Friday, 25 March 2016

100 Letters from Arthur

Well, I've finally finished my 'non-fiction' effort!

From working in his father's Carlisle Clog Shop, Arthur Sproat joined the Army as a Private in the Lancashire Fusiliers.

His letters to home, starting in 1916, came from Colchester Barracks, where he received training and preparation for active service.

During 1917, Arthur served in France and Flanders, sometimes in the trenches, and continued sending letters home.

In March 1918, Arthur was gassed, captured by German troops and became a POW until November 1918.

His sister kept both his own letters, and some written by family and friends, and most are in good condition. I have transcribed the letters, as far as possible, to provide a unique insight into his life and wartime experience. Some additional material has been included to complete Arthur's story.

One third of royalties earned from any sales of '100 Letters from Arthur' will be given to Combat Stress, Registered Charity No. 256353. (

It took far longer than I'd imagined it would.  We'd had 'Uncle Arthur's' World War 1 letters from the trenches since they were passed to us when my partner's mum passed away in March 2013, but the idea of sorting through them, trying to read them, putting them in date order .... was overwhelming for quite a while. 

It also seemed a bit weird, trespassing on such personal property, but now that it is done, it will always be available for reference of such important times.

I started last year, picking out postcards, seeing if I could familiarise myself with any of the people on there. Luckily, some of them had been posted, or even just had a name written on them, so that helped.

Arthur Sproat - they're his letters!
But every postcard with a name on had me searching online to see if I could find out more about the World War 1 soldier it portrayed, so that didn't work.
I finally set aside some time and scanned every letter, postcard and other document - over 100 letters from soldier Arthur to his family, plus sundry letters and cards to him from his friends and family - and other photographs and documents to give it a bit of context.
At the moment, it is available as a large paperback only - - just waiting for it to be uploaded to Amazon too - because the book contains so many scans of original letters etc. I'm not convinced it will be that great on Kindle - but I plan to experiment this weekend and find out.
But I think I'll enjoy a bit of the Easter Break first!

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