Bill Jenkins 18

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Bill Jenkins 18.


Bill Jenkins was too young to go to war without parental permission, which his father Robert gave, much against Bill's mother Annie’s wishes. Bill was killed in action on April 5, 1918, seven months before the war ended.

Bill chronicled his experience of the war in letters he sent to his family.

Bill's September 17, 1916 letter is transcribed below.


Belton Park Camp

17th Sept 1916

Sunday night

My Dear Mother & Father

I am back off my six days leave now and settled down again in our new camp. It was very hard coming back to camp after having a good time in London, we have finished our course of Machine gun training before we went on leave and since we came back we haven’t don a thing.

We are just waiting now to be sent out to the front and it will be jolly cold for we are beginning to feel it here now but I suppose we will live through it alright what do you think.

Well My Dear parents I had a good time in London and I did enjoy myself we looked around as far as our money would let us for we only had two pound each so that don’t go far in London does it.

Well look here if I ever have the luck to come back I am going to sit tight and save a cheque and come back here and have a look round England for I have just seen enough to make me inquisitive. I will be getting some views of London sent to me in a day or two so I will send them home and some day I might be home and explain all about them to you all so it will interest you to hear about it all. Well Mother it is raining like the very devil tonight so I can’t go down the town so I will write you a longer letter than I generally do.

I wish this jolly war would come to an end as I don’t fancy going into the trenches for the winter but I suppose we will have to go. I never saw such a lot of ignorant people in my life before as I have since I landed in England if you ask them Where a certain place is they can’t tell you and there is nine out of ten don’t know their next door neighbor. There is one place where all us boys go to that is in Grantham they are the finest people I have ever met they can’t do enough for us, they take us home for tea and are just as good to us as if we were home, and I can tell you we do appreciate it.

Well Mother Dear how are things down that way I hope every one is well as I am they won’t be bad. Remember me to everyone there and if you like you can show this letter all round for there is nothing in it that I don’t want anyone to know about so it won’t hurt to show it round. I wish I was back there to be having some of the good old times I used to have in the days gone bye. I wrote a letter to Mick McNamara the other day but Ihave not had any word back from him lately so I don’t know if my letter ever reached him or not.

I saw Billie Mallett when we were in London he has been out to the front and been I saw Billie Mallett when we were in London he has been out to the front and been wounded but he is pretty well again now and will be going back again soon. Jim Duncan will be going back too New Zealand in a few weeks time so he is very lucky don’t you think but I suppose he has done his bit. Well Mum I have not had any letters from home for some time now but I have had twelve letters from a nice little girl from down the coast if it wasn’t for her I would be very short of letters. She writes me three letters a weeks so she is not doing so bad is she. We don’t get our letters very regular I suppose the get hung up on the way some where so I expect a big heap of mail one of these days. With all the good times we have had since we left give me back some of the old times I had the week before I left and it would do me.

Well Mother I don’t think I will ever settle down d now, after seeing so much I might as well see the rest of the world don’t you think so. Look here I am just about stuck for news but I might find enough to finish this page. All the boys wish to be remembered to you all and send their best wishes. Well my Dear Mother and father I must Love and leave you now for the present.

With best love from your Loving Son Bill XXXXXX

Give my love to all



O & Mum write heaps of letters for it is very nice getting big mails,



Bill Jenkins 18

Sources:Acknowledgement B. Emmers and R. Edgeworth.