The History of Leith

March 30, 2012

EXTRACTS FROM LETTERS- SENT BY . SOLDIERS AND SAILORS.

R. B.—I now take the greatest of pleasure in thanking
you for the parcel you sent me, which I received in
good order. It is nice to think that the people at home
are not forgetting the men who are doing their little
bit for their country, and trying to bring this awful
war to a speedy and successful finish. You can thank
all those who are helping you in this great and noble
work.
J. M,—Thank you very much for the nice parcel,
which I received quite safely. Your kind words I greatly
appreciate, and it is some comfort to us who are
patrolling the seas day and night to know that those
at home are studying our comfort so much. Trusting
I may be spared to return to Leith and home.
H. C.—I received the parcel you sent me, for which
I am very grateful. You might ask Mr. Swan to
express my thanks to the Church and also the Sabbath
School. Tell them we appreciate any small thing
which is meant to bring comfort to us out here. I have
just had my baptism in the trenches. I must let you
understand that I have a rather easy time, as I am in
a dug-out all day attending a telephone, two of us
taking turns relieving each other. We have had one
or two casualties, but most danger of being shot comes
from the snipers, who are concealed in places, lying in
wait till men pass certain marks. Then they shoot.
J. T. H.—. . . I received your kind and welcome
gift in perfect order, which was very acceptable out
here. There are plenty of shells flying out here, but
we are getting used to them now, although they do
To some of us we just look at them
as if they were jumping crackers, but of course they are
in reality on a much larger scale and do more damage
to us. You can’t run and pick them up when they
come, because if you do there will be nothing left of
you to be picked up. So you have to be a little careful
out here, and try and run to the nearest covering you
can get when you hear them coming through the air.
J. B. (prisoner of war in Germany).—. . . I received
your parcel quite safe, and was very pleased with the
New Testament. I still go to church here, and shall
continue to go until the war is over. I do not know
how to thank you for your kindness to me. Do not
be afraid to send anything out, as anything is acceptable
out here. Thank the Church and Sunday School for
their kind action. The parcel was a splendid one. . . .
W. M.—I now have pleasure in writing you this
few lines thanking you and also the Minister for sending
me the parcel, which I was very thankful to receive,
and which came in very handy, as some of us had been
on a rather risky expedition, and we were glad to find
the parcel waiting on our return. It brought back to
my memory ” Auld Reekie,” which I hope, with God’s
will, I shall have the pleasure of visiting before long.
H. W.—I have at last found time to let you know I
received your delightful parcel a few days ago. It
was very kind of you, and I and my chum were very
thankful. A parcel is always welcomed in the trenches,
as it affords for one day at least a welcome change of
diet, as the ordinary food is so terribly monotonous.
We are now out of the trenches for a well-deserved rest
and clean up, for goodness knows we need it. We are
roughing it, and the hardest kind too, but it all comes
natural, like a day’s work, which run almost twenty-four
hours in the trenches. I may tell you the Testament
was just lovely, and they are much taken care of out
here. My chum had not one, so I gave him my old
one and kept the new one. . . .
J. G.—I now take the pleasure of writing these few
lines to let you know that I am keeping in the very
best of health at present. We are getting along
splendid out here just now, and I don’t think that the
war will last long now, for they are getting fed, up with
it. I hope Mr. Swan is still holding the War Service
in the Church every afternoon. We are in the trenches
just now, but hope to be out shortly for a rest. . . .
H. LK.—I received the parcel which you kindly sent,
and for which I express^ my deep gratitude. I can
only say that they were highly appreciated by my
comrades and myself. As to the Testament, I will
look after it and preserve it as long as I am able, and
I promise to think over the message you sent to me. . . .
J. G.—Please accept my sincere thanks for your
kindness and thoughtfuluess in remembering my name
among so many who have left South Leith for active
service. The things you sent are particularly useful
here, as we are confined for military reasons to a very
pleasant but circumscribed village where we are training,
and anything in the nature of luxuries is difficult to
obtain. . . .
W. G.—It is with the greatest pleasure that I have
to acknowledge receipt of your kind letter and parcel,
which jeached me safely yesterday, and came as a great
surprise to me. Will you please kindly thank Mr.
Swan for the Testament, and tell him that I will bear
in mind, and endeavour to act up to, the message which
he sent me. . . .
J. L.—I feel I must write at once to acknowledge
receipt of parcel which you sent out to me. You can
hardly have any idea how us chaps look forward for
the mails. I must ask you to thank those friends
whose goodness helps to brighten a weary day in
France. You see we are not in the fighting line, and
at times it is hard for us waiting about. We get a
church parade here every Sunday. It is held in a
square. An A.S.C. band renders music and leads the
singing. Our chaplain is a dear old chap, but of course,
the service is different. . . .
R. M. —Just a few lines to let you know that I received
your parcel all right, and I enjoyed the contents ; they
were a treat. I will have been out over twelve months
by the time you receive this letter. I am getting along
first rate, and cannot grumble. There are a number of
local chaps -out here, and they are a cheery lot in all
sorts of weather. . . .
I had a very narrow escape once at the first big battle
against the Huns at Le Gateau. My chum and myself
went up under a heavy fire and brought a howitzer gun
out of action and saved four men’s lives. The Major of
the Battery was very pleased with us. Shortly after we
went away with the gun the Major went to another gun
and was captured by the advancing enemy. I thought
he had been killed, but I am glad to hear he is alive,
and a prisoner in Germany. As I was coming in with
my gun I stopped and picked up two Argyll and Sutherland
Highlanders. They were shot through the thigh,
and I got them safely on the gun till we got out of
danger. That was my first experience of war. I thank
God for bringing us safely back that day, for it was a
miracle we were not blown to pieces as the shells Were
bursting in hundreds about us. …
J. M.—I received your exceedingly kind parcel containing
the Testament, eatables, etc. this morning, and
having a splendid opportunity to thank you for the
above-mentioned presents, I now do so. I thank you
for your strengthening words. When I first came to
this awful country I did not realise what war really was.
I certainly knew the Germans carried it on in an uncivilised
way, but I hardly believed it to be so barbarous
as was stated in the papers. I fought in several battles.
At the first I asked God to strengthen me and help me
through, and that I should not lose courage. At
Kemmet I saw the first men I have ever seen shot. Hill
60 was strewn with corpses, arid all were as black as the
ace of spades, most of them dying through gas.
My mother’s teaching in bringing me up has made it natural
for me to look for God’s guidance and protection, and I
am glad He has carried me through. . . .

source-South Leith Magazine-1915

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