SL248/1/3/9 Letter to Mrs Greig, 86 Grange Loan, Edinburgh, Scotland (transcription of letter below images)
27th May 1915
My dear Mother
I’m just sending home a parcel on the 27-5-15. It contains some souvenirs, a woollen muffer and a big waterproof sheet. I’m going to send another parcel either today or tomorrow containing a waterproof and the leather lining if they are less than 11 lbs weight together. I’m also sending some letters home which I want you to put beside the others in my box. Also a pair of spurs that I picked up from somewhere. I’m sending my watch home for you to keep for me. I’ll register it though. I’ll write later on to tell you how many parcels to expect altogether. I’ve just sent one off just now. I’m sending home my rabbit skin boots because it is now too hot to wear them. I’ve just started repairs with regard to my clothes as it is high time after the winter mud. My trousers have stood the strain jolly well, they have only just cut through at the inside of my knees. I’m getting quite a dab hand at sewing and darning now. You would be quite surprised at what I can do when I have to. The French people are quite flabberghasted at a British Officer being able to sew and darn. It’s quite amusing for us I can tell you. Now I’ll need to stop because it is tea-time and I’ll send off the parcel with my watch in it later on. Hoping you are all well
Lots of love and kisses from your loving son
We will hear more from Hew on Sunday!
SL248/1/3/8 Letter to father, Rev Greig, 86 Grange Loan, Edinburgh, Scotland (transcription below images)
24th May 1915
My Dear Daddy
Thanks very much for that interesting letter of yours dated 19th May. Oh by the by will you please tell mother that the parcel landed safely and that the cream was in perfect order and was thoroughly enjoyed by Capt. Richardson and myself. We eat it all up in one meal on some preserved tinned fruit. Awful good it was I can tell you. He got some Devonshire Cream out the next day so we both eat 3 huge table-spoonfulls of it at dinner the next night. Wonder we weren’t ill eh!! But we weren’t. It was bad luck for the kids not having bonfires on Victoria day. Please thank Annie for the photos and ask her if she wants them back or if I can keep them. I’m getting quite a collection of them now. Tell her she is a lucky beggar learning to drive a motor-car. I can do so a little but I’m not very great at it, a motor-bike is more in my line. I’ll have one too if I come through the war safely. There’ll be plenty knocking about cheap. I can also stick on a horse while it tries to jump ditches, about a yard wide, so I’m not so bad. I must have a shot on one with Daisy when I come home again.
Lucky beggar Annie is not coming out her until June. I’ve had enough of this country now and would like to get back home again. I think they should send all those strikers out here, we’d look after them quite well. There’s no striking out here I can tell you.
Nancy seems to be enjoying herself pretty well except when she has to examine a lot of grubby kids who haven’t had a wash for 18 months as the song goes. I also got two letters from Auntie Louie yesterday.
I guess we will be back here for a week or two to “reorganise” the coys. as a lot were badly cut up. I’m glad to hear that Dillon had recovered from his illness again. He has had a very bad time of it during the last Winter. I think he was on the sick list 3 times all together. I’m glad to see that you are improving even although you have to be looked after. I’m tired of this beastly war and would like to come back and help to look after you myself. Now I’ll have to stop as I’ve got a parade on and will have to see that it goes on alright.
Lots of love and kisses from your loving son
Come back on Wednesday for his next letter…
SL248/1/3/7 Letter to Mrs Greig, 86 Grange Loan, Edinburgh, Scotland (transcription below images)
20th May 1915
My dear Mother
How is life at home.
I’ve had three days of the fighting and got the fright of my life. I went into action on Sunday last and of course got into the hottest corner accidently. At least we were sent there so we had to go. By jove we gave the Germans the fright of their lives, when we started with our bombs. We had rather a bad time of it in one trench because we got shelled out of it and had to retire. I don’t want any more of it but I’m rather afraid that they can’t do without us. What has been happening at home? I haven’t heard a word because the mail for the last week has not been issued yet. It was kept back with the transport.
I don’t know how we are getting on in the firing line now but when I left it we were doing not bad. How is Dr Bowie getting on now?
Now I’ll have to stop because I am dead tired and will probably have to move early tomorrow morning. How is everybody at home? Lots of love and kisses to you all and especially to yourself
Your loving son
This letter in particular paints a very vivid scene of what life was like for those such as Hew at this time, and how life was incredibly hard.
We have another letter from Hew on the 24th May.
SL248/1/3/6 Field Service Post Card to his father, 86 Grange Loan, Edinburgh, Scotland
Field service postcards were used by soldiers to send quick messages home without the need for censoring. Hew was allowed to delete as appropriate from the selection of pre-printed sentences. Had he added anything other than his signature and the date the postcard would have been destroyed.
The men used these postcards when on active duty as this would sometimes be the only way to tell loved ones that they were ok, and alive, especially if they were currently in the trenches.
There will be more from Hew published tomorrow…
SL248/1/3/5 Letter to Mr Greig (transcription below images)
13th May 1915
My dear Father
Thanks very much for your letter. I can only write a short one just now as I’ve to go down to the trenches this afternoon to see them [,] they are new ones. The men all seem to like me very much and some of them say that they are coming with me rather than the captain if we are in the attack. That shows that they like me doesn’t it. I’m glad to hear that mother is still winning as usual with her dogs. I’m glad to hear that Dr Bowie is getting on quite safely now. It is quite a brainy idea to get the passports ready because they are awfully hard to get. Goodness alone knows where I will be sent if I am wounded so they had better wait till they get word from either myself or the hospital staff. There is just a chance that they could find me without though. I am glad to hear that Arthur has got his Commission now. It’s about time. I didn’t get a chance to look round for Prof. Paterson’s son’s grave while I was at Neuve Chapelle.
The sun isn’t nearly bad enough to need glasses yet. When it is we will soon make shift with something. Trust a Tommy!
There is plenty doing nowadays but nothing drastic. The drastic part for us has been postponed for a few days but we all know that we are in for it this next time. We are just kept hanging about in suspense, beastly rotten feeling but it isn’t bothering us at present because we have got used to it by now. No more news so I’ll stop.
Lots of love and hoping you will get better again from your loving son
There will b more from Hew on the 19th of May…
SL248/1/3/4 Letter to Mrs Greig, 86 Grange Loan, Edinburgh, Scotland (transcription below letter image)
7th May 1915
My dear Mother
Will you take what steps you like about writing to Dillon or his C.O. I haven’t heard anything about him or from him. It was only £4 not £6. I don’t know where you got the £6 idea from. I received your letter dated 3-5-15. There was nothing in Jim’s letter. The skin boots have not got worn out yet as I don’t use them now, it’s too warm. Lots of love etc. Hew
The next installment from Hew will be published here on 13th May…
SL248/1/3/3 Letter to Mrs Grieg, 86 Grange Loan, Edinburgh, Scotland (transcripton below letter images)
29th April 1915
My dear Mother
I’ve just had a letter from Mrs Carslake at Saltash saying that she envies Miss Diggin’s photo of me and asks me to send her one. She was awfully good to me when I was billeted with her so will you send her one like the one you sent to Miss Diggins. I seem to be most awfully well liked everywhere I’ve gone so far. The men in my Coy [.] of the Queens seem to like me very much, as they want to know when I’m coming back to them again. I passed them on the march yesterday and they started to cheer when I got level to them. By jove the Capt. was angry because he hates me. I can’t stand him and I don’t forget to let him know it. However I don’t care a hang for him and after I’ve pitched into him once or twice he is alright. However I’ve finished with him for a while and have got a jolly decent Capt. as my O.C. Coy. now. We haven’t moved as yet today but may move at any moment. Probably up north. Will you send a photo of me down to Mrs Carslake, her address is Terivote , Essa Road, Saltash, Cornwall, England. One like Miss Diggin’s one. What did Louis catch in the farg? Lots of love to you all. And plenty of love and kisses for you from your loving son Hew.
There will be more insights from Hew and his time on the Front Line on the 7th May!
SL248/1/3/2 Letter to Mrs Greig, 86 Grange Loan, Edinburgh, Scotland (transcription below letter images)
On the Move
My dear Mother
How are you keeping nowadays [?] Out here we are still as well as ever. We got on the move yesterday and as a result I may have the chance of seeing Dr Bowie as we are going to where he was perhaps. At least we have stopped half way and don’t know whether we shall have to go on or to go back. Things seem to have quietened down a bit so the Old 7th Dev. may not be needed Afterall. I suppose you all are in the midst of Spring cleaning now so you’ll have plenty to do. With regard to my camera I don’t mind whether you send it out or not at present. It will always come in handy as long as no staff-generals come along. Now I’ll have to stop. Lots of love and kisses from your loving son Hew.
More from Hew tomorrow…
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SL248/1/3/1 Letter to his mother and father, 86 Grange Loan, Edinburgh, Scotland (transcription below the letter images)
10th April 1915
My dear Mother and Father
Thanks very much for your letters I got them two or three days ago. I was just going into the trenches so as they were beastly wet for a couple of days I hadn’t very much time for writing, in fact I used all my spare time in sleeping. I believe we are being relieved tomorrow so I get back for another few days.
Thanks very much for my watch I got it quite safely. The skin socks have come in jolly useful as I’m back to trench life again for a while. I fairly laughed at some of the other subs when they saw them. They all wished that they had had a pair.
Nancy seems to be in luck if she gets that post. By the by I’ve got my disc so you can rest easy.
I can’t find a Scotch Chaplain as nearly all the troops here are English and have English Chaplains. There is a Scotch Regiment beside us but I can’t get near them as they are usually in the trenches when we are out. I’m pleased to hear that Father is going to Glenfarg. It always does him good. I suppose you will let Louis do some fishing. Daisy ought to be able to teach him. I don’t think inoculation bothered me half as much as it did Jimmy. I still have ½ of the flask full of brandy so I won’t need any sent out for a while. Will you send me out a tin of cocoa or coffee in each parcel as we get tea only for rations. We buy French stuff but it isn’t up to much. Just as small tin of either will do nicely. I think pepermint sweets are jolly good as they keep the heat in your body on a cold night while on duty. The small extra strong ones are very nice. The rest of the parcels are very nice, just the sort of thing we want. The rations make up the plain things while the parcels and what we buy make up the luxuries. I had quite an exciting time of it last night. The Germans started poping some shells over our trenches because our Machine Guns opened fire. Well they fired 8 shots while I was off duty and then were quiet for about 4 hours and just at the end of my 4 hours duty they set fly again. The last shot landed right on the top of the parapet and burst. I just happened to be walking down the trench and I heard it coming so I ducked. The result was that it landed about 10 feet away from me and sent sandbags flying in all directions. Half a sandbag hut me between my shoulders and of course knocked me spinning but didn’t hurt me. I was absolutely covered in brick dust.
I’m holding the book in my hand so you will need to excuse the writing.
Things are quiet about here just now. Now I’ll need to stop. Hoping you all are well again. lots of love and kisses from your loving son, Hew
The next letter from Hew will be posted on 28th April…