Saturday, 24 May 2014

A soldier's poignant thoughts of his children at home

A token of love, sent from the Front by a father missing his children
It's another rainy bank holiday weekend here in South West England and how my spirits sank when I pulled the curtains this morning and saw rain falling from grey skies with puddles coalescing in the garden.

How much worse it must have been, though, for Hannah Luxton in 1915 who, for the first time, was facing the Whitsun break alone with her two young girls at home in South Wales. Her husband Philip had just left for the Front and his poignant letters from France reveal that he was missing them just as much as they were missing him. In the trenches he imagines them preparing for the traditional Whitsun parade, with new dresses that had been bought specially for the occasion:

16 May, 1915

Just a few lines to let you know I am alright and I hope you and the children will enjoy yourself on Whitsun for I am sure I will be thinking of them for I wish I was able to be with them. I think this will be the first Whitsun for me to be from them and I hope it will be the last. Dear Wife, I am afraid I won't be able to write quite so often as we are moving about very often but I will write as often as I can. I hope it will not stop you writing for I will be able to receive your letters alright.

Whitsun May 23, 1915

Just a few lines in answer to your letters and fags and I am glad to hear you and the children is quite well...You can tell the children I will send them a French coin as soon as I gets some but I won't be able to send them any Belgium coins for we only get French coins here. Dear wife we had a fearful night here last night I never seen thunder and lightning in my life like I seen then and it lasted for about one hour. Dear wife while I am writing this letter I am thinking of the children dressing, for it is now eleven o'clock for I expect they will want to put their new dresses on. Don't forget to have your photos taken for I should like one very much.

25 May, 1915

Hoping you and the children had a good time yesterday for just at the time the schools was parading I was thinking of the children and wishing I was there to see them and I hope they had a fine day for it is very hot out here now by day.

  • My thanks to Anne Holland for the letters and Lorraine Judge for the postcard. You can read more of Philip Luxton's letters in my book Letters from the Trenches which is out in November.

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