Sunday, 13 April 2014

'Yours to a cinder, love from Jim'

James Granger
Many endearing characters are to be found within the pages of my book 'Letters from the Trenches' and some of the most entertaining are the Australians.

Almost without exception, their correspondence was light, bright and humorous although conditions were often far from easy. James Granger was one such soldier and his affectionate missives to Marie, the woman destined to be his wife, feature in a chapter called 'Letters of Love'.

He often signed his cards 'Yours to a cinder, Jim', and when on leave in London he joked that the King was too busy to see him because he was having a bath at Buckingham Palace. Below is a taste of James' style, beginning with a card written when he had just left Australia, aboard a troopship bound for Egypt.

March, 1916

It's 9 o'clock Friday morn. I'm feeling alright. I was sick on Wednesday night and well I might have been for it was as rough as H--. The ship was pitching a treat and waves broke over the bows so you can imagine how rough it was. You were darling to come down on a launch to see me. I shall never forget your kindness in bringing those parcels, contents of which were most acceptable. This is a bonnie boat it's set up so beautifully for troops. Syd has not been sick yet and is skiting [bragging]about it so much so that I like to see him sick. Love to self and everyone else from Jim.

Postcard from Egypt: 'The
flies would eat you alive'
The following month he sent the following card:

14th April 1916

We are in Cairo in Egypt again. But we are not in love with the situation of it. We landed at Port Said and entrained in open trucks for this part. About six hours run. The flies would eat you alive and the dust would choke you so the sooner we get under weigh for another sight the more contented we will be. The thought of the pictures with us together help to keep me alive. Love from Jim.

James Granger was one of the lucky ones who survived the war and when he returned to Australia he married Marie and they set up home at Kingsvale, New South Wales, one of the new Soldier Settlements established by the state for returning WW1 servicemen.

After a conflict that brought such misery and destruction, James managed to put the war behind him and build a life full of hope and optimism. His story will be continued by his granddaughter, Susan Davis, in a special post this Easter.

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