Monthly Archives: February 2015

26 February 1915

9.15 a.m. Southampton Docks

Here we are at last. On getting back to Sawbridge last night I found we were due to move at 10.30 p.m. So packed in great haste. Left Harlow 12.55 and came here via Kentish Town, Acton, Richmond, Stains, Basingstoke etc. – managed to sleep most of the way – arrived 6.15 a.m. at present foggy and cannot cross so all sitting in large sheds on the docks. They are going to run us over I believe in small craft, and goodness only knows when we shall start. Please send me as soon as possible a couple of ordinary rough small hand towels. I just shaved and feeling quite fresh. No time for more – Give my love to all & to Dad best wishes for a speedy recovery.

I find I have some more time, so will continue. The men are all in very high spirits, albeit one or two were a trifle sad at leaving Sawbridgeworth. Personally I think it was high time to be going. Now it is really time to post this.

Harvre, France

Have arrived – Rotten crossing, in fact ours was the only one of the five boats which were due to cross which had the pluck to continue its voyage beyond Portsmouth. The rest all went back. All very ill, worst of all the C.O. I was beautifully sick but not quite so bad as the Aberdeen touch. Find that my French will not carry me far here so am making acquaintance of our civilian interpreter, who is attached during our stay in the country. We are in tents here & it is very cold – but have all had fur coats issued and consequently can sniff at the cold. I don’t imagine we should be here long – probably only long enough to get the other ½ our btn up-which couldn’t sail. We came on a Clyde boat – very long and narrow and built for river work only. Fast but with an awful roll. The men are in high spirits. I am feeling very fit. Love to dad and hope he is really all right again. Love also to the rest.

Hardifort, France

All well – am writing – finished long journeys for the present.

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Welcome to our WWI Blog

Leicester City Arts & Museums Service, in collaboration with The Royal Leicestershire Regiment, is proud to present the First World War letters of Captain John David Hills of the 1/5th (Territorial) Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment.

This blog presents, for the first time, the complete archive of letters written by Captain Hills between 1915 and 1918. We will post the letters on this blog 100 years to the day after they were written, starting on 26 February 2015 and ending on 26 November 2018.

One of the exercise books.
One of the exercise books.

Hills sent frequent letters home to his family, sometimes writing several a day, dashing off a few lines whenever the chance arose from wherever he happened to be. His Mother copied the letters into a series of 13 exercise books, sometimes saying where they were sent from and, on a few occasions, making comments about them.

Special thanks are given to museum volunteer Lilian Upton who tirelessly transcribed the original exercise books.

Please refer to the ‘Notes About the Letters’ page for a guide to reading them.

Follow us on this journey of discovery and intrigue as we experience the Great War through the eyes of a young man at the front. As these letters were written to family members rather than for public consumption they give a candid personal viewpoint on one of the most studied periods in human history.

We encourage readers to comment and give us their thoughts on the letters. Please also share through your social media profiles using the buttons at the bottom of the page.