Migration, Memory & Memorial

1917 February

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


“Sink at Sight” Order Began Night – Blockade of Allied Harbours.


U.S. Suspends Passports for Abroad – Huns to Permit America One Boat Weekly to Falmouth.

Germany is now waging U boat war on the world; the “sink at sight” order came into operation at 6 p.m. yesterday and the position is as follows: –

FRIGHTFULNESS ORDER. – Neutrals have been notified of the blockade of England, France and Italy. “Any vessel, no matter of what nationality, found more than twenty miles from the coast will be torpedoed without warning.”

BY KAISER’S PERMISSION. – The Huns tell America that they will allow one American vessel a week to put in at Falmouth. It must not carry “contraband,” must fly a special marked flag indicated by Germany, and must arrive on Sunday and leave on Wednesday. Holland will be allowed to send a paddle steamer every week day between Flushing and Southwold.

AMERICA’S POSITON. – The foreign situation is described as tense. Both the British and Japanese Ambassadors were unable to see Mr. Lansing, who was in lengthy conference with Mr. Wilson. Mr. Lansing is said to be preparing a Note warning Germany that if the submarine blockade is carried out it will mean a severance of diplomatic relations. American passports to overseas passengers have been suspended.



Why Germans Think Fateful Hour Has Come.



Why Germans Think Fateful Hour Has Come.


“We accept the challenge to fight to the bitter end, and we will put everything to the hazard to gain the victory. Matters having reached this point, the submarine warfare has entered upon its last and most acute stage.”

These grim words were uttered by Bethmann – Hollweg, the German Chancellor, amid hurricanes of applause, at a meeting of the Reichstag Cabinet Committee. Practically all parties have persuaded themselves that Germany must stand or fall by the result of the next few months.

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


1st February 1917

To Abraham from Jacques.

Dear Father,

I have received your letter and am glad to read that you are all in good health. So am I. I wrote you yesterday that I was to see a medical board today. As a matter of fact, the Board met, but I and 10 others were unable to be seen, because of a mistake made in the list. It happened that, as we are not by right entitled to see the Board, our captain had to make a special list, to be signed by the doctor. This list got mislaid and when the Board met, we were not called for examination. So I shall have to wait another 3 weeks for the next one which will be either here or in Exeter or Plymouth. In a way I am glad I was not examined today. I am feeling quite well, and I had very short notice and was not able to prepare myself properly. That’s why I wrote you that my chances of rejection was small. Now I have 3 weeks before me and I hope I shall be able to gain a victory next time. From what I have seen, I stand, if I am careful, a good chance of rejection, or C3,1 at any rate. But, as in war, this is mostly a matter of luck. I shall keep you informed of how it’s going on. At present I am in perfect health, but am still doing the same as I told you. I have had my photo taken, and it will be ready next week.

I sent you a long letter yesterday and you must not complain if I don’t write again till Sunday. I have not much to say, all the same.

Now I come to your letter. I enclose a letter for Liza, as you wish it. Also an envelope for it, if you like to send it separate.

I am sorry Louis has gone away. As there is no letter from Louise since Friday I would not be surprised if he had gone to Salonika. Of course he may have gone to France and not have had a chance to write. I think the reason why I got an empty envelope was because the envelope was not stuck properly, and the contents got lost in the post. The letter was not censored, you may be sure. First they don’t censor letters in England, and they could not, even if they wanted to, because it goes through post by the letterbox, and has nothing to do with the army. Second, if the letter had been “illegal” they would have kept the envelope with the letter as evidence. That is certain. No, I think the letter slipped out of the envelope and got lost. It is a pity, but Louis won’t have any trouble by it. Even if it were found by a postman and handed to the military authorities (supposing there was something illegal in it) they could not do anything with it, as they would not know who and where it is from and to whom and where it is going to. You can be quite rested on this point.

Don’t forget, as soon as you hear anything about Louis, to let me know. I am very interested. I don’t think of much more to write now. I hope you will have a lot to write me, though.

The YMCA is an institution, a sort of club, founded a long time back by some philanthropists and a few clergymen, to provide proper and honourable recreation and enlightenment places for young men of all classes and sects, for a very small monthly contribution. The scheme had a wonderful success and it became a powerful association with clubs all over the world. In each club there is a reading room, with books, magazines and papers, a billiard room, a writing room, where paper envelopes ink, etc, is provided free, and a recreation room with games of all sorts. There is also a refreshment room, where coffee tea and sundries are served at cost prices. It is a fine thing. Anybody can become a member, on payment of a contribution. The soldiers it is entirely free, and you would not think of the good it has done. When I am out of the Army I shall become a member of the YMCA. There are 3 YMCAs in this town. Of course the monthly subscriptions would not be enough to cover the cost of this association, but they rely on voluntary help such as gifts, legacies, etc… and they are extremely rich. There is a managing committee in London and one in each branch, for which each member can vote. To give you an example. Six weeks before Xmas, they appealed for 250 pounds to be got before New Year, and in 7 weeks they raised 210 pounds and last week they reached the 250 pounds they asked for. Truly I don’t know what soldiers would do without the YMCA. There is also a few clubs such as the Liberal Club, in which you can become a member on payment of 6 pence.2

Let me know when you hear about the allowance. I also want to know if you are still drawing 3/6 a week. If you don’t hear from them, write again. I have nothing to complain of now. I have enough money to get on with. But it seems I have spent a lot lately. I had a good many things to buy and have enjoyed myself well lately. All this makes money go like water. But I am sure you won’t blame me for passing the time the best I can. The result of this is that if I were to get leave now I would not have enough for the fares. A good job, then, that I haven’t got any leave, isn’t it? But in a few weeks time I shall have enough saved to pay my own fares. If I get leave soon I shall borrow what I want off the company and pay it back when I get back.

I am enjoying myself and not at all miserable because I am in the army. It is not worthwhile being otherwise, is it?

Write me on Sunday as much as you can, about Leon, mother, yourself, grandmother, how work is, how uncle and auntie are. Tell them not to worry too much about Louis. I am sure he knows what to do. In a word, write as much as you can, about everything likely to interest me. You will thus be doing me the greatest pleasure.

I will write some more on Sunday, if I feel inclined to, that is, if the weather is bad and cold. I will write you about our conscientious objectors and other things. The weather is still very cold, but the sky is clear and the sun shining. It is very agreeable. I read that in London it is very bad. I wish all of you to get through it all right. Also write me how Leon is going on.

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

Your loving son

PS. Best regards to all.

I hope that after having to read such a long letter you won’t accuse me of writing a little.

2nd February 1917

To Abraham from Jacques.

Dear Father,

I have just received your letter and the copy of those sent to America. I want to thank you for the stamps you sent me. They will come handy to me.

I wrote yesterday the result of my medical examination and enclosed the letter from Liza. I understand why you don’t want to know about my procedure. But you needn’t be afraid there is nothing to worry about. All the same, I shall wait and tell you more personally, when I see you next, which will be soon, I hope.

I want you in your next letter to tell me how all our relations are going on. You always forget to write about them, and I am too lazy to write to them. You cannot complain this week to receive short letters. I have sent you a few long ones lately, and I think I ought to have a rest. That’s why I shan’t write again until Monday or Tuesday evening, but I’ll send a postcard before then.

I have had my photo taken, and it will soon be ready. Shall I send the whole dozen to you directly and you will give them to whom you like? I think it’s the best way.

I have no special news to write. Everything is going on as usual and I only hope it may continue so. As to leave, I will write later. I am surprised there is no news from Louis. What did he write last? Do you think he has gone to France? In this case I pity him, because he will soon be in the thick of it, when they start again. As you have seen in this morning’s paper, the chance of peace seems gone for a long time, doesn’t it? With this new German threat, this seems only a prospect of more slaughter and suffering for everybody. I think they will now seek a decision on the battlefield and at sea, and what spring will bring will be awful. I hope I shall be able to keep out of it. That’s all. There is no use to worry about it, is there?

I trust you will write me at once when you hear from Louis.

I am sending you back the copies of the letters. They are alright, but you have mixed a good many French words in them. I did say they will understand it allright.

The weather keeps cold and dry with sunshine all day, and freezing all the same. We don’t get any snow or rain down here, but I see that you have had bad weather in London. I hope you have got enough coals to manage and I wish you all to go through this bad weather alright. I read in the “Times” that in Paris it is also very cold 12 degrees under zero. The Seine is carrying ice and one part of it, entre le Pont Neuf and Notre Dame, is already frozen. I pity the poor Parisian, because coal is 10/– hundredweight and hard to get, even at that price.

I am in good health and hope you are all that the same. Do not forget to write me a lot on Sunday. Reward me for my letters.

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

Your loving son

PS. Write about the allowance and how work is going on, and if you are short of money, and if the price of living is still increasing and… etc…


5th Feb. 1917

To Abraham from Jacques.

Dear Father,

I hope you are all in good health, as I am at present. I have sent you a few letters last week, fairly long, and I hope, interesting enough.

I have little news to write, consequently, and if there was anything new, I would let you know at once. Everything is as usual. Same food, same lodgings, same work, and same recreations. I have nothing to complain about, except that I’d like to have sometimes a dinner as I used to have at home. Not, mind you, that what we get here is not good, or that I don’t like it. But there is little change every day and besides I like mother’s food better. Anyhow, I am alright at present, that’s the main point. I think I’ll explain you my work, etc., When I see you personally, which won’t be long, I hope.

I have had no letter from you today Monday, but I expect I shall get one tomorrow morning. I am anxious to know how you are all going on.

My photos will be ready by Friday and I will send them, if I can, on Friday night, so that you can get them by Saturday. I will send them registered, for safety. I hope they’ll come out alright.

I have not heard any more about our leaving Newton Abbot. I’d rather stay here and move into camp. Camp life is far from being so attractive as it is here. But we shall be moving out, all the same. But I hope that in about 3 weeks time I shall have happy news to write you.

The weather keeps on being cold, we had some snow last night, but today the sun is shining again in a blue sky, and the snow does not melt. It is a fine spectacle, really. But it is far from being as cold as inland, in London, for instance I hope it’ll soon start being warm again.

Have you got any news from Louis yet? If you have, don’t forget to write to me.

It does not look as if the war is going to be over soon, does it? Germany is going to starve England, and I think the menace is more serious and is more frightening the Govt. than the papers care to say. On the other side America seems to come in, at last. It is funny though, that Wilson, the pacifist, should become so warlike. I never thought America would come in, but I see I was mistaken. This is a war of surprises, and we must never be surprised at anything now. What will be the effect of America’s entry in the war? Not very great, I think, for a long time, or, else, Germany would not have thought it worthwhile provoking her. Still, it may only be bluff on America’s part, after all.

I shall wait till you are ready to apply for leave. Have you heard any more about the allowance?

I don’t see much more to write about now. We have had some conscientious objectors drafted to our regiment, but they didn’t stay long. They got in prison the second day. All of them are decent fellows, well educated and very plucky. I was present one day when one was arrested for refusal to obey orders. He was ordered to report to the company office, and did so. There he was told by the Sergeant Major to put on his equipment. This he refused to do. Told that this was a crime and would be punished by court-martial, he said “I am conscientious objector, and refuse to obey your orders, which are not lawful. I want to be tried by court-martial.” He was immediately placed under arrest, and I daresay he will get 3 months for it. The whole scene only took 5 minutes.

Have you sent the letters to America yet? And also have you had any more news?

Give my best regards to all our friends.

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

Your loving son

7th February 1917

To Jacques from Abraham.

My dear son Jacques

I received your letter of the 5th and am very glad to heare that you are going on all right.

You told me in your last letter that in about 3 weeks time you will be able to inform me happy news. If you mean the news of being rejected I am almost sure that you will not be able to as they don’t reject anybody now unless one has no arm or leg. But you may if luck will be with you transfered to home service. Don’t speak to your pals about it even the most confident in the contrary, complain always to them about your illness that they may be good witness in case of nessecity.

My sister received a letter from Louis at last yesterday. He has been in France presently. Of course he does not say in which place he is. The only thing he says is that he is all righte. He has got plenty of food. He is doing the same training than in England, and he asks for money. Many passages in his letter was effaced by the censore. I think he will write you a letter.

Don’t be surprised I am writing this letter with pencil, it is because I have bought a writing book and blue copy paper to put between so I cut out the letter and the copy is left in the book so I must write with pencil.

Try to send the photos for saturday. I have heard that it is not allowed to send photos to America. What do you think. I have sent you a letter on Monday and to Feuilles litteraires did you receive them. I have nothing heard yet about the allowance. I was told that they don’t answer before 5 or 6 months.

Tell me when is the month that you have been put in light work to be finished, and what will be after? I have no news to tell you about ourself and our friends everything is as usuall. I don’t want to speak now about the war. I hate it! But don’t you think that peace is gone so far away. On the contrary I see it very near to our doors. Let us wait another couple of weeks. I don’t think America will declare war. With fondest love and many good wishes from mother, grandmother, Leon and myself.

Your loving father,
Abraham B.

7th February 1917

To Jacques from Louis G.

Rfln Blusun
No. 8051 B Coy
3/6 C.O.L. Regt
Newton Abbott

Pte. L G.
2/7 L. Regt Acoy
B. L F. France

Dear Jack,

I am in the best of health, hoping you are the same. I am very sorry you did not receive my last letter as there was something very important in it, and I did not want anyone to see it. I can’t tell you now but will have to tell you personally next time we meet. I am having good food and I have comfortable quarters. The weather here is bitterly cold, much more than in England. I can’t tell you anything about those plans but uncle will when you go on leave.

10th February 1917

To Abraham from Jacques.

Dear Father

I sent you yesterday “registered” the photos and I hope you receive them alright. I am sorry they did not come out well, but perhaps next time it will be better. I had no time to send a letter with them, but I had little to write, all the same. I have received the 2 feuilles litterairer, as I told you. I will send you a list of what I want, and you can send them to me when you like.

I have received your letter of the 8th with Liza’s and Mme Barnard’s letters. I also received the same night a letter from Mme Barnard, and I am returning the 3 to you. I expect Mme Barnard means in her letter that Bernard was looking for and could not be found. He was looked for, evidently, to be given a notice about the divorce. Mme Bernard is an unhappy woman, and I pity her very much. Send back her letter, later on, and I will write to her.

I am glad there is at last some news from Louis. Does he speak about his situation? I daresay he is in the training camp at Le Havre. He may be there a long time before they move him further up. I hope he’ll get on alright.

As I wrote you, you can send the photos to America without any trouble. There is no reason why they should be stopped. You ought to write again about the allowance to remind them, because it should have been settled long ago. It is wrong to think that 5 or 6 months are necessary before it is settled.

The weather is bitterly cold, same as everywhere else. The rivers are freezing, although the sun shines all day, and there is no snow or rain. We managed to keep warm, all the same. I hope you can get coals alright in this bad weather. Have you still got to go to Westbourne Park to fetch it. I read in the papers that there is nobody to deliver it. Shortage is the same here, and the people of the town complain about it. This cold winter is causing great hardship to everybody, and if the Germans continue to sink the boats the way they are doing, there will be a very bad time coming soon. I believe the next few months will settle the war, because every country is getting towards the end of its resources. But I don’t think peace is near at all there must be a big battle on sea and on land first, I am sure. America may come in, perhaps, although it won’t make much difference for the first few months. At any rate the government is getting ready for a long war, and men are going to France in great numbers. The next few months will be interesting, I am sure.

I am glad that you work at the Globe Wernicke. It is a fine place and the pay is not bad. Is it hard work? I’m glad you don’t suffer much from the cold. Of course, in this weather it must be impossible to be absolutely comfortable even indoors. I am sure you must have one side burning and the other freezing when you seat near the fire let us hope it’ll soon be over.

I have come to the end of my cigarettes. I am a poor smoker, but cigarettes will become handy to me. If you can, send me a few, but not gold-tipped, it is not worth it. Ask Harris to choose a strong tobacco. Needless to say, don’t send any if it is not convenient, because I can buy a few here, but they are not so good, though. Tell me if you have received the photos, and what you think of them.

I am in excellent health, and this weather has not affected me at all. As a matter of fact, I would prefer this cold dry weather to a period of dampness, rain and snow. I am enjoying myself very well here, and have nothing to say about our food. But I am running short of money again. Of course I shall be able to manage till next Friday, but I have had some expenses. For instance I had to buy a pair of gloves. The pair they gave me has become worn out, and they don’t renew gloves, and it is impossible to go without gloves now. And many other things like this. I don’t want to ask you the money now, because you are not able to afford it, and also because you sent some not long ago. So I will try and manage on the little I have. I hope you don’t mind if I make the best of the time I am here. I hope I shall get a long letter from you on Monday, telling me lots of things. I will send you back the 2 feuilles litteraires as soon as I have finished with them. I am glad you sent them. Try and send me soon if you can get it ‘Le train de 8 heures 47’ par Courteline.

I don’t see much more to write. Everything is as usual. I got another fortnight of light work yesterday, to last me until the next board. I like light work, because there is nothing to do. I manage it alright, you may be sure.

I am going to finish this letter now, on Saturday evening, but I shan’t post it until tomorrow, in case I get a letter or I think of something to add to it.

Write me how Leon is getting on. What progress he has made. How mother is going on. I did say she is very proud of Leon now. I hope they are both bearing this weather well. Also write if you manage well in money matters, and of the cost of living is still increasing.

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

Your loving son

PS. I will write further in the week about getting leave.

11th February 1917

To Abraham from Jacques.

Dear Father

Only a few words to add to my letter. I have received a postcard from Louis which I enclose. I will write to him during the week.

Otherwise I have nothing extra to write. I should be glad if you could send me 2 or 3 shillings, not more. Don’t send if it is not convenient, of course. But I should be glad if you could. I have run short of money, and it is bad to be without. If you can’t send any, I will try and borrow some here. I am very sorry to have to asked for money again so soon, but I hope you won’t mind. It will be, I am confident, the last time. Under is the list of the Feuilles litteraires


13. Mon oncle Benjamin par Claude Tillier

31. Un coces de Génie par Louis Demur

70. Le train de 8 heures 47 par Courteline

92. Les plus belles pages d’Emile Zola

124. La loge d’opera par Scribe

145. La Maitresse anonyme par Scribe

152. Les Couseils de Ninou dede Leuclos au Marquis de Sevigné

23. Les deux femmes par J. H. Rosny

Send them when you like, of course. I will write you another letter later in the week, and speak about leave, etc. Don’t forget to answer this letter at once, but send the money only if you are able to afford it. Don’t do it if you can’t.

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

Your loving son Jack

11th February 1917

To Jacques from Abraham.

Dear Jack

I received your photos yesterday and I as well as mother and grandmother were very glad of it. I find them as everybody find them very good taken. You look very young and delicate. Your pose pleases every body especially the way you keep your stick. I will send to Liza only one registered to see if it passes, as I was told that they send back all the photos.

I received a letter from Louis which I am sending it to you. Of course he is writing only the good side (if he is not compeled to do it) but we will never know the other side till he comes home. If you write to him don’t ask any questions about what he has don while in London as he will not be able to answer you. As you can read in his letter. Did you receive a letter from him? Did you receive my letter in which I inclosed the letter of Lisa and Mme Bernard?

I am glad you received the papers. I went to day to buy some others but I found them all sold but he told me that they will come in on Monday or Tuesday so I will buy some next Sunday. I have bought the last one “Le Vacances” which I will send it tomorrow. I went this morning to Kensington Gardens to see the skating but there was not many skaters in the lake, in reason that the temperature got milder since yesterday morning and the ice started to melt. So there was much water in many places of the lake they did not find agreable for skating. There were only a few soldiers few girls and a lot of children. On the serpentine it was not allowed to go, and notices was everywhere posted that everyone who will be found in the serpentine will have to pay £5 fine. The lake they find less dangerous, and yet they have posted a few men at the safe guard all round the lake dressed in a cuirass of cork and furnished with ropes in which balls were attached. They were standing and watching the people on the lake ready to “plunge” in the water at any moment when an accident may happen. You see the governers try theire best to preserve the life of theire “sons” but when I saw this it came in my mind the act of the prison authorities they take away all weapons at the condemned to death they should not be able to commit suicide and only die by the hand of the authorities.

I have no news to tell you about ourselves. We have no coals yet and I have to fetch yesterday to amusant. He is a very good and laughing baby very strict in his clame in regard his food.

We are all wishing to see you shortly and we hope it won’t be long.

I send you our best love and good wishes and best regards from all friends.

Your loving father
Abraham B.

12th February 1917

To Louise G. from Abraham.

Dear Louis

I received your letter and am very glad to heare that you are in good health. As to the information you give me about your position, if it is true it seems you are better off than in England.

The only complain you make (may be allowed to make) is that you do not like the French cafés, and you wonder how I could leave for 17 years in such a country with so bad cafés. Well I don’t know where you are now, in a town, in a village? or in a camp? but when you will be in a town, you will be astonished of many of the habits of the french people, as the french are astonished of many of the habits of the english people. It is only a matter of habitude.

Being in France, have you been in contact with the french people? Have you tasted theire ‘Beaudeaux’? Theire cheese? the ‘Brie’ and ‘commonbere’. Have you lighted theire matches? If not I would advise you to put your gaz respirator on before using it. Otherwise you risk to get suffocated. I was not so lucky as you to come to france with a gaz respirator, when I came over there, therefore I had a lot to suffer at the first time till I got used to it. When I lighted a match I had to turn my face right to the back, or to retain my respiration till the sulphur of the match was burned out. And theire “fromage” the cheese I mean! I could not approach without putting my hand on the nose, but after I got used to it and I liked it. You will be the same, when you will have a chance to be with the french people. I am sure you will like even the french girls latter on.

Your next complain is of the cold weather. Well in that case we are not better off than you. We had to pass a bitter cold fortnight in London too. The only difference was that you may be were compelled to wash your face in the open air, and we washed it in a room, or we did not wash it at all if we were to lazy for doing it. The cold was so great in London that the snow did not melt for about a fortnight. The lake in Kensington gardens and the Serpentine was frozen and thousands of people were skating or walking on it with such certitude as footballer playing football on the frozen soil of Wormwod scrubs.3 That cold seemd still worse to us, because we had no coals, and we could get for no money in our neibourhood, and we were compeled, me and Joe to go to Westbourn Park. We had to wait for about 2 hours till we could get to undertweights of coals. You see we are not to be envied either.

Well now dear Louis I will finish my letter in wishing you that luck shall accompany you wherever you’ll go, and that is the sincer wish of aunty and grandmother. I have no news from my part all is going in well and as usual. In your house too everybody is all right, they did not receive a letter from you since last tuesday. I have sent to Jack the letter you have send me. Please write often and tell me every thing about yourself but as far as possible the truth. With best regards of all my family and all friends your most sincer uncle Abraham B.

14th February 1917

To Abraham from Jacques.

Dear Father

I received your letter and the 3/– enclosed. I am glad you were able to send the money. I really needed it, or I would not have asked for it. I hope I shan’t have to trouble you again with this money question.

I have also received “Les Vacances” and thank you very much. The day before I got your letter and Louis’s enclosed. Louis is alright now, so far as it goes, and is safe. But how long will he be at this camp. I hope he will get on alright. Do you want his letter back? If you do I will send it back to you. I have no news to write about myself on the training. It is same as usual. The weather is much warmer now, and I hope it is the same in London. Don’t forget to write again about the allowance. It is time they do something.

I don’t see much more to right now. I will try and write more on Friday. If you send any cigarettes, send registered. I am glad you are all well and that Baby is doing fine. I do say he does not feel the cold much, and does not worry about the war. I hope to see you all soon.

Thanking you again for money and the stamps.

With fondest love and many kisses to you four.

Your loving son

16th February 1917

To Elise from Abraham.

My dear daughter Elisa

I received your letter and am very glad to heare that you are in good health and that you are going on fine in school.

I am enclosing with that letter the photo of Jack. It shows just as he looks. The only fault in it is that he took it in whole therefore he looks thin. When he comes to London for leave which I hope it won’t be long, I shall let him take another photo and I will send you. He is going on all right in the army by the time.

He has got plenty of food plenty of rest and is enjoying himself as he says. He is sure not to go abroad before May as they can’t send him before he is 19 years, and he will have 19 years only in the end of May, so he was inscribed in the army register. But he hopes he will not be sent over before the end of the summer as his regiment consists the most part of boys of 18 or a little over. May be peace will be restored till then. We must hope, if we can’t do anything else.

I am in good health myself, and am pretty busy as everyone in England. There is no unemployed now every body can find a job from a boy of 14 till the age of 70 if he is fit for it, and so are women. I am working now again in the cabinet trade, I worked only for about 2 months as presser of military caps. I earnd good money to £2.10 a week but I did not like it. I started to work again in my trade. I have found a good place near my home 10 minuts walk. The “Globe Vernick Company” it is called. It is an American factory and I get 11½d an houre. Now my dear child I want you to answer me at once and tell me all about you. I hope you received my 2 letters which I have sent you registered. Whith best love and many many kisses I am your loving father Abraham B.

18th February 1917

To Abraham from Jacques.

Dear Father

I received your letter of Thursday and answered at once. My letter was short, it is true, but I was much too lazy to write. I was glad to read that you are all well and also that you have got something at last out of the allowance. But the amount they allow you weekly is much too small (10/7). You ought to appeal and claim the 16/– you are entitled to. That’s why I enclosed a form of appeal. You should write that as I used to contribute 27/– a week for my board, you consider that the 7/– allowed you by the Pensions Committee are not sufficient, and that you claim the full allowance 9/– a week plus 3/6 extra weekly because you are living in the London area.

I don’t know why my 3/6 are divided into 2/11 and 7d, but I suppose it’s for administrative reason. Anyhow 10/7 a week is not bad, and I am glad you have got all the arrears now. Have you got now a form to get 10/7 weekly or are you still waiting for one? If the Allowance Committee except your claim and allows you more, you will get it back for all the time gone in a lump sum, which may mean another few pounds. Of course this will take time, but meanwhile you will get your 10/7 a week alright. When you send the form, write the number on it.

I also wrote you to apply for leave. Since then I have found out that no leave is granted. So you can understand that my chances of going home next weekend are small. But still we must try and I hope you have written. I would like to see you, mother and baby if I can, and I hope I shall be able to.

I am in very good health and hope you are all the same. I have little to say about myself. Everything is as usual, and I have told you what it means. The weather is quite warm once more, and I think the rain season has started. I am glad it is warmer in London, and perhaps you will be able to get your coals in soon. It must be bad to fetch it yourself and very likely you have to wait a long time.

Now, speaking personally, I don’t dislike the army life at all. It is far from being as bad as I thought, and as I am careful always to take the best part of it, I am having a soft time of it, life much easier and more enjoyable than you would think it possible in the army, and much more easier than in civilian life. I don’t want to explain how I manage it, but when I go home tell you.

Let me know if you have any more news from Louis. I don’t think he has gone up the line yet, but we can’t tell for sure. I hope you manage to get through it all right.

I can’t think of much more to write about now but I will write you a longer letter on Tuesday, if I can. On Sundays I am free for the day we have breakfast at 8 o/c, and then free till 9 PM. I don’t go to church and have no duties to perform, no guard to do because I am still unfit. Sunday down here is not so lively as in London, because all of the shops are closed, but we have a concert every Sunday afternoons, a very good concert, too. Of course the YMCA and the clubs are open, and when the weather is good I go for walks in the country.

Give my best regards to all our friends and inform me how they are going on.

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

Your loving son

21st February 1917

To Abraham from Elise.

2157 Mapes Ave.,

Dear loving father,

I have just received your loving letter and I think you very much for Jacques’. I have received the other letters that you sent me and I answered them but maybe they were lost.

I am glad to hear that you are in good health. How are you getting on in England? Are the times bad? Is there plenty of food? Here things are getting very high. It looks as if America was going out to war. If she would help put an end to the whole affair then I wish she did.

How is Jacques? Is he in good health? I heard that he wasn’t very strong and I don’t think he enjoys army life much. How I wish this war was over. If I was in England I would join as a Red Cross nurse and wherever Jacques would be I would go and take care of him. You can’t imagine how I love you both.

Dear father, Barnet got a very bad letter from Annie saying that the child was ill and that she was in a poor state. He sent her four pounds but she doesn’t seem to get them. Will you please go over to see how she is if you have time.

Dear father, I am sending Jack £2 in your name and signed by Elisa B. You will get the money in N. Kensington station at Chesterton Road. Please see that Jacques gets it and if he does I will send him some more. I am sure he needs it as his letters shows.

I am in good health and going on fine in school. I am taking up French now and am going on splendidly. I am going on fine in Latin also.

Please send me your picture and that of Jacques because I want to have them. You cannot imagine how I long to see you. I still see you as I remember you years ago. The same sweet man.

Dear father, I shall send you my photo soon and please don’t forget to answer and tell me whether you get the money or not. With love and many kisses to you and Jacques.

I am your loving daughter

23rd February 1917

To Abraham from Jacques.

Dear Father

Excuse me for having been so long to answer your letter, but I had so little to write and so little inclination that I kept on postponing it from day to day. However, I apologise. I received your cigarettes today and the chocolates and thank you very much. The chocolates are very good and so are the cigarettes. Too good, perhaps such a poor smoker as I. I am glad you are all in good health as I am at present. I have nothing new to write, everything being as usual. I sent you a postcard asking you not to write to my C.O. In fact it would have been useless, no leave whatever is granted. Besides, we may soon be moving nearer London, and Easter is not far. I think you for your offer of sending me cakes etc at “Pourim”. 4 They will be welcome. You can be sure.

There was no Medical Board this week and it’s been put off till March 9th. I shall be ready by then.

I hope you will send me a long letter on Sunday, telling me all about you, mother, baby etc. and also if you have any more news from Louis. Poor Louis! He has got bad luck to be in it now. I will also write you a lot on Sunday, if I think of something to write about. I am passing my time as agreeably as possible, and I have nothing to complain about. I am not short of money, but, as I am going to Torquay tomorrow, you can send me a shilling or two, not more to reach me on Tuesday. Don’t send if you can’t afford it. To save the cost of accommodation, you can send the P.O. in an ordinary letter, but write on the P O. first, in the line provided, “Rfn. B., 8051, Newton Abbot” so that nobody can pinch it.

The weather is lovely, and I enjoy it greatly. At times I think we are after Easter, so mild it is. But we get rain often. I expect it is the same in London.

Write me if you have any news from America, what you think about the war, how is living in London, etc… how work is. And I will try and write a lot interesting about me.

Give my best regards to all.

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

Your loving son

23rd February 1917

To Jacques from Abraham.

Dear Jacques

I have sent you last evening a packet of cigarets and a “ton” of chocolate jellies I hope you received it. I did not want to send you cigarets in gold tips, as it is extravagant and extravagancie not only it is not patriotic as Lloyd George said but it is also unnatural as Tolstoy would have said. The reason why I have sent in gold tips is this. I wanted to order at Harris’s 50 cigarettes but I did not want him to know it was for me, as I was affraid he will not take the money for it, or he will think that I mean he should send some cigarettes for you. So I asked Mrs Schwartz she should order for me but to tell him it was for somebody else and she ordered gold tips. You see it is not my fault.

My sister received at last a letter from Louis. He said he was in the trenches for five days and had a very hard time. He had nothing to eat and he slept only for about 12 hours the whole 5 days. After 5 days they took him out and put him on billettes for 10 days and he is alright now. He received a parcel from somebody with good cakes and many other things and he does not know whome it was from. I am afraid he will be traind just in time to be ready for the spring battles.

I received back to night your photo which I have sent to Lisa from the censor, that no picture postcards or photos whether they do or do not represent an object of interest to the enemy and are adressed to enemy or neutral countries, will be allowed by the censor and will be returned in consequence. The letter came back as well. I am very sorry she will not be able to have your photo. I hope they will let it pass to France.

Did you receive my letter of tuesday. I received only one letter from you this week. Why is it? I have no other news to tell you so I will finish it in sending you our best love and wishes from your loving father Abraham B.

25th February 1917

To Abraham from Jacques.

Dear Father

I am rather surprised not to have had a letter from you during the last few days. I received the cigarettes and the chocolates and you may be sure I enjoyed them greatly. I replied at once and hope you received my letter. In it I asked for you to send me a shilling or two, if you could. This is not because I am actually short, but I like to have a shilling or two on one side, in case I need it urgently. I hope you will be able to send it. I don’t spend money very much, though, but all the same the 4/6 I get a week is just enough.

We get good food and the lodging is not bad. On this point there is nothing to complain. My training stopped 8 weeks ago, and I am still waiting for the Medical Board which is due to take place on March 9th. But I am now in good health, and I have gone through this cold weather without even catching a cold. I am passing my time as agreeably as I can, and, truly, there are many ways of enjoying yourself down here. I go occasionally to Torquay, to the theatre, where I see London plays, by London artists. Torquay is a lovely town, and very interesting. There is a public library here where I read the papers and borrow books. This library is about as big as the one in Ladbroke Grove, and is important.

The weather is now warm and beautiful, with very little rain. How is it in London? Although this place is agricultural, they have the same shortage in sugar and potatoes as everywhere else, and they don’t supply more than 3 pounds to each customer. But the army has got plenty of potatoes and peas, etc. How is the cost of living in London now? Is it still rising? Of course the new regulations will bring the prices higher still, and it will be a hard life for many during the next few months.

Write me if you have sent your appeal yet. If not, don’t fail to send it at once because it may be too late soon. I think you are keeping the money for me, but I should earnestly be more pleased if you were to use it to buy what Leon may need, a pram, or anything else. Write me how Leon is getting on, and try to send me his photo, and mother’s. Nothing would please me more, except to see you all personally. Tell mother I always think of her, but I dare say she is busy now with Leon. I hope to see you all soon. I wrote you not to apply for leave because no leave is granted now, perhaps it will soon be altered. In that case my excuse would be quite good enough. The fares are now about Louis yet? It is too early yet to worry seriously about him, because in France facilities to write are not always to be found, and besides he may be moving and prevented to write by orders. I don’t think he is at the front already, although our regiment, and amongst them some fellows I know personally, are there already, and took place in that raid related in the papers.5  Let me know as soon as you hear anything.

What I want is a letter from you telling me a lot of news, how you all are going on, how work is, how you manage to live, etc… I hope you don’t suffer any privations in the way of food, etc… This food famine seems serious enough this time, and the Germans are still sinking the ships. As sugar, etc… Is so difficult to obtain, don’t send me any cakes at “Pourim”, if you make them specially for me. Otherwise send them in a cardboard box, if you can get one. They keep much better then. The cigarettes are fine, but the gold tip is an expense unnecessary, I think. I will write you when I want some more.

I will write another letter on Wednesday unless I have anything new to say. Give my best regards to Harris, Simmy, Aunt Perel and kiss the children for me. Write me how they are all going on. Also give my best regards to Mrs and Mr Schwartz and Isie and all and to Uncle Davies and auntie and the whole family. I hope they are all well and that work is plentiful. I think I will write to them during the week.

Have you had any news from America? Don’t forget to write me when you receive any. I expect a long letter from you in answer to this and I hope you won’t disappoint me. Don’t worry about me. I am alright and in fact living almost as well as I used to at home and certainly working much less. Besides our separation won’t be long, I am confident.

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

Your loving son

25th February 1917

To Jacques from Dora.

New York

My dear loving son

Your letters make me happy and sad in the same time. I think it is of no use to tell you why and I beg you to write often and write as much as you can. I read between the lines and I know you are not allowed to write the truth. My dear Jack I see you are all ways trying to shield your father but I will all the same blame him becouse he had to know what it will be. Your life had to be dearer to him than anything. I know if I would be in England that time you would not be where you are now. But as things are now I do not like them at all. It seems as peace is as far as the first day the war started even if America gos into the war. That war is degradation for all humanity. It pushet the civilisation 200 years back. Now my dear son I will tell you that you should not worry abut me I am alright and I am hoping that I will see you some day in good health. The wihl do not forget your own mother. I wish I was religious I would pray for you but I know it is a fake and it will not help. I have nothing to tell you more. I am pressing you to my heart with many kisses.

Your loving mother

PS. You will soon have are photos and I hope I will have yours first.

26th February 1917

To Jacques from Abraham.

Dear Jacques

I received your letter of the 25th and I wonder why you did not receive my letter which I have sent you on Frieday. I hope you received it by now.

I told you in my last letter that my sister received a letter from Louis telling her that he was for 5 days in the trenches with much privation. After 5 days they put him on billetts for 10 days to repose himself. They received another letter from him on Saturday, in which he says that he is alrighte but he does not like the french peaple. They are selfish he says and are not welcome to the english soldiers. They are charging too dear for everything he is got to buy and the food is not good. He does not like the cafée’s, and he wonders how I could leave for 17 years in such a rotten country. Many lines of his letter in which he speaks about the french peaple were scratched out by the censor. Did he write to you?

I told you as well in my last letter that your photo which I have sent to Liza was returned back to me by the csensor with a note that no ilustrated post cards or photos can be sent to neutral countries whether they have or have not a special interest for the enemy. You see they will not be able to have your photo to after the war. I went yesterday to Annie Jacobs and gave her your photo. She received a letter from her husband in which he says that he regretts at going to America he can find no work and though he is in Dora’s place he is very downhearted. He was stolen of his overcoat on the ship and his suite was torn in pieces by the hard work he had to do on the ship and he is ashamed to go in the street.

Lisa, he says, is a very nice and inteligent girl and very ladylike in the same time very modest. She gets up every morning at 6.30 specialy for him to make his breakfast and she treats him very kindely. She speaks a lot of you and says if you want to go to America before she would do everything for you. It seems that Dora is all right over there. She leaves in a nice house and a nice neighbourhood. I have found Annie in great trouble as her baby boy of 3 years was taken to the hospital “King’s Crosse” a week ago, suffering from croop. He had to undergo an operation in the throat and was very dangerous. Now he is out of danger though he has got still a tube in his throat. Did you receive my letter of last Tuesday in which I asked you to write a coppy for me to the Territorial Force Association to ask for transferring my allowance payment to the nearer post office. I don’t know how to write please do it in your next letter. I did not send the appeal yet for the same reason. I must state some grounds for the increase of the allowance and I don’t know which ones to state. I am sending you a postal order of 2/– and I wish you to enjoy it.

I will answer some of your questions in my next letter.

28th February 1917

To Abraham from Jacques.

Dear Father

I received today your regd. letter and the 2/– it contained and thank you very much. I got your letter of Friday on Monday afternoon but I was too busy to reply before now. However, as there is so little to write, there is nothing lost.

I am in good health and hope you are all the same. You forgot to write about this in your last letter, and I think it’s the most important point. I have got another month’s light duties, but I do say I shall see the Board before my month is finished. The weather is splendid, and I am having a delightful time both during training and after. It may sound strange that I have a fine time while training, but it is so. I’ll tell you why and how another time. We get good food now, and as much as we want. We shall soon be moving out of Newton Abbot, though, in two or three week’s time.

I am glad to read that Louis is alright. I daresay his regiment is not on the Somme, but higher north, near Ypres, where the 2/6th London are. Of course, life in the trenches is bad, but they get plenty of rest afterwards. But even about the trenches, all depends where you are. It is mostly a matter of luck, after all. I hope you get through alright.

The war is going to last a long time now, don’t you think so? And after all, no one will be better off than they are now. Germany’s blockade seems to have some affect, and the price of food is still rising. I always thought that if Germany believed it worth while to risk war with America, it was with good reasons.

It is a pity the censor stopped the photo for America. They won’t be able to get it until the war is over, unless in the meantime America comes in.

I was glad to read about Liza, that she is well educated and ladylike. I suppose you will write to her soon, won’t you?

I hope you will send me a long letter soon, telling me lots of things. As to myself I will write you a letter on Friday and one on Sunday next, and do my best to write interesting.

You want me to write about the allowance. First about the transfer –


Can you make my separation allowance No (here quote the number on your form) payable at the Post Office No Ladbroke Grove instead of the Post Office No 3 Ladbroke Grove as at present.

I should be obliged if you could, because I have to go far out of my way to draw the allowance every week.

Yours respectfully
Name address
or something like it.

But first of all enquire at the post office where you get your money now. They may be able to help you.

About the appeal. Write on the form in the blank space:

As my son used to pay me 27/– a week, of which not more than 12/– went for his food, I consider the amount allotted me 10/7, or rather 7/–, as 3/6 are contributed by my son out of his pay, quite insufficient. I hope you will correct this and make it up to the amount I have lost since my son joined the Army, as it is causing us great hardships since the addition of a little baby boy in our family and the rise in price of everything.

Don’t forget to write the number of your allowance on the appeal form.

Of course these 2 letters are only a rough idea of what to write and if you think of something better write it. But don’t delay any longer the sending of your appeal or it may become too late.

I will write you more later on, and in the meanwhile I hope I shall get a new letter from you. Also have you any new “Feurilles litteraires” to send me. It is a treat to read some French books down here. Try and find some more to send me.

I hope you have plenty of work and that you manage alright although everything is so dear, and that there is no shortage.

Write me how you are all going on and how Leon and mother are getting on.

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

Your loving son

PS. It was a very good plan about the cigarettes not to tell Harris who it was for. They are very good, I may tell you. How much do they cost?

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