“It will be a great day for me when I see the horses again”

Horses ploughing a field
Horses ploughing a field

September 1917 was the last month in the relatively short life of Wigtownshire farmer’s son Robert Templeton, who died on the 26th, aged 26, after serving with the 5th/6th Battalion Cameronians, Scottish Rifles, for just under a year in the Great War.

The Templeton family have kept his poignant letters home to his mother Margaret while he was serving in France, exactly 100 years ago:

September 1st, 1917

“Dear Mother

I am writing you today as we are not very busy today cleaning up after the spell in the trenches. We are out for some time now and I hope the weather will keep good. It is raining just now, not a very good look out for the crops here. They are nearly all cut but have a lot to put in the stack yet. I am sure a good week would make all the difference to farmers and save an immense lot of grain for the country. However, it is all in good hands, and we can only hope for the best. I have not had any word from you for some days now, but I hope to have a letter today. In the last one you said you were having bad weather for stacking (the hay). I have seen it the same many a time before and a good harvest after all.

“You were saying the cows were doing very poorly this year. I suppose the cold weather will have been responsible, combined with the long dry spell in the early summer. Things are not looking very bright, it does not matter what way we look. Hope it improves soon.

“The parcel with the razor strap has gone west as I never got it. I will have to close now as it’s mail time.

With love from your affe (tionate) son Bob.”

September 4th, 1917

“Dear Mother

I got your letter today and I was glad to hear of you having nearly finished with the hay. I know it is a slow job if the weather is unsuitable but the last few days have been grand harvest days and I hope they are the same with you at home.

“I have not received your letter with the money yet. It must have been delayed in some way. It would have come in handy now as we are in rest billets. A fine country place, one of the best parts of France I have seen yet.

“I am glad you had the photos all right. One of the boys has been killed since then. The only one out of our platoon last spell up (in the frontline). But not one of my section however, they are all safe yet. I am glad to say.I have not had any word from (sister) Jessie for some time now but she will be busy I expect. I can’t look for many letters during harvest, when you are all so busy. I am glad that all the animals are doing so well, especially the horses. It will be a great day for me when I see them again.

Your affe son Bob.”