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Walter Carter
WW1 Soldier's Tale

29th June 1918

Walter: A new CO has taken command of the battalion today. Lieutenant Colonel E.B. North of the Royal Fusiliers. Should meet him this afternoon. Meanwhile, we’ve heard about the Llandovery Castle hospital ship being sunk. The reports say she had all her lights on and a large Red Cross signal displayed, so the German submarine must have known it was torpedoing a hospital ship. They reckon they thought there were American airmen hiding on board or something. In the end only one lifeboat of people got away and all the Canadian nursing sisters on board drowned. Bloody awful.

John: You never target a hospital ship. Counts as murder in my book…

To find out more about the Llandovery Castle, visit https://goo.gl/FncASr

28th June 1918

Walter: About to join the line alongside the XIV French Corps. Not looking forward to more front line work and glad to have this from Ed to distract me… He finally caught the attention of that American girl!

Ed: Mabel, I said I’d let you know. I didn’t have to buck up the courage to speak to Thelma in the end – she spoke to me! She knows her own mind, eh? I got to the front of the queue for my fifth doughnut of the week and she gives me a big smile and says, ‘I was hoping you’d be here today’. Can you believe that? So I grinned back like a loon (the rest of the boys were whooping and jeering all the time) and started to ask her out but then remembered we’re moving on tomorrow as we’re going into action. So she said maybe she’d write to me. ‘Maybe’ is good enough for me.

Lily: Ed, you old softie. I’m so glad she seems to like you too. Fingers crossed she writes!

26th June 1918

Walter: Headed towards the front again. Marching. Couple of discipline issues but the lads have mostly been good as gold. And I was chuffed to get a letter from Lil just before we left. A few bits of news from home and she says she misses me. God knows, I miss her too. I left for France when I was 19 and I’m 22 now, so think of all that time we could have been together and making plans…

Lily: I love you, Walter Carter. And you know I miss you and worry about you something awful. When I get upset about it I try to remember we’ve been fortunate, really. I look at all my friends who’ve lost boyfriends or husbands and I count my lucky stars.

To read more love letters from the war, visit https://goo.gl/RNbMKw

22nd June 1918

Ed: Well, my day just got better. Thelma’s back at the top of the doughnut queue. I’d given up hope she was coming back. Reckon I should speak to her?

Walter shares: Just seen this from Ed. Go and speak to her! You’d be an idiot not to.

Lily: Speak to her! Oh Ed, you have to.

Ed: Well, today I managed to say, ‘Hello nice weather see you again bye’. Does that count…?

Fred: I reckon that don’t count mate. Mabel says you’ve got to just tell her straight, no nonsense. And tell us how you get on or she’ll be going on about it all week.

To find out more about the object of Ed’s affection, visit https://goo.gl/YReCcH

20th June 1918

Walter: Tell you what, I’ve never known so many getting sick from flu at this time of year. We keep having to send blokes off for medical attention, which is a pain as every time a man reports sick he has to be replaced or someone has to cover his duties. Any ideas, Rose? And how’s your ankle?

Rose: Hi Walt. The ankle’s doing alright, thanks. I’m starting to think I could get back out and start being useful again sometime soon. Sitting around at home is driving me barmy. And I’m not sure what to suggest for the influenza that you’d be able to get hold of. There have been a few cases back here and I’ve had letters from nurse friends in France who say the same thing – growing numbers of cases, all nationalities. I hope it doesn’t get to you as well. Perhaps I could send you out some cough lozenges, just in case.

Walter: Thanks, Rosie.

Mary: Don’t listen to her when she says she’ll be ready to come back out soon. She’s nowhere near well enough, just impatient. She ought to be resting but I have all sorts of trouble keeping her in the house, even. Typical Rose. She’ll do herself a mischief one of these days.

To read an article from 1918 wondering about the new influenza outbreak, visit https://goo.gl/fy59VM

18th June 1918

Walter: Well done to Reg Tallis and his boys! It was the Brigade Final A.R.A. Bullet and Bayonet competition yesterday and his platoon won! They did really well. You’d never peg Reg as a leader if you met him in ordinary life, but I know he’s not as daft as he makes out. It’s just his way of keeping morale up and getting people to do tasks without having to order them about too much. He can keep calling it ‘luck’ all he likes, but I reckon there’s more to it than that.

Reg: I keep telling you, Sar Major. Some people’s just lucky, and that’s me.

George: Good work, Reg! Let us know when you’re getting in the drinks to celebrate.

To see this competition recorded in the battalion War Diary, visit https://goo.gl/4sJAHd

14th June 1918

Walter: Beautiful weather today and we’re at Audrehem, miles from the front line. Good thing too. If Fritz got this far up towards the channel ports we’d be getting worried, just the like the French would be if he got near Paris. Anyway, the battalion officers and most of the NCOs are about to spend the day on the local bombing range for an introduction to a new type of grenade. Once we’ve got the hang of it then we can instruct the others – that could be the dangerous part! This is turning more and more into a war of movement, with Fritz pulling back all over the place and our front line trenches becoming more like a series of strongholds – easy to defend and easy to get out of if necessary. So I suppose these new grenades are part of the plan to give us a better range of personal weaponry.

To find out more about Walter’s new grenade, visit https://goo.gl/mL84FU

13th June 1918

Walter: Is this true? Our week-old copy of the Express seems to think so. All of us are hanging on to the hope that we won’t prove it wrong. Foch seems to have a grand plan for all the Allied armies on the Western Front as a whole, so fingers crossed he knows what he’s on about.

Ed: Didn’t we lose the American War of Independence?

To read about British military defeats, visit https://goo.gl/VfdCZn

11th June 1918

Mary: Oh Walter, I forgot to send your birthday parcel for yesterday! I feel terrible about it, I’m so sorry. What with Rose being here, things have been so much busier than usual. I’ll make up a package today. Portella’s are having a big sale of stock they bought ‘when the markets were easier’, so I’ll buy a few undies and so on and put them in for you.

Walter: Don’t worry, Ma, I barely noticed my birthday myself. I’ll be very glad to get a parcel though, thank you. I’ve already used up (shared out, more like) all the bits from Lily’s parcel last month.

Lily: Hope you got my letter, Walt! Can hardly believe you’re 22 now. Fingers crossed this war will be over and I’ll get to see you more before either of us gets much older… Walter likes

To read about the effect of war on the world’s financial markets, visit https://goo.gl/i1n8cS

8th June 1918

Ed: My horse came back today. The Vet Corps really are good. They reckon they send 80% of the animals they treat back into active service. I’m chuffed to have him back again.

Walter: Glad he got on alright, Ed. We pass loads of horse carcasses, so I’m glad to hear some good news.

To find out more about the Army Veterinary Service, visit https://goo.gl/7cCnjC

7th June 1918

Jamie: Just to top off a grand week down in London, today my lassie Rose heard she’s going to get the Military Medal! It’s in the London Gazette and everything. They gave them to women for the first time last year and now Rosie’s getting one for her work during the bombing raid that she was injured in. It turns out she hadn’t told us the full story of how brave she was. The citation says she stayed in the hospital until the last possible minute, organising the evacuation of patients while bombs were still falling and all while hopping about with her broken ankle. I’m so proud of her.

Walter: Blimey, Rose! You kept quiet about this. Congratulations! That’s two Military Medals in the family now. It’ll be your turn next, Ed.

Mary: We’re over the moon! Thomas keeps chuckling to himself and shaking his head and muttering about how times have changed.

Ed: I’ll keep letting the side down, don’t worry. Well done, Rosie.

Mabel: About time women got recognised too. Great news.

To read more about Military Medals awarded to nurses, visit   https://goo.gl/Hfz9VH

5th June 1918

Walter: Hearing about Rose being home has made me wish I could get some leave. No chance of that though. Men out here go a year and a half without leave at the moment. Everyone keeps complaining that it ought to be changed. Well, apart from the officers – they’re supposed to get leave every three months. Anyway, got to go, more route marches today…

Lily: I wish you could get some leave too. I know you’re needed but it’s not fair that they make you wait so long.

To find out more about home leave, visit https://goo.gl/Xefxij

1st June 1918

Rose: I can’t quite believe this evening’s gone the way it has. I was so worried when Jamie showed up at the hospital – what a way for him to meet my parents! And, of course, Ma said he should come for dinner. So he came to meet us at Sabine Road when I was allowed home and my nerves nearly got the better of me (apparently I can cope with all sorts of injuries and a bombing raid but not this). Still, I needn’t have worried. Ma and Pa snuck a few concerned looks at Jamie’s missing leg, but he made manoeuvring around our little house look easy. And he was such a sweetheart, remembering all the things I put in my letters and asking about Ma’s cooking group. I think she was quite won over. She even said, and I quote, ‘Well, Scotland’s not so far away these days, is it?’ I nearly spat my dinner out. Now he’s gone to stay with a friend nearby, so hopefully I’ll see him a bit more over the next few days.

Walter: My sister’s fella has been round for dinner back home. Did Ma really say that about Scotland, Rose? She’s softening up in her old age…

Mary: That’s enough about ‘old age’, Walter! He was just a nice boy. You could learn some manners from him.

To read more love stories from the First World War, visit https://goo.gl/qQPoJk

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Now available as a Paperback and on Kindle
Walter Carter
WW1 Soldier's Tale