A Soldier Writes Home
Wartime Letters Home
Although Soldiers in the trenches were allowed to send letters home to their loved ones, the letters that they sent were heavily censored by the Ministry of Defence, details of where the soldier was stationed were deleted as were details of any movements that the soldier was involved with, letters home were often unreadable because of the censors.
Families of the soldiers liked to know where there husbands, sons, brothers or fathers were fighting and before they left to go to war would come up with little codes between them that the soldiers could write in their letters to let their loved ones know where they were fighting.
A soldier would maybe write home citing a memory of a family trip to Blackpool letting his family know that he is in France, the Blackpool Tower he mentions in his letter would be the family code word for the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Although the censors very quickly became aware of family codes and began to censor them too the codes became even more complex and a lot of families knew where their fighting man was simply because of the first letter of the first word in the letter.
"Being away from my home and family is breaking my heart" B would mean the soldier was stationed in Belgium.
Censoring A Soldiers Letter
An Uncensored Letter Home
For the purposes of this article the letter written below will be uncensored and it will be written from a married soldier to his wife and children, although based on reality the writer of the letter is a fictional character and is not based on any one person.
February 14th 1915
My darling and loving wife Emily
It is Valentine's Day and my thoughts are with you as always, I wish that I could be with you on this special day of love instead of being here in this hell hole which Belgium has become.
I miss you little George and Harry so very much and I pray for the day that this war comes to an end, please pass my love on to the children and kiss them for me.
We arrived at the front line just over a week ago and the smell was so bad that many of the men were sick, to describe the smell would be an impossible task but some of the causes will give you an idea of just how bad it is.
Raw sewage from the open cess pit, body odour from men who haven't had a decent wash for weeks, dead bodies rotting in shallow graves and laying out in the open in no mans land, the smell of exploded bombs and the odour of Mustard gas which lingers for a few days after the attack, stagnant mud cigarette smoke and cooking smells all add to the unpleasantness of the trenches.
They say that we will get used to the smell over time but it feels like it will never leave us at the moment.
The smell attracts rats they are everywhere you look and they seem to be unafraid to show themselves, there is so much waste here that the rats are thriving and some of them are as big as felix our cat.
I shaved my head and my pubic hair yesterday because my hair was crawling with lice most of the men have been scratching and itching almost since the day we got here.
The rain is a constant companion flooding the trenches and turning the floor into mud it is so bad that some of the men are getting sores on their feet and can hardly walk with the pain.
Sleep his so hard to come by with the constant booming and banging of the shells from both sides, my bed is a bunk which has been placed in a dug out section of the trench, a mud roof a mud floor and the constant theat of a stray shell keep me awake at night.
I am scared my darling Emily, my life is under constant threat, bullets randomly fired at us, shells exploding every minute of the day, men are dying all around me if not from a stray bullet or shell they are falling with fever and disease.
Four of the boys in my squad have died already they went through basic training with me and i considered them good friends, my best friend John shot himself in the foot just to get out of here and away from the trenches, he will be treated in a field hospital and sent home.
We are going over the top tonight climbing out of the trench and attacking the enemy trenches
A and B sqaud went last night and most of them were killed or wounded before they even got 10 yards out of the trench, it is barbaric and a futile waste of human life but the powers that be seem to think that it is the way forward and keep sending those poor men and boys to their deaths.
I will close now and pray that this is not the last letter that I will ever send to you my darling, I long to be back at home with you and the children.
I love you with all of my heart
Happy Valentines Day my love
your ever loving Husband
Last Will and Testament
The men fighting in the trenches of World War 1 were in constant fear of losing their lives and many of them wrote letters that contained their Last Will and Testaments to be sent home on the event of their deaths, these were often handed to senior officers along with personal effects such as watches and rings as orders came through that the squad would be going over the top.
Many of the men knew each other before the war and joined the army together, they grew up and went to the same school they worked in the same factories and sad though it seems they also fought and died together.
© 2010 Jimmy the jock
Ethan on October 21, 2020:
God bless all who have fallen. Thanks for the help on my project!
Kevin on November 07, 2018:
Thanks alot. I needed this for my history homework.
bob on March 15, 2015:
Very good and nice
rose on February 23, 2014:
Thank you so much just the thing that I needed for my assesment!x
U get the feeling of how it would have been in WW1!
Thank you once again.
harry on November 03, 2013:
great for homework
nick on October 23, 2013:
WOW, that's very heavy
fatima on October 01, 2013:
emotional it makes me think about ww1
thanks it helped me with my assessment
thank so much
Smile on March 11, 2013:
Thanks, this really helped me with my assignment where I have to write my own false letter like this one.
ddee on February 14, 2013:
ffyuhj on February 11, 2013:
bob on February 05, 2013:
thnks helped with my s.s. studies project :)
kayne on February 05, 2013:
Reading this letter made me think how lucky i am to be here, all the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. It was from the heart and very descriptive capturing what life was like in the front line trenches. I have the upmost respect for all who died fighting to preserve our county our way of life and most important our future.
marcello on January 13, 2013:
i wish i could copy this for my homwwoerkok
pravstar on November 11, 2012:
the trenches were a horrible place. it was dirty and there were lots of rats and lice. and trenches were sometime muddy when it rained. there were lots of dead people and there was blood everywhere. the no man land is a very dangerous place because if you were trying to cross you would get shot because there are no walls to protect you. most people died cause of the disease.
3113 on November 07, 2012:
Thank you this really helped with my history project on the trenches in WW1. R.I.P soldiers of The Great War.
Treyt on June 24, 2012:
Very great Writing, but i noticed that it says something about the smell of mustard gas, but i am almost positive mustard gas wasn't used till 1917.
Madras Boy on May 16, 2012:
This letter has been of great help for my standard grade project, god bless the soldiers from both world wars!
Alice on May 16, 2012:
Thanks for ideas!-
ren ren on April 24, 2012:
thanks for helping me for my project
... on April 11, 2012:
what was his full name?
Dom on March 25, 2012:
Like so many others, this has helped so much with my history. The world wars were horrible. I pray there is no third.
hey on March 20, 2012:
lab on March 14, 2012:
thanx. I am in yr9, and this helped me a lot for my history hwrk :) Rest in peace everybody who fourght in the war
laura on March 14, 2012:
thanks you have helped me with my history homework
hera on March 13, 2012:
wow u just rock
it help me alottttttt in my history H/W tnxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx alotttttttttttttttt
plzzzzzzzzzzz everyone can u pray 4me tht i could do well my homework
kb on March 08, 2012:
You know this was a good letter it really touched my heart I can't imagine what they went through with the trench feet and the trench fever and people dying left from right I know it was a depressing time and life thearting time thinking of a anytime a bullet or shell can hit you and you dead you know I have the up most respect forthem and hope they rest in peace
meowcat on March 05, 2012:
really moving letter shows how bad war is
dee. on February 24, 2012:
This really helped me with ma history home work :) and the people save our live and give up their own life. love you all and god bless you xx
Jonny Chang on February 16, 2012:
he didn't write back because he died that night i researcher about it
if you go out and attack enemy trench there was no survival
JosephStavely on February 09, 2012:
hi i'm a year 9 and i found this really interesting
love on January 26, 2012:
i like to think to the people went to war for as to save our live and give up their own life. love you all and god bless you to the people went to the war. once again love you all.
love on January 26, 2012:
i hate war
bethan on January 26, 2012:
I am in yr 8 too and everyone else seems to love this but I have to disagree. You really think a soldier would write back to his wife in a time where impecable manners and stuff were still important, about the stench of dead bodies and rats, and even about shaving his pubic hair? Of course they did these things, but what soldier in his right mind would write to his 'delicate' wife and children about the horror of war?
lalalalalalalalalalal on January 24, 2012:
very moveing letter
Angelina on January 21, 2012:
it's brilliant. even though it's not real, u make ansence of it it. i am thinking its brilliant for my homework but i am nt gonna copy it, caz it's ur work Good luck and keep it up and thank u so much for writing this
cassandra on January 18, 2012:
You guys are foolish for plagiarizing,do your own work! Amazing story by the way:D
lol on December 07, 2011:
this is so good and it souunds so real im gonna get a gr8 mark for history xxxxx
tinky winky on December 05, 2011:
l .dot general on November 24, 2011:
this is the best letter of war i ever read iam only in year 8 and i just got a level 6 for it this so good please eep writing more + you should be a writer thank you very much
literaturelover on November 16, 2011:
The letter is brilliant, though I am not sure you have really captured quite all of what these soldiers endured, though I am sure they moaned about these things perhaps that isn't the only thing they would have talked about?
annymous on November 14, 2011:
that letter was so sad and im scare to copy because im thinking my teacher is going to find out from that website that i plagiarized.
Meeee on November 14, 2011:
Homework in 2 secounds tyxxxx
elenrockx on November 09, 2011:
wow this is gonna get me a A for history can't wait for my teacher to read it :)
Linda on November 08, 2011:
HELPED A lot! THANKYOU :)
tara on October 31, 2011:
Thanks for this-gonna get a good mark in
This captured the essence of a real war letter even though it isn't real
Ruby on October 25, 2011:
Thanks! but soso sad. A+ in History here I come ;)
... on October 19, 2011:
thanks helped me out as an example for history project
JRDegamo on October 13, 2011:
Thanks,its great for my assignmemt..captured the escence of first world war.....
bexy on October 10, 2011:
this is for my english short story homewok hope i do well.I was never interested in world war but this is interesting , shocking and sad ;[
ible dible on October 09, 2011:
Even though this letter wasn't real, you have really captured the escence of war! I am studying this topic at the moment, and I think you have truly done a fantastic job- Well Done!
hate-english on October 09, 2011:
thanks a bunch helped with my assessment!
peter on October 01, 2011:
thaks i used for my assignmet and i got perfect
miss p on October 01, 2011:
it touches so many hearts bless, thanx helped with english homework.
autumn on September 26, 2011:
this was great for my history project (:
Jessica on September 25, 2011:
this was a great way to capture the life at war in the trenches!!!
bum dhjw on April 03, 2011:
naww how sad is that
grimreaperxxx13 on April 02, 2011:
lions led by lambs, eh? :(
aktifistri from China on May 22, 2010:
sigh..war is the selfish project of greedy elite all around the world! I have no idea what is actually lays there on the top of the power that caused those people seemed learnt nothing from the humankind's history.. Living in this era I am so glad that my husband is Canadian, where you are not forced to join the troops for war, other than the fact that Canada is not a country that is thirsty for wars and world-ruling power!..
Juliette Morgan on April 30, 2010:
Hi Jimmy i'm very interested in WWI and II, your sample letter I believe would be fairly typical - how they could go on with such courage knowing what they knew is so admirable and how their loved ones coped is unfathomable.
rebekahELLE from Tampa Bay on April 21, 2010:
Jimmy, this is such a great tribute to the men who served in WW1. thanks for writing and sharing. I'm sure it will touch many hearts.
salt from australia on April 21, 2010:
thankyou, with anzac day this week, that is a very good example of what men went through. I thank them. I have a picture of my great grandfather in the lounge room, who was regular army WW1. I read his diary from France and he seemed to note places he went and the architecture.
I have sensed the spirits of young soldiers at our war memorial and think of the dancing or having an evening meal. A great aussie bbq with a beer or for SA woodies sarsparella. I thank them again and wish them love for the experiences they endured for our sake.
People think Im a bit funny about these things, yet I do really sense the strength and dignity and endurance. The boyish endeavour which lifts mens spirits and the amazing aussie spirit that would see them through.
De Greek from UK on April 21, 2010:
This may not be an actual letter,, but thousands similar were written in reality. Poor innocent sheep sent to slaughter.
entertianmentplus from United States on April 21, 2010:
A must read very well done-Thanks
lxxy from Beneath, Between, Beyond on April 20, 2010:
What a creative and historically interesting little piece of writing.
It is sad when your species picks up the sticks and stones, but having been living inter-dimensionally (and in various space-times) I've never had time to really study early war from a non-USA perspective.
Thank you, great job.
Hello, hello, from London, UK on April 20, 2010:
War is nothing but lunacy. Will mankind ever learn?