Dedicated to the memory of all the men and women of the Bridgnorth area who died during the two World Wars.

World War I: 'Letters from the Trenches' from Bridgnorth Men

During the First World War, soldiers spent a great deal of time writing to their families at home. Many of these letters were printed in the newspapers of the time; others have survived in private hands.

WARNING: In recent times we have come to believe that soldiers exercised a high degree of self-censorship when they described their experiences to their families. While none of the letters transcribed here could be said to glory in the more unpleasant sides of a soldier's life, neither do they pull any punches when describing the day to day horrors of warfare. Some of the writers make racial comments which would not be considered acceptable today.

2nd January, 1915. Colour-sergeant F. J. Foxhall, 1st KSLI, describes conditions in the trenches. He mentions celebrating the New Year; DCMs awarded to Private Moore and L/Cpl 'Nobby' Clarke; being billeted on a French family.

25th February, 1915. Sergeant B. Nicholas, 1/4th KSLI, decribes being moved at short notice to put down mutiny in Singapore.

14th March, 1915. Private Eric Burton, Princess Patricia's Canadian L. I. describes conditions in the trenches in a letter apparently designed to reassure his mother that he is eating well and quite comfortable.

[Printed on] 27th March, 1915. Sergeant A. Swinscoe, 1st Batt. Sherwood Foresters, describes his part in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle on March 10th.

5th April, 1915. 2nd-Lt. H. Martin Jones on life in the trenches.

[Printed on] 10th April, 1915. Archdeacon Southwell describes work of a chaplain at the front.

[Printed on] 15th May, 1915. Private George Speake, 1st KSLI, decribes sheltering in the dug-outs from enemy shelling.

3rd June, 1915. 2nd-Lt. H. Martin Jones on life in the trenches.

[Printed] July, 1915. Lieut. W. Ormesher awaiting his 'turn'.

[Printed] July, 1915. Petty Officer C Wightman with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force.

[Printed] July, 1915. 2nd Lieut S. A. Westrop describes dogfight between a B.E. Biplane and a Taube.

[Printed] July, 1915. Tom Hutton briefly describes 'rather an exciting time' that he is having working as an anaesthetist and operating attendant in a 'flying ambulance'.

[Printed] July, 1915. Signaller T. W. Whitefoot, 1st Canadian Division describes travelling from Canada and working in a Field Ambulance at Ypres.

10th July, 1915. Various writers concerning the death of Private Walter Sherry, 1st KSLI.

12th July, 1915. Private P. F. Davies, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. All quiet at the front until the explosion of British mines brings heavy shelling in retaliation.

23rd July, 1915. Private T. H. Taggart, 1st Border Regiment, writes about travelling to the Dardanelles; still waiting for his turn to 'have a go'.

1st August, 1915. L/corp G. E. Roden, 1st West Yorks. describes German attack using flame throwers, heavy losses, expects an early end to the war, lack of sleep - looking forward to time in billets.

7th August, 1915. Signaller Bernard Dufficy, Canadian Expeditionary Force. anticipates arriving in England; mentions deaths of Burton, Smith and Foxall; duty of Englishmen to fight for freedom.

27th September, 1915. Private John Oliver, 5th KSLI describes British attack on 25th September (Battle of Loos). Death of Mr Beaumont (his officer). Refers to deaths of Harry Johnson and Alf Bowen from Bridgnorth.

1st October, 1915. Corporal A. H. S. Southwell, 6th KSLI describes British attack on 25th September (Battle of Loos), heavy losses, 'Jack Johnsons', conditions in the trenches after the attack.

[Printed on] 16th October, 1915. Private P. F. Davies describes aerial torpedoes, the dangers of looking over the trench edge, officer killed by booby-trapped flag.

Before 30th October, 1915. Private S. Packwood, 10th Worcestershire Regt. describes 'Minnies' (Minenwerfer trench mortars).

6th November, 1915. Sergeant T. Fellowes, 5th Dorset Regt. on conditions in the Dardanelles.

after 11th November, 1915. Gunner J. Coley describes being shelled in the trenches, 2nd Lieut. Kilpin injured.

18th December, 1915. Private T. H. Taggart, 1st Border Regiment, has recovered from his 'bit' received in the Dardanelles. Expresses his pride in his regiment's achievements.

27th December, 1915. Lance-corporal George Speake, KSLI, describes Christmas day in the trenches.

[Printed on] 29th April, 1916. Corporal A. W. Armstrong, KSLI, describes the trip back to Hong Kong after escorting German prisoners to Australia.

2nd June, 1916. Private Percy J. Griffiths, 8/10th Gordon Highlanders, describes land mines in the trenches, putting up wire entanglement, mining.

7th June, 1916. Private Roy Hamilton Kelly of the 'Princess Pat's', describes his first action during a German attack in the Ypres Salient.

[Printed on] 29th July, 1916. Sniper Harold T. Armstrong, KSLI, describes the circumstances in which he was wounded.

[Printed on] 30th September, 1916. Driver Alfred Sellman, R.F.A., describes the circumstances in which he was wounded.

18th October, 1916. An anonymous soldier, describes the hardships the Shropshire Yeomanry are suffering in Egypt and complains that people back home are wrong to think they are having a 'picnic'.

11th November, 1916. An anonymous soldier, describes conditions in the Persian Gulf.

[Printed] December 1916. An Old Boy of Bridgnorth Grammar School writing from France.

[Printed on] 13th January, 1917. W. Scott, A.I.F., describes how he was rescued in No Man's Land by Joe Smallman from Bridgnorth.

[Printed on] 20th January, 1917. W. Kelly of Bridgnorth: Poem in praise of "A Private in the Pats"

[Printed on] 21st July, 1917. Serg. T. Hurdley, 11th Hussars. A Chelmarsh Soldier's Interesting Letter.

3rd August, 1917. Lance-Corporal P. Griffiths, 6th Gordon Highlanders describes an attack on the German lines made the previous Monday.

[Printed on] 6th October, 1917. Serg. T. Hurdley, 11th Hussars, describes the aerial attack on 14th Corps [Hospital] Clearing Station in August.

20th April, 1918. Sergeant P. Griffiths, 6th Gordon Highlanders describes facing the German attack on the 21st March. Seeing the King. Opinion of the German solider.

[Printed on] 19th October, 1918. Lance-corporal H. J. Ward, KSLI describes the circumstances of his wounding during trench fighting on 24th September.

[Printed on] 23rd November, 1918. Pte John Jennings, 72nd Labour Coy. A report in which Jennings tells how his sergeant-major gained the military medal.

[Printed on] 30th November, 1918. Pte. G. Butler, 11th Corps Cyclist Battalion. Short extracts from a letter describing his experiences as a prisoner of war.