Saturday, 23 February 2013

Letters are pouring in from 100 years ago

Scrubbing up well for war: Bristol recruits Edwin Wood
and Wally Biffin (Thanks to Ted Wood for the photo)

At the top of this page is a 'Useful links' tab, and if you click it there is a list of archives and museums which hold letters from the First World War. These various repositories were all going to be visited when I began my research - with overnight stays in nice little bed & breakfasts where necessary. However, owing to the interest and generosity of members of the public, this simply hasn't happened!

 Aussie soldier Sam Pearson
(Photo: Carol Evans)
I have been kept far too busy at home with correspondence sent to me by people who have read about my project in various magazines and newsletters. This method of letter collection has had several advantages, not least of which is that most letters I have received have never been published and will therefore be completely new to readers - however widely read they are.

It has also meant that the owners of WW1 letters have been on hand to provide background information which has sometimes turned seemingly ordinary letters into extraordinary ones. They have also supplied me with photographs and cards, all in excellent condition, some of which you can see here.
And finally, I have had plenty of time to read all the correspondence thoroughly and shape my book accordingly, to give a true reflection of what was written 100 years ago.

Working in the comfort of my own home has had one big disadvantage though - none of my overnight trips to museums has materialised yet! Not to worry, there are still some gaps in my correspondence that need to be filled; for example, I don't have any letters relating to the Royal Flying Corps, very few about the Navy, and none written by Americans who were involved in the war. So once the weather improves I shall look forward to a few trips away to see what I can discover in the archives.

War-torn France: a card sent home from the front, April 1916
(Thanks to David Clark for the image)

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