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?
- If you would like to read some World War One letters, you will find a selection in our catalogue.
- You will find diaries and recollections too.
- Browse our digitised Christchurch and New Zealand World War One resources.
- And visit our web page to find out about WW100 – New Zealand’s World War One centenary commemorations.
It always amazes me how many letters did reach home.
My Grandfather often wrote home saying that the fish must have read some of his letters.
My husband (then boyfriend) has deployed twice (Afghanistan and Sinai). We wrote weekly letters. The second deployment I know we worked through this book together http://www.amazon.com/101-Questions-Ask-Before-Engaged/dp/0736913947/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1394138932&sr=8-1&keywords=questions+to+ask+when+engaged (I’d send the question and the next week we’d both send an answer to each other). Otherwise boring things – what we’d been doing and news from both of us. I wonder where they are now?
Hi Theresa, Our Postie was sent to Vietnam. He always wanted to know what his family, neighbours and friends were doing and we heard what was happening in ‘Nam via the 6 o’clock news. His letters home were a real comfort to his Mum and Dad. Wonder where his letters are now?
Great post Valerie. I admired the writers of those letters home so much. For all they were going through themselves they managed to keep positive for folks back home. Reassuring Mum by talking about every day happenings at home.
Not to mention the little lies they told so they didn’t upset Mum. I heard of a soldier who wrote home about the great food. Truth was the rations were in short supply.
Beautiful post Valerie.