Sunday, 27 April 2014

'Just a short note to let you know I am A1 and happy as ever'

Charles Alderton shortly before leaving for the Front
Welcome to 'Letters from the Trenches' and I hope you like the new look I've given my blog! Nearly two years after my first post went up I thought it was time to freshen things up in time for the Great War Centenary. The content hasn't changed though, my posts will still be describing life during the First World War through the eyes of those who were actually there. And in the coming months there will also be news of my two books which are being published this year, 'Letters from the Trenches' and 'Bristol in the Great War'.

This week I thought I'd complement my new look with the correspondence of Charles Alderton, a young officer of the Gordon Highlanders, who always wrote to his family in London home with energy and enthusiasm. Charles had waited months to be posted to France after volunteering, and his wish finally came true in the summer of 1917. Despite the mud and guns his letters were happy and chatty and below are two that he wrote to his sisters.

'31 August, 1917

Dear Amy,

My life here has been full of interest, we have been on the move ever since we landed, we never stayed more than 3 nights in one place so far, but I am happy and comfy with plenty of food etc. The last two nights I have been billeted in a very comfy billet with a good bed and tonight I have a new billet as well...We are fairly near the line but seldom hear any guns but at night the flashes are very plain. If you can let me have Trevor's number and address I will endeavour to look him out on my travels. Of course there are many troops here but otherwise it is not very different to England.'

'Sunday, 4 November, 1917

Dear Lucy,

Just a short note to let you know I am A1 and happy as ever. I have not received any parcels yet but am looking forward to some today as I have heard what is in them. I received Anna's letter and am replying very shortly. We had a church parade and a presentation of colours by the Colonel in honour of his birthday which was last week...I had a very interesting time at tea with the Colonel and the Brigadier was there also, you can guess I saw the funny side of everything.

We have had very fair weather lately but have been very busy hence only a few letters this week. This is the first decent writing paper I have had since I have been out and they charged me 4 francs for it - some charge.

It looks very much as if I am going to spend Christmas here, if I do I will of course write and tell you all we do. I am always thinking of you all round the fire on Sundays but still as I said once before, we have a fire also. Our Colonel is a very nice fellow but awfully energetic, he is always using our spare!! time with some kind of competition. Well never worry I am as happy as ever and will now be closing. With heaps of love to all, your loving brother Charlie.'

What sort of Christmas did Charles Alderton have? You can follow his fortunes in my book 'Letters from the Trenches'.

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