Informing a loved one of a death even by letter is very difficult and receiving such a letter even though the official telgram would have come through must have been unimaginable. We are grateful to the family of George Wheawall who have shared with us the letter sent to his mother by his best friend.
Harry Woodhead joined the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment like George – their service numbers were within 400 of each other. Harry joined a few weeks before George as in September 1915 he saw action in Gallipoli whilst it was two months later that George arrived in Egypt more than likely as a replacement following losses.
They transferred at some point to the 7th Batallion Linconshire Regiment with them having servive numbers very close to each other suggesting they moved at the same time.
His letter speaks highly of George and the plans they both had after the war.
When transcribing the letter I wondered what became of Harry Woodhead ? Well as often during the First World War there was a sad end to the story as Harry Woodhead died of wounds weeks before the end of the war on 21st August 1918.
No 43186 A Company
7 Lincoln Regiment
Dear Mrs Wheawall
It is with sad regret that I write these lines to inform you of the death of your son George who was killed on the morning of the [illegible – but might say by sniper ] might I [illegible] consolation to you to know that his death was instantaneous & he suffered no pain & and he is buried a good way behind the line along with another comrade who was killed same morning.
I have known George for over two years & a better chum I never had he had promised to bring me to Kingsley after the war & he was was coming to have a week with me down in Derbyshire & I can tell you he was practically like a brother to me & to all the boys in the platoon.
After he came back off leave his greatest wish was that the war would soon be over so that he could come home to his little lads & make men of them.
If there is anything that I can do to help you heal ? This sad burden I will only be too willing to do it for you hoping you will allow me & all the boys of the platoon to express our deepest sympathy in the great burden you have to bear & I sincerely hope that you will not take it too much to heart & I trust the Lord will give you strength to bear this sad loss.
All his personal belongings which have been handed over to our Guard Room.
Hoping you will allow me to be yours sincerely
[initial illegible] Woodhead No 43186
A Company 7th Lincoln Regt