A careless man doesn’t live long

Receiving letters was crutial for morale in the trenches
Receiving letters was crutial for morale in the trenches

This week we continue with Private Robert Templeton’s touching letters home to his mother in the last weeks before he was killed.

“Dear Mother

Jack Wallace has gone to hospital today. He got into trouble for not reporting sick sooner. He is very bad with boils on his legs. You have no idea what some of the boys are like when their shin breaks out. I was very sorry for him. He was in a bad state. His clothes were sticking to his shin. However, he is all right now and sure of a good rest and may miss a spell in the line.

Thanks for the shirt and socks. They were very welcome as they prevent one from being foot sore like some of them. It would give you a fright to see their feet.

We are to be here for a bit and then move up for some other push I expect, that is what is being talked about here anyway. This is Sunday so we have been to church and had a good sermon from the divisional minister as our own is on leave. It will be a while before I get leave, however, it will wear in some way.

Tell John (his brother) to write if he can find time. I feel for him so busy at home. All the same, he is better off than me, he has no lice to bother him and always a bed to go to. I am glad he is not to come here.

I was sleeping one night in the trenches and I seemed to see him and father coming up the trench. I got an awful fright until I realised it was only a dream. But I would not like to meet any of you here, at least in the trenches anyway. The man who does not look after himself does not live long.”

“Dear Mother

We have been warned to put no information about any movements of the battalion, whether it was in the line or not. It is a rule I have always observed as the penalty for doing so is very heavy and does you no good, so I will confine myself to only what concerns myself. I am in good health so far and hope to continue as it is not a very healthy country at present. We are having very dry weather this last few days it is better than the rain for us.

You are not to worry about me as I am all right and will write as often as I can.”

“Dear Mother

I am writing you a few lines today when I have time. We were on a route march today and it was very hot but it was not a long one, and a good job, as most of the boys have had plenty of it. It is different walking with nothing to carry as with a pack on. I had a letter from Uncle John a day or two ago and he seemed to be getting on all right. He was saying you had a good crop of weeds this year. But it is impossible for you to manage to get them under control when you have so few hands, and so much to do.

“Well, the weather is much improved now and I hope it will continue for a good while, as it will give you a chance to get finished up early. I had a letter from Jack Wallace and he was saying he was out of hospital and down at the base and expects to be joining us in a few days. He seems to be glad to get back to us again. He has had a good rest anyway. I have not had any letters for a few days but I am looking for some today, and hope John has time to write me a line soon.

We have had no word of a shift from here yet but will hardly be long now.

With love to all.

Your affectionate son Bob.”