Letters and Despatches

Letters and Despatches

At the start of the War the Kirkcaldy War Album printed excerpts from letters from men at the front. Most seemed committed to the war effort and confident of success, though as time went on this feeling seems to have lessened. In June 1915 the East Fife Observer published a letter from Reverend W N Monteith, Elie, serving with the forces somewhere in France, titled "In the trenches". He wrote:

We lie day after day and night after night within a few yards of the enemy – in some places the German trenches are only 30 yards away-and yet it is rarely that one catches a glimpse of the enemy. We fire countless rounds of ammunition at each other, especially at night, and yet we never, or hardly ever, have any idea whether our firing has had any effect.

Service men were constrained in what they could write. A letter printed in October 1918 begins "Regarding the War, about which I am not allowed to write what I would like…" Though others seemed more open - a 1916 letter described the conditions in Mesopotamia:

You eat sand, breathe sand, lie in sand, have sand in your ears and eyes and clothes, sandflies by night, flies by day, you cannot eat without swallowing them.

Most of the letters that have come into the care of Fife Cultural Trust avoid anything but passing comment on the war – and speak of homesickness, thanks for parcels and a continued interest in the doings of friends and relations.

Kirkcaldy War Album. © Fife Cultural Trust on behalf of Fife Council.