Migration, Memory & Memorial

1917 January

Newspaper image © The British Library Board. All rights reserved. With thanks to the British Newspaper Archive.

Thursday, January 4 1917

Salonika

In some quarters there is being developed a call for the withdrawal of the Allies from Salonika. We hope no attention will paid to this. If we left Salonika to-day the Germans will there to-morrow. The ports of Greece would become invaluable bases for German submarines, which would soon make next impossible for us to use the Suez Canal route. We should be making the Germans a present of the Eastern Mediterranean, and helping them to menace our position in Egypt. There has been enough of scuttle and run in the Near East. Gallipoli was a blow to our prestige. We have not made all the use we ought to have made of Salonika. Allied diplomacy in Greece has been contemptible. A child could not have made worse blunders with regard to Greece itself, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Rumania. But we must strengthen our hold on the Near East, not weaken it. There is too much at stake. We must try to forget our mistakes, must give up wobbling, must clearly map out the course we have to pursue, and then must pursue it with all our might.

Tuesday, January 16 1917

GERMANY'S NEED FOR PEACE. CENSOR PASSES A SIGNIFICANT MESSAGE. New York, Monday.

A peep into the real German mind over the present status of Germany’s peace drive is afforded by William Bayard Hale, who, in a brief despatch to the “American” from Berlin, dated January 14, makes the admission that Germany will be crushed and the Allies will be triumphant if the war continues to the end. Hale’s words are:–

What is it that a war-weary world want? A peace without recrimination now, or a possible peace many years later, with Germany crushed, the “League of Ten” momentarily triumphant, and the whole of the political map of Europe a chessboard of complicated ambitions and sanguinary struggles during a hundred years to come”

This despairing paragraph comes from the end of Hale’s despatch, at the beginning of which he says:–

I have to-day enjoyed the opportunity of intimate conversations with leaders in the highest political positions and exponents of public sentiment. Not a soul in Germany, Austria Hungary, Bulgaria, or Turkey dreams for a moment of submitting to the ridiculous aberrations indulged in by the British Entente.

This echo of his “intimate conversation” is followed by the statement that “the German people are asking whether Washington will accept the latest Note as a sincere expression or an insolent affront flung in the teeth of Mr. Wilson.”

The statement is considered a substantiation of the belief in Washington that Germans are realising how the war is turning against them and of how pressing is the need of the Central Powers for a quick peace. When the German Censor passes so frank an intimation of the fall of Germany’s hopes of conquest, the interpretation here that it will not be long before Herr von Bethtmann-Hollweg tries again with another plea for peace.— “Times” telegram.

Friday January 26 1917

PEACE TALK

PRESIDENT WILSON’S SPEECH TO THE SENATE

The United States Embassy in London issued the text of a speech made on Monday to the Senate at Washington by President Wilson. It had previously been announced by Reuter’s correspondent that the President had informed the Senate that he wished to address that body on the subject of foreign relations. The delivery of a speech by the Chief Executive of the American Republic to the Legislature is a very rare occurrence. Indeed, it is stated by members that no President since Washington’s time has up to now addressed the Senate alone.

A settlement, says Mr. Wilson, cannot be long postponed. It cannot be a victor’s peace, forced by one party on the other, and guarantees must neither recognise nor imply differences between big nations and small.

There must be equality of rights in all countries, with government by consent of the governed. Every people must have direct outlet to the sea, not necessarily by the cession of territory, but by neutralisation of direct rights of way.

There must be complete freedom of the seas. Mr. Wilson declares that this is the sine qua non of peace, equality, and cooperation.

In conclusion, Mr. Wilson expresses the hope that the United States will join the League to Enforce Peace, and that the Monroe doctrine will be adopted as the doctrine of the world.

Correspondence

Undated but probably 1917, New York.

To Rachel and Abraham from Isadore M. Written in Yiddish.

…missing page

I think that it is time for peace to be concluded. Enough blood has been spilt already as a result of blaming people. The only thing is that peace is not making any progress because of bloodthirsty people, so the only thing to do is to wait patiently and see what time will bring.

With regard to what you ask me to write to you about, I can tell you that our dear parents come to visit us very often, almost every day, in fact. I can also tell you that I do not get much pleasure from them, because my father is worn out and weak, and has been in bed for nearly a fortnight. My mother goes about crying and, to tell you the truth, he gave me a fright last week, but his condition is a little easier now. I do not have any pleasure from them. I hope that things will improve with time.

Before ending my letter, I want to tell you that I have fulfilled your wish, and I have written you a slightly longer letter, so I want a bit of a favour from you, now, as well. It is quite simply that you should answer me. You should also answer my letter with a letter. In the first half you should write to me and my dear wife, and in the second half, my dear sister should write to us, because we want to hear from her as well, so let her tell you what she wants you to write. That is the favour I want from you, my dear brother-in-law, and I hope you will grant it.

And I can tell you once more that I and my dear wife are in the best of health and hope to hear the same about you in the future.

I am working and making a living. I live very well. The only thing I wish is that we should all be well and happy and that we should want for nothing and not have to turn to each other for help.

I can also tell you that I and my dear wife send you greetings and kiss you from the bottom of our hearts. We also wish you health, and we wish your new son many long years of life.

From me, your brother,
Yitzchak M.

1st January 1917

To Abraham from Jack

Dear father,

I am in very good health and hope you are all the same. I have had no letters from you for over a week. But I expect they are at Newton Abbott and I shall get them when we go back on Thursday very likely. I am alright and enjoying myself in this place, although it is not much of a place, one long street, about 1 mile long, that’s all. But the fellows are all lively and we pass the time alright. Write the next letter to Newton Abbott. I hope everything is alright at home. I have no special news to write. We work little, have plenty to eat and good food too with supper. We have nice beds to sleep in and there is nothing to complain about. We shall try to get leave for the week end next week. I will let you know what to do. I hope you enjoyed your holidays well.

Wishing you, mother, Leon and grandmother a happy and prosperous new year, peaceful and with good health.

With fondest love and many kisses to all,

Your loving son,
Jack

January 1917

To Abraham and Rachel from Louis G.

Dear Uncle and Aunt

I am quite well and happy hoping you are the same. I am sorry I did not write to you before because I have not had much time. I have undergone a great deal of punishment since I came back from my last leave and what with pack drills and extra fatigues, it has not left me much time to myself. I hope you will forgive me. Please do not tell mother or father about this, it will only make them unhappy. I am a trained man now and we are going to France at the end of January. It is not a very bright outlook for me but I am determined not to go. I would rather be in prison for the rest of the war, at least my life would be safe. If all goes well I shall get my six days leave in a fortnights time. I have thrown live bombs, learnt how to fire out of gas masks, have gone on night operations, dug trenches, and bayonet fighting. We have had many lectures of officers experiences in France and they tell us that hardly any rifle shooting is done, it is chiefly hand to hand fighting with bayonets, night raids with bombs and poison gasses. I am telling you this not because I wish to horrify you, but I think it may be of interest to you.

I was sorry I was not able to be present at the bresmealer but I hope Aunty and the baby are getting on fine. Do you hear from Lizzy? I should like to know how she is getting on. Jack often writes to me and he appears to be contented. I wish him all the best he can get. I hope I shall see him the next time I am in London and I should like to have his photograph. I must now conclude my letter as my time has gone. I send my love to you and booba and I wish you a happy and prosperous new year.

Please give my regards to Harris and Mr. Bl.

From your fond nephew
Louis

2nd January 1917

To Louis G. from Abraham.

Dear Louis

I received your letter and I must tell you that it caused me much aggravation to hear about your misfortune in the army. I cannot understand why did you have so many punishments. Whatever have you done to merit it? If you are doing it purposely I am sure you are wrong. It is no use to go against the army and its discipline as it means to go against the whole army and I am sure you are not strong enough for that, you said yourself they are taming lions and it is time, for what is the good of being a martyr when you are sure you will nothing gain by it. On the contrary it may hinder you sometimes when a real chance will present itself to you. Keep my advice and don’t make useless sacrifices, leave it for a more important matter, when your sacrifice will bring you some good result. You said that you expect not a very bright outlook before you. You can’t tell. Don’t be desperate! You can have better times quicker than you think. The peace move which is going on, though it seems it is dieing away, will not die and we shall have peace in the nearest future and the time you expect to be dark for you may tum out bright and happy. Do you think Jack can expect a better future than you if the war is going on? I don’t think! The army life consist of chances and chances very variable. The one who has no chance today can find it tomorrow and to the contrary. Up till now if I must believe what he writes, he has some good chances in the army but who knows it will last? Your chance may be still greater in the future. Now my dear Louis I can tell you about myself, that I am in good health as aunty, Booba and baby is. I am pretty busy, daytime in workshop and night time in writing letters.

Nearly every night I have got letters to write, yet I don’t write to everybody.

Please receive my best wishes for a happier days, and the best love from aunty, booba and myself. Little Leon, my baby, does not know you yet, therefore he does not send his regards to you but wishes when you have your leave you should come to see him.

Your loving oncle,
Avram

2nd January 1917

To Abraham from Jacques.

Dear father,

I have received your letter of yesterday and am glad to read that you are all well and getting on fine. I am glad baby is getting on so well. I sent you a letter card last Saturday and a letter yesterday, telling you all about my present life. You can believe me that all I write about is true. I would not tell lies and if anything was not satisfactory I would write it. It is only a question of luck that I am better off than Louis. But I am better off. In fact, almost as if I was living at home.

l work much less than I used to. I daresay Louis suffers more, and this for a few reasons. As he is 19, they are training him much quicker than I. Also his Regiment is in worse living quarters than mine and it has a reputation for discipline, although the discipline in our lot is sharp enough. I am sorry Louis has had so much punishment. So far, I have not had any. I have kept clear of that but I can tell you, it is very easy to get. Pack dirty, late in the morning, dress dirty, etc. is enough. I had some very narrow escapes many times but I have escaped always.

As we are going back to Newton Abbott on Thursday, don’t send any more letters here. I daresay I shall get the letters, parcel, cigarettes when I get back. I am sorry the other parcel is lost. I do not want any money sent to me. When I said I was short, I meant I had not got much left but I have got enough to get on with.

Do not forget to write about the allowance. We are not doing much down here and enjoy it much. I expect Louis has finished his training by now. I am sorry he has it so hard and he will be sent to France early if he does not act quickly. But the pity of it is that there is not much to be done. I hope he will find some way out of it.

Let me know when you hear from America. You did right to send one of my letters and I do not think the Censor will stop it. I hear what you write about Rosman and Rosenblatt. They are funny people aren’t they. Fancy marrying again at his age. Rosenblatt is a lucky man. But of course, he has got plenty of chance in wartime.

Write often and let me know how you are all. I have no special news to write. I am in good health and hope you are all the same.

With fondest love and many kisses to you four, Your loving son,

Jack

3rd January 1917

To Abraham from Jack.

Dear father,

I am in excellent health and hope you are the same. I have now an opportunity of writing a long letter and will avail myself of it. I was too lazy to write yesterday, and sent you a letter card, which I hope you have received. As I wrote we are in Honiton, a small place 40 miles from Newton Abbott. We had a lovely ride coming up here and are settled in comfortable billets, with plenty of good things to eat. We had yesterday for breakfast, bacon, sausages, potatoes, bread and butter and tea. We have this every morning. For dinner, chicken, potatoes, cabbage, pudding, tea. For tea, bread, butter, cakes. For supper, cocoa, bread, butter, cheese, salmon. Today we had rabbit for dinner and we did enjoy it I can assure you. You see this part of the business is alright.

We work from 8 o/c till 12 o/c and from 1.30 till 3.30. The work itself is not hard at all and we all like it. We shall be going back to Newton Abbott next Thursday, or about that date. As I have so little news to write I will not write again till Friday.

Address all letters and parcels you send from now to

Rfn B. 8051
BCoy
3/6 City of London Regt.
Newton Abbott,
(Devonshire)

The town we are in, Honiton, is very small. There are more public houses here than other shops. The people are very nice to us and the girls are simply mad on soldiers. But they are not pretty, unhappily. There is one cinema and one YMCA only down here. But there are some lovely country walks round the place and as the weather is fine we went for a good march yesterday and it was fine. There are only 50 of us down here, all lively fellows of 18 and we pass the time away alright.

Write me a long letter and tell me how all getting on, what baby is doing and how things are. Have you heard anything about the allowance or the missing parcel yet? Let me know if you do. I think I will try and get some leave for the weekend next week. If you have any good idea write to me. In the meantime I will think of one myself and let you know. Do not worry about me. Our training is very slow and of course I make it as slow as I can. We have no rifles yet. Louis says he is nearly trained. They are going to learn to throw live bombs and then he will be fully trained.

It is bad luck, really. But I daresay he will find some way out of his difficulties.

Have you heard any more news from America? If you have, don’t forget to write.

The weather is good now, pretty warm and not too much rain. It is a pity because when it rains we don’t do any work.

I don’t see much more to write.

Give my best regards to Mr. & Mrs. S. and family, to Harris, Simmy and family and to Uncle Davis and all. You can explain them that I have no time to write to all personally.

With best love and many, many kisses for mother, Leon, yourself and grandmother.

Your loving son,
Jack

A bientot

p.s. Lend some handkerchiefs if you have any spare.

4th January, 1917

To Abraham and Rachel from Jack.

Dear parents,

I am in good health and hope you are the same. I have very little news to write, and my next letter will be on Sunday. I do not know when we are going back to Newton Abbott. We were supposed to go back today Thursday but we have heard nothing as yet.

We are still digging trenches. The work is easy enough and in the open air. My billet is very comfortable. I get as much food as I can want and I sleep in a nice room. The hours of work are very small and we lead an easy life. I like it better than drill. The weather is fine, we have had no rain since we came down here and it is not cold.

You ask me if I got the 3 pence a day. We only get 3 pence a day extra when we have our food in billets, but as for the last 3 weeks or so before we left Newton we had our food in common. There were only 7 days due, or 1/9, which we got last week. I shall be getting 3d extra a day during the time we are at Honiton. I shall also be getting 2½d a day extra after my 8th week in the Army. They give you that to buy your own socks and underclothing. It comes to 6/3 a month. I daresay I shall have enough money to come home on leave. Never send any money unless I specially ask for it but stamps are always welcome.

Let me know how you are going on, how baby is. I am glad he is growing alright. I hope that by next time I see him, he will be able to welcome me. Write how work is and any news you know. It will interest me very much.

Do not forget to write a long letter also if you hear anything from the allowance. I wish I could come home on leave at the same time as Louis and see him. I daresay he does not like the army much. Give my best regards to all.

With fondest love and many kisses for mother, Leon, grandmother and yourself.

Your loving son,
Jack

8th January 1917

To Abraham from Jack

Dear father,

I am back in Newton Abbott. We got back at 8.30 on Saturday evening, after a delightful journey. Please excuse me for not having written yesterday, but I was too lazy to do it.

I am alright, but got little time to write today. I will write you a long letter tomorrow very likely.

I hope you are all in good health, as I am at present. I am glad we are back in Newton, and we are having a nice time. The weather is fine, and we had a most agreeable day. I expect a letter from you tomorrow. I have all the letters and parcel and thank you very much. But next time you send a parcel or cigarettes send them registered. It is worth it. Don ‘t forget to do it.

With best love and many kisses to all.

Your loving son
Jack

12th January 1917

To Abraham and Rachel from Jack.

Rfn. B., 8051
B coy
3/6 City of London Regt. Newton Abbott , (Devonshire)

Dear parents,

I got a letter from you yesterday evening and am glad to hear that you are all in good health. I am alright myself and have nothing to complain of.

We are not doing much just now, because the weather has turned bad. It is cold now and we have rain and snow and wind in turn. We cannot drill and pass the time away doing very little. Last Monday, though, we went on a route march of 12 miles. We don’t carry a pack or a rifle and it is very pleasant. The band goes in front playing. We get a beautiful panorama of Torquay and the sea and the countryside all round. We do not walk fast and we get much rest. The trained men have to carry full pack and rifle on their marches and for them it is very tiring.

Let me know the result of the Allowance Lady’s visit. I hope you will get the full allowance, that is 16/- a week. Write me a long letter on Sunday. I will also write them and to America and Mme Bernard. I mean, I have the intention of writing next Sunday but perhaps I may be too lazy then. Still I hope I shan’t. I received a letter from Louis. He also says he is having a rough time of it. And I can assure you it is easy to get it in the army. But it is also easy to avoid if you are careful. I don’t think it is worthwhile having punishment for a dirty rifle if I can clean the rifle. In his regiment they are more strict than in ours, much more. “The Shiny Seventh” as it is called, is well known for its discipline. They would give you 2 hours pack drill for being 2 minutes late, besides stopping 2 day’s pay. In our lot they are more decent. All the NCOs are fine chaps and quite lenient. The only chance, really, to get punished is once a week, when we are inspected by the Colonel. There you must be clean, brass must be polished and the leather shining or else you go for it. But as we are told the day before, we are careful and the C.O. has no cause for complaints.

I wonder what Louis is going to do when he gets leave. Will he go back? If he does he is sure to go to France soon after and if he doesn’t he will get 6 months if he gets caught. I daresay that’s what he will do.

I have not got Jack’s cigarettes. Has he sent them? You’d better ask him when you see him. The cakes were very good but hard. Send me some more, if you can, but registered. I shall get them safely and quicker then.

We get supper now 6 days a week. It consists of soup, carrots, potatoes and stewed meat, with bread, plenty to eat and it is very good. But if mother bakes any good things send something on for me.

I don’t see much more to write now. I will try and write a lot on Sunday. I hope you are all doing well and baby too.

Give my best regards to everybody. I have not time to write to all. I hope they are all busy now, as busy as can be.

With fondest love and many kisses for Leon, mother yourself and grandmother

Your loving son,
Jack

Undated

To Abraham and Rachel from Louis G.

Dear Uncle and Aunt

I am quite well, and I am glad to hear you are the same. I expect to come home on my six days leave either this week or next week at the latest. I knew you would not be able to understand why I get so many punishments. Once you start getting punished you cant stop it, and not only that, I got eight sergeants, reduced to corporals, and they have now got their knife in me, and they are allways watching an opportunity to get me punished. For eight weeks I did not go on church parade, which I have to do every Sunday morning. The sergeants, when calling out the names, allways marked me present when I was absent, it was not because they wanted to oblige me, but because they did not want to bother to look for me. But on the ninth week, the sergeant who called the names, missed me, so he reported me to my captain. In the morning I was tried, and I told the captain, that being a Jew I was not aware that I had to go on church parade, and I also told him, that the sergeants allways marked me present, when I was absent. He dismissed me, with only one pack drill, and he took one stripe away from them. I would not have done it but I had to clear myself somehow, otherwise I would have had a couple of weeks cells. I got two pack drills for being two minutes late on parade in the second week I was in the army and since then it has not stopped. I got pack drill for not being clean-shaven, and we have to shave in cold water, and I had a speck of dirt in the bore of my rifle, for coming home late, for fighting, answering the corporall back, for not saying sir to an officer, for not saluting him, and for threatening to kill a sergeant. The more they punish me, the more wild I get. This is only half my crimes. I do not understand what chances I can have in the army, or what chances Jack can have. I should like to know. I will only have a better future when I go out of the army. Dont you think that peace is very far off? I hope it is true.1

I am quite eager to make Leon’s friendship, and I thank you very much for your wishes for my wellfare and happiness. I have no mor news to right so I enclose my letter with love to you, Granny, and Leon. Please give my regards to Harris, and Mr and Mrs B.

From your fondest nephew
Louis

16 January 1917

To Abraham from Jack

Dear father

I have got your letter of yesterday and am glad to read that you are all well. I am glad also Louis has got his 6 days’ leave. It is a pity, though, he is not able to enjoy them so well. What is he going to do? Go back at the end, or stay? When they go on 6 days’ leave, they always take everything with us. As you say he has got a gas helmet and a fire protector, I presume he is now fully trained. They have trained him quickly too, in about 10 weeks. I hope he will enjoy his holiday well, as he had a bad time over there. Keep me ‘au courant’ of what he is going to do.

As to myself – I am in perfect health and don’t find army life so bad. Food is good, work light, and we are not driven about too much. Besides, as I am applying Louis’s and Harris’s advices, I am continually postponing my training. I’ll explain you why – I have told you that I don’t believe in getting punishment. This for one reason chiefly – it is not for the punishment itself. To be a few days in prison is not terrible, and barring your freedom you are better off than outside. But I don’t want to get punishment because I want to get a good character. And this helps me a lot. I started in earnest to play the game 3 weeks ago. I smoked a lot, spewed up my food and went to the doctor. He saw me and gave me 3 days off, and 14 days of light training – that is 14 days lost for the army. The doctor thinks I have a heart disease. Yesterday I tried again, with the result of getting one month this time. That is, another month lost for the army. Light training is, training without packs or rifles no running, no hard movements, no marching, and only 3½ hours work a day. I told you I was given a rifle and that I would start training for good. Well, this is postponed for a month, and my rifle has been taken away again. You see I am not losing my head, and I know what to do. When my month is up. I will keep at it, with the result that I will probably be sent to a medical board to be examined again. And then we shall see. Don’t worry about me. Be sure I am doing my best, and that my earnest wish is to be back with you. The army, with all its entertainments, is not like home.

I am glad you are going to send some cakes, I will write you when I get them. Send Registered.

I expect the lady meant about the allowance, 9/– plus 3/6 extra for living in London. Altogether 16/– weekly. Let me know what has been awarded you.

I am glad you are earning good money at the Globe Wernick.2 It is a good place, and near home too.

I will write you more on Friday, if I can because I haven’t much to write. I regret I haven’t much money left now. Can you send me 3 or 4 shillings that I could get them by Friday night. Send registered. I have a few things I want to buy. I want to take my photos and I want to go to Torquay next Saturday. I hope you will be able to send.

The weather is cold and snow has been falling, making a beautiful scenery with all the fields and hills white. With fondest love and many kisses to mother Leon yourself – grandmother.

Your loving son,
Jack

January 19, 1917

To Abraham from Elise

2157 Mapes Ave Bronx

Dear Father,

I am surprised of your long silence. I haven’t received a letter from you for a long time. It’s about four months that I haven’t a letter from Jacques. This silence makes me think that you are sick or something. Please write as soon as you can.

I read the letter which you sent to Mother. I disagree with you all together. You said that if Jacques was to come he might get sunk. Well I think it more probable that he would get here safe and sound. There are hundreds of boys here now, Annie’s husband, Barney, is at my house and his brothers came over too. So you see that he would get here too.

You think that my mother hasn’t a heart and that she would treat Jacques cruel. Here you are mistaken. We would not call Jacques lazy and I am sure that he would got a job quick enough.

Jacques didn’t have to come to New York or either alone. Why didn’t you come with him? The United States is quite large. I am sure we would all be happier.

Annie’s husband (Barney) is here as I told you and told me splendid things about you and Jacques. I was very sorry that you suffered a great deal and that you was sick after we went away. I am very sorry that you was sick but I hope you are in good health now. I heard that food is scarce in England but I hope that you do not suffer from it. I also heard that you got into the tailor business. Please tell me all about you and I want a reply to this letter.

How is Jacques? Have you seen him lately? Oh I’d love to see him and you again. Sometimes I think I couldn’t stand it any longer. I have heard many horrors of war….

[The rest of the letter is missing]

21st January 1917

To Abraham from Jack

Dear Father,

I have just received your letter with the 5/– enclosed, and thank you very much. I sent you a letter, fairly long, on Friday evening, and I expect you have received it. In it I thank you for the cakes you sent me. They were excellent, and I can assure you that I enjoyed them greatly.

I have not much to write about now, because I have told you a lot last letter. I went to …….3 yesterday afternoon, and had a most delightful time. I had tea and supper there at the YMCA, went to a theatre, and spent a good night in the Soldiers’ home for 6d (very cheap, isn’t it?) I return today at 4 o/c. ……. is a big town (100,000 people) with trams and brilliantly lit streets. It is a treat to see a big town once more. …….. is bigger than Brighton, and much prettier. There are promenades along the sea, piers, big hotels, and high cliffs, transformed in parks, all over the town, in the same style as “les Buttes-Chaumonts” 4 From the top of these cliffs, you have a beautiful view of the sea. They have 5000 soldiers billeted in ……. now, and it makes the place lively. The play I saw was “The Happy Day”.5 This is being played in London now. I enjoyed my holiday greatly, and I intend to renew it soon, if I can. It did not cost me much, and I had no trouble in getting a pass, because I get on well with the sergeant major.

I am glad you think my line of conduct good. Of course, in these matters, there is always a certain risk to run, but I don’t think they can find out if I proceed carefully and slowly. What do you think? At any rate, it is worthwhile running it.

A good character is useful in the army, no matter what you intend doing. It is even more useful still when you become in trouble over some affair or other, which can happen to anyone. In this case, you always get better off if you have a good character than not.

I hope I shall get a long detailed letter from you soon. I want to know more about Louis for one thing. I am sorry he did not enjoy his leave better. It may be his last leave for a long time perhaps. I am also surprised he returned to his camp. What are his intentions then? And what do you mean by saying “he did not succeed in his enterprise”? I am very interested, as you know. I wonder what he’s going to do now. How does he look? Fit, I expect.

I cannot have my photo taken today, because it is Sunday, and the place is shut, but I will tomorrow, I shall take 12 postcards. But I think it’s too many, though.

I manage all right with the blades. I have still got 3 left. I thought I only had to left 6 weeks ago, but I found they were stuck together and there were 6 instead of 2. I shall get some more when I come to London on leave, soon I hope. I think we ought to try so that I get a weekend off in 2 weeks’ time. I will write you later in the week what and when to write.

I will also write you how I find the army, or rather, how the army transforms the individual, I am too lazy now. I have nothing to say now against the army life. I’m quite used to sleeping on a straw mattress and 4 blankets and it is not terrible, after all. The food is good and plentiful. As I am medically unfit for one month, I don’t do much, (and I like not doing much) and the army does not get much out of me. After 11 weeks in it, I know just as much is Louis learned in 2.

I am in excellent health and hope you are all the same. Let me know how busy you are. Tell me how baby is. I expect he is beginning to perceive, and follow about with the eyes now, doesn’t he? Tell me how mother is, and tell her that I should love to see her soon. Give my best regards to everyone.

With fondest love and many kisses for the baby, mother, yourself and grandmother.

Your loving son
Jack

22nd January 1917

To Rachel and Abraham from Jack.

Dear Parents,

I have just received your letter of yesterday and am glad to hear that you are all well. I hope the emotion was not too great on hearing the explosion. From what the papers write, it must have been a terrific noise. Did you see the fire? 6

I have sent you a letter yesterday and expect you have got it. I must say I don’t understand what you mean by saying you are not glad to hear about my health. I am in excellent health and there is no cause for you to worry, is still less to fear grave consequences. I am careful what I do, don’t you worry.

Write more about Louis. I am very interested. What was he in trouble and excited about in the 2nd part of his leave, without any result. You can write the reason without waiting for me to come on leave. There is nothing to be afraid of in writing. I don’t think he will be sent to the front so quickly as he believes. After coming back from leave, they have to be given a new kit, new equipment, new rifle, and altogether it takes about 2 weeks before they go. But it may be his regiment is a home duty regiment, like some are, and he won’t go at all.

I did not receive the letter from Anny’s husband, and I am sorry for it, too. I am glad that Liza is a tall, nice girl and so educated. I will finish today my letters to them and send them on to you.

We are supplied with supper 5 nights a week. We have, or soup and bread, or bread, and cold beef and cheese. A very good supper. We are in one of the few regiments that do give suppers in the army.

I have already written you what I intend to do about leave. I shall not get, and do not want, my 6 days leave for a long time. So I will try the next week, and will write to you again about it. The Easter idea say I shall get 8 days. By the way, do you know if I am entitled to it. You seem, by your letters, to have an impression that to mislead the doctors and get one months light training or duties or any other soft jobs that put you out of your military training, you must make yourself really ill. It is not necessary at all. What is wanted is, that the doctor should think you were ill. And I can tell you there are many ways of doing it.

I am in good health and enjoy myself very well down here. I had a lovely time down Torquay, and hope to go there again at an early opportunity. The weather is much better now, although it is still cold. I expect you have had a very bad spell of weather lately in London, haven’t you?

I don’t see more to write. I will have my photo taken today, 1 dozen postcards. You are doing right to write to the allowance committee. It is the best way and will show them that you need the money. I hope they are going to allow you the full allowance 9/–, that is altogether 16/– a week. If they do it will be fine, and you will also get all the weeks in arrear in a lump sum. But, as you may know, the Government have decided to increase the allowances and it may be worthwhile, later on, to claim a further increase.

Are you going soon to have a photo taken of Leon in his short clothes? I should like to have a photo from him, and one of mother, and yourself, as well. Write a longer letter soon.

With fondest love and many, many kisses to mother, Leon, yourself and grandmother.

Your loving son
Jack

A bientôt

27th January 1917

To Abraham from Jack

Dear Father,

I have just received a letter from you and am glad to read that you are all well. But let me tell you that you are mistaken when you think you have not much to write. There are plenty of things I would like to know in which you could tell me, if you felt inclined to. But I forgive you. I know what it is. Now, if you have little to write, you will understand that I have still less. I keep on sending letters to you, and I have told you all I know about myself and my life. Each time it becomes more and more difficult me for me to find something new to write, and I don’t like repeating the same things in every letter. You will then, I am sure, excuse me for the poor quality of my letters, because, really, I have nothing to write about, except to ask questions. On the other side, I am anxious the news from you. You are far away, and I have four persons dear to me to think about. I should say 3 and a half persons, because Leon is not quite one, just yet, is he? Besides my life is so regulated that, barring accidents, you can be sure that I am doing all right. I am sorry to have disappointed you, but I enclose now the letters for America. As for the photos I will take them if you wish it but I think the price is excessive.

I received a letter from Louis or rather, I received an empty envelope from him. The envelope was unstuck in the letter inside missing. It is most vexing. This was last Thursday. I wrote him back at once, but have had no answer yet. If, as you say, he is gone to Salonika last Friday, it is most unlucky. Louis is unlucky to go abroad. But I think it is better to go to Salonika than to France, although the difference is not great, and the cold is very severe over there. As to that, it is dreadful here. The wind is glacial and makes you shiver under your overcoat. It is a wonder, this cold, for the country. Devonshire has got a reputation for being the Riviera of England, and sick people used to go to Torquay for warmth in winter. At present, it reminds you more of Russia than Italy. But it is everywhere the same, unhappily. All over England, France and Germany the cold wave is passing, and I dare say it will be colder too. It’s bound to be cold in the wartime winter, as you know. I hope that by now you have got your coal in. It would be bad for you to be without any at this time. I also hope it is not gone up in price very much now.

I read in the papers that in Paris, where it is so cold, that the Seine is carrying ice, coal is 10/– hundredweight, and hard to get at that. The cold does not affect me very much. We drill in a warm room, we don’t work outside we go to sleep in a nice warm place. I hope you, mother, baby and grandmother are bearing it well. I’m glad baby is growing up well. Tell him I should like to see him. I expect mother is very proud of him, isn’t she? I hope to see you all in a very short time.

I have no news about myself. I am in good health and everything is as usual. I am passing the time away in a very agreeable manner. My training is stopped, so I have little to worry about. I hope to get a long letter from you soon, and also good news from Louis. Try and write many news if you can.

I don’t know what to think about peace. I believe as you do, that it is coming. But I think it will come after the spring offensive, not before, when they will see that they can’t break through. But all this peace talk is slowly changing the spirit of the people and may be after all, they will start negotiating soon. Pres. Wilson’s speech 7 has done a lot of good, hasn’t it? After all, the word is now Germany’s. The Allies have stated their terms, but Germany has not stated hers yet. Maybe she will, and they will not differ too much so that pour parlers could be started. I only hope it will come soon. The spring battles will be terrible, you can be sure. As it goes, they are sending men to and material to France as fast as they can, and, although they may have an armistice they are making themselves ready. They can send a man to France after 9 weeks training. When he gets there, he has another 2 weeks training, and then he is in it for good. I am not very optimistic now about peace. The country has not been affected directly enough by the war. But of course there is France to take into consideration. I don’t know what the people think over there.

I hope you are not too lonely now, and that you take some enjoyment. You ought to go and see Louise 8 at the Aldwych Theatre, and tell me what you think of it. Baby, naturally, is doing his best, I am sure. I haven’t thought of a good excuse to get leave, yet, but I will write you as soon as I think of one. I shall try to get 3 full days if I can. Wait and see.

Let me know what our family is doing, how uncle and auntie are, how busy they are. Explain to them that I am too busy and occupied to write but that I am not forgetting them. The same to Harris. I hope his children are doing well, and that Pauli has not forgotten me. Does she speak yet?

Give my regards to all. With fondest love and many kisses to Leon, mother, grandmother and yourself.

Your loving son Jack

PS. I am enclosing the letters to America. See if the address is correct. It is written from memory.

 
 

27th January 1917

To Elise from Jack

My Dear Sister

I am sorry I have kept you so long waiting for a letter, but, really, it was no fault of mine. Since my last letter I have had to join the army. Candidly I never believed it would come to this, and this is why I did not accept mother’s offer to go to America. I have only myself to blame for it, now

But I am not dissatisfied with the army, so far. The trouble only begins in France, and as long as you are in England, there is little to worry about. We get good food, board and lodging, and 6 pence a day pay, work little and enjoy ourselves much. Against this rosy side of the question there is the fact that you are a soldier and subject to discipline (not very agreeable) far from home (200 miles) and that you are not being trained for your own satisfaction, but to go to the front (most agreeable prospect, I don’t think!) But now the best thing is to make the best of it, and that’s what I am doing.

I hope to send you a photo of myself soon. I should be delighted to have one from you. Do not forget to send me a long letter soon. I am longing to know how you are and how you are progressing.

I have little to write about myself. I am in excellent health and hope you are the same. I thank you very much for your offer to send some money. I don’t really need any, and it would be an undue strain on your limited resources if you were to send it. Thank you very much, all the same. Hoping to receive a long and welcome letter from you. With fondest love and many kisses.

Your loving brother
Jack

29th January 1917

To Barnet Schnieder from Abraham. Written in English.

Dear Barnet,

I received your letter and am very glad indeed to heare that you came over to america safly.

I wish you good luck in your new country and hope you will not regrette for leaving that bleeding Uerope.

I thank you very much for the good information you gave me of my daughter Elisa. I trust you told me the truth and was very happy to heare how she is going on. I hope you will give me very often true information about her which she, herself by personelle feeling will not find nessecary or will not dare to give.

Now about your demand I should promise you to send Jacky over to america.

Surely you ask me a thing which if I promise you I am not sure I will be able to keep my promise. I can promise you to send his photo if I have got one because it is without a willing without feeling. If I put it in an envolope write the adress and put it in the letterbox it will come to you. I can’t send Jacky in that way. I can’t bined his hands and legs put him in a sack and sent him over to you. He has got his own willing and by his own willing he will stop here or go over there. Never in my life have I forced any body to do how I like even if when I saw it in the most important to me. therefore I cannot promise you a thing which does not belong to me. I must avow that I regrette very much now he is not there and the more time passes the more of regrette. But it was not my fault. In the beginning of the war there was no nececity to send him there as there was no compulsion, besides he was only 16 years of age but when the nessecity became more evident he could not go there, he was not allowed to go! Who would believe the war will last so long?

Now he is a soldier and the only thing we have got to do is to hope that all will finish well. When the war is over and he will find in his interest to go there I will not keep him back of it you may be sure.

Now dear Barnet please write me another letter and tell me how you are going on. Wether you have found some work already how is the cabinet trade in America what kind of furniture is it in circulation over there, and some other things which you will find interesting to me. How was your journey? was it hard?

I was in your house 2 weeks ago I saw Anny and your baby. they are all right. I was surprised to see your baby. It looks so nice and stout like a boy of 5 years.

Hoping you will not keep me waiting longtime with a letter.

I am your oncle B.

29th January 1917

To Elise from Abraham

My dear daughter Elisa

In sending a letter to Barnet I cannot miss the occasion to speak to you a few words, to remint you that you owe me a letter in response on my last letter which I have sent you about 2 month ago.

I have sent you with that letter a few letters of Jack which he sent to me to give you an idia how he is going on.

It is a pity if you did not receive them.

I thanked you in that letter for your generouse offer you made to Jack to send him some money. He is really in no need of it at the present time, as he gets seven shillings a week. He gets 3/6 and I get the other 3/6 for him but when he is short in money I send him.

If you have some money saved which you can spare for him keep it ready may be he will want it a little latter on.

I told you in my last letter that he sent to you a letter but the letter came back to him as it was the adress of his regiment written and it is not allowed so they sent it back to him. If you want to corespond with him you must write first to me and I will send it to him and so return.

I am waiting for a letter from him to you and I will send it over to you as soon as I receive it I hope to send you as well his photo presently as he is going to take one. I was very glad to learn by Barnet’s letter how nicely you are going on. I wish you much success and still more success till you come in the righte position you desire.

Don’t worry much about Jack because there is nothing to worry yet.

By the time he is all right. He is in a good regiment with plenty of food, plenty of rest and entertainments as you will see of his letters I enclose again to you.

30 January 1917

To Rachel and Abraham from Isidore and Dora Margulies. Written in Yiddish

My dear sister and also my dear brother-in-law

Please be informed that we are in the best of health, and we hope to hear the same about you in the future. I can also tell you that we have received your letter, and we were very happy to hear that you are well. We hope to hear the same about you in the future.

And you, dear brother-in-law, asked me to write you a letter like I used to and tell you the reason why I have written only one letter to you. You say that the time has really come when I should write to you. You ask me whether all my time is taken up with business. I can tell you that I have been short of work, but it is not work which is taken up my time. I have been burdened with such trouble, that I am now going to say what the Americans say: “thank God I am over this trouble!” I am sure that, by now, you were curious to know what kind of trouble I have had hanging over me. Well, I can tell you that I would not wish it on my worst enemy.

You must certainly be thinking that the trouble was that some woman had got hold of me, but no, exactly the opposite. First a professor and then, later, my dear wife, helped me to rid myself of the trouble, which was bleeding piles ‘mereeden’ in Yiddish. I was in great pain, and they played me day and night without respite. After a month my health began to suffer, and it grew worse day by day. I could feel my life being sapped. This went on for three months. I tried everything, and nothing helped at all. I saw that this trouble plaguing me while I was still young was not going to go away. That is not business. If you lose business, you can always get some new business, but if you lose your health and your life is being shortened, you cannot get them back any more.

Well, when I saw that this was a life-and-death battle, I said to my dear wife that we would now have to find out which of us was stronger and would win. I went to see a great professor, and I paid him 5 dollars to investigate what I could do about my trouble. He examined me and told me that no medicine could help me. If I wanted to be rid of the trouble, I would have to have an operation and have the haemorrhoids cut out. What would a man not do to get rid of such a trouble?

Well, I told the professor to do what he thought best, as long as I could get rid of my trouble. “Well, my friend”, said the professor, “you will have to come into hospital, because I cannot operate on you at home.” I replied: “well, what will be will be”. This was two days before Rosh Hashanah. You can imagine for yourself how my dear parents cried and prayed. It was, after all, during the Days of Awe” 9 as they are called. To cut the story short, I went into hospital, where the professor operated, and then I went home, when my dear wife looked after me. I had emerged the victor and rid myself of my trouble. That is the reason why I did not write.

As for asking whether I was too lazy to write to you, I do not think much of it. I have a saying of my own about this: a lazy man does not deserve to eat. And as for your writing that perhaps my dear wife takes up the time that I should be using to write down my thoughts, the truth is that I do need a great deal of time for my wife, but nothing can prevent my expressing thoughts that I have to express, either in speech or in writing except illness or death. This is the only force which can snatch my thoughts away. You are right that many poetic thoughts and socialist feelings have been sacrificed to the happiness of married life, I must tell you dear brother-in-law, that these were not very passionate people, because a man with a strong character can love his good and faithful wife and, at the same time, expresses good thoughts and good feelings.

Now, my dear brother-in-law, you want me to write and tell you what news we have here about peace, and I will do as you ask. I can tell you that our president is agitating about peace every day. He writes notes for peace every day. He has even devised a plan for the conclusion of peace. The only thing is that the warring powers have to want peace, and we all hope that peace will come soon…

[The rest of the letter is missing.]

30th January 1917

To Abraham from Jack

Dear Father

I am starting this letter with the intention of writing a lot. Truly, I have little to say in mind, but I expect I shall think of something as I go along.

I received your letter of Sunday, and sent you a postcard in reply. Before then, I had to send you a letter on Sunday, with 2 letters for America in it. I hope you are pleased with them. If you don’t like them, or want something altered, send them back and I will write fresh ones. I have found a new photographer, who charges only 3/6 for a dozen postcards. I will have my photo taken today, and expect it will be ready by next week. I will take it in full length, because it looks better. I thought first of waiting till I got home on leave to have a photo taken, but, as I don’t know whether I shall be able to get home soon or not, it is better to do it now. I hope they’ll come out alright.

As you wish it, I am going to wait a little longer before I apply for leave. I wrote you once that all leave was suspended, and the order is still holding good. You can only get leave if you have a good excuse for it, although it’s easy enough to find one. Write me when you think I ought to apply and I will write you what to do.

Have you heard any more from Louis? Has he left England? I am surprised you are keeping me in the dark about him you know I am very interested, and, still you say there is nothing to write about. I have had no answer to the letter I wrote him. Let me know all you know about him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had gone. They send you to the front pretty quick now, because they are preparing a new big push, for 1st March I heard. For instance, those men over 19 years who joined the same day as I did, left today for France, entirely trained and fitted. Good job I am not 19, isn’t it?

I see in the papers that it is very cold in London. I hope you and mother, Leon and grandmother are bearing it well. Have you got your coals yet? It is very cold here too, and, for that matter, all over Europe, it is the worst winter for 25 years. How does the Serpentine look covered with ice? The weather is cold and dry and the wind is icy, and sometimes blowing in tempest. But, although it is cold, we manage to keep warm. Fires burn all day in our room, and we don’t suffer from cold at all. But the water to wash with in the morning is far from being warm, you may be sure. I am in good health and hope you are all the same. I am not doing much just now, I told you why. We get decent food and the sleeping accommodation are not bad. There is nothing to worry about. I am not doing any drill, any marches, any bayonet fighting and I don’t carry a pack or rifle. I am unfit for one month, and it’s pretty good too. All I do is 5 hours exercise a day (arm and leg movements) in a warm and close room, together with about 20 other chaps, all fellows who have come back from France wounded and are not anxious to go back. And they know what to do, too. And I use this experience. They all think a lot about the tanks. They say it is a really useful machine, most comical to see in action, but doing very useful work.

We have no news about moving out of Newton Abbot, yet, but we shall move soon, I am sure. Don’t forget to write about Louis in your next letter.

You want to know how the army transforms the individual. Well, first it transforms him physically, making a better man of him. Of course not in every case, but mostly. In my case, it has not done me much good physically. In other cases it has done harm. In character it transforms a good many people. It makes you think for yourself more, you learn that you must look for yourself, and even fight for yourself, if need be. In regard to discipline, there is little to say. Either you accept it, and obey orders (and this saves you all worries); or else, you don’t accept it, and you go to prison straightaway. Sometimes it pays you to do this, and, after all, the difference is not great. There are many ways of obeying orders, and nobody is executing them if there is a way of doing so, that no harm come out of it. It is marvellous the way discipline is enforced and there are few men who are courageous enough to openly disobey an order except conscientious objectors. And we have got a few in our regiment.

Thanks to you, I have enough money to get on with and pay for my photos. But I am afraid that I shall have to run in debt to pay my fares if I get leave. Still, I don’t mind that. I hope you get settled soon with the allowance, so that I could come home for a few days. As it is, I am having a fine time down here. How was work going on? Do you manage alright about money? Tell me also if the cost of living is still going up (eggs, milk, etc…). It is going up, here, but the prices are different from those in London. Sugar is unobtainable here, same as in London.

Tell me also what you know about America and also how all our friends are going on and what they are doing. Briefly all you know.

I don’t see much more to write and if I think of more I will write another letter. If there is any special point you want to know about, let me know and I’ll be glad to explain you.

Do you think still that peace is near? True, I don’t know what to think. Whatever all these conferences mean they are all preparing the new offensives, and if it comes, it will be awful. ‘Qui vivra vera’ as they say in France.

Give my best regards to Mr and Mrs Schwartz and family, to Harris, Simmy, aunt Perel and children, to uncle and auntie and family, etc.

With fondest love and many kisses to Leon, mother, grandmother and yourself.

Your loving son
Jack

PS. It is a pity Leon has got such a cold weather to contend with. But as long as he gets a warm bottle and a warm bed, I am sure he is satisfied. He is like the wise men “satisfied with little”. Tell him I hope to see him soon.

31st January 1917

To Abraham from Jack

Dear Father,

I continue today the letter I started and finished yesterday. Truly I expected to get a letter from you tonight, but I suppose you have been too busy to write.

I have only one piece of news to report, and this is, that thanks to my line of conduct I am to see a medical board tomorrow. I was to see it today, but there was no time and it’s been postponed till tomorrow morning. Let me tell you first that I don’t believe I have any chance of being rejected. This will only come later on, if I persevere in my operations. The only thing I can get out of tomorrow’s board is to be classified as fit only for sedentary at home or abroad instead of military general duties. Even this I am not sure to get. It is more a matter of luck than anything else. The Board may find me fit for general service once more, very possibly. I will let you know the result tomorrow.

I don’t see much more to write except to ask you to write me more and tell me all of you know about Louis.

The weather is improving. It is less cold and the sun is shining, quite a change. How is it now in London?

I shall wait till you are ready to apply for leave. In the meantime I am making the best of it, which is the best way. I hope you too are not too lonely, and do not worry about me. First because I know how to take care of myself, secondly because I am all right and there is no reason to and thirdly, because your worrying would not be of any help to me.

I only hope I shall see you all very soon. Of course, I also expect to get 6 or 10 days for Easter. Try and find out for me, if you can, what I ought to do. There is plenty of time, naturally.

With fondest love, and many kisses to Leon, mother, grandmother and yourself.

Your loving son
Jack

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