Getting used to not being at War

Anonymous said... I'm rather taken with the "Guard Mounting Competition" on the 11th and 12th. \\! Can't you just see the faces of the men when they were told about THAT one?
December 12, 2008

resim said.. thanks..nice pictures
December 12, 2008

Tor Erik said...Thanks for letting us know what happened to Harry - an ordinary man serving as a soldier in the first world war. I have followed his experiences at least for a year now, and I am so pleased he got through the war unharmed. I enjoyed reading Harry's blog! Thank you for a splendid job.
December 12, 2008

G. Tingey said...I note that a "Lecture on Demobilisation" has been given. Presumably Harry and his mates are being prepared for the complicated business of returning to "civil" society, especially as they will have to get home first. There are lots of other things to do, as well.
Large areas of what had been Austria-Hungary and Imperial Germany are / will be occupied by Allied troops, for varying lengths of time. And, although "regular" troops will be used for most of this task, I don't doubt that quite a few of the conscripts will take part, for short periods, at least. Given where Harry and his mates are, there are several possible routes home, both overland to the Channel, and then back to their home depots, or even by sea from Italy - do you know if any did go home that way?It will be interesting to see what Harry has to say about this in his pre-Christmas letter(s), especially if the military censorship rule will probably have been relaxed somewhat, now hostilities are over ....
13 December 2008

Karoline said...Hey. Ive been following this blog for over a year now, and just wanted to tell you how glad I am that you made this. Earlier my teacher ruind my interests for both world wars. But this blog has made me more aware, and interested in this part of history. Thank you so much for that! I also feel like I know Harry now, its been great following him!
December 10, 2008

Sgt Sam Avery said... Hello Harry: Glad to hear you are getting along well. I'm still in the same place in France for training. We have our helmets & gas masks now and have buried the first dead from sickness. We will be here awhile yet. Stop by for a read when you have the chance.Sam
December 05, 2008

Marta Weller said...What a cheerful letter. I'm glad Harry is still doing fine. I hope he does indeed get home before too long. It's amazing he had access to a Christmas card to be able to send home.
December 05, 2008

lom said... I hope harry gets home for christmas
December 06, 2008

Anonymous said...Facinating blogg and what a clever idea. It is amazing how little he tells his family. Censorship and caution will be some reasons but I wonder about others.
December 03, 2008

Anonymous said...I started following this blog when it was mentioned on the morning news. I am so glad I did, I'm hooked. I have also learnt a few things along the way!. Thanks for all your hardwork and effort.
November 30, 2008

Roger O'Keeffe said... "Interior economy" is posh army speak for "general housekeeping", i.e. tidying up the billet area - what the US armed forces would call "policing" them - and generally improving the look of them. Whether this was done as occupational therapy imposed by authority (as was probably the case in this instance), or just some soldiers' basic human instinct to improve their living environment, or a way of dealing with stress in between periods in the line, it's amazing to see photographs of billets in rear areas even on the Western Front where little gardens were laid out, edged with stones, and planted with vegetables.From this distance, it is hard to guess whether, at this point after almost a month of peace, the daily routine as recorded in the Battalion diary was a still fairly strict regimen designed to maintain discipline in case of a resumption of hostilities, or a cover story for allowing the troops to take it easy. My guess is that there was probably a bit of both - probably largely dependent on the attitude of individuals at different levels of the chain of command (both officers and NCOs)in each battalion or company.
December 01, 2008

Roger O'Keeffe said...28th November: War Diary"Interior economy", about which a question was asked on the main blog, is the official term for "housekeeping", i.e. general tidying up ("policing" in US parlance). In this instance, it was probably programmed because the battalion was about to leave its current billets, and officers and NCOs in any self-respecting unit would make a point of handing over the billets in good, clean condition, since this is one of the issues on which a regiment's reputation would be built. The same is true, with even more force, of the condition of trenches and dugouts: you may have noticed in one of Harry's letters that some of the trenches that the battalion took over were judged to be in poor condition, and his battalion immediately set about improving them. I may be over-interpreting, but I note that on the 30th the term used is "Billets and environs were cleaned", which may be a hint that the previous lot handed them over in a condition "not quite up to our standards" - it may have been true, or was possibly just a bit of one-upmanship. Armies thrive on a sense of competition. By the way, while in normal English usage "billeting" means quartering troops in civilian homes, in British Army usage the "billets" are simply the soldiers' accommodation, whether barrack rooms or wooden huts. Similarly "the lines" means the area around the billets. Originally it meant lines of tents, but the term is now still applied even to the paved areas between accommodation blocks in the most permanent of brick-built barracks.
01 December 2008

Anonymous said...
In the Battalion War Diary for Nov. 28: "interior economy". Anybody have any ideas what THAT might be?!?
November 27, 2008
"interior economy" is the time that is given to check kit, replace shortfalls and damaged items, inspect feet, catch up with admin etc. - anything that will ensure that everything is in place for the unit to function effectively. BL

Anonymous said...Any idea what's going on with Connie? I thought she was at Harry's home with Ethel; perhaps a hospital or school of some sort? Harry's almost chatty in these letters. I'm wondering if he included Kate's letter with Jack's because he was running short of envelopes and/or stamps, or if (though I doubt this) the army limited the number of letters a soldier could send at a time.
November 25, 2008
Connie? See main blog or below. BL

Kittybriton said...I can't begin to tell you how thankful I am that you made it through Harry. And I'm sure the family are equally happy to hear your news. It would be nice if Jack can get a pipe out to you pronto, and perhaps some of your favorite baccy for Christmas?
November 26, 2008

Janell said...Thanks to Roger O'Keefe for the detailed explanation of military thinking, or lack thereof. It is becoming obvious that Harry and his battalion will be serving in some post-war capacity. By the way, does anyone know how much WWI soldiers were paid or the mechanism of payment? Meanwhile, I imagine his family is wondering why he hasn't written since Nov. 4th. I certainly am.
21 November 2008
We can now (25th Nov) see that Harry had used a precious green envelope to write to Ethel.
Pay? The standard rate was 7 shillings
(£0.35 a week) less 1 1/2d (£0.015) a week "insurance" (Whoever said that the army doesn't have a sense of humour?), but the soldiers didn't always get all of their pay. Some was kept back and saved for them. From Harry's letter of 4th march 1918 "it would be better if we got paid more regular we have only drawn ten lires in a month that is equal to five shillings in English money, (25p - 70 cents! BL) so I think we shall have a bit to our credit," BL

Roger O'Keeffe said...Correction: "Band of Brothers" is by Stephen E Ambrose.
21 November 2008

Thomas Houseman said...Been following this blog for ages. Great idea/concept and storyline to boot!
November 23, 2008

Gail in Ohio, USA said...Just found this blog today and am reading through all of his letters. Almost seems unfair that I found this with hopefully only a little time left until he returns safely home. ***Crossing my fingers that it's so.*** Am amazed at how calm he sounds in his letters when so many horrors are happening around him.
November 24, 2008

Janell said...After re-reading his letter to Jack, I believe that he did send an earlier letter, with one to Ethel, "in the green envelope I sent it to Ilkeston."
November 25, 2008

Janell said...What a relief to hear from Harry. I have imagined that he was ill or injured. It seems odd that he hasn't written to his family, until now. Could some of the correspondence have been lost? Poor Harry, his letters to his brother and sister convey sheer boredom and homesickness. He and his cohorts deserve a trip to Venice, only 57 miles away, though too far, I suppose, in post-war times nearly a century ago. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for Harry and the battalion.
November 25, 2008

Kathleen said...Is Connie not living with Ethel now? I notice that Harry is asking for her address and an update of her progress.
November 25, 2008
In his letter to Jack back on August 4th, Harry tells Jack that Kate was going to send Connie to a school in Liverpool. No doubt a "special" school to help with Connie's problems.

peregrinator said...I'm not sure that there is a re-enactment society for Harry's Regiment alone. But the men featured are from The Great War Society - more general. So you're probably right the leather jerkins are for artillerymen. However, the older soldier with a red neckerchief is one of the people I met in Derby at the beginning of October. He features quite a lot on their website and so it should be easy to get a name. His mate - who was in full Yorks and Lancs fig - doesn't leap out of the photos at me, however, he could be the soldier with an artilleryman looking at a boiling kettle. If so, he has the uniform that, I guess, Harry would have worn during the winter in Italy.
Great photos!
November 25, 2008

Ludimar Menezes Brasília - said... I´m from Brazil and a discovered this blog only some days ago. I would like to thank you for your idea to show to the world HARRY amazing history. Brazil 11/25/2008

November 25, 2008

Joanna said...Fascinating. I had no idea that re-enactment took place outside the British Isles ;) I've only recently discovered your site, and haven't yet had time to go back to the beginning, but will do so soon. My grandparents served in a Red X unit in Italy at this time. Most of the research I have done so far is about the battles of the Isonzo - a fascinating place to visit, if you ever get the chance. I found it extraordinary/happy/sad/etc that the border these soldiers fought over for so long is now effectively non-existent, since Slovenia joined the EU.
Best wishes, Joanna
November 21, 2008

All Blog Spots said...Thanks to Rocco for providing these and the earlier stunning photographs of the British Cemeteries. You can discuss on buzzerhut forum by free registration
November 21, 2008

Rob Langham said...Hi, i'm one of the Tommy's that were flown over for this event. There was indeed a member of the Y&L's group there representing the Regiment, personally I was representing the West Yorkshire Regiment. If you'd like to get in touch with him, let me know and i'll forward his e-mail.Regards, Rob Langham
November 22, 2008

Old Contemptibles said...I was one of the Tommy's that was there. My group The "Old Contemptibles" Great War Living History Group were there with the Great War Society. I was Badged as a Royal Welsh Fusilier other regiments we represented were the Worcesters, Royal West Kents, Yorks and Lancs, Middlesex and Royal Warwicks. The leather Jerkins were standard issue and were used by the infantry. There were over two hundred Living Historians who took part but only eight of us were British.
November 23, 2008

warhammer gold said...Good article! Good luck!
November 21, 2008

Janell said...How fascinating to see the topography of the area and the reenactment of the 1918 crossing of the Piave. Thanks to Rocco for providing these and the earlier stunning photographs of the British Cemeteries.
November 21, 2008

1 comment:

Tor Erik said...

Thanks for letting us know what happened to Harry - an ordinary man serving as a soldier in the first world war. I have followed his experiences at least for a year now, and I am so pleased he got through the war unharmed.

I enjoyed reading Harry's blog! Thank you for a splendid job.