Tuesday, 4 December 2018

'I hope I shall soon be able to come home and work for you'

Private Tom Fake
Private Tom Fake had been in France since the end of 1916, serving with the Rifle Brigade, and wrote home regularly throughout the Great War. His letters to his wife and son in Bristol could be both amusing and touching, and I used many in my book Letters from the Trenches.

In previous posts I've featured letters that he wrote home in the lead-up to Armistice Day. Now I'm publishing extracts from those he wrote during those first days of peace on the Western Front.

On November 17 Tom replied to a letter from his wife, Charlotte, that was delivered to him by a friend returning from leave. It came in a package that also included some much-appreciated chocolate. Charlotte seemed concerned that paid work she had relied on throughout the conflict, sewing soldiers' shirts, was now drying up, but Tom tells her not to worry. The end of the war was in sight and he would soon be home...

France, 17/11/18

My Dear Sweetheart,

"It is with the greatest pleasure I write you these lines, hoping you are quite well as it leaves me at present. I am answering your letter No11 that was enclosed in with the chocolate Mr Fare brought out. I am glad you saw him [Mr Fare] and I say, don't he look well to what he did before his leave. I did not see him until Friday night, and he sent around the packet for me during the afternoon. I was unable to write to you yesterday or Friday night as we were on the move.

Tom's wife tucked some
much-appreciated chocolate
in with her letter
"It's a pity you are not getting so much to do, but never mind, I hope I shall soon be able to come home and work for you, it's a good thing that the fighting part of the job is over, the other part will follow I daresay soon. We have managed while the war was on, and I expect we can do so until I return to civil life again. If leave continues, I should think it will run me for about Xmas at the latest.

"Well my dear I think the Boche has finished and will sign peace as soon as possible.... The weather yesterday turned to frost, and it has been very cold today. Now I don't know that I have any more to say this time, so will close with my fondest love and kisses."

Tom's letter from 17 November 1918 is reproduced below.