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Arthur's Letters - An Alternative View of The Great War

 
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BerichtGeplaatst: 21 Feb 2013 13:38    Onderwerp: Arthur's Letters - An Alternative View of The Great War Reageer met quote

Arthur's Letters - An Alternative View of The Great War


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As with many people, my interest in The Great War started when I discovered that both of my grandfathers took part in the conflict. My paternal grandfather was in the RAMC in Salonika, and my maternal grandfather was in the Royal Engineers in France and Belgium. I am very fortunate to have both sets of their medals, stored in a Princess Mary Christmas Box and, of course these have followed me around over the years and through many house moves. It also follows that my knowledge of the First World War has largely been gleaned from the "coffee table" volumes of books photos and from the many TV programmes over the years, in particular I remember the BBC series screened in the 1960's "World War 1 - The Great War" viewed on a grainy old black and white television. However, after a visit to a local auction room in 2011 this was all to change. I bought a lot of about 500 letters, all relating to the same family and spanning the period from about 1830 through to 1920. But the 140 or so letters home from a son to his mother during the War really opened my eyes to what, to me at least, has been a largely neglected part of the conflict, that of the great many people behind the lines serving as unpaid volunteers.

Arthur Dease, born in 1871, was of Anglo-Irish origin and he served as a volunteer ambulance driver from January 1915 through to January 1919 and, during this time, he wrote home to his mother several times a week, duties permitting of course, telling her in some detail of his experiences and also talking about many of the current affairs of the time, both home and abroad. This was also a turbulent period in Irish history too, and Arthur often talks about the problems at home in Ireland.

In February 2012 I decided to publish these Great War letters online, on my website www.ArthursLetters.com, partly to focus my attention on the content and to get them into some meaningful order, but also to let others read about Arthur's exploits and his views on the events of the time.

In my opinion, these primary source documents are an exceptional opportunity to read what a person was actually feeling and going through at the time they were written, and one can get a good feel for Arthur's mood. Many of the letters were written as and when and where he could write them, in between duties or when on leave, or when "relaxing" in damp basements or dugouts, etc; this is apparent as you read them. His handwriting was pretty awful at the best of times and I include here some illustrations of the original letters. I feel that I really must stress that the purists among you may find these letters just light reading, but they are a fascinating view of this period in history, written by an educated and well travelled person.

This is also very much work in progress as I find myself with far more questions than answers! Arthur's privileged life and background is almost a real life "Downton Abbey" but, since I have been transcribing these letters, I have been truly humbled by Arthur's dedication and bravery in what must have sometimes been horrendous circumstances. As a volunteer, and of course being Irish and not having conscription, Arthur could have gone home at any time, but he chose to return several times to carry on doing "his bit" and, in November 1918, he was awarded the Croix de Guerre for his work with the French Red Cross, Section Sanitaire Anglais No 3.

It is impossible for me to publish here well over 100 letters, but to give a taste of the contents I can give something of a preview below. Where I am unsure of the words I replace the letters with "?????" etc. Personal names can be very difficult, most place names I can normally deduce with the help of Google. I have left the spellings as Arthur wrote them.


Lees verder:
http://www.westernfrontassociation.com/great-war-people/diaries/2408-arthurs-letters-an-alternative-view-of-the-great-war.html


@ArthursLetters Op Twitter
Letters home from Arthur Dease 1892 to 1920, served in WW1 on the Western Front for almost 4 years. An Irish/English view of the late 19th & early 20th century.
Buckinghamshire ∑ http://www.arthursletters.com
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