Again, looking back at a previous blog, I came across a post concerning my Grandad in the first world war. I thought I’d re-post it here. This is an update on a post I made on 5th August 2014…
My interest in the history of the first world war was started by very brief conversations I had with my grandad at a very young age. He and his brother served in the East Yorkshire regiment during the war and both were on the Somme during this horrendous battle. Unfortunately my grandad’s brother, my Uncle George, my grandad’s elder brother, died there – on 3rd November 1916, close to the end of the battle. This letter was therefore written in November 1916.
I recently found out that there was a letter in existence that my grandad wrote to his mother telling her about Uncle George (I presume she had received the dreaded telegram by the time she received my grandad’s letter but I am not sure). Today I got a copy of this letter. It doesn’t really go into the horrors of the trenches, but this is clear in the first part of the letter when my grandad is advising one of his younger brothers not to enlist (he regretted it) and if he did, to avoid the infantry. It goes on to give some details about how Uncle George died. I have heard he was a sniper which may explain why, according to the letter, he used to pass things on to my grandad – their pay was slightly better and I believe probably received better rations.
It is a letter which thousands of tommies will have sent home to loved ones. To the historian it is probably nothing special, but to me it means the world and as you read it you can feel the sorrow in my grandad. A man I knew to be one of the most kind-hearted, warmest people I’ve ever met. To me he is a hero.
I’ve tried to scan the letter in the images below. (if you click on the images you can get a larger image and you should be able to read what he says). (By the way a ‘Rum Jar’ which my grandad makes reference to having caused the wounds that led to the death of his brother wasn’t a jar for rum, it was trench slang for a German home-made trench mortar – filled with all sorts of metal – not a pleasant thing to explode near you)
My Grandad, Private Arthur Potts & his brother Private George Potts
My Uncle George’s grave at Euston Road Cemetery, Colincamps, France
My grandad on his wedding day to my grandma and my grandad as I remember him later in life…
After I’d posted this, another letter he wrote to his sister and a post card he sent from the front came to light.