Easter card to Connie

Anonymous said...

Interesting: where he signed the last card to Connie as 'Dad', this time he signed as 'Harry'! Ah well, perhaps Connie couldn't read; alternatively, she probably knew he was just her "honorary" father.

-Gustav's great-granddaughter

March 30, 2008

Letter to Kate 21st March 1918

Robert Lord said...How lucky we are, that you were the one that had these letters and was willing to share them with us. It's so unfortunate that things like this are simply thrown out.
I have about a dozen letters from the 1830 period written to a girl living in Adirondacks, hope to get them posted but the handwriting is difficult to read not anything as exacting as your material.
Thanks again for posting this for all of us. Bob
March 27, 2008

Anonymous said...Hello.My name is Emily Butcher. I came across this website when I was doing my history homework which was to do an interview for a ww1 newspaper with a soldier. This is very interesting about how they would live in war time. Thank you very much.
Emily Butcher age 13
March 26, 2008
School text book, based on the letters, currently being planned! BL

mad4books said...Nuisance Inspector? How COOL! My neighborhood could use an "Inspector of Nuisances" or two. lol
I'll bet Kate would soon set things right!
March 24, 2008
About Kate's certificate BL

Anonymous said...March 21st would have been Friday....not Thursday. :)
March 24, 2008
No. We lost a day in 1918 as it wasn't a leap year, unlike 2008. That's why I included the day on this post. March 21st 1918 was a Thursday. BL

bikerted said...Could it be that the road signs are still around giving the distances in kilometres and Harry is unable to convert them to miles?
I'm really enjoying reading a soldiers view of The War and urging Harry to make it home.
Like many people I've had a fascination of the Great War since doing it for O Level History back in the 1970s and have managed to visit Verdun and some of the battlegrounds in the area. When you see the mass graveyards and all the crosses, that's when the scale of the conflict hits home.
March 21, 2008

Anonymous said...My grandfather, Wilfred C. Howard, MM, Royal Field Artillery, died in WW1 in the battle of Arras May 6th 1917. We have very little that was his, my daughter has his medal, a couple of postcards & a letter. How I envy you your letters.
My daughter, sister & I were very fortunate in being able to visit his grave in France in 1995. We are the only family members lucky enough to do this. My grandmother & mother were never able to.
Thank you so much sharing,
Carolyn Saxon

Roger O'Keeffe said...Throughout WWI, armies moved mainly on foot, notably between the line and reserve and rest areas in the rear of the front, or when being redeployed to a new sector unless it was at a significant distance. Trains, and especially motor transport, were used sparingly. That's why route marches were an important part of training, so even when at rest, the soldiers continued to march. In this case Harry's unit was moving back up into the line after a period of rest and training.
March 20, 2008

erathwomen said... It's March and Harry is looking at leave in the summer, which means he's not expecting the war to end by then or even in the summer. I wish he had been able to say more. I know this letter is just a line to say he's ok, but I'd like to know just what he's going through....
March 20, 2008

Anonymous said...I find it very interesting the striking difference in the style of letters that Harry writes to Jack and the letters that he writes to Kate. I think he doesn't want to scare his sister with war details.
March 20, 2008

Julie said...The waiting and the boredom seems as though it is crushing him. If leave were granted, the temptation to scarper must have been immense - not just in Harry's case, but generally.
March 20, 2008

Gustav's great-granddaughter said...Harry seems to be in pretty good spirits; I guess that, especially compared to his time in France, Italy is comparatively quiet. (But from his letter to Jack, Harry also seems to have developed a poor opinion of the Italian soldiers!)

A thought about that card he sent Connie: he says in this letter that had 'sent Willie and Connie a card or two'; it seems to me that he wouldn't have needed to say that to Kate in this 21st March letter if he'd mailed that card directly to Kate. Perhaps he'd sent it in the envelope of a letter to Ethel (which would explain no mailing address on the card itself); and Ethel, knowing Connie was actually Kate's daughter, passed it on to Kate. -
March 20, 2008
There's no way of knowing which route the cards took. None are addressed so they must have been included with other letters. But, cards for Willie & Connie are most likely to have been posted to Ethel. BL

Letter to Jack Sunday March 17th

Julie said...15 kms on the first day, followed by 25 kms the very next day! To what purpose, I wonder?
Until I saw this image I had imagined them marching through land akin to the centre of my country - how wrong can one be!
March 19, 2008

Lou said...Ive just read the whole blog from the start. Heard about it some time ago on Radio 4 but only just got round to it - so glad I did. Loved Wilfred Owen at school (36 yrs ago) and still remember lots of his lines even tho I failed the exam. He was saying the things that people like Harry couldn't express - except between the lines. You really can feel between those lines...
Thank you for this brilliant blog - well its the first one Ive ever read as I'm quite new to this all.
I'll be back tomorrow. Thinking of you Harry, keep on keeping on - Lou x
March 17, 2008

Julie said...Harry gets regular copies of a newspaper. I wonder how much is blacked out? No way of knowing I suppose. However, he does seem to know that the war is coming to an end sooner rather than later and is appreciative of the conditions vis-a-vie France. Quite a long letter.
March 17, 2008
I don't believe the newspapers would be censored after publication. There would have been some control over what made it to the page, I believe. BL

Blogger Delk said...So good to hear from Harry again. I actually hold my breath whenever I visit this page, hoping to hear from him again. I really, really hope Harry makes it back alive.

Thanks for such a gripping and emotional project!Anonymous said...it is possible that the shift of days could be because of the leap year this year?
17 March 2008

Yes, the problem is the leap year. There was no February 29th in 1918, unlike 2008. BL

Marcy said ..:I'm so glad to see this letter! I was worried that Harry had been wounded or killed and the next letter would be from the Army. He sounds in pretty good spirits and this is quite a long one. I wish I had an Italian/English phrase book to send him. The military made phrase books for the soldiers to use in France, did they make Italian ones too...???
March16, 2008

Maps of the Italian Front

erathwomen said... Today is March 12. It's been more than a week since he wrote any letters. I hope he's not been wounded.
March 12, 2008

West Riding 2 said... (Jono Wood) Re: the illustrative slides, it is a pleasure!

Readers might also wish to follow the military background to the British involvement in Italy. There is also written narrative covering the actual re-deployment of 23rd Division including 9 Y&L Regt from the Western Front to Italy in Autumn 1917.

By following the URL below, information concerning the journey; the move up into the Front Line; the Order of Battle of 23rd Div (all the military units involved); defensive dispositions plus a 'fly on the wall' description of what it 'might' typically have been like for Harry and the boys on overnight sentry duty and a night fighting patrol is covered. JW
Click here
March 11, 2008
Many thanks Jono - Wonderful work. BL

Julie said...Thank you, Jono for these slides. They certainly help to make Harry's situation more real. At times it has been hard to imagine his daily grind. Some of the activities that the Divisions are involved with in the late winter of 1918 have the appearance of "make work" - all the marching up the hill and back again. Typical though that the CO would make them clean the billets. Bill, any chance that you might make these slides more easily accessible once this post is buried deep within the site? Also, have you managed to find out anything more about infant Arthur - or can't you talk about that just yet?
March 10, 2008
I'm not sure whether you refer to any more than I've already posted. We know that Arthur died at a few months old - little more.

Anonymous said...Many many thanks to Jono Wood! (I've been trying to follow Harry in an old 1931 atlas, but these are great!)
-Gustav's great-granddaughter
March 10, 2008

Sunita said.. Many many thanks to Jono Wood! (I've been trying to follow Harry in an old 1931 atlas, but these are great
Leo F. Swiontek
March 29, 2008
Have I missed something here?

Letters to Kate & Jack, March 3rd & 4th 1918 + Card to Connie!

Roger O'Keeffe said...Soldiers were entitled to a very limited supply of these envelopes, whose contents were not censored by their own officers, and which were generally used for personal matters that the soldiers mightn't want known about.

My guess is that Harry used this because he was signing the card for Connie as "dad", and didn't want anyone who knew him personally asking questions about this "daughter".

Connie's name would not show up in army personnel records, so he presumably was concerned that Kate's secret might be discovered if someone spotted the discrepancy.
March 09, 2008
Possible but ... I would have thought that the card would have been sent to Ethel in the first place - as that was where Connie was living. But, I suppose, the card was found in the envelope to Kate. BL

Sometimes I read your blog about Experience of your grandfather during
WW1: it's very nice, but in the last post, you wrote that Harry was
drawn 10 lires in a month, and that's was equal to 5 shillings in
English money.
As the actual rate, the real conversion itsn't 25p-50 cents, because you
must consider the different inflation of two countries on 90 years.
Italian Statistic Institute have put this table
you must apply at the 10 liras the coefficent of the year 1918
(2560.7406), so the 10 liras are 25,607 liras of nowadays, and it would
be say 13 Euros: nearly 10 Pounds.
Compliments for the blog.
Riccardo Sabbadini (Turin, Italy)
The conversion in the letter was Harry's so it's likely to be a little out of date! If the present day value of his monthly pay was only about £10, I can understand how Harry was not impressed! BL

Julie said...Bill, you posed a question about Kate's living arrangements a couple of days ago. My guess is that she lived in "nurses quarters" because of the way that Harry has addressed the envelope. The nursing profession in those days had a higher status than it is afforded nowadays - a higher status but no less affection.
March 07, 2008
The panorama of Hanover Square suggests that it's always been quite a fine place to live. Sister Anita recalls that Kate had a fine flat which she spent a great deal on furnishing, right up to her death. That makes sense. BL

I am very touched to read these letters, I check for a new one
every few days, I feel you have done us-in-the-world at large a
huge favor by providing them this way. I fear though that this
man is killed before the end of the war, and to read that would
be like a blow to the gut -- silly, for he is long dead in any
instance. But I feel a tremulous concern for this young father
in any case, and wish to thank you for posting these personal
letters as you No need to respond to this e-message;
but I have never been so moved by an online site as this one.
-- An American in Florida

Anonymous said...The Leeds General Infirmary was built between 1863 and 1868, this imposing Gothic brick structure is one of Leeds' most striking buildings. It is the work of Sir George Gilbert Scott who was also responsible for the Albert Memorial and St Pancras Station. Its walls are adorned with bronze tablets commemorating past benefactors, directors and staff. On a wintry day, the infirmary is best viewed from the Hogshead pub opposite.
March 06, 2008
Thank you. I am assuming that Kate worked there. I'll try to check that out. BL

Felisia said... each time I see a new RSS feed from your blog I am just hoping Harry is still alive, I am so worried for him. This is a wonderful blog, I became to like Harry so much - he's just a simple man in this huge war and he has to face such terrible things but he just takes it as it is. I think it just underlines the terrors of the war.
Thank you for sharing this. (I am from Slovakia and I met this woman from Britain at a conference who mentioned this blog, so I just had a look and it's really very good)
March 06, 2008
Thanks for the comment - and thank you, whoever spread the word. BL

Casiopea said...Hello!
My name is Berta, I'm from Spain. I found your blog because a spanish newspaper told us about it. Thank you to share with us this story about war.
March 06, 2008

Anonymous said...This link will give you a 360 degree view of Hanover Square and includes a satellite view also. Click here
March 06, 2008
Well, I think that just about sews up this topic! Many thanks. I note that Hanover Square is very close the the Leeds Infirmary. Was that always there? BL

Steve said... Hanover square looks like its been re-developed.
It would be fun to see if there is an early map of the area
Interestingly Hanover Square Surounds Denison hall, A wealthy Wool businessman's house built by John Denison in 1786 and is now a hotel, but was in the family until post WW2.
March 06, 2008
Many thanks for that? What sort of Flat would Kate have lived in? Can you tell? BL

Silarnon said...I looked up Kate's address on Google Earth, and it appears her house may still exist! It certainly appears to be of the correct era.

If you're able to have a look, perhaps you can confirm?
March 04, 2008
Leeds is about 400 miles away from me. Maybe someone else can help? I do know that Jack's address in Hull still exists and is now a student let. BL

Tea N. Crumpet said...
I cannot fathom what life would have been like for Harry.
I come by every week or so and like everyone else, I am holding my breath.
March 05, 2008

Anonymous Leeroy said... Cool.Good post.I like this blog.
March 05, 2008

Anonymous said...Happy Birthday to Willie. I agree with Julie, he does sound a little depressed. Did some major changes occur in this month that I missed?
It is also cool to see how much salaries have really changed:)
March 04, 2008

Anonymous said...Kind of sad to hear he's missing his son's birthday. He, his wife, and us all wondering if he'll ever get to see another one of his son's birthdays.
March 04, 2008

Anonymous said...oh dear, what he doesn't come right out & say is so heartbreaking!

"another draft", company down to 20 men.... from what you said about the size of a company earlier, that implies that 980 men are wounded or dead.


(comment by Lynn from Camborne, Cornwall who remembers hearing about this blog on the tv but couldn't find it - but who was putting old newspaper down on the floor & came across the Packet with the webaddress)
March 04, 2008
Lyn - Not sure of the context for the "another draft" bit of your comment. The full strength company would be 120 men. BL

Julie said... Interesting, isn't it. To me Harry does not seem upbeat in the least - in fact he sounds depressed. He is wistful and he is lonely. I guess he is also bored. He certainly is desperate for any sense of home and family. Great to be able to see the envelopes too, Bill.
March 04, 2008
Must clarify, this is the only envelope of its kind in the material. The others are just plain, ordinary envelopes. BL

Anonymous said...I have been following these letters on a regular basis and have been "holding my breath" each time I log on. We, of course, know when this terrible war ended, but his family had no pre-knowledge and the wait for the postman must have been almost unendurable.
Thank you again for sharing this wonderful correspondence with us.
Two amazing men - you and your grandad. And of course the courageous women in Harry's life.
Thank you for your kind comments BL

Eva said... Did I miss something? Someone mentioned on Feb. 8 that they were sorry about the actions Ethel took. What did I miss? What do you know? I am embarrassed that as a 52 year old, I am obsessed with this story. What a wonderful connection to the past here. Anyone willing to fill me in?

March 03, 2008
Don't panic! You haven't missed anything especially new. I remarked that Ethel probably discarded or destroyed Harry's letters to her. BL

Anonymous said... Lovely! Kate must have been glad she'd left her daughter in the hands of such a warm and caring father.

Harry sounds to be in good spirits, very upbeat in this letter.

-Gustav's great-granddaughter
March 03, 2008