Italy 1919

After an frustrating saga, I have the scans of the war diaries for the 9th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment, from December 24th 1918. The Ministry of Defence had possesion of them and delayed returning them to Kew. I really wonder if national security would have been compromised. Perhaps I could ask, under the Freedom of Information Act, what on earth was so important. BL

Gretchen said....We're a bit behind, but my entire writing history class is following the blog from a university in Michigan.
March 26, 2009

Ken said...Happy birthday to Bill Sr.! I celebrated my 50th birthday on March 23rd as well!
March 26, 2009

Janell said...Ninety birthdays between then and now--quite amazing, when you think of it that way. I wonder if he remembers the day that Harry came home...........
March 25, 2009
I'll certainly ask him. BL

Anonymous said...Happy birthday to little Willie/Bill Senior! I hope the years between the two birthdays have brought you much joy and contentment!
March 25, 2009

Marcy said...How wonderful to hear! I hope he enjoyed his day, Bill! :)
March 24, 2009

Dave in blustery Massachusetts, USA said...Yes, Bill senior must be Willie; Age 93 in 2009 means he was born 1916, making him 3 yrs old in 1919. Happy Birthday Willie!!!
March 24, 2009

Linda said...How fantastic, I hope he is well enough to appreciate this fantastic blog. Happy Birthday Bill
March 24, 2009

Anonymous said...I'm assuming Willie = Bill senior.... or I am I missing a generation? Happy birthday anyway!
March 24, 2009
Willie, 3 in 1919, is 93 in 2009. So yes, Willie grew up to be Bill Senior.BL

Linda said...Sounds like you really like it, cant wait for my copy to arrive
March 21, 2009

Anonymous said.."pro captu lectoris habent sua fata libelli"
(according to the capabilities of the reader, books have their own fate)
Maurus Terentius - II century a.
March 20, 2009
Still don't understand - even with the transalation! BL

C. Joy said...This is really fascinating reading about how someone felt in the past.
March 17, 2009

Anonymous said...Harry wrote: “We have had the General for dinner ... I don’t cook any poultry or game”. Maybe in his next letter we’ll find out if the General tasted better than poultry or game!
March 13, 2009

Janell said...Glad to see Harry has more time to write letters to his family. Maybe it's good that he has time to re-adjust gradually to future civilian life, as he waits and cooks in Italy. It is wonderful that his family continues to provide the items he requests in letters home. Clearly, the cook book is very valuable to him, as he struggles to improve the art of cooking. I do hope that soon Harry is returned home to family and employment.
March 13, 2009

Sgt Sam Avery said...Hello Harry: Glad to hear you are still getting along in the cooking line. Poultry or game would go just fine with me right now, but all we have is what can be brought to us under fire. Have had a busy time since the 10th, and am learning to dance to the tune the Bosche plays. Stop by for read when you can. Regards, Sam
March 12, 2009

Kittybriton said...Chin up Harry! Hopefully your guess is right and you won't have to wait too much longer before you can come home again. I must say, you must have quite a talent as a cook for them to hang on to you like that!
March 12, 2009

Anonymous said...I discovered this blog yesterday 10/03/09. It is rivetting. I am also researching my family's time during WW1, a grandfather,his two cousins, a great grandfather and his two brothers all in AIF and all bar one came home, the one buried at Crucifix Corner Cemetry in France. I have loved reading Harry's letters and am interested in how he tells his brother Jack much more about the reality of life on the line than he does his sister (understandably I guess for the times and thoughfulness of brothers)Harry seems to have been an optimistic and happy soul. Someone to be very proud of.
BL your work in putting this together inspires me to keep going so that I can also document my findings.
I have planned to go to our Dawn Service on Anzac Day April 25 for the first time this year and now I will also have Harry to reflect upon too.
March 11, 2009

Mesut said...good that he's getting decent food at last. Let's hope he gets to go home soon and get a job. Koxp, Koxp indir, Koxp 1726, Koxp Haberleri
March 10, 2009

Rocco said...The soldiers' disappointment can be very dangerous in a not so established democracy like Italy was (and I think is): Italian soldiers of the the Great War were the most enthusiastic supporters of the first Fascism, after the false promises given during the war as to; land to till, job to find, pension to receive and so on.....Many soldiers, after the return, did not find even their wives, thanks to the draft dodgers fighting in the well warmed offices of the war bureaucracy.
March 06, 2009

Jackie said...Poor Harry. He's really frustrated but what would he be coming home to? Unemployment probably. I didn't realise 'all over the shop' was such an old phrase.
March 05, 2009

Anonymous said...Yep, he sure does sound frustrated, and justifiably so! Four months since the end of the war, and he's STILL in Italy, STILL doesn't know when he'll get to see his home and family, and, I'd say, he's getting really worried if there'll be a decent job for him whenever he DOES get home.
Poor Harry may be physically rested by now, but he's mentally exhausted. It's one thing to endure hardships as part of the group during a war, but it's quite another to be left behind like Harry must feel he has been, watching the lucky ones go home while he's 'forgotten' by the high command.
March 05, 2009

Anonymous said... There was an interesting TV program on where they traced someone's family. He was a soldier in WW1 and died just after the war from the Flu epidemic. I think little does Harry know it, but he is better of where he is at the moment.
March 02, 2009
He probably wouldn't agree! But, the 'flu epidemic did kill more in Europe than the war. I've seen an estimate of 25 million deaths due to the "Spanish 'flu" BL

Kittybriton said...What a caper! Three months since the armistice and still no word about getting demobbed. I'm curious about the mention of breaking up the divn. Does this mean you might get sent home? or just organized into another bit of H.M. Forces? Still, I am immensely grateful that the fighting is over and you are out of the heat (even if you are still in the kitchen!), and I doubt very much the hun will be in a fit state to make any more trouble for a good long while.
March 01, 2009

Anonymous said..."two years in the trenches without a break" - didn't he get leave sometime last year?
March 01, 2009
You are right. Harry had a leave last September, but that was the only time that he went home from May 1917 until now. It's his first real moan! BL

Sgt Sam Avery said...Hello Harry: Just to let you know I have received you letter. Can't blame you in the cooking line as I was too glad to be rid of the job when they made me Mess Sgt. for a time on the Border. Only good thing about it is being where the food is. Stop by for a read when you can. We're properly in the mix now, just as you are (HA). Keep your chin up.Sam
February 28, 2009

Matt said...Technically 5 shillings in 1919 would be 60d, but that's not terribly important.Hope Harry gets home soon!
February 27, 2009
I have to disagree Matt. Every 12d was, until 1971, worth a shilling. Prices above 12d were always written in shillings and pence. 5s - 0d would have been correct. BL

Marcy said...I wonder what kind of work he was doing that kept him on the go all day---was he having to do all the food prep, kitchen cleaning, etc as well as cooking? He says he's cooking for 8 so that wouldn't be a huge number yet it sounds like they worked him hard. You'd think they'd cut these guys some slack considering what they'd just survived.
February 27, 2009
"Cut some slack"? "Consideration"? Marcy, this is the military. BL

Janell said...Poor Harry. He must feel like a prisoner of war. But the economic situation at home must be discouraging, too, writing to the factory and getting no response. Maybe he'll learn to cook as he waits. I am so glad to hear from him. It's been so long.
February 27, 2009

Anonymous said...Harry sounds a lot happier than he has done in recent times. It's good that he's getting decent food at last. Let's hope he gets to go home soon and get a job.
February 14, 2009

Sgt Sam Avery said... Hello Harry: Just a note to tell you that we are finally IN somewhere on the Aisne Line. This company was the first to see No Man's Land. Some of the boys have already been knocked off, but we're getting wiser and give as good as we get. Trench life is all that it's been cracked up to be. Stop by for a read when you get the chance. Stay well, Regards,
February 11, 2009

Kittybriton said...It's wonderful to hear that you've had a chance to see Venice, Harry. It is one of the places I've long wanted to visit. And you got to stay in one of the posh hotels too! I should think it made a pleasant change from huddling in drafty trenches.
February 06, 2009

Sgt. Sam Avery said... Hello Harry:
Glad to hear you've had the chance to see Venice. We have packed now and are ready to move In somewhere north on the Aisne line. Should be there in a day or two. Stop by for a read when you have the chance.
Regards, Sam

February 04, 2009
Sgt Sam Avery said... Hello Harry:
Glad to hear you've had the chance to do a bit of sight-seeing. We're on our way north to the Front in railcars that may hold 40 Frenchmen, but not as many of us strapping American lads. Soon our sight-seeing will be in No Man's Land. Stop by for a read when you can. Stay well, Sam
February 05, 2009

Anonymous said...Dan Quayle would be thrilled to see how Harry spelled "potatoe". Vindication!
February 03, 2009

Anonymous said...Soldiers from Australia took up to 12 months to return to Aus. As a result many having time in England after the war ended married while they were there and later brought their wives to Aus. Of course we must spare a thought for the many who were wounded or ill and many who continued to die long after Nov 11.
February 01, 2009

Janell said...I am so pleased that Harry and some of his fellow soldiers were allowed to see the sights of Venice which seems to have done wonders for his mental health. Venice certainly made an impression on him. I wonder if he was ever able to return. It seems that the poor economy affecting many countries was playing a major role in post-war discharge and return of soldiers to civilian life. The lucky ones had job prospects at home; Harry and the others must have had real concerns about the future.
February 01, 2009

At last I'm getting somewhere with the PRO at Kew and the War Diary scans. They say that they'll get the diaries back from the Ministry of Defence for me. BL

Puckoon said...The age of industrial innocence when men believed that the 'firm' would look after them when they got back. Unfortunately those lucky enough to get back early were much more likely to get a job and those forced to wait take their chances.
January 26, 2009

G. Tingey said...Any progress on the official Battallion diaries front?
January 22, 2009
Sorry, been tidying up the book bits and have been very busy. I'll get onto it right away. BL

Spangly Princess said...Hi there, somehow I have only just found your blog but I have spent all morning reading it, what an amazing resource! I am a professional historian specialising in WWI in Italy. While my research has focused on Italian soldiers and their experiences I am really interested in this fantastic account and look forward to the book being published. I am glad that so many people around the world have found your site so interesting, and that you have uncovered so much through your own research, congratulations on some really impressive work.If you ever need any further info on the Italian side of proceedings, drop me a line and thanks very much for your efforts.
January 23, 2009 said...Why are Harry and his fellow soldiers sitting in a tiny town in north-central Italy, nearly three months after the end of conflict? If they have plans for his battalion to participate in post-war security, it seems that would have taken place by now. I have read one resource that said some economists suggested not returning all the soldiers at once, to prevent worsening of already-high unemployment occuring throughout most nations in 1919. Poor Harry, unless he is unusual, the next twenty years will mean more hardship and suffering---followed by the horrors of WWII!
January 22, 2009

Kittybriton said...The delay must be frustrating enough, but having to manage with very limited pay, and high local prices must be very trying. It isn't the first time that I've had the impression that once the fighting is over, the hierarchy all but forgets about the men who did all the donkey work. I hope you manage to find work when you get back to England once more. It seems unfair that you've had to wait three months over there already.
January 22, 2009

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