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Batley soldier’s letter from the trenches

FAMILY HISTORY Norman Hanson with his mother's letter from the trenches and the silk bookmark honouring Lcpl George William Terry. (d610d410)

FAMILY HISTORY Norman Hanson with his mother's letter from the trenches and the silk bookmark honouring Lcpl George William Terry. (d610d410)

A letter from a soldier who never came home shone a light on life in the trenches.

Lance Corporal George William Terry died of bronchial pneumonia in Italy on November 30 1918. He had survived the war, but was unable to rejoin his family.

A letter sent to his cousin Nellie Metcalfe from the trenches dated October 15, 1917, describes Lcpl Henry’s plight – and has now connected Nellie’s son, Norman Hanson, of Mirfield, to a part of his family history he was unaware of.

Norman’s brother Peter discovered the letter, and a silk bookmark issued upon the Batley soldier’s death, after their mother passed away in 2000.

They also discovered the report of his death in the December 20, 1918 edition of Dewsbury Reporter – on a page filled with tributes to men who would not be returning to Batley and Dewsbury.

Norman said: “There were about five people on the page that died from pneumonia, not from being shot, which is amazing, really.

“They just didn’t have the medication for it.”

Lcpl Terry, of Purlwell Lane, Mount Pleasant, was laid to rest in the British military cemetery in Monteccio Precalcino in Veneto, Italy.

Nellie’s precious letter, from “lovely cousin George”, as she described him, speaks of the Dewsbury Feast gala he had missed, the design of his dug-out, and the difficulties of writing letters home, in the dark, with gunfire thundering around him.

Nellie, who was 12 at the time, also wrote to her cousin George to update him on life back home.

Norman added: “The letter is still held together with the original rusty pin.

“It’s valueless, you can’t sell it, but it’s so interesting.”

To read excerpts from Lcpl’s letter, click here.

 

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