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3rd Dec 1916: WW1 letter: Life in Perham Downs camp - England

Updated on January 19, 2012
Snow scenes at Perham Downs Camp - Salisbury Plains
Snow scenes at Perham Downs Camp - Salisbury Plains | Source

In this letter written from Perham Downs camp (pictured) in Salisbury Plains, England, my great grandfather Reginald Trevor writes to his mother about life in the camp, the snowy conditions that make life there cold and bleak, and his sightseeing in London. Having been hit by a shell in the Battle of Pozieres earlier in the year, and subsequently experiencing shell shock, he is not able to return to the front. One feels by the tone of his letter that he is growing weary of war.

Transcribed letter:

Sunday 3 December 1916

Perham Downs, Salisbury Plains, England

Dear Mother,

I received your letter dated 24-8-16, the first I have got for four months. There must have been some mistake about the report of me being wounded because I only had shell shock. My legs were paralysed with it for some time but I am all right now.

Thank you very much for sending the money. I received it safely. You need not be suspicious about it, because they are very careful at the bank here, I had to show my pay book and sign my name which was compared with the signature in the pay book. So you see even if someone stole my book they would have to be able to forge my name off hand.

I am very sorry indeed to know that you have been worrying about me. I wish you would not. I think I am too lucky to get seriously hurt. I am sorry to say I have lost a lot of good mates this time.

While I was in London I sent Harold and Mary a package each. I hope you get them safely and there is no duty to pay. I know that all soldier’s parcels are sent duty free, but the people in the post office did not know how I ought to mark the packets so I put “on Active Service” on them which I am beginning to think is wrong.

Anyway if there is trouble about them, you can show this letter to the Postal Authorities and it ought to fix matters.

When I was in France they took my camera and told me they would send it to you. This was some time ago, have you received it? If you have you can give it to Harold for a birthday present, I think he ought to be old enough to understand and look after it. I also got two Anzac books sent you ought to have got them by this.

I had some souvenirs for Harold but I lost them all when in hospital. I even lost my identity disk and some of Elsie’s and your letters, so I am sorry I could not send Mary one of my old badges.

England is very cold now, it was not too bad when I first came here, but it is very cold now, we had some snow one day, but we are getting frosts now, the sun does not seem to have any warmth in it and the frost stays on the ground all day.

I am camped at a place called Perham Downs on Salisbury Plains and it is very bleak. I had a good old look around London, saw the Tower and Crown Jewels, Westminster Abby, Buckingham Palace and all those places. In fact I can get around the town alright now. I can’t say that I was very much impressed. I suppose I expected too much after all I had heard and read about these places. London is very expensive now in every way. I think the cost of living as we know it is far cheaper in Australia.

Well it is getting late now so I must conclude. So wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year with best love to all at home.

I remain your loving son,


Tell Mary I am sorry I could not get a V.C. for her to wear as a pendant.

Address me to my battalion as usual.


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