don't know what to do. I am going to miss him so much. I do wish that you and Johnnie were here. I don't suppose you will get this letter before the funeral, so you won't be able to say goodbye to Father.

Vera is putting on a brave face for my benefit, but I know that she is hurting inside.

I so wish that you boys were here with us, but I understand that is not possible.

I will say a prayer for you both on Sunday at church.

Please come home soon,

All my love,

Mother.

France, October 22

Dear Mother and Father

Don't you go worrying yourselves about me. I'll be fine, trust me. I have a good bunch of lads around me and the Sergeant keeps us in check.

I'm sorry to hear about Father - I hope the doctor can give him something to help.

I told you that our Vera was the brainy one in the family - and tell her I said so.

Are you keeping well yourself, Mother? It must be hard for you with Father not well, with Vera studying all the time and us boys away, but I'm sure that you are coping as usual.

I hope to hear from you again soon,

With all my best wishes,

Your loving son,

Alec

Whitchurch, November 8

Dearest Alec

Our letters must have crossed as you were not aware of Father's passing. I still can't believe it. The funeral went well last week - there was a good turn-out. The sun shone but there was a cold wind. The vicar said some nice things about your Father and Vera was a great comfort to me.

Mrs. Walters was telling me about her neighbour's son. You know him - Eric James. He worked for Mr Jackson at Manor Dairy. Anyway, she was saying that he was killed last month. Poor Mrs James - she must be suffering as well.

I still haven't heard from Johnnie - do you think he is alright? I don't want to think that he might have been killed. That would be the end for me.

So please, please stay safe and do come home soon. I am praying for you both.

All my love,

Mother.

Whitchurch, November 30

Dear Alec

I haven't heard from you for some time now. You must have received my letters telling you about your Father - I'm so sorry to have had to tell you that way. I know that it must have upset you and I am so sorry for you.

I hope that you are not involved in much fighting. War is such a terrible thing. It seems such a waste of young men's lives. And such a worry for the families left behind.

Going to church has taken on a new meaning in my life. It's more than just turning up on a Sunday. It makes me focus on the hardships of life and gives me comfort when I can pray for so many things close to my heart - your Father, you, Johnnie and all the other young men who are risking their lives.

I hope that you are praying for everyone as well, son, and I hope that it brings you some comfort as well.

Please write soon and do look after yourself.

All my love,

Mother.

London, December 4

Dear Mr and Mrs Tomkins

It is with great regret that I write to you to inform you that your son, John, was killed in action on August 14th during an advance on enemy lines.

You should take pride that he died making the ultimate sacrifice in serving his country.

On behalf of His Majesty's Government, I send our condolences for your loss.

Yours sincerely,

Major Arthur J. Coombes

Royal Sussex Regiment

Whitchurch, December 5

Dearest Alec

I don't know how to tell you, but your brother Johnnie has been killed. I had a letter from his regiment yesterday. First your Father and now Johnnie. Why is this happening to me?

I am so, so sorry to have to tell you this way.

Please, please come home soon and do write to tell me that you are safe.

I miss you, son.

All my love,

Mother

London, 24 December

Dear Mr and Mrs Tomkins,

It is with great regret...

August 18, 2023 15:46

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