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1915: A few lines from the front

Updated: Jan 20, 2022

Sussex Agricultural Express - Friday 26 November 1915


Through the kindness Mrs. Bourne, Beeching's Farm, we are to publish the following extracts of a letter recently received by her her son. Private Fred Bourne, “A" Company, 5th (Entrenching Battalion) Royal Sussex Regiment. Mrs. Bourne has lost two sons in the War. The letter says:—

“Just a few lines to you. I am so sorry I have not written before, but I have been waiting to hear from you.

To-day (Sunday) a nice parcel came along, which you sent on the 8th, for it had been lost, and somebody had done it up afresh, and all that was in it was a packet of fags, a little piece of cake, and two or three apples. I don't know what you sent, so I thought I had better write and tell you about it. What there was came in handy, for I had been to work all day long cutting down big trees, for we have to work hard,. 'not half.' And sometimes we only have two biscuits and a bit cheese to eat. so the apples help to fill up when we are at work.

Men of the Royal Sussex Regiment (above) at their annual camp in Arundel in 1914

We have one day off in eight, working Sundays just the same other days. Today, when I was nibbling a hard biscuit for dinner, I thought of you all sitting down for a nice hot meal; but still, never mind, must cheer up and make the best it. My mates keep writing for parcels, and when they come we go shares. Mark Matthews had two parcels to-night, and they were smashed to pieces.

Don't send me any fruit another time, we can get plenty of apples. You can send cake, a few envelopes, and some matches, we are in a place where we cannot get anything but a drop of wine, and that is 10d a pint, but it warms us up of a night.

We have been having some rough weather lately, raining hard all day long. But we have to go out—wet weather doesn’t matter - and for many nights I have slept in my wet trousers, and 'slub' up to my neck. We start in the morning at half-past seven, and have three miles to walk, and come off at four o'clock in the afternoon, I shall keep them till I come home: that is, if we are allowed to come.

I don't know if we are going have Christmas leave not. I shall be glad to get home for a few days, for I have a lot of news to tell you when we meet.

We must wait patiently for the day to come. l am writing this letter in an old barn to-night, and it is very cold.

Write back and tell all the news, and please send paper."



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