Letters from The Great War – “They are starving us”

Southport, September 28th, 1915 (Letter #4)

My Dear Brother;

Your most welcome letters received. Got all your letters in a bunch. Got six in one day. Was more than pleased to hear from you all. I was on light duty for a week. I got sand in my left eye and got cold in it. It was awful sore for a few days but it is all better now.

Well I am going to the doctor tomorrow for the next draft. I was there this afternoon, but they did not get to me, but I don’t think we will go for a couple of months yet. There is still one draft of us fellows under orders to go any minute, now about 3800 of them. You know we are all going out in drafts from here. They are not sending any battalions from here. You see, Jack, we are the third seventh, so they are taking us in drafts to fill up the lines for the first and second seventh that is killed and wounded.

I wish you could see me. I am dark and not very fat. Damn them, they are starving us on army rations. Now I will tell you what we are getting for breakfast. We get one egg boiled and the eggs came over in the Ark. We call them German bombs, as they explode when you crack the shell, and one dry bread with a pint of tea or dishwater, as it tastes more like dishwater than tea. For dinner we get some boiled meat, about ½ pound, one potato, 1 round dry bread and a pint of tea. For tea, we get one tomato or one boiled egg and two rounds of dry bread; I have not seen butter since I came here and the usual pint of dishwater, so you see we live quite high. I think if I got a good square meal, I would drop dead.

Well I don’t know what to do with my money. We get one shilling a day and that is 24 cents. We are supposed to get paid every week, but we have not got a damn cent for a month. Now, there are fights if they pay us a draft, that is going to the front. We’ll all get drunk and skip, so won’t give them their money until they are on the trains to go. We won’t get ours until they go. I do wish I was with the Canadians. They get six shillings a day. They don’t know what it is to live over here. They like fish and chips. A good square meal would kill them.

Well, Jack, I got just one bundle of papers and that was the one about the Iberian. I don’t know where they are going to, wish I had that watch. Don’t know how you can send it. I would not do to send it in papers as you see I am not getting the papers, but I am getting all the letters now.

Well, Jack, I will write you every week, so I hope you and B will do the same. I will write to Flo next Sunday. I am sending you a picture in this letter. I had them taken Sunday after church parade. We just parade with a belt as you see in the picture. We have to carry a walking cane. Let me know if Eugene got the badge I sent him. Will try to send Mary a brooch as soon as I can get the price to buy one.

Well, give my love to all. Give Mary and Ted a kiss for me, not forgetting yourself and B.

With love and best regards,
From your brother, Lee

Editor’s note:

He refers to the story of the Iberian, a liner that was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine on route from Manchester to Boston on July 30th, 1915. The location of the attack was just off the South coast of Ireland, near Fastnet Rock.

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