Letters from the Great War – “The Germans are getting pretty handy us”

Codford, February 18, 1916 – (Letter #11) 

Dear Brother;

Jack and B, you are most welcome letter received yesterday. Glad to hear you are all in the pink, as this leaves me still in Codford and still at the same old job. We have been having it very exciting around here the past couple of weeks, as the Germans have been getting pretty handy us. They went over our camp the other night, but we knew they were coming and we had all lights out. I was right on my machine gun but they did not come low enough to get a shot.

They dropped 500 bombs on Bath, right in the city. I do not know what to make of it. England is slow in regards to not having the coast better guarded because they can only come one way and we could knock the hell out of them. We could catch them either coming or going, but, Jack, we can’t do it without the guns and zeppelins. I see Russia is doing a great work. I think you will see a big move within a very short time, as they are sending us away from here in very long drafts. My mates in my old Batallion are all gone, Lord Derby’s men in their place, the ones that fetched up, so we don’t have anything to do with them.

We had rotten weather here all the time, rain all the time and mud up to your knees, the kind that won’t come off when you lift your feet. You have about a ton on.

I got Mother’s parcel at last. I did have one great feast on tobacco and cake. Did you say Eldon had enlisted? Let me know when you write again. Had a letter from Eugene and Flo today – very pleased to hear from them but no letter from Mother yet since November but I have written just the same.

Well, I will have to come to a close for this time. Grub is a damn sight – worse since we came here. Every damn shilling I get my hands on goes for grub, so I try to manage to pull through. Give my love to all and lots of kisses for Mary and Teddy, not forgetting yourself. Tell Herb Hatch all the damn lies you can think of. I would like to see him here when the airships are dropping bombs. I bet he would shit his pants, excuse my plain talk and scribbling.

Goodbye, with love and best wishes from Lee.


394 Private Lee G. Darrach, Camp 4, Hut 33, 3/7 L.F., Codford, St. Mary’s, Wiltshire, Machine Gun School, if not at this address, please forward.

Editor’s Notes:

  • During WW1, Germany initiated 50 bombing raids on England – referred to as Zeppelin raids. Even though there were both Zeppelin and Schütte-Lanz airships, the Zeppelins were better known. Weather made it difficult for them to hit target, so bombs were often dropped miles off target. Zeppelins were named “baby killers”. In 1917, they were replaced by airplanes.
  • Lee refers to Lord Derby’s men being fetched up. Lord Derby was appointed Director-General of Recruitment in 1915 and he initiated the “Derby Scheme” where men ages 18 to 41 years would volunteer to being called up (or fetched up), if necessary. Single men were called up first. However, this plan did not produce enough men and they introduced conscription in early 1916.

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  1. Doreen on September 17, 2018 at 10:22 am

    Who was Herb Hatch?



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