Letters from the Great War – “We don’t know that there is a war”

Codford, January 20th, 1916 – (Letter #10)

Dear Brother;

Jack and B, just a few lines to let you know I am well as this leaves me at present hoping this will find you all same. Well, Jack, all we are doing is moving about, as we have fever in about all the camps in Codford. We have moved five times so far and I head tonight. We are going to move again next week. Well, we have had pretty fair weather the past week, but, Jack, we have had some awful rain here, in fact, it rains now every day for about an hour. There is no wonder we have so much sickness and fever. I don’t know how I escape. I have some bad colds. I am having a lot of trouble with my left eye. It is caused by the cold. It is a hard sight sometimes, but it don’t bother my sight any.

Well, Jack, how is the war going along? We don’t know anything about it here. We might as well be in the woods a thousand miles for all that we don’t know that there is a war.

Well, Jack, I have not had a letter from you now for 7 weeks. I wrote to the post office in Southport, so you can see what they say on this slip. I never got the parcels that Mother and Fran sent to me. There is no use sending me anything without registering it, as there are some awful damn thieves over here. They won’t take anything they can’t carry.

Well, Jack, every time we move, it is worse. In this camp, we can’t get enough to keep a rabbit alive. I went to the major yesterday and put in a complaint for our hut. And he went to the Brigadier and there was hell to pay today in the cookhouse, so I don’t know yet if it will be any better or not. If not, I think I will jump it, if they don’t send me right to the front. We are all ready to go. I am on another gun. It is called the Lewis. It is a lighter one and is easier to work. I passed first class in the Maxim Gun. There is a lot to learn on what you have to know.

Well, are you doing anything this winter? Hope you are. Is Sam working? I hear Eldon is married. I think I will get married myself. I would if I could get out of here, but not churched. But I think we are all quite harmless on the grub we are getting. When you write, give me all the news. I think I will be OK if I can kick clear of the fever. It is a hell of a thing. It is called Spotted Fever and also Pneumonia and, believe me, Jack, you get pretty poor care, as there is so many here.

Will close for this time. Hoping to hear from you all soon. Give my love to all. Tell B to put in a good word for me in her prayers, as I think I will need it. Give Ted & Mary lots of kisses and Eugene and Lillian. I wonder if I will ever see them again on this little earth of ours, but I don’t think I will. I am more scared of this fever than bullets. I am not down hearted. They can kill me but not scare me.

Remember me to Flo, Same and Dave Ross. How is Dave? Tell him to drop me a line when he gets time. Will close with love and best regards to you all. I hope I will hear from you before I leave here.

Goodbye, Lee


Editor’s Note:

  • It was determined that Spotted Fever during WW1 was Meningitis. Men had to sleep in overcrowded huts with little heating or ventilation, and those nearer a heat source were at higher risk.