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 C. Rowan of the 20th Hussars, writing to his parents in Leeds, presents a picture of content.

“I am quite well and in the best of health.

This is a fine place for fruit, and we get on all right with the people.

We cannot understand them, but we can make ourselves understood although we have to go through some very curious antics to do so.

We are near the sea, and go bathing every morning.

It’s a fine place, but I suppose we shall have left before you get this letter.”


Tom Luby, one of the wounded, writing to friends in Leeds says:-

I’ve been laid on my back for twelve days.

I’ve got a sore back which is worse than the wounds.

I got shot in the thigh, and the bullet broke my leg as well.

My leg keeps running up, and I suffer intense pain when they are pulling it out again.

I don’t know how I am here to tell the tale.

I was the only one left in my section of twenty four.

Star shrapnel was flying all over the place.

We lost 50 on the 20th of September.

I crawled about a quarter of a mile out of the way and lay in one place for thirty hours with a dead man on either side of me.

When the stretcher bearers had carried me about a mile, one of the German Flying machines stopped over us, and all at once a tree went up about ten yards in front of us.

That got them moving. They thought I was light as a feather. You couldn’t see them for dust!”


Private George Usher of the Grenadier Guards, who is lying seriously wounded at Brighton writes home to his family in Bridlington.

Survived Mons but was less fortunate at the battle of the Marne river.

“We had got the Germans as far from their home as was required. We were said to be only forty miles from Paris and we advanced for a week to the river Marne.

“I got wounded about six o’clock on a Monday morning and I lay in the trench all day Monday, all Monday night, and again all day until Tuesday night at eleven o’clock.

The trenches were full of sludge for it had been raining for days.

“Men were difficult to see in the trenches because they were covered in mud and were lying in it.

I am one of the lucky lads. The heel of one of my boots was blown away, and a bullet struck my bayonet and saved my left side. My leg seems dead, but it is not wounded.”

I’ve got a bad hit in the head and that seems to have paralysed my leg.

I was also shot in the shoulder and the doctor cannot get the bullet out so I am likely to carry about with me a souvenir of the Germans which I would rather do without.”

“The devils were shooting the wounded. That was the worst thing I saw.”