Leeds Mercury 1914: Letters from the Front

Share this article
Have your say

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.


The Reverend H. C. Foster, a Goole curate who on the outbreak of the War joined the navy, has written to a friend in Goole

He was chaplain to the Second Naval Brigade, and went through the fighting at Antwerp.

“The flight of the refugees from Antwerp was terrible, he says.

Old ladies hobbling along on sticks, married women wheeling and carrying babies and young children, old men carting away precious belongings, children walking hand in hand gazing in terror at the sights they saw.

There was one significant feature about this unending procession.

It was absolutely silent.

For all the world, it was like a procession of the dead.


Writing from H.M.S. Bristol in the South Atlantic to his wife in Leeds, Albert Strachan says:-

“We have scarcely had any news as to how things are going on in England.

As for the Bristol, she is continually on the move. As soon as the coal is in the ship we are off again.

We are on the lookout for German warships and also helping to keep the trade routes blocked to German shipping. I hope to see the ship in England by this side of Christmas.

They say there are 500 mail bags waiting for the Fleet at St. Lucia.

We have been eight days at sea since the last coaling, and it has been very rough most of the week.

The last place we coaled at was the Abonhlias Islands.

We had a wireless message about the steamship Macedonia being in action and sinking a German liner so we had to steam in the opposite direction doing a full power trial.”

A SOLDIER’S MASCOT (this has been read)

Driver W. Ainsworth of the R.F.A. who is also a Rotherham man writes.

“I am in the land of the living, although at present we are going through hell itself.

We have lost our Colonel and the Major who took his place and several other officers and God knows how many men.

I have had miraculous luck. Only yesterday a shell dropped right in front of my horses but didn’t burst.

I think I owe all my luck to a mascot I carry in my knapsack.

It is a beautiful crucifix, given to me by a French woman for helping them out of danger. It is silver enamel and marble and she made me take it.”

Millennium Square and Leeds Civic Hall, Leeds City Centre.

5% council tax rise for Leeds approved at budget meeting