Bill Jenkins 52

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Bill Jenkins 52.


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 December 2, 1917 letter is transcribed below.





Dec. 2nd 17

My Dear Mother & Father & Saidy & family,

Just a few lines to let you know I am now on leave from France & I am having the time of my life over here and I think I will do it very hard when the time come for me to leave here, you will see by the heading that I am up in Scotland & I can tell you it is a fine place to spend a holiday the only thing wrong with it is it is too cold now for it is nearly mid winter but never the less it will do me here with the Scotch lassies they are fine people here & they can’t do enough for one. I think I will go up as far as Abberdeen (sic) tomorrow & have a look round up there. I have had fifteen months of hardship now so I am going to make the best of my fourteen days leave.

You people have no idea of what us chaps have to go through over in France it is simply hell on earth & I dread to go back we are in a place over there now with no trenches & mud up to your knees & I can tell you it makes one feel as it he would like to get killed but I suppose I will get through with it one of these days & get back to civilized life again & I hope that time is not far off.

I saw Will McLellan when I was in London & he is looking well on it but he has got a soft job so he ought to be in good form as never sees the line in London. We have to write a cheery letter when we are in france for we would have our letters torn up if we told you what we go through.

In the last Battle we was in a Ypres we had a very heavy casualties out of our section of about fifty men only twelve answered the roll call & in the Battle on june the seventh last at the Messines Ridge the were ten of us came out of it & forty five men went in so there is some idea of how we get knocked about U one is very lucky to come through & be able to answer the roll on two occasions.

The last Battle we were in we went over the top on the 12th of October Mag’s Birthday a funny thing wasn’t it I thought of that just before we went over & soon forgot it when the shells & bullets started to fly & was wondering when my turn was coming, but here I am now safe & sound over here & really you wouldn’t think there was a war on at all for everything is full of life as if nothing at all was happening. Well I might be lucky enough to get a nice little wound when I get back & get over here again, it is much better to suffer a little pain for a while & get out of it all together.

I have never run across Ted over there the only time he was near me he got gassed & sent back so I never had a chance to see him but I might when I go back again.

Well my Dear Mother, Father, & Mag I must love you & leave you for now as I have to go out sight seeing this afternoon so Good-bye for now wishing you a happy Xmas & New Year from your loving son & Brother Bill

Give my love to Saidy & the kiddies & George & show her this letter and it will save me writing more.

Bill Jenkins 52

Sources:Acknowledgement B. Emmers and R. Edgeworth.