Shadow

The history of Clophill, Bedfordshire, UK
Including historical descriptions, maps and statistical analysis.

World War One

Letters home

Letters back home were collected from the men at field post offices. These were equipped as comprehensively as a village sub-office. The mail was date-stamped with the field postmark and sent to the base post office for its journey home.

At the beginning of the war every letter home was opened and read by a junior officer. It was then opened and read again at the Home Depot to ensure that it contained no classified information about troop movements or casualties.

Eventually men could opt for an "Honour Envelope" which meant the letter would only be read in London, saving the embarrassment of having their deeply personal endearments read by a censor who they knew.

At its peak this incredible operation delivered over 12 million letters a week and one million parcels.


This is information gleaned from the 'Ampthill News' for the period of the war. The date of the issue of the paper containing the letter is shown.
Click the title to expand an item.


Saturday October 16, 1915

An optimistic letter to a school boy

Saturday October 16, 1915

Graphic description of fighting in France.

Saturday, October 30, 1915

Meeting old pals.

Saturday, October 30, 1915

Preparing for the winter.

Saturday, October 30, 1915

In the thick of it.

Saturday, January 22, 1916

Christmas message from King and Queen.

Saturday, May 13, 1916

Retreat from Gallipoli.

Saturday, July 8, 1916

Letter from the Rector in France saying Humph is wounded.

Saturday, July 8, 1916

An upbeat letter from Humph.

Saturday, September 23, 1916

Guarding Turkish prisoners

Saturday, December 2, 1916

Letter from the Rector describing life at the front.

Saturday, December 9, 1916

Life in Basrah.

Saturday, December 23, 1916

In hospital in Boulogne with diphtheria

Saturday, February 10, 1917

The 'Beds Times' reaches France.

Saturday, March 3, 1917

Eaten by rats in the trenches.

Saturday, August 11, 1917

'Please send some lard or dripping in a tin box.'

Saturday, August 18, 1917

Confident of victory.

Saturday, September 29, 1917

Letter from POW.

Saturday, February 2, 1918

Christmas in Palestine.

Saturday, February 2, 1918

Germans retreating.

Saturday, August 3, 1918

POW requests cake.