Sunday, 27 March 2016

100 Letters from Arthur - so much more I couldn't include ...

.... it was quite, no very, frustrating not to put in everything I wanted in the book.  It didn't take me long to realise that I was never going to finish the book if I kept interrupting myself with research, searching for more information etc.

I therefore decided I was going to keep the book to 200 pages (OK, it was 201 pages, so not far wrong) and from that the discipline was made easier.

The only time I allowed myself to deviate was when I came across any soldier's name in a letter - I did my best to identify them, mainly using a great site called Lives of the First World War -

I tend to agree with their statement on the opening page

We believe that each and every one of the 8 million who served during WW1 deserves to be remembered.

I felt that every soldier I could identify helped to remember them.

Anyway - the book - two things I did want to include - maps - one of where Arthur was captured by German Troops ...

... so here it is, above, with the Lancashire Fusiliers not far from the number 18 top right.  I couldn't find a good enough image to pass the publishing checks unfortunately.  I felt this would have given Arthur's capture some context, but anyway, it is here now.

The other image was what I thought of as 'The Freedom Walk' - in Arthur's last letter to home in November 1918, he listed all the towns he had walked to, and through, when he'd been freed.  Again, couldn't get one clear enough for the book, so here we go ...

In Arthur's letter of 21st November 1918 he confirmed he had travelled through Namur, Mons, Valenciennes and Peronne – this would have meant walking, or marching, for around 170km – estimated time 36 hours!  Here's the text of that letter too:-

Dear Father & Mother

You will perhaps have got my F.C by now and will understand we are now free. It may surprise you to know that I have never been in Germany but have been behind his lines working all the time and we have retreated with him from in front of Peronne to as far back as Namur where he done a jerry and left us without a bite we would have been in a stew if it hadn't been for the Belgians who couldn't make us welcome enough in their houses, we marched back and came in contact with our fellows. I left Mons this morning and am now in Valenciennes its good to get a crust of English bread in your mits it's like cake to jerrys. Well I hope I shall be home for Xmas as I'm making for Blighty Tuts suit. So Good Luck and Health to all. Arthur.

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