Letters From The Trenches

Like many people, I have read a great deal of books concerning the First World War over the last year or so. There are thousands of stories to be told and almLetters

Letters From The Trenches by Jacqueline Wadsworth is one such book. The title alone was enough to excite my interest; letters sent to and from the trenches between families and loved ones give us perhaps the best insight into trench life, and Wadsworth has certainly done her research here. She covers a whole breadth of experience from the declaration of war, the early days of excitement, through to the increasing mechanisation of war, the unimaginable sense of loss and on into to the aftermath. She has drawn on a wealth of previously unpublished material to paint a vivid picture of life not just in the trenches of the western front, but from theatres of war as far flung as Mesopotania and South Africa.

The letters are simple, not great works of prose from respected literary figures, but they are all the more heartfelt for that. Charles Alderton writes to tell his family that he realises how much had been done for him at home, and now he was learning to be thankful for it. Another man writes asking his wife to send a brief letter explaining that her Mother is ‘much worse’ in the hope that it might earn him a brief, much needed, leave. The reader also gets a sense of the way war can shift perceptions of normality with matter of fact accounts of ‘good meals porridge &c’ casually sitting two lines below the discovery of the ‘remains of one or two Boche’ in a recently won dugout.

Letters From The Trenches is a thoroughly researched, well written book that allows those who were involved in the First World War to speak for themselves within an informative and engaging factual framework. It gives the reader a fresh insight into the lives of ordinary Tommies and will have you digging about in your family archives in the hope of uncovering stories of your own.

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