From 26 February 1915 to 26 November 1918, Captain J.D. Hills of the Leicestershire Regiment sent frequent letters home to his family. He sometimes wrote several a day, dashing off a few lines whenever the chance arose from wherever he happened to be. Many were written by candlelight, in pencil, on any scrap of paper he could find.
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. This is how the letters survived.
This blog presents, for the first time, the intriguing archive of letters written by JD Hills and will run from 2015 to 2018. They give a unique insight in to how an individual coped with four years of war on the Western Front.
John David Hills was the eldest son of a Welsh clergyman father and a Russian born mother. He was educated at Merchant Taylor’s School and was scheduled to attend Lincoln College, Oxford when war broke out.
The social, political and religious attitudes expressed in his letters reflect his upbringing, ‘elite school’ education, his youth and his character. After the war he took his degree at Oxford and became a master at Eton and later headmaster of Bradfield College. The school history notes that ‘his detractors accused him of being a snob’ but other pupils write of his ‘kindness’.
All of the letters that have been transcribed and posted here are part of the collection owned by The Royal Leicestershire Regiment and we thank them for allowing us access to them.
Leicester Remembers the Great War
The Royal Leicestershire Regiment association, Leicester City council and partners across the city are working together on a programme of events, exhibitions and on-line projects entitled ‘Leicester Remembers the Great War’.
The programme will profile the lives, times and individual stories of local soldiers during World War (1914-1918) as well as life on the home front. This will be a commemoration of ordinary people and their extraordinary stories during a momentous period in history.
If you are organising an event in the city, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. For full details on local exhibitions, events and commemorative activity taking place across Leicester, please visit our website.