© Peter Hodgkinson 2016

Dr Peter E Hodgkinson Chartered Clinical Psychologist - Military Historian

The Letters of Private Whitham


Letters March-April 1915 – The Battle of Neuve Chapelle

By the time of this battle, Whitham is describing himself as with the Grenade Company, 2nd Yorks.




March 11th 1915


Dear Wife and Children

I write these few lines to you hoping to find you all in good health as it leaves me at present. How is the New Born going on? We had a set to on March 10th and as it is our wedding day today and I am not enjoying myself same as it was 10 years since. I happened to be unlucky same as a good lot of our fellows was. I have seen a thing as I don't want to see again as long as I live. Two of my mates got hit but we darn’t stop. We had to keep going. That was about dinnertime when they got hit and we keep going till dark when we got the order to dig ourselves in, but me and a good few round about did not get the chance because the Germans started sending shrapnel and I was hit with a piece. You need not be alarmed at this bit of news. So no more at present from your loving husband.


For Doris xxxxxxxx Emma xxxxxxxxx Fred xxxxxxxxx  and the New Born xxxxxxxx No 8143 Pte F Whitham, Grenade Company 2nd Yorks, 7 Division, British expeditionary field forces.


























March 22nd 1915


Dear Wife and Children

I write these few lines to you hoping to find you in good health as it leaves me at present. I am out of hospital and the hit that I got has left me a bit funny in the head. I cannot describe the feeling to you because it is so funny. I am deaf in the left ear. The noise that I hear is like a steam engine going. I don't get much rest with it I can tell you. When I am walking about I am like a drunken man, I reel from one side to the other. The dizziness comes on me now and again. I hope I am not going to suffer with it long. And I have not had a letter from you for a long time now. Hoping the war will not be long before it is ended. Please excuse this letter as I'm just having a bout again. So no more at present. Hoping to hear from you very soon.


For Doris xxxxxxxx Emma xxxxxxxxx Fred xxxxxxxxx  SA  xxxxxxxx Yourself xxxxxx  No 8143 Pte F Whitham, 2nd Yorkshire Regiment, 7th Division, Convalescent Camp, Le Havre, France.



March 24th 1915


Dear Wife and Children

I write these few lines to you hoping to find you in good health as it leave(s) me at present. I have now been in hospital and convalescent camp nearly a fortnight and receive no letters. The reason is with me moving about so much. My head is not right yet but I hope it soon will be. I am about fed up with this lot, it has made me deaf in the left ear and I cannot get any sleep from it. I am at times like a drunken man walking about. The wound that I receive(d) was just over the temple so you can guess what it will be like. I don't think that the Doctor has took the shrapnel that hit me out of my head. Hoping all is going all right at home.


For Doris xxxxxxxx Emma xxxxxxxxx Fred xxxxxxxxx  SA  xxxxxxxx Yourself xxxxxx  Pte  F Whitham,


2nd Yorkshire Regiment, No 1 Convalescent Depot, Parc D’or, Le Havre.

Please excuse this letter as I could tell you more if I could only see you but it can't be helped. So good morning. I received your letter this morning and was very glad. Do not send the watch. I am hard up for a smoke but I do not know whether I should get cigs or not if you sent them. You can send me some cigs if you will. I have not had a good smoke for nearly a week. And I am going on all right. Send them to the address I have put on the top of this sheet. Give Tom Middleton my best respects. Send cigs as soon as possible. Tell our Fred that I will bump him if God spares me to get home. So good morning. I received your letter Mar 24th and you posted it Mar 15th, so you can see how long it has took to get to me. It has been nearly all over the country.


March 28th 1915


Dear Wife and Children

I write these lines to you hoping to find you all in good health as it leaves me a present. I am getting on all right and will not be long before I am up in the firing line again. I have manage to dodge it once and I might be lucky to dodge it again. Don't forget to send them cigs.



April 2nd 1915


Dear Wife and Children

I write these few lines to you hoping to find you all in good health as it leaves me a present. I am all right now as far as I am concerned and I don't think I shall be long before I am going up to the front again. It was hard luck for me not to get home, but it can't be helped. I have received a letter from our Polly and have sent one back same time as you will get this. I am very pleased to hear that the firm has raised your money. And I have not seen or heard anything about Charlie Johnson when I came down to the base. I drop across Tommy Finn here. I don't care how soon this war is finished because I am about fed up with it - it was awful the last lot I was in. I don't want another do like that I can assure you. It was hell while it lasted and I was in it for about 18 hours. It is 10 to 1 on a bullet hitting you. Please excuse this letter as I have not much time now as I had when I was up at the front. I am working from 6 a.m. till 6 p.m. and am tired when I have finished. So no more at present. From your loving husband.


For Doris xxxxxxxx Emma xxxxxxxxx Fred xxxxxxxxx  SA  xxxxxxxx Yourself xxxxxx  No 8143 Pte  F Whitham, 2nd Batt Yorkshire Rgt, Base, Le Havre.


April 11th 1915


Dear Wife and Children

I write these few lines to you and hope you are all in good health as it leaves me at present. I received your letter and was very pleased. Do not send me any more oxo because I cannot make them here. I get plenty to eat and am as fat as a pig so you can tell how they are feeding me. I would like you to see me, you would be surprised to see what a change there is in me. They are sending all them up to the firing line that has not been up yet and I think it is nothing but right. Whatever you do send me a bit of a charm with it, will you please. You do not know how much think of you. They often said that absent (sic) makes the heart grow fonder and it is a true saying to(o) lass. You really cannot imagine what my thoughts are of you. They are not bad thoughts I can tell you that, and if God spares me to get over this, I mean to be a better lad. You did perfectly right in not going to the wedding and leaving the children all alone and you don't know how much I think of you for doing that action. You don't want to get downhearted, just think of your children lass, this war cannot last much longer. So good night.


For Doris xxxxxxxx Emma xxxxxxxxx Fred xxxxxxxxx  Sarah Anne  xxxxxxxx Yourself xxxxxx  No 8143 Pte  F Whitham, 2nd Yorkshire Rgt, Temperary (sic) Base, Le Havre, France.



April 13th 1915


Dear Wife and Children

I write these few lines to you hoping to find you in good health as it leaves me at present. It is all right about that letter as Jack Worsdale got because he must have put my old address on it and Collins was my pal. It was very good of him to send it back and if he had known who broke the letter open he would have given them a bit of his mind. Collins did not know where I was. I have just written him a letter to let him know where I am and if Jack Worsdale comes up, give him the address that you write to. It will be all right. Give my best respects to your Bob and his wife will you, and I will be glad when I can have a pint of Stones.* I shall try and look after myself, don't you bother. Give my best respects to Jack and his wife. So no more a present from your loving husband.


For Doris xxxxxxxx Emma xxxxxxxxx Fred xxxxxxxxx  Sarah Anne  xxxxxxxx Yourself xxxxxx  No 8143 Pte  F Whitham, 2nd Yorkshire Rgt, Temperary (sic) Base, Le Havre, France.



*Stones – a local Sheffield beer.



April 24th 1915


Dear Wife and Children

Do not write until I send you the address as I'm going up the line again. I will let you know, so good morning.


For the children xxxxxx


Index - Letters of Private Whitham

Mauquissart sector


IWM Q 42145