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14th Oct 1917: WW1 letter: The tedium of 'home service' in England

Updated on February 26, 2012
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Reginald Trevor
Reginald Trevor
Harold, Reginald's younger brother
Harold, Reginald's younger brother
Mary, Reginald's younger sister
Mary, Reginald's younger sister
Mable "Mabby" - the girl Reginald writes to his mother about, and his future wife.
Mable "Mabby" - the girl Reginald writes to his mother about, and his future wife. | Source

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Home service in Tidworth, new love and German air raids in London

Due to my great grandfather Reginald Trevor, having been wounded in the Battle of Pozieres and continuing to suffer the ill effects from gas exposure and shell shock, he was judged as unfit to return to the front for the rest of World War One. He was classified as suitable for 'Home Service' in England and worked in an army office in Tidworth - a job he found tedious. His health, along with his wish to be 'more useful' in the war seems to play on his mind, however he has good news for his mother - he has met his future wife and my great grandmother. They went on to marry in 1920 and had their first child in England. While on the ship to Australia their second child was born. My grandfather William Trevor was born in Australia on their farm in Yenda, where Reginald set up an orchid with land allocated to him from the Australian government.

Transcribed letter:

14th October 1917

Tidworth, England

My Dear Mother,

I received one of your letters the other day and also one from Mary, I was very pleased to get them as I have had no letters for quite a long time. I suppose they are going astray somewhere, you say in your letter that Father is writing to me, but up to date I have not received any from him, goodness knows where they are going to.

I suppose they will come around to one of these fine days. I have received three parcels from you lately. One was registered and contained one pair of socks and a tin of Butterscotch. The other two parcels seemed to be from the Civil Service and had all sorts of good things in them, which were greatly appreciated I can assure you especially the sugar which is getting very scarce here now. There seems to be a very limited supply of it now as I suppose the transport is so difficult.

Everybody is squeaking out about the war making things so dear now but as far as I can see the main necessities of life are no more harder to get than anywhere else and it is only the luxuries that are restricted. Of course I get my food provided and perhaps do not notice it as much as a householder would, but when I am with my friends they seem to get on alright. I notice that “The war” is a great excuse for the trades people to pop on the price on all manner of goods especially if the would be purchaser wears a slouch hat but that is I suppose only human nature.

I suppose you have read in the papers about the air raids that our friends the gentle Hun sends over these times. I have been in one in London and don’t think too much of them at first – the people used to gape at them as if they were great curiosities and thereby got hurt, but they know better now and our friends the Hun only cause a lot of noise and a bit of confusion. I think it is only the beginning of the end and they are only sending over these raids as a last desperate resource any way they will have a big bill to pay when they have to settle up.

A couple of weeks ago I was brought before a Medical Board and marked B2a which means Home Service in England. So I am working here as you can see by the heading, I have been not too good through the winter, I think it must have been a touch of gas I got which affected me, because some days I have been pretty queer, also the shell shock makes me very nervous at times so that if I hear a sudden noise I get all shaky and go at the knees, so I suppose I will be working here for some time, anyway you can address my letters here and I will have more chance of getting them.

I am very glad you like the photo of the girl I sent you (pictured), because Mother I am seriously thinking of marrying her. I think I have found the right girl at last and I am very sure that she will make a good wife, and what is more we are very fond of one another, in fact I might say we love each other. I have been to her home and seen her in her home life and I find that she is everything I could wish for in a wife.

Mother, she is only a little girl and is only eighteen years old but she is a good housekeeper and will make a good wife to me. Her name is Mable or Mabbie for short and as I said before she is as good as she looks, but I suppose this is not very interesting reading for you. But I must say she is the best girl I have ever met and we suit one another.

I have not seen anything of Uncle Mayhew yet, in fact I have not seen anybody that I knew in these very near three years I have been away. I think a man could be in the army nearly all his life without meeting friends who may be in another regiment.

I am enclosing a few stamps for Mary, did you give her my camera? I forget now if I told you to give it to one of the children, but if I didn’t do so will you give it to whichever will look after it the best. Did I tell you that I lost all the photos that I took before? If I can get some good ones of England I will send them to you.

I am sorry Mother dear to hear that you have been ailing lately I sincerely hope that by the time you get this you will be much better. The weather is very cold in the winter what with snow and frost and one has to keep well wrapped up to resist it. I am in barracks now to the winter will not be so hard on me as it was last winter, thank goodness. I would give anything to be able to spend this coming Christmas at home I have just about had enough of war especially as I am not much good for the active part. I suppose I will get alright in time but sitting in an office all day is rather irksome but I suppose I am still doing a little bit towards ending the war.

The general opinion here is that it is not going to last much longer and I don’t’ think it will either. Our chaps seem to be able to push them back whenever they like and as far as the Western Front is concerned the Hun has not and is not able to make any headway at all quite the reverse in fact. And what is more there is some talk of sending air raids over Germany in the near future so that will stir them up some when they get them and quickly bring them to their senses. We have been playing the game a bit too straight and they have taken England to be a bit soft but they will wake up one of these days never fear.

Well Mother dear I will have to conclude as it is getting a bit late, so with my best love to yourself and all at home,

I remain your loving son,

Trevor.

For easier navigation I have listed the letters below in chronological order

  1. Rediscovering my great grandfather, Reginald Trevor: Letters home from World War 1
  2. Background Information about my great grandfather - Reginald Trevor - a soldier in World War 1

  3. 18th October 1914: World War 1 letter - Mother I have enlisted for war

  4. 23rd October 1914: - Preparing to Embark - World War One

  5. 22nd February 1915: We have embarked - World War One letter

  6. 20th August 1915: Letter from Cairo - World War One

  7. 5th October 1915: Trench Rats! World War One letter

  8. 2nd Nov 1915: WW1 Letter - Life on Lemnos Island rest camp

  9. Christmas Day 1915: WW1 letter - Life in the Gallipoli Trenches

  10. World War 1 Field Service Postcards from the front

  11. 1916: World War 1 letter - Belgian refugees' suffering, experiences in Egypt and France

  12. 3rd Dec 1916: WW1 Letter: Life in Perham Downs camp - England
  13. 18th April 1917: WW1 Letter: Stretcher bearers, ships and shell shock
  14. 14th Oct 1917: WW1 letter: The tedium of 'home service' in England (current page)
  15. 22 Oct 1917: Wounded in the Battle of Pozières - the Somme: WW1 Letter home
  16. Postcards from World War One - France

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    • Rufus rambles profile image
      Author

      Rufus rambles 5 years ago from Australia

      @FloraBreenRobison: Thanks very much for the comment - it's great that you also have relatives who fought in the wars. Thanks again

    • Rufus rambles profile image
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      Rufus rambles 5 years ago from Australia

      @ripplemaker: Thanks very much for the comment - it's great to think my great-grandfather's legacy is living on.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

      Some of my relatives went overseas during WWII, and some of them served her in North America (so stated as I have American and Canadian relatives). One uncle was an engineer and one grandfather was a flight instructor. The rest went off to Europe.

      Thanks for sharing this letter. I love the hand written and type-written letters of yesteryear. E-,mail is just not the same.

      Congratulations on your nomination.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Wow this is amazing. I used to visit my grandma and ask her the stories during world war 2. And this was world war 1. What wonderful way to see what happened then.

      Moving back to the present, I would like to congratulate you on your Hubnuggets nomination! This way please to read and vote http://pattyinglishms.hubpages.com/hub/Presidents-... Blessings...

    • Rufus rambles profile image
      Author

      Rufus rambles 5 years ago from Australia

      @ Wayne K Wilkins: Thanks for the feedback! Glad you are enjoying looking into this window to the past!

      @JamaGenee: Thanks again for your feedback. Yes, I am glad he returned to Australia. His son, my grandfather fought in World War Two in the Navy, but was far away from Europe and instead defended our more immediate vicinity - the Battle of the Coral Sea. Thanks again!

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      What treasures these letters are! The saddest part is "the Hun" didn't "get it" the first time around so Brits had to do it all over again barely 20 years later. I think Reginald Trevor was smart to take his wife and firstborn to Australia and out of harm's way for the second go round!

    • Rufus rambles profile image
      Author

      Rufus rambles 5 years ago from Australia

      @robie2: Thank you for your feedback. Yes he married the girl he writes to his mother about. They had 7 children, one of which was my grandfather. One of their sons was born on the boat on the way back to Australia! Yes his mother survived the war. Thanks again!

    • Rufus rambles profile image
      Author

      Rufus rambles 5 years ago from Australia

      @Wayne K. Wilkins: Thanks for your feedback - it has been a joy to share my great grandfather's letters.

    • Wayne K. WIlkins profile image

      Wayne K. WIlkins 5 years ago from Birmingham, England.

      Awesome Hub. Keep up the great work!

    • robie2 profile image

      Roberta Kyle 5 years ago from Central New Jersey

      Thanks so much for sharing your great grandfather here. I love these things-- they open up a wonderful window into the past and to the people who came before us. I find I want to know if he married the girl he met and whether his mother survived the war and all kinds of things. What a wonderful treasure you have here.

    • Rufus rambles profile image
      Author

      Rufus rambles 5 years ago from Australia

      @UnnamedHarald: Thank you for your comment. I have one more hub to post on this topic which will be postcards from my great grandfather's time in Europe. We will be donating the letters to the Australian War Memorial so other people can learn from them. Thanks again for your vote!

    • UnnamedHarald profile image

      David Hunt 5 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

      Another interesting hub, Rufus. I wish I had a treasure trove of such historical, enlightening letters. Voted up.