WWI still is going on a hundred years ago. These are excerpts from letters from men that were in the thick of the fighting.
THE FAIRPORT HERALD
Wednesday, February 10, 1915
WAR MAIL BAG BRINGS MANY VIVID LETTERS FROM THE FRONT
The mail bag is just now a prolific source of interest. Vivid letters from soldiers at the front or in hospital bases and scrappy notes from the tars with the “silent fleet” mirror the causalities of war with a wealth of intimate detail and picturesque personal touches impossible to the harshly censored was correspondent.
The following is written from the front by Corporal Trainor:
“We have had German cavalry thrown at us six time in the last four hours, and each time it has been a different body, so that they must have plenty to spare. There is no eight hours for work, eight hours for sleep and eight hours for play with us, whatever the Germans may do.
“The strain is beginning to tell on them more than on us, and you can see by the weary faces and trembling hands that they are beginning to break down.
“One prisoner taken by the French near Courtral sobbed for an hour as though his heart were broken, his nerves were so much shaken by what he had been through.”
Sergeant Major McDermott does not write under ideal conditions, but his style is none for the worse for the inspiration furnished by shrieking shell:
“We are waiting for something to turn up to be shot at, but up to now, though their artillery has been making a fiendish row all along our front, we haven’t seen as much as a mosquito’s eyelash to shoot at.
“There is a fine German airship hanging around like a great blue bottle up in the sky, and now and then our gunners are trying to bring bring it down, but they haven’t done it yet.
“It’s the quantity, not the quality of the German shells that is having effect on us, and it’s not so much the actual damage of life as the nerve rocking row that counts so much.”
Equally interesting are some of the men with the British fleet. Tom Thorne, writing to his mother in Sussex, says:
“Before we started fighting we were all very nervous, but after we joined in we were all happy and most of us laughing till it was finished. Then we all sobbed and cried.
“We were in action on Friday morning off Helogoland. I had a piece of shell as big as the palm of my hand go through my trousers and as my trouser legs were blowing in the breeze. I think I was very lucky.
“We call the Germans the chocolate soldiers,” writes a soldier from the front, “because they appear to be always eating chocolate. When they attack or are attacked, when they are wounded or sick, by night and day, it’s all the same. We have found some of their dead with cakes of chocolate between their fingers.
“During one of our Christmas armistices one of the German soldiers told me that the chocolate ration had bee recommended by scientists as a convenient and exceedingly nutritious food and had sustained them very well in some of their marches where other foods were not available.”