World War I: Superb archive of letters written by Lance Corporal Alfred Smith of 1st. Battalion The Queens (Royal West Surrey Regiment) who died on 22nd September 1915 at Bethune, only days before the Battle of Loos. This battle was the biggest British attack of 1915, the first time the British had used poison gas and the first engagement of the "New Army" units.
The first letter is written on 30th April 1915 from the trenches and describes the fighting in great detail. "Well I've seen a bit more fighting also a charge or two, sometimes things are a bit hot for us as we are only 100yds apart even when the Germans are shelling". He then talks about a comrade who was hit close to him and how he has been lucky not to have been wounded.
The second letter is even more descriptive "We had five or six charges made from the Germans but we stopped them back each time they got to our trenches leaving hundreds of dead. By the time you receive my letter my regiment will be leading a bayonet charge with the hopes of breaking through the German lines. Every man is now ready for the mad rush to death which is for England and Freedom. Excuse this letter as the bombardment has now started and it gives us a nasty shock.
Another letter written over two pages and dated 14th June 1915 gives a vivid account of an attack on the German lines, "It was like hell getting back. I can say I said my prayers when I got over the front of our trench". The next letter describes life in his trench and the joy a package of cake, biscuits and jam brought. Another written on 12th July 1915 is on two sheets of paper and describes how he has transferred to the "Jam Tin ABS" (bomb section). He then describes his life and duties in detail and how his comrades are unhappy, there are married men at the front and single men still at home "If a man is wanted for a hot job a single man should always be first, a married man second for they have wives and children to think of. Private Smiths final letter is undated but describes how dangerous life was in the trenches and how he had a very near miss when a shell landed in their trench as he was eating breakfast "We had to eat a load of dirt before we die". The letters come with their original envelopes and give an incredible insight into life in the trenches.
£3000 - 5000 Click here for details of BP and other fees payable on this lot.