This letter was found in 2009 among some papers that belonged to my father’s great aunt (Hilda Hutchinson) who lived in California. It was written by her brother George’s wife (a widow) and illustrates very clearly the terrible effect the war was having on one family.
Sunday, Jan 28th 1917
My dear Hilda,
Was more than pleased to hear from you. I thought I was quite forgotten by Uncle George’s friends for ever. Uncle Fred and Aunt Clara never come to see us now. They have been twice since Uncle has been dead, which is over thirteen years now. I do miss him, more every day, but thank goodness, I have got good children. Sorry to say, I have had one of my boys missing five months through this wicked War, left a wife, with five children.
My son George has just come home from France has been out there fifteen months he does look so ill. I am afraid be he’s done for, he does not expect to go back to France. My other son has gone in the Army. He is expecting to go out any time. All my boys are in the Army. Your mother will remember the names of them. The one that is missing (Ernest) was such a dear good boy and a real mother’s boy.
My daughter Olive has been married now two years last September, her husband is such a good fellow, but of course, he is in the Army. He is in Egypt of course, now he has gone, Olive is living with me, Olive is such a good girl for I have been ill for years now. I cannot do any work, for three years could not dress myself but Thank God I am much better and now able to do a little work, in my own home. Olive has been good to me all the time of my illness and has never left me. My other daughter Bertha is getting on as well as can be expected as she also has bad health. I don’t know if your Mother knew she has lost her husband eleven years, she has three children. One was born after her husband died. Arch has got two children a boy and a girl. The boy is 14 years and the girl 10 years.
Now about yourself. So pleased to hear you have got such a good husband and that you are so happy. You must do all you can for your husband. I don’t think there is many of them about now. I am more than pleased to think that Olive has such a good husband. We shall be more than pleased to see him come home. We shall be very pleased to see you and your husband when ever you come to England and your cousin would do all she can for you to make you happy and comfortable.
It is dreadful in England now with the War going on. I do wish it was all over. You must thank God, that you are all over there, out of this trouble, the price of food is dreadful, I do wish it was all over. Pleased to hear that your mother and father and the rest of the family are keeping well, what a large family of you. I would like to see you all again. About your Grandmother, you did not put her number – but I will try and see what I can do for you, but the weather now is so bitterly cold but as soon as it gets warmer, I will go and find it for you and will let you know as soon as I can. It is not safe to go out of a night it is so dark, all shops close much earlier. It is not at all pleasant in England now, but then we must all hope for a brighter time. Well dear Hilda, I must now draw to a close. Give my love to Mother and Father tell them I shall be more than pleased to hear from them. Tell your mother that Eveline died two years before her father. I must now close hope these few lines, will find you and your husband in good health.
I am dear your affectionate Aunt Polly.
Olive’s husband died in Palestine. Earnest died in Flanders. George survived the war but never recovered from his injuries.