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.


The following are extracts from a letter written to a Leeds friend by a member of the 2nd West Riding Regiment:-

“We have got overcoats now so are prepared for the winter.

Sleeping in trenches when it is raining all night is not very nice.

We have to put up with it and keep on smiling and trust in God to pull us through.

We have been marching about ten days and now we are in the firing line, so we shall have a warm time.

“You would be surprised to see the splendid scenery that there is here.

Every house has an orchard and the trees are loaded with apples and pears so we can get plenty of fruit. There are some lovely gardens.

“You should see the damage the Germans have done; they have wrecked every church they have come across, every house they have shelled and in every village we have come through damage has been done.

There was much wine in this country which they drank and then ransacked houses and shops, so we are not able to buy either cigarettes or tobacco.

“I have seen scores of aeroplanes. There is hardly a day when we don’t see two or three up and they go steadily”.


H. Houghton, of the A.S.C. writing home to his wife in Leeds says:-

“It is all true what you read about the Germans. Brutes is too good a term for them, but their day of reckoning is not far off.

They ‘got some’ last night to be going on with.

They are terrible cowards and each of our chaps is worth five of them.

“I am connected with hospital work. I am officer’s servant, looking after the horses. We have some glorious rides. You may be sure we shall be back for Christmas.”


How pheasant shooting became a diversion behind the firing line is told by “Billy” Bell to his parents at Harrogate.

Bell, who writes from the General Hospital, Rouen says:-

“An aeroplane dropped a bomb within forty yards of me when I was pheasant beating one day.

“Sounds rather strange but fancy pheasant shooting just behind our big guns!

Our four officers total bag. One pheasant, four hares, five pigeons and five partridges.

“Twenty of us volunteered for the beating and travelled in one of our lorries eight miles to the shoot. Quite a nice change, equipped with a big stick and a water bottle.”