Letters home

Saturday Nov 2nd 1918. 74th General Hospital BEF letter from Alfred Johnson to his wife Essie: I have been marked as fit and shall be probably leaving here on Monday.

Mon 4/11 1918 Letter from Alfred Johnson to his wife Essie I crossed over from Trouville by boat today. If there is a shortage of small houses I think it would be better to take a maisonette than to stop at Haverstock Hill. It may be many months before the shortage is righted. Reading: 'Pride and Predjudice', Jane Austen, (1813)

7.11.18 letter to Essie from Alfred Johnson What do you think of the news now? The Germans must realise the hopelessness of their position and I should not think will go on long however stiff the terms are. They have absolutely nothing to gain by continuing. Reading: Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad, (1900)

Friday 8th Nov 1918 Letter from Lieut Alfred Johnson to Essie: A couple of days ago I was Orderly Officer in all the rain starting with a parade at 5.30 am. I am going back on to the battery to-night...I think the war is as good as over

11th November 1918 Letter from Alfred Forbes Johnson to Essie, 1918 I believe the war is over. You will know for certain by the time you get this. I don’t think I shall see any more shelling and I am not at all sorry.

November 14th 1918 Letter from Alfred Forbes Johnson to Essie. We are in a village where there are liberated French civilians. I was talking to one of them yesterday. They have certainly had a difficult time

16.11.18 Letter from Alfred Johnson to Essie: We are going on to Germany with the army of occupation and I am looking forward to an interesting time.
I found the battery billeted in a village and all very comfortable. I am glad we have finished the tarpaulin life. We have been drilling this morning. I think the men are rather fed up with it and you hear some of them say they would rather be in action. I suppose we ought to look as smart as possible in Germany.

21.11.1918 Letter from Alfred Johnson to Essie. We shall be in Catillon near Le Cateau for a week or two yet as we going on by train. We are allowed to mention places now. I can't imagine how long we shall be there when we shall be demobilised...some are pretenting to get bored already.

I suppose I have got lazy and so far am not tired of this idle life. There is a sort of a piano in this room and we had a sing song last night. We are having quite a jolly time here. Reading: The Wrecker by Clive Cussler

Fri 22nd Nov 1918 Letter from Alfred Forbes Johnson to wife Essie: I knew about the Armistice on Sunday night but I was not letting myself believe it until absolutely certain.

27.11.1918 Letter from Alfred Johnson to wife Essie Cambrai is a good deal knocked about, must have been a nice place once. I am afraid they are going to take a long time gassing at the Peace Conference. It looks as though there may be a long argument among the Allies about the freedom of the seas.


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Explore by day, month or person here on the blog or on our five Twitter feeds: @Voicesfrom1918 @LadyMonkswell @MarieStopes1918 @JamesSansom230 and @OliveHarcourt.

Voices from 1918 has been developed by artists Sharon Hayden and Alastair Nisbet in partnership with Wimborne Community Theatre, Dorset History Centre and the Priest’s House Museum, Wimborne with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Thanks to all who have helped us with this project: Maria Gayton and staff at Dorset History Centre where we found Lady Mary Monkswell’s diaries; Joan Cocozza, ward of nursing auxiliary Olive Harcourt; Portland Museum where we found James Sansom’s diaries; the British Library and Wellcome Libraries; Priest’s House Museum in Wimborne and Gill Horitz from Wimborne Community Theatre.

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