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.


Private Deane of the King’s Own Royal Scottish, writing to friends in Leeds of his experiences at Mons says.

“I was very lucky to be in the reinforcements.

We were going towards Mons to reinforce our regiment.

When we got near they were nearly all cut up. We have lost a lot of men, and nearly all our officers.

All this was caused by a French General, who should have sent his artillery, but he was twenty six hours late.

“It was an awful sight to see the houses burning and the women and children running about and screaming. They even used the women and children as cover, and made them march in front of them, so that we could not shoot at them.

We have captured thousands of Germans. They tell me how glad they are to have been captured by the British. They do not like to be taken by the French.”


A young Bridlington soldier, who is at the front with the men of the headquarter staff, writes home about the little domestic difficulties the soldiers are occasionally experiencing at the War.

“I shall be a handyman soon.

Yesterday afternoon I washed my only shirt. We were allowed only one with us, and one at the base.

I have washed it twice a month, and used all my soap. Washing is a luxury, but I have managed a couple of good swims.”

“The worst part of yesterday’s washing was that just as I had finished wringing it out orders came to move off.

I have been all night shirtless, and it looks as though I shall be a day or two without it, because I have no opportunity of hanging it out to dry.”

“It’s very little use having money here. All the towns and villages are shuttered and deserted. The only thing I buy is bread, at one shilling a loaf. Our army bread is usually about a month old, so a change is very nice.”


Writing to his wife in Leeds, A. Strachan of H.M.S. Bristol says:-

“We have left Trinidad, and are now steaming near the Brazilian coast, and have been so for close on a fortnight,

I think we shall be very near Africa by the time you get this letter.

By the time this commission is finished we shall have been round the world and back.

We have steamed nearly 80,000 miles since we left England, and are still in search of the German cruisers Dresden and Karlsruhe.”

“I hope you are not worrying. It won’t last very much longer.

Every trade route upon the high seas is blocked by British and French warships, and many German colliers and merchant ships have been captured.”

Man guilty of murdering wife and dumping body in Leeds woodland before setting it alight