My Dearest Wilfred,
I have not been prompt in replying to your last missive as there is a shortage of writing paper. Mrs Brookes has kindly loaned me some of her precious Basildon Bond, I have to replace when I can. She was saving the last sheet to write to her beloved son who left for the trenches a week ago. Dad understands my urgent neet to write to you my brave soldier; and has promised that he will try to borrow a sheet, if you know what I mean, from Master Harold’s study when he is doing his daily chores up at the Manor House.
I cannot stop looking at my engagement ring you gave me before you were taken away from me so abruptly. It shines so brightly, it gives me a warm feeling in my bosom knowing how you worked like a Trojan to pay for it. I want you to know my handsome sweetheart that I miss you now and for all eternity. You are the blood that flows through my veins – you are my limbs, you are my eyes, you are my life. I see your strong chiselled face everywhere I go, I see you in the flames of the fire – a silhouette in the dark – in the fluffy white clouds. My love, I see you walking alongside me, you are my shadow. Most of all I feel you in my heart. It’s pining for your tender touch, your loving smile.
My thoughts are with you every minute of the day. I imagine what it must be like in the trenches and the duties bestowed upon you. The fixing of the duckboard, the emptying of the filthy latrines, and cleaning of your rifle. The rat infestation; oh, my darling this is a living hell for you and your comrades. How mundane this must be for you, a chore that is repeated every day.
The ‘Morning Hate’ you told me about in your last correspondence was sickening and the ‘Stand To.’ War is a necessary evil – but, my love, I wish with all my heart that you weren’t part of it.
How is your friend, Arnold, who contracted dysentery, and Arthur, with trench foot? The conditions are akin to the devils curse. I will go to church on Sunday and pray for you and your fellow countrymen to return safely to their families.
Some news from the village. Mrs Gladstone’s son Wilbur got married last week – the whole village came to celebrate. The ladies’ came out wearing their pretty frocks made from old curtains. They had little food, and unfortunately no beer. Mr Gladstone made do with a tankard of Ye Olde Cider from farmer Perkins. The bride looked lovely in a lace dress that belonged to her Grandmother. Mary Lloyd is with child – 6 months gone.
My dear, I hope this news fills you with joy, knowing your kin-folk and compatriots wish you a speedy and safe return.
Before I retire to my bed – I want you to know that I will wait for you forever; if by the grace of God you do not return – I promise I will be with you one day in spirit. May God bless you and bring you home to your future bride.
God speed my brave soldier
Your sweetheart, Jeanette