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.


Petty Officer Roberts, a Todmorden young man on board the Lance, which took part in sinking four German destroyers, writes home saying:-

“It was not much, though we gave them a lively hour and five minutes from the time we fired the first shot to the last , they went to the bottom.

The last one was in a terrible state - well, I suppose they all were but that was the one we stood by picking up survivors.

We got twelve - three officers and nine men.

One of the officers was pretty badly wounded. A piece of shell must have hit him in the nose, taking his upper lip and part of his nose away.

It spoilt his beauty for him anyway and he was wounded in three places on the body.

The ones that we picked up that were not wounded looked jolly pleased that they were out of the war.

I don’t think it upset them much being prisoners. We did our best for them.

“You say all sorts of things about what you won’t do but when you see them in the water - well, you can’t help yourself.

I am very pleased to say we all came through without a scratch.”


Private Walter Patchett of the Coldstream Guards writing to his brother at Halifax, says.

“It is more like murder than war.

I have had plenty of fighting and have been right through the battle of the River Aisne.

My goodness, it has been awful. Boys all round me have been struck down and we have lost a lot of our officers.

The Brigade of Guards has got it hot, been in at everything and I don’t like to think what the roll call will be like when it is all over.


Private Clay of the York and Lancaster Regiment writes to friends at Rawmarsh.

“I am having plenty of sport - keep knocking the Germans off.

My word, we aren’t half enjoying ourselves.

The Germans keep bobbing up and we keep knocking them down.

We can hear the Germans singing at night. They seem quite a merry party.

We are quite friendly - until they show themselves then we do our best to send them to the “Land of Nod”.