Soldier’s Letter – Christmas 1915

The following interesting letter is from a Tommy written to his family in Salisbury; his sister is cook at St. Margaret’s:

Private, in the 2/4th Wilts Regiment, attached Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, Persian Gulf, Mesopotamia, October 4th.

We have been through a stiff time this week; we have had two good fights, and drove the Turks back. They have not got much pluck, but they gave us beans all the same. We had 85 dead and 1000 wounded (of course, natives included), so it was not so bad. If you had seen the bullets that were flying about you would have thought we were all dead. We are in a place called Kut-al-Amara; look on the map for it. This is a rotten country; they say we are the only British they have seen here. I should not like to live in this country.

The cold weather is coming on here; it is very cold at nights, but very hot in the day. This country is twice as hot as India. You ought to see me now; I have had no shave for a week and only two washes, and I do look a sight.

We have had another fight, and drove them back, and the Turks took the river we were advancing towards and opened fire on us. We had no food and no water, and a lot fell out for the want of water. The General in charge came up to us and said, “If you want any water you must fight for it,” and we did, and I can tell you it did not take us long to get our water. We are now all well and plenty of food and water. I think we are stopping here for a while.

October 11th.

I am in the best of health. We have had a good scrap, and beat them back; it was no trouble, they run like hares when we got close to them. We had a lot wounded, and two have died of wounds. There were some killed in the Dorsets, but it was not many. We were advancing in a rain of bullets just like a swarm of flies: it was all open ground, and we never had an inch of cover. The Turks had some lovely trenches, and if it was British in them they wouldn’t have shifted us for a month.