Over the last few month’s Pauline King one of our volunteers has been transcribing as series of letters written by Ernest from the front. Some of his letters are mundane others describe what it was like to be shelled and shot at.
Towards the end of 1916 the letters covered a span of 12 months and the effects of life at the front were beginning to show. His writing had become less legible and neat with poor grammar. He had spent time in the hospital and had no envelopes to send his letters in, had run out of cigarettes and due to constant moves could not post his letters.
The changes Ernest experienced were perhaps symptomatic of how the country and the armed forces had been worn down by over 2 years of war.
Hos last letter is written just before Christmas 1916. He clearly would have written more – did they get sent ? We will never know but what we do know was that on 9th April 1917 Ernest was killed by a shell whilst repairing a road.
His story is HERE
Just a few lines hoping this will find you all in the best of health as it leaves me at present. I received your letter today Aug 1st, and was very pleased to hear from you and to hear that all are going on well at home, we are having some very wet weather over here and it makes it rather bad for us. I hope it will soon clear up again we have had very near two weeks of it now. I am sorry about those silk cards I promised you. I have not yet been where I could buy any for a long time, but I won’t forget you, just where I am now there is no chance of getting any helmets. Two or three weeks ago I could have had plenty of them and all kinds of relics belonging to the Germans, but I did not store any up. You see it’s very awkward to carry any extra things on us in this job. When we get where helmets are flying about it takes us all our time to look after ourselfs, its generally a hot shop, still I may be able to get you one before this war is over. Remember me to your Mother and Dad also to Reg and the children, perhaps I may be able to come over to see you soon, but I’ll let you know more later on. That bit of poetry was very good that you enclosed. I am all right for tobacco and pipes at present thank you very much. I must close now soon more this time hoping to see you all again soon with best love from E Upton
Sept 26th 1916
Just a few lines hoping this will find you all in the best of health as it leaves me at present. I am sorry I have not wrote to you before but the reason is I thought I should get a letter from you any day. I expect it has been held up at the Batt. I have been down here at a nice sea side place now for two weeks, and had a good enough time of it, plenty of food and nothing to do only enjoy myself on the sands. Our doctor sent a few of us out of the Batt for a rest we were a little run down. When the sea is clear we can see the coast of old England quite plain, it looks as if one could cross it. I think we are leaving for the Batt again tomorrow Wednesday 27th. I shall not be sorry in one sense because I believe the passes have started and there is only one to go before me on the roll, so that looks alright for me. I should very much like to see you all again. Remember me to your Mother and Dad also to Reg and the children, tell them I may be strolling round their way soon. There are plenty of fish here of all kinds I wish I could send over a few samples with this letter. There is a fishing village here too it’s very interesting to watch the old fishermen with their boats, also the women young and old stooping under great baskets of fish. We have had some grand weather while we have been here. I bet when the boys see us again at the Batt they will think we are recruits for we look so well and getting fed up. It’s surprising what it will do for you when in a quiet spot out of the noise of the guns. I bet we shall jump a bit when we hear the first she’ll or two after this. I must close now so no more this time with love to you all From E Upton Hoping to see you soon.
Just a few lines hoping this will find you all in the best of health as it leaves me at present. I received your letter today the 13th and was very pleased to hear from you. You must excuse me being late in answering, you see it has taken your letter a week to reach me, our letters are delayed a lot lately for some reason or another, I shall be glad when its all over. We are having a lot of rain over here now, night and day it makes it bad for us fellows. Remember me to your Mother and Dad, Reg and the children, also to Miss E Austin in fact give my love to all the girls at the Mill. There’s not many there but what knows me, I wish I was rushing one or two of them to the Town Hall now instead of being here, when you write again would you mind putting a envelope or two in your letter. I have plenty of writing paper but no envelopes. Remember me to all my friends there are a few I have not wrote to yet. I cannot get an envelope to post my letters in. Remember me to Arthur Spooner when you see him. He works in the same Mill as you tell him I am going on all right at present, I must close now so no more this time with best love, from E Upton Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx I don’t like asking you but I am completely without tobacco, I wish you would send me a bit of any kind would save my life
Just a few lines hoping this will find you all in the best of health as it leaves me at present. I received your letter on Saturday night and was very pleased to hear from you. Please excuse me being a little late in answering your letter, but I am rather pressed for time just at present, I hope things are all going on well at home. Remember me to your Mother and Dad and the children. You wish to know when I am coming over to see you. It will be some weeks yet perhaps just nine weeks time. Luton has not writen to me yet. I sent him a card the other day. That police job will just suit him. Remember me to my Mother when you call in. I hope she keeps in good health. Tell her I shall not be alway before I am over now. I don’t think there is anything I want thank you, without its a bit of bacca I run short of that at times, when you write please, put an envelope in the letter. The mice have eaten all the lot up that you sent me some weeks ago. I must close now so no more this time with best love from E Upton Xxxxxxxxxxx
Just a few lines hoping this will find you all in the best of health as it leaves me at present. I received your letter today the 13th and was very pleased to hear from you. I have been in the hospital now for three days but I hope to be out again soon. Don’t be alarmed its nothing serious in fact I believe I shall be out again in a few days and quite well again. Remember me to your Mother and Dad also to the children. We have had some very hot weather out here lately, we are getting as brown as bricks. I hope to see you soon my turn for the leave is very close now, I am glad you like Green Dale it’s a very nice place. I wish I was there now. I am glad your Brothers are not old enough for soldiers for this war is a little bit off, it is no picnic I am tell you. We get some very hot times of it. I have not written home since I have been in this hospital I don’t think I shall tell them at all, for I shall be out in a few days and it’s no use upsetting my Mother over a trifle like this. Please address letters as usual, I shall get them if I do stay here for a day or two. I must close now so no more this time with love to you all, from E Upton Xxxxxxxxxxx Excuse paper this is all I have got
Just a few lines hoping this will find you all in the best of health as it leaves me at present, I am going on fine again now and have been out of the hospital for some days now with my Batt, you must excuse me being late in writing to you, but we been in the March now for some seven days and are still on the move, we cannot post any letters till we get settled down, that may be a day or two yet, but I am writing this ready to post when we do get to the end of our march, this is Sunday 17th December. I have several letters in my pocket that I wrote a week ago and could not post them, remember me to your Mother Dad Reg and the children tell them I am going on very well at present, also to all my friends thank Miss Austin for her letters tell her I will drop her a line as soon as I get the chance, the weather over here is very cold, but it’s better than rain, I got your letter dated Dec 8th alright and was very pleased to hear from from you, I am sorry to hear E Fairbanks getting wounded, I must close now so no more this time with love to you all from E Upton
Wishing you all a merry Xmas and a happy new year.