Dear Mum, I received three letters this week

During World War One, many soldiers sent a weekly letter full of news to family, friends and loved ones back home. Many of those letters didn’t arrive, but those that did were kept. The letters lived on, long after the writers and recipients had passed away. Eventually the letters were stashed away in boxes in attics.

In recent times, these letters have been recovered and read for the first time in decades. Some families decided to keep these letters private, but others have chosen to have the letters published. These letters do not glorify war, telling instead of young men far from home ‘doing their bit’ for king and country.

But what happens now? In an era of Facebook and Twitter, cellphones and email, do soldiers still send letters home, and if so what do they say?

Do they tell you that the cook is not as good as Mum? Were they pleased to hear that you won a prize at the local A&P? Do they want to know how your exams went? Will they tell you that is is snowing hard and they had a snowball fight? Will they tell Mum and Dad not to worry, and all is going well? Will they tell you that they will be home soon?  And will they ask you to wait?

The Islington freezing works: 1902

View in our collection

Photo of Islington freezing works
A general view of the engine-room at the New Zealand Refrigerating Company’s Islington Freezing Works
[ca. 1896]
These works opened in 1889. In the background are two Haslam machines installed in 1889 and 1890 while the American Hercules compound steam-engine refrigerator in the foreground was installed in 1895. At the time its design was considered very advanced. See A history of the New Zealand Refrigerating Company / Cyril Loach, p. 62.

Read more about the Canterbury Meat Company on NZETC.


We have digitised a rather splendid 1902 publication Tourists’ guide to Canterbury.