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

Updated on January 19, 2012
"Sarpi. Tent lines at an Australian camp on the Aegean island of Lemnos."
"Sarpi. Tent lines at an Australian camp on the Aegean island of Lemnos." | Source

Frostbite, Scarce Water and Christmas Billies

In this letter written from 'Sarpi' a rest camp (pictured), on the Greek Island of Lemnos, my great grandfather describes his recent experiences fighting at Gallipoli. The weather had grown terribly cold as he had predicted in his previous letter and the soldiers endured snow, lack of water and the squalid reality of life in the trenches.

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Transcribed letter

Sarpi, Lemnos

Christmas Day 1915

My Dear Mother,

As perhaps you know by now, we have left Gallipoli. We were back there for a while and it was very cold, snow lay on the ground for about a week and there were plenty of cases of frostbite. I believe one man died of the cold, but they say that the Australians stood it better than the Pommies.

My battalion was in a very good position and we only had a few casualties. Water was very scarce in spite of the snow, we had hardly enough to drink. I had one shave and washed my face and hands and so went dry for a day, that was my only wash in the six weeks we were there.

I was appointed a sharpshooter and given a patent telescopic rifle and so was able to get a few scalps but [xxxxx] kept pretty quiet.

We received the long looked for Christmas billies the day before yesterday, also a Christmas pudding, swallow and angels. The billies were mostly put up very well. I got rather a good one, this pad I am writing on was in it.

I received two of your letters one dated October 4th and the other October 26th but no parcels except my birthday one, up to date.

We went for a march to a place called Therma yesterday, where there are hot mineral springs and we all had a good bath. It was badly needed, it cost us a shilling each, but was worth ten times the money, one fellow said, "I bet there's a lot of Gallipoli soil in there now". He was about right, I know I got rid of a lot.

I am very disappointed that I did not have any films for my camera. I could have taken some good photos, a mate of mine in Cairo sent me some but I never got them.

I wish you would not worry about me, you can depend that while you are getting my money, I am still alive. I have a feeling that I will get through this business alright.

I am very sorry to hear you have been ill, I hope Brisbane will brace you up again. When I get out of this business, I think I will try to settle down and get a home for you in the country where you will always be well.

Well I must now conclude, so trusting you get this safely with best love to all at home.

I remain your loving son,


Note: The Thermal Springs that my great grandfather visited are now a tourist attraction in the Greek Islands. Read more about them here.

For easier navigation I have listed each letter 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 (current page)

  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
  15. 22 Oct 1917: Wounded in the Battle of Pozières - the Somme: WW1 Letter home
  16. Postcards from World War One - France

For background information about Reginald Trevor, please click here.


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    • Rufus rambles profile image

      Rufus rambles 6 years ago from Australia

      @CASE1WORKER: Yes I wholly agree with you. It is amazing how my great grandfather shields his mother and reasures her constantly throughout his letters. He rarely complains and always thanks her and expresses concern for her.

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 6 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      Thankyou so much- what a normal letter and how normal to concentrate on personal hygiene- his mother would have been astounded by the lack of washing- she could understand that rather than fighting.

    • Rufus rambles profile image

      Rufus rambles 6 years ago from Australia

      @Londonlady: Thanks for your feedback - it is great having the original letters, it makes it so much more meaningful. I am so glad I can preserve them in this way.

    • Londonlady profile image

      Laura Writes 6 years ago

      This was really interesting to read! Having the originals on the side makes it all the more worthwhile. Great hub, voted up!