29th Jan letter

Paul Harding, Chicago, USA said...

Harry just left off a period at the end of the last on the second page. Or he lost his train of thought between completing the second page and starting to write on a fresh sheet of paper, the third page. The third and fourth pages make sense to me. I don't understand what the fuss is all about. It is not like he has all the time in the world to proof these letters or use a spelling/grammer checker in a computer program.

May God help Harry survive the horrible war.

February 10, 2008
Delete
Blogger Yelsmlaugh said...

As Nick said on Jan 30, the only thing that is missing is a period (full stop ex America). The forgotten bottle is a minimalist description of the hectic six crossing withdrawal from the front lines. One learns this kind of code when faced with censorship. The letter reads very smoothly as is and, since it is the only copy we have, that is all to the good.

February 10, 2008Anonymous said...

We have two holidays like that here in America. Memorial Day and Veteran's day. Good Luck!

February 10, 2008
Anonymous said...

If the British guys that 90 years ago died for anything, it would of been for the freedom of the children they never knew, to of voted freely. If we are to be given an extra Bank Holiday then the least we can do is honour it to them.

Anonymous said...

All the best for you!!!!!!!!!!!! from Peru [South-America]
I hope you'll keep doing this amazing work ^-^ :D
Lorena C=

February 05, 2008

dickdiver said...

Hallo, I am from the Czech republic. I found randomely your website. It is very interesting, I enjoyed it very much, because my grand - grandfather fought in the First world war too. He used to talk about it very much. During 1918 he served in Italy, opposite of your hero. I am looking forward next letter. Thank you - and excuse my bad English - at school I was studying Russian only :-).

February 06, 2008

clanalba said...

Hi Brian
forgot to add in my previous comment the words used by Harry
"three or four of the team with them" makes sense if you consider a lewis gun usually comprised two soldiers one for firing the other for carrying and loading ammunition. Hence his use of the plural 'with them". My case rests.

February 05, 2008

I believe that the Lewis Gun section was a total of 12 men. It makes Harry's comment after Messines "Only three out of our section came back" very frightening. I think that this means only three or four out of the twelve would make up the patrol. BL

Anonymous Lord Andrew of Goulding said...

Julie:

My very Australian teenage kids don't have any understanding of the relevance of the PHs, they are just for a day off.

ADG

February 05, 2008

Blogger Autolycus said...

I'm agreeing with Julie on this one. Human nature being what it is, the only thing likely to be remembered on such a day is yet more DIY or other shopping.

We have formal commemorations on the Sunday, and in recent years have revived the Two Minutes Silence on the 11th itself. A public holiday is completely the wrong concept to be associated with the solemnity of Remembrance Day.

February 05, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alternatively, perhaps Harry had written the first sheet of paper, pages 1 & 2, before stopping and putting it in a pocket; then wrote the second sheet, pages 3 & 4, at a later point. I could see that kind of thing causing the disjointed break in his thoughts, especially if he wrote page 3 late at night or in a frontline trench.

All kinds of things could have caused the need to suddenly stop letter-writing: being ordered out on patrol, incoming enemy fire; or simply having grabbed a few precious minutes, and then quickly resuming his duties.

-Gustav's great-granddaughter

February 06, 2008

thorgrim said...

If you look at the first page, it is folded like an airplane would be, and the second is not. Perhaps these sheets are two seperate letters and sent to different people, but in haste were mixed up, if that makes sense.

February 03, 2008

Julie said...

Bill, I know that you are not involved with this petition, other than peripherally.

However, I do not agree with public holidays of this sort - they deflect from the importance of the day being honoured. In Australia we have two days that are public holidays - Australia Day on 26th January and ANZAC Day on 25th April. Australia Da has a PH on the closest Monday whereas ANZAC Day has a PH on 25th and if it falls on a weekend then that it how it falls. I much prefer this. A long weekend just means that people go away for a vacation and the real meaning of the PH is forgotten.

February 02, 2008

I have no strong feelings about the petition. If, in the U.K. we did have a bank holiday, it may just prompt the media to produce material that does remind us of the terrible experiences of the soldiers fighting in those conflicts - on whatever side. Maybe. Readers can make up their own minds. BL

Argentinian lady said...

You must see this

http://www.clarin.com/diario/2008/01/31/conexiones/t-01596984.htm

Greetings from Argentina!

January 31, 2008

Anonymous Federico Schulze said...

Considered: I have leido the news of your blog and it seems me facinante, my ingles is very bad and I cannot read blog very well... that seems to you a translation to the Castilian? from already thank you very much Federico Schulze datasitesweb@hotmail.com

January 31, 2008

Anonymous Patagonia said...

I think page 3 is a separate note with an update that he added to his letter.

February 01, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a history student I really appreciate this touching letters because they help one to really submerge into what was happening at the time.
It is impressive that one of the most important newspapers of Argentina wrote an article and had a link to this website.
great job!

February 01, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many thanks for sharing such an invaluable historical document. It is extremely interesting.
Business opportunity:
You should include a Rum producer in your banners. Maybe I am not the only one that decided to drink a bottle while reading :)
Best regards from Toronto.

Steven

February 01, 2008

Anonymous Julie said...

But then again, if this is only two sheets of paper, then P1 and P2 are back and front and P3 and P4 are back and front. So my original theory does not hold.

February 01, 200

Anonymous said...

I wonder if there are actually parts of two different letters here. It is a bit hard to tell from the scan but the folds on the first two pages seem to be different to the last two pages.

I think the paper described the march but left out reference to the rum (that the troops never left behind - perhaps for the cold?)

Great work - thanks

February 01, 2008

Anonymous said...

Hi My name is Juan, I live in Argentina, Buenos Aires and your blog was taken by one of the most important newspapers in my country (Clarin) and publish it today.

It is an excellent and innovative idea around WW stories and information, big welcome to new things like this one.

Looking forward to read all letters.

Cheers from Argentina.

Juan

January 31, 2008

El Duende said...

Buenisima la historia que estas publicando. Gracias por compartirlo.
SALU2

January 31, 2008

Franco said...

Cheers from Argentina! this was published in the newspaper called ´CLARIN´just today. Fascinating story, great idea. thanks for sharing.

'Franco

January 31, 2008

Nestor! said...

HI!
I am reading the letters in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I readed about the blog in a newspapper of my country (Clarín).
this is a great work...congratulations!!

Néstor!

January 31, 2008

Anonymous said...

Hey there...I found this blog through a link on the Canada.com news site...brilliant!

As for this letter...It almost seems the (flipped)last page should be the continuation from the first.

"rum bottle out which they never forget to take .... "
I think should attach to:
"with them our batt as had no luck yet, mostly get spotted"

How the salutation and signature got put on the bottom here...unsure. A quick hypothesis maybe...Harry finished the letter without putting the closing salutation and signature. When submitting it to get delivered, he realized he didn't sign it and just grabbed a page to sign? (ya...a little out there, but who knows... :-) )

Keep up the great work BL.

Dave
Calgary, Canada

January 29, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, thank you so much for all the effort you're putting in to this, it is fascinating.
I just wanted to say I like that you've started putting your comments in blue, to stand out from Harry's letters. Very easy to distinguish.

January 29, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not positive, but the 'rum bottle' might be something that was offered to soldiers who volunteered for/were about to be sent on dangerous missions. Sort of a "we who about to die, salute you" thing.

-Gustav's great-granddaughter

Rum was standard issue on the front line. A generous portion was offered before going "over the top."

January 30, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

With the help of the 2nd poster here the Letter makes more sense.

In a world, in witch lag is measured in milliseconds, a delay of 90 years can bring you back to basics.

Aunt Wiki tells me there will be bad things ahead :(
(Pardon for my broken English)


And I can't help but wonder now Willie McBride
Do all those who lie here know why they died?
Did you really believe them when they told you the cause?
Did you really believe them that this war would end war?
But the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame -
The killing, the dying - it was all done in vain.
For Willie McBride, it's all happened again
And again, and again, and again, and again.

January 30, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does the phrase "rum bottle" actually refer to alcohol? I noticed in previous letters that Harry uses the word rum to describe something pleasant (eg a rum chap). And as the previous guy mentioned, he might be referring to a battle. I first warmed to Harry when he used this unique and rather endearing, lost terminology, although I find it difficult to understand how any battle could ever have been pleasant! I haven't read any of the Battalion's war diary so forgive me if I've got my wires crossed, but did they have a particularly succesful day on the battle field? Rich

January 30, 2008

Rum was part of the standard rations for troops. I think it certainly does refer to alcohol. A "rum chap" was a common term of endearment for a cheeky, mischievous youngster. A "rum job" refers to a task that wasn't too welcome or comfortable. Both terms were in quite common usage when I was child - a little antiquated then perhaps but still used. I don't think they need to be interpreted any further.
Blogger El lenguaraz said...

¡Bravo Carlitos, veo que te has puesto las pilas!
Esta mañana, en cuanto te escuché en "En días como hoy", me vine pero aún no habías colgado ni lo de Rambo ni lo del soldado inglés.
Afortunadamente podré leerlo, y prometo seguir la saga. Enhorabuena por la iniciativa. Ya te contaré.
PD: ¿Seguirás la fecha de las cartas?; si así fuera, te pido un último esfuerzo, que publiques una lista con las fechas previamente (por supuesto sin revelar ningún desenlace a ser posible. Salaam.

January 30, 2008

Blogger Guido G. said...

Ha - I'm happy to see Harry still doing well! Scary thought if he should get "the job", but I'm not sure if this means he would have to do "fighting patrol" which "mostly get spotted"... I might read it wrong - in any case a scary thought.
I agree with the interpretations of the rum bottle from previous comments and don't think that a page is missing.

Greetings from Germany,
Guido

elhaf said...

Interestingly, 2&4 also seem to fit together. Maybe page 3 is intended as parenthetical information which was written after the letter was completed, with no regard for matching the finish of the sentence from 2 to 4.

January 30, 2008

Anonymous Maryland, USA said...

I have a theory to share: Perhaps Harry wrote "...they left the rum bottle out which they never forget to take with them" Could he have written the words "with them" on a fresh sheet of paper, been interrupted, then continued on the other side of the sheet "Their is five or six parts..." ? Reading from page 3 to page 4 omitting "with them" seems to be logical. "A fighting patrol mostly has a lewis gun and three or four of the team. Our batt has had no luck yet.."

I am facinated by Harry's letters! Many thanks.

January 30, 2008

Blogger Nick said...

I suppose there is a missing "." at the end of Page 2. Which would just suggest that they never forget to take the bottle of rum except for that time(?).

January 30, 2008

Anonymous Silarnon said...

This to me seems to be a single letter. Harry refers to a newspaper article. If you can find that article I suspect it would fill in the missing information.

I think he is talking about a long march which crosses a river multiple times (presumable the river bends a lot). Rum bottle may be a euphemism for something.

Seek out the newspaper article!

January 30, 2008

Anonymous MRF said...

Bravo! I was put onto your blog by a friend the daughter of Tom Thourston, who has created a blog following your model based upon a family member Theo, adoughboy.blogspot.com. It has been an eye breaker to look at the letters in the original, but a great idea. You are doing important work.

I am interested in French blogs on WW1. Has anyone mentioned any or can you help me find them? I speak French.

January 30, 2008

Blogger Paul said...

I would tend to agree, it would appear that there is a sheet missing between 2 & 3.

Just as an aside, i have joined the tale late as I only became aware of it after the CBC aired the story.

Am enjoying it thoroughly

January 31, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

page 2 and 4 seems to be a perfect match to me and I feel as though 3 isnt supposted to be there at all, Also the last 2 pages are folded the same so i think that #3 might be a Post script with a missing page?

January 31, 2008

The pages are in pairs. Harry used both sides of each sheet. That rather limits some of the theories.
Blogger Jady Perree said...

Just sent in a comment as Annonymous, about page 3, But I Just added Blogger Identity so I wanted to send you a message so you'd know me if you wanted to comment back.

January 31, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow

January 31, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a long shot, but if he was writing from a pad, the indentation from p3 will possibly show on p5. As will p4, if he removed the sheet and used the pad to rest on.

It won't show all the words but may indicate if there is a missing p3 & 4.

January 31, 2008

Good suggestion but no trace, unfortunately. 90 years....
Anonymous Julie said...

Actually, I am beginning to think that you have a sheet too many. Could the third page be part of a different letter? Then the transition from P2 to P4 reads better " ... they left the rum bottle out which they never forget to take with them ...". I think I agree with the other commenter who thinks Harry meant "accept" instead of "except". It would make sense, when speaking of an older person, "that we can accept dad being bad". Just noticed the creases on P3 - the diagonal crease from P2 to P3 does not continue and the centre crease from P3 to P4 does not align. Curioser and curioser ...

January 31, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mi papá lucho en el frente ruso durante la segunda guerra mundial.

Cuando le pedia detalles de sus vivencias, también ofrecia comentarios casi triviales, a lo que a mi, a la distancia de espacio y tiempo, me parecían momentos monumentales.

Gente común en sucesos extraordinarios reaccionan así, con el heroismo de lo cotidiano.

Por eso es que salimos todos los días a nuestros quehaceres, aún cuando hay tantas situaciones e individuos dispuestos a amargarnos la existencia.

January 31, 2008

Anonymous Gabriel said...

genial!

es una excelente idea! FELICITACIONES

January 31, 2008

Blogger Withyou said...

it's an original way to write.. sorry re write...


Kisses


pd: sorry for my english, i'm argentinian.

January 31, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would agree that sheets 2 and 3 seem disjointed. A discussion from the rum bottle does not flow well into a discussion on crossing the river.

January 31, 2008

Anonymous Argentinian lady said...

You must see this

http://www.clarin.com/diario/2008/01/31/conexiones/t-01596984.htm

Greetings from Argentina!

January 31, 2008



Anonymous said...

thank you for honouring us in allowing us to read this story.

Anonymous Julie said...

Hello

I have not commented previously, but I do check regularly. This letter does discuss a death (Uncle Jack) and a decline in health (dad). I agree that it is maudlin especially the last bit about the younger men - even critical to some extent. Any chance that you might scan a page to allow us to judge from the handwriting. I enjoy your efforts. Thank you.

January 29, 2008

farawayme said...

I am so glad I found this blog, I will read with interest!

January 29, 2008Anonymous said...

Related to the letter of Jan 29/1/18

I have no idea if this is the case, as the multiple references to 'they' are confusing:

I wonder if the rum bottle reference was made with respect to the newspaper having an account of the front line but not mentioning the rum bottle.

"but they (the paper) left the rum bottle out (of the account) which they (the soldiers) never forget to take" (on the long march after??)

January 29, 2008
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,
Perhaps the sentence about the long march is confusing because Harry's "they" refers in each case to different groups. Assuming that Jack, in his letter to Harry, mentioned news reports of battles/troop movements, asking Harry if they were true (tho Harry can't say where he is in his own letter). And, assuming that the journalists of WWI would not mention the rum bottle on the long march, here is what the passage "might" mean":
"We are on the part of the [battle] line you [read about] in the [news]paper and [this report] is quite true[,] except for the long march after [the battle] but they [the reporters]left the rum bottle out [perhaps the news report did not mention the long march afterward during which troops obtained and consumed rum rations, or, perhaps the report mentioned the long march but left out the rum?] which they [battalion members] never forget to take [with them after a battle/when abandoning trenches in a hurry?].

January 29, 2008

Blogger elhaf said...

except, which you have as expect might also be accept.

January 29, 2008

Anonymous VetMichael said...

I wonder if the reference to rum in the letter is actually referring to the newspaper, which printed certain "facts" about Harry's battalion and omitted others:
"We are on that part of the line you seen in the paper and it is quite true except for the long march after but they left the rum bottle out which they never forget to take"
So, they are on the part of the front lines that the paper featured. The paper may have added something about a long march, but omitted any mention of alcohol (which the boys would never leave home without)? I wonder if the paper he refers to is The London Times? Or perhaps another paper whose articles are available electronically? (sorry, do not mean to suggest additional work for you).

January 29, 2008

Several good suggestions here. thank you. All help gratefully received. I'll put a scan of the letters on line by the weekend so all can have a look. I can't think that Harry would have expected newspapers to report about their rum! Certainly he wouldn't be surprised enough to comment if they missed it out. Front line troops would get a rum ration. Maybe they forgot the big bottle, explaining why Harry's letter is so uncharacteristically unclear! BL

Anonymous Alicantist said...

Glad to see that the letters keep coming, so late that I heard about this great blog!

I sure hope that he has survived the war, even though I realise that that's exactly the happy ending millions of people desired at the time, largely and sadly without being heard...

January 29, 2008

2 comments:

Vanina said...

HI, MY NAME IS VANINA I`M FROM ARGENTINA AND FOR ME ITS A REALLY HONOR CAN READ THIS LETTERS, I`M REALLY THANK YOU FOR SHARING THIS MEMORIES.
THIS IS AN INCREDIBLE WAY TO SEE WITHOUT BARRIERS WHAT WAS THE FEELINGS AND EXPERIENCES OF EVERY SOLDIER IN THAT WAR.

clanalba said...

Hi BL
Thank you from Tasmania for providing such an excellent blog.
I await each post willing Harry to come through unscathed.
On re-reading your latest post several times I believe the letter is in the correct sequence.
My theory if it hasn't already been suggested is that:-
At the end of page 2 Harry missed out a full stop after "forget to take".
Also on page 3 where Harry has writted "as" (accepted English colloquial form of "has") if this were substituted for "has" then the sequence will make sense as he then refers, to "A fighting patrol mostly HAS a lewis gun and three or four of the team with them".
God bless him but I think Harry's phonetical spelling and lack of punctuation, capitals etc may have caused the apparent confusion.
Please please keep it going.