Exciting new material; 28th July

I have just unearthed a tray of material that I wasn't aware existed. Most of it was from my mother's side of the family but, mixed in were several items that must have come from Ethel's belongings.

The most exciting find was this picture of Harry when he was in the army.

I can only think that the photograph was taken at the training camp but if any expert out there would like to correct me (or even confirm that view) I would be most grateful.

Harry is on the front row, extreme right. The photograph has had a tough journey. I've tried to make the best of it but decided to post it now rather than waiting for an "ideal" version.

I now have version that is "tidied up". Many thanks to John Murray.


1. The letters in the stained glass - could be "Rugeley".
2. The chap with a wrist watch on the front row. Very rare in 1917.
3. Harry's belt is upside down!

I'm also collating all the comments into one place. They have been, without exception, very pleasant, kind and encouraging.

27th July -Messines Ridge letter scans

For new users of blogs, at the risk of stating the obvious, everything is in the reverse order from that of a "normal" journal or diary.

If you want to pick up Harry's story and follow it properly, it may make sense to start with the first archive, July 2006 and to work forwards to August 2007. (Actually August 1917). (To make things even more complicated, each archive is also in reverse order - the latest material appears first!)

Today I upload scans of the letter written a few days after the main assault at Messines Ridge.

This letter to Harry's brother Jack was written on June 11th. The main assault that was described in the letter took place on the 7th June but the battle continued until 14th.

Click on the letters for an enlarged view.

Note that the last page is on a completely different type of paper!

22nd July; More on Messines Ridge

I need to let the reader know that we have a gap in the letters. I don't think that Harry didn't write any, I suspect that a small bundle was lost or removed. I know that this is slightly against the spirit of the blog, but the family at home would probably have had the comfort of letters.

I have, thanks to a helpful reader, found the location of Harry's Unit for this battle. It would appear that Harry had achieved objectives by the 11th, when he wrote two letters.

Click on the map for an enlarged view.

Harry was part of the 23rd Division. Two large mines, shown as small circles on the map, were detonated just ahead of Harry on the morning of 7th June. Their objective was likely to be "Hill 60" or "Mount Sorell".

As the explosions took place at 0310, the cameras of the day were almost certainly incapable of recording the event. However, I have included a link to a movie of a similar mine exploded a year earlier before the Somme Offensive. Click here

Five live Interview Friday 13th July

BBC Five Live broadcast an interview on their Drive Time programme last Friday.

Click to Listen

Letter to Kate, 14th July 1917

July 14/1917

Dear Kate

I have received your parcel it came in very nice. we were just getting ready to move when I got it, we went in lorries so I did not have to carry it far I can tell you there was not much left as me and my pals were short and we could not get anything where we landed. It is a country place a few miles behind the firing line. The weather is lovely, we are all enjoying the ride. I’m in good health but we have had a rough time this last week or two going on working parties at night digging trenches and one thing and another. One night we were between our lines and the Germans but we all came out alright. It’s a bit rough but it might be worse. My address is the same. Will write again soon. Glad to hear they are all right at home.

Yours truly


These parcel are just right plenty big enough.

6th July 1917, Letter to Kate

July 6 1917

Dear Kate

I have received your letter was very pleased with it. I have received some nice letters from Jack he seems in very good health only very busy. Letters are very nice out here. Don’t send any cigs we get plenty out here you could send chocolate or biscuits anything to eat. envelopes about half a dozen. Ethel tells me Willie gets a rum chap always running away and getting into things. Write back as soon as you receive this letter. Address 32507, 9th Batt York and Lancs C company L. G. Section 12 Platoon BEF France. I think this is all just now will write again soon

yours truly


Five Live Broadcast

BBC's Radio FiveLive boadcast an interview to update listeners on Harry's progress to date.

Click to hear the broadcast

Scans of Early letters

The first letter from Rugeley Camp to sister Kate. I've had several requests to include scans of the letters. In "quiet" periods, I'll upload them. This one was written in the relative comfort of the training camp.