Leeds Mercury 1914: Letters from the Front

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Readers who received letters from men on active service were invited to submit them to the “Leeds Mercury.” Any extracts published were paid for, with the promise that letters would be carefully and promptly returned to the senders.


Private Ernest Watters writes to his mother ar Cricklewood, London N. W.

“There’s one chap in our company has got a ripping cure for neuralgia, but he isn’t going to take out a patent, because it’s too risky, and might kill the patient. Good luck’s one of the ingredients, and you can’t always be sure of that.

He was lying in the trenches the other day, nearly mad with pain in his face, when a German shell burst close by. He wasn’t hit, but the explosion knocked him senseless for a bit.

“Me neuralgia’s gone”, says he, when he came round “And so’s six of your mates” says we. “Oh crikey, says he”.

His name’s Palmer and that’s why we call the German shells now “Palmer’s Neuralgia Cure”.


Letter from Richard Wood, a young Scarborough man, received by his parents at Chandler Street, Scarborough.

He joined the Royal Flying Corps last year.

I am all right, in fact, I am enjoying it as far as enjoyment is allowed in these sort of things.

The people here seem to think the world of us. When we stay anywhere they give us cigarettes, fruit and all sorts of things.

As we came along in the train the people threw flowers into the carriages. They clamoured round for cap badges and autographs, and decorated us with ribbons and flags.

I have lots to tell you but our letters are read before dispatch, so as to make sure no one lets out where we are.


Private John Atherton, of the 2nd Manchesters, whose home is at Elland, has written from a hospital at Brighton. He has been shot through the right leg, but he trusts he will soon be ready. “for another smack at the Germans.” He is sure Britain will win, and adds.

“If you could have seen the poor French and Belgian women and children, who have lost their homes through Germany’s dirty way of fighting, you would say ‘Germany should be wiped out altogether’.


Sergeant Clay, of the Scots Guards, writing home to his family at Todmorden, says he is not allowed to reveal the regiment’s whereabouts, but they are living like fighting cocks.

“There is only one thing you can do for me”, he adds, “and that is send a few cigarettes. If I get a packet now and then I shall feel like an earl. We are gaining the upper hand and are in the best of spirits. I have worn my shirt for a month now, and it is all I have”.