Chronicle Christmas Letters

Extract from a letter from Corpl Bert Watkins, 2nd Mons Batt, to his father Mr Morris, of the Temperance Hotel, Abergavenny. Letter written 26th December 1914, and published in the Abergavenny Chronicle on Friday 8th January 1915. Corpl Watkins was fighting at Armentieres at the time. With thanks to Dr Katie Nelson for the transcription.

‘I had a novel experience on Christmas Day. We received orders from the Brigadier not to fire unless we were bound to, so we got quite ‘pally’ with the Germans, shaking hands and a lot of other things. One chap gave a German corporal a tin of No 1 Army rations; you know what it is I expect. You should have seen him collar it and put it in his pocket like as if he was starving. I will bet he enjoyed his Christmas dinner in the trenches, different to what we did. Rather a funny day for burying the dead isn’t it?, but they had a few to, I promise you. On our left there were dozens of them stretched out; in fact so many they could not bury them all yesterday, (C Day). There is only about 50 yards between us; you should hear the compliments passing. That crack regiment, the Prussian Guards, were there when we went in, and when we shouted out they called us ------ fools. You don’t believe we are, do you? They were changed about the 23rd by a lot of old men and boys, by what I could see of them. I expect they think we will take pity on them, but that is just the sort I like to fight, don’t you?’

Extract from a letter from Signaller Edwin H Pearce, 2nd Monmouth Territorials, to his parents who lived in Abergavenny. The letter was written on 27th December 1914 and published in the Abergavenny Chronicle on Friday 8th January 1915. With thanks to Dr Katie Nelson for the transcription.

‘I enjoyed Christmas day all right. I was lucky to be at headquarters and not with the battalion as they were in the trenches on that day and lost a few men. One sergeant got shot on C.D. while I and my mates were at headquarters learning the telegraph work; we were attached to the Royal Engineers, and was with them over Christmas. There were about 100 of us sat down to dinner. We had 7 geese, three pieces of roast beef and potatoes, so we had a good feed all in style with a table too and plenty of pudding. We had tea in style too, and a smoking concert from 6.30 until 11, food, plenty of fags and tobacco and a good sing-song. There were about 200 at the concert; they had 3 barrels of beer between them, and I believe I was the only teetotaller there – a bit dry, but grand I can assure you. I am in the pink, and feel fit for anything that comes along. I expect I shall have to join the battalion next time they go into the trenches, but I’m not sure.’