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Private Wilfred Owens writes home while on active service in France"


Wilfred Owens' Letters from 1st September to 14th November 1917. (Numbers 1 to 11)


1.Please notice my new number

3rd Btn. The border Regiment,

Great Crosby

Saturday noonPte W. Owens, No 34718;

Sept. 1st 19173rd Border Regiment,

No. 7 Platoon, No.10 Hut,

No 2 Coy, Moorland Camp.

Great Crosby, Nr. Liverpool


Dear Mother & Father Edward and all at home

Well I was taken up to be medically examined this morning by a Corporal. Well the doctor was a nice fellow and was very nice indeed with me. He had the letters there which Mr. H. Lewis M.P. has sent as I saw them. Well he gave me a thorough examination all over and was about 20 minutes with me, also he asked me questions as to my age, how long I had been in the Army and in what regiments and places I had been in, my weight also he asked and he measured around my chest which he could see was not much so he asked a sergeant whom was there what was the standard chest measurement for this regiment which none of them knew for certain but they could see I was under the standard. Well I can't say what he marked me as but I will know shortly as it will be on Battalion Orders but I don't think he put me as A1 anyway I hope not. Well they arrange things here Trade Tests etc. as I have seen it in Orders that any category men whom wish to go to any of the following employments can do so there was about 20 or 30 different trades and they were asking for Motor Drivers and Mechanics also all kinds of trades so I have good faith I will be sent to my own work also it said on the bottom of the Orders that they arrange the Trade Test here. Well I thank Edward for his letter of this morning also the news pleased to here you are all well at home. I hope he as found out what the shock was caused by in his handlebars on the Douglas but it must be the ignition connected somewhere or other. Pleased to hear of Cropper and is prospects hoping it does not run over him. Well I hope to see Bill, George, Fred and Arthur tomorrow also some nice weather with good luck on the way I will be looking out for them. Trusting this finds you all well at home as it leaves your true son and brother Wilfred.



2.Moorland Camp,

Great Crosby, Nr. Liverpool


Monday Oct. 29th 17.

I can't express my utmost thanks to all of you at home.


Dear mother & father & all at home.

Well as usual I got back to Camp without any trouble and had any amount of company on the way. When I got to Shotton 3 soldiers came in the carriage out of the R.W.F. going to Litherland so we got talking together the 3 of them had been out in France and I was stating my case to them since joining the Army so they told me to state my case at the Base when getting examined and they said I would be sent back again because as they said they were particular out at the Base not to send unfit men passed there because they had to be the fittest of men. Well on the way from Liverpool I came across a Corporal whom I knew quite well he is out of the next hut to me so we accompanied each other to camp it was a lovely night and as light as day so we enjoyed our journey together to camp. When I got in to my hut I found my pal had got my bed ready so I was soon in and fast asleep. So I did not feel much worse for my journey on getting up at 6-15 this morning I saw the Sergeant out of my hut and he said everything was alright and that I had been marked present during the weekend. Well I never saw no redcaps so I pulled through all right. Well my feet are grand now mother and father after that ointment at home also better with those good socks in the boots. I wont be on any more marches here as there is not more till Thursday and my pals whom are going with me say we are going out on Wednesday. Well we are having a nice day here today so I hope it keeps the same for a month or so you must expect to here the best of news from me on arriving at the base after Medical examinations as I will tell them straight out there. Well I will write Fred but you can remember me to the others. Well, father I have got too much money so am sending you 10/- note I have about 25/- and will get another 8/- or 10/- on Wednesday so if I need it I will let you know if the weather is nice I will be looking out for Father tomorrow Tuesday after tea with love to all at home from Wilfred.




3.Wednesday Oct 30th 17Moorland Camp,

Gt. Crosby,

Nr. Liverpool


Dear mother & father & all at home,

Well I am writing this in my spare time while I can get a chance as we are called out at all times for one thing and another. Well we had medical examinations first thing the doctor had over 100 done in about a quarter of an hour so you can reckon what sort it was we were all supposed to be fit anyway they are all on draught but we must wait now till I arrive at the Base and then I think better things will appen. Well I trust my father got home safe after our walk hoping you caught the train alright at Seacombe. Well I got to camp in good time after having a good feet at the Soldiers Institute at Crosby. Well mother I stitched those pockets alright in my under pants and found they were alright. I do thank you for thinking of me so much also I thank father for coming also I thank all the rest for there many kindnesses. I hop this finds you all well and grandmother alright and little Edwin in the best of spirits. Tell him I will be home again before long as you need not trouble I will do my utmost to return but all the same I will stop at the base and I don't think they will keep me there without a trade test in England. Anyway we must all pray and trust in the Lord to keep me safe also have faith that I shall come out better off for my experience in the end. Well I am very pleased to hear of John Samuel being at home hoping he enjoys himself and that he as a good time remember me to him and tell him that I am alright and that I have good faith of being kept back at Base. Well we have now drawn Gloves, Singlet, Jack Knife, Oil can and other odds & ends so the next thing is kit inspection we handed our clothes boots and other things which we don't take into the Company Office first thing this morning. Well I must now close. I will write at all times when I get a chance you can expect a card in a post or so perhaps from Southampton. Tell Fred & Arthur I will write them also when I get a chance always thoughtful of you all at home also my friends. So I must now close we have just had kit inspection so we are now complete we will be going this afternoon. So I will post this on the way with love to you all at home from your true and ever loving son & brother Wilfred.




4.Thursday morning


Dear brother Edwin,

Well Edwin I received your letter on Wednesday morning I thank you for the news. Sorry Cropper's pictures as not opened yet he will have to be sharp or else the war will be over before he opens. Well I am glad to hear Edwin you are all well at home as this leaves me. I am trying to come over to see you all again not this Sunday but the Sunday after. I will try and come as I did before only on the 3 o'clock train on Saturday noon. Well we are having a lot of rain here so George says you are having the same so it is too wet to ride your bike Edwin but don't take it out in the wet because you will get it rusty. So if I were you I would put vasilene on it and put it away clean for the winter as we will be having bad weather just now also there will be no good lamps with not being able to get carbide so you may easy have an accident but the spring will soon be hear and then you can get it out clean and like new. Well I am pleased to hear you have got the potatoes up and that you have got a lot hoping they last over the winter. Well I hope grandmother is alright now also this finds you all well, tell Miriam I hope to see her soon so be good from your true brother Wilfred to all at home.



5.P.S. remember me to all my friends and I am now writing to Aunt

Mary, Fred and Wilf

Nov 3 1917

Dear Mother & Father & all at home also those whom I know,

Well this leaves me quite well also in the best of everything at the base. We were medically examined this morning and they took my name as being unfit but am still with the draught whom I came out with there is a few of us together whom have not passed so we can't say what will become of us but we have only been here a day yet so maybe will here more tomorrow will let you know how I go on. We had a good voyage across but I dare not say anything were we landed nor were I am but things are alright better meat than I expected and more than at Moorlane I have come across a lot of my pals from Ireland whom were unfit there and went out from Moorlane well I have not much to say we are going on alright up to the present hoping this finds you all the same at home. I can't give you any address till we are settled but will write again the first opportunity I get with love to all at home hoping this finds little Edwin and Miriam in good spirits also all of you as it leaves your true and ever loving son and brother Wilfred.




6.Monday Nov. 5th 17


Dear Mother & Father & all at home,

Well this leaves me quite well hoping it finds you all the same at home. Well we came to……first of all then rode in Motor Transport to……we were there till Sunday morning. Well we started from there in trucks not knowing were we were going and we travelled until Sunday night we got off the trains and then started off again in Transports. So we find ourselves in……at……behind the firing line at the Base. Well we have just been medically examined and I have been told by the Medical Officer to report sick in the morning (Tuesday) so I have hopes that I wont go to the firing line. Well I have seen something since being with you a week yesterday. I thought a lot on the journey here yesterday about what a good time I was having only a week ago yet it seems to me like months, but anyway I am making the best of my changes. Well we are having some nice weather no rain also it is fairly warm and a lot nicer weather than we left in England but the slush is awful here over the tops of the boots and I should think it is awful a few miles further on at the Front. Well we have been having fairly good meat out here up to the present and find it better than we had in England. Well dear mother and father it is no use giving you any address till I am settled we know that we are in the 7th Border Regt. And that is about all till we are settled. I may be sent back again yet if I am unfit. Well if I get sent up the line as being fit it must be the Lord's work as I have pleaded on my case till I am tired anyway I am trusting in him above to lead me in the straight path. So that it will be all marked out for me if I have to go up the line. Well you must remember me to all I know hoping Grandmother is quite well also you mother & father & Edward, Bill, George, Edwin and Miriam also all in good spirits as soon as I get my proper address you will get it. Hoping this finds John Samuel still with you remember me to him also all at the Warren Frank & all up there also Fred and Arthur and their mother also Mrs. Gould and Rodgers . With kindest regards to all at home from your true and ever loving son & brother Wilfred.




7.Pte. W.Owens 14234

B coy B Block No.1 room

New Barracks, Fermoy

County Cork



Thursday afternoon


My dear mother & father & all at home,

Well some more good news from Ireland. We have all been medically examined this morning all B company as they are going on leave next week and are ready for draught when they come back. So I went before the Medical Officer a nice old Gentleman he was so I told him all about myself since joining up how I had been unfit on two draughts so two of them gave me a thorough examination but mostly they examined my back also all my bones which they were sounding with there knuckles. They were examining me nearly a quarter of an hour and when they finished they told me I was to go before a T.M.B. and do C2 duties till the T.M.B. sits which is next Wednesday so we have all waited with patience to see what would become of me so at last I am waiting a T.M.B. I will have nothing much to do till next Wednesday and then you will hear of me coming to Blighty once more. I will just tell you another thing which I saw as I always have my eyes about me well I saw on the Medical Officer's table one of my father's billheads like the one I have enclosed so they must have had all particulars from Mr. T. Rowlands and I was pleased to see your bill-head amongst is papers. So after the T.M.B. I will sure come to Blighty either with my ticket or else going to Woolwich for a trade test so you can reckon on one or the other if Mr. Rowland's letter gets me to work of national importance I will come home to work at the Compound or Summers but if they think I am fit for my own work I will go to Woolwich. So I wish you all the best of weather for the holidays also a good time. I will get a leave perhaps after the T.M.B. or else get home for good. So you can explain things once more to Mr. Rowlands also you can please tell Aunt Mary, Fred also Uncle Edwin when he comes so as to save me writing as I wont have time for the holidays. I will let you know straight how I go on next Wednesday. I received George's letter with the post card thanking for same I will send him one in return. So be good from your true son and brother Wilfred.




8.Friday morningIreland


Dear mother & father & all,

Well I have made a mistake about the doctor's decision about me as I was told last night I was marked A4 and that means not fit for the time being. I was told by the Orderly Sergeant so I reported sick this morning and went to see the Medical Officer so I asked him what I had been marked as and he said A4 and I was not going before a T.M.B. but that is better than A1. Well we will all be coming on leave next week. They took all our names and addresses last night it will be either Monday or Tuesday so I will see Uncle Edwin before he goes back and hope to have a run together. We are having 7 days I believe so you will get a telephone from Holyhead when I arrive there it will either be first thing Tuesday or Wednesday morning when I get there so will get straight through to Chester with I get a stopping train at Shotton. Well we went through gas yesterday so are partly ready for leave at any time so the Officers say we will be going the beginning of next week. I received George's kind letter also Aunt Mary's and will send one in reply tonight glad to hear from Gomer & Fred so this is all at present. Sorry to have made such a mistake about the medical examination but I won't be going on draught. Hoping grandmother is alright also all of you at home hoping you have a good time for the holidays and I will be home after them so be good hoping to find you alright when I arrive home. I remain your true and ever loving son and brother Wilfred.




9. Please write soon as it seems like months since I had news from home yet it is only a

week yesterday since I saw father at Crosby.


Friday Nov 9 17


Dear mother & father & all at home.

Well I am pleased to say this leaves me quite well and in the best of everything hoping this finds you all the same at home. Well I am sorry to say they have passed me as fit for the firing line so I am expecting to go up the Line with my pals within the next few days but anyway I am making the best of it and trusting in the Lord that I shall be benefited by it all. Well we are billeted in an old barn but are moving again tomorrow nearer the Line. I have now got my address for the first so am sending it so you must look after it as it is not advisable to send it very often so they tell us here. It is Pte. W. Owens No. 34718 7th Border Regt. D Company 16 Platoon B.E.F. France. Well we are getting good meat better than I expected also we are having some nice weather. Well I have not much to say but will write a longer letter in a day or so but do write me a letter with some news give Fred & the others my address with kindest regards to them also all of you at home hoping this finds you mother & father & grandmother & my brothers & Miriam in the best of everything with love to you all from your true brother and son Wilfred expect another soon.





On active service

With the British Expeditionary Force


Sunday Nov 11 George's Birthday


Dear mother & father & all at home,

Well I am pleased to say this leaves me quite well and in the best of everything hoping it finds you all the same at home. Trusting you got my letter of Friday with my address. Well I have wrote to all whom write me and sent them my address. Well I trust George had a good day on his birthday I only wish I was with you all like I was 3 Sundays ago but the time will come I trust when we will be at home together for all time. Well mother & father I have had to fall out on all the marches since being out here and they have had to put my pack on a transport so I have been to see the Medical Officer and he can see I am unfit as it is a mistake sending me past the base. Well I had been up the line & then he said he would see what he could do for me I will at once let you know how I go on. Well we are billeted in an old barn till we go up the line we are expecting to go any of the next few days. So if all goes well I have faith that I wont have to go up the second time. Well on Friday I received my first letter since being in France it came from Andrew and it had been to Crosby and they had sent it here after me. Well he is still out here and going on alright. I am sending him a letter the same time as this but he wont be long in getting his. Well we get very good meat out here but we have to rough it more than we did in England sleeping anywhere we can and having to wash in ditches and pits. Edward & Bill must be very thankful to be where they are and do watch and stick there but anyway I am making the best of it and trusting in the Lord that it wont be long before I am with you. Well I hope John Samuel had a good time while at home and that Gomer is still alright in hospital also Fred out of the line. Remember me to them all. I must thank you all at home for your many kindnesses remember me to Mr. & Mrs. Rodgers Mrs. Gould I have wrote the rest of my friends will write again soon from your true son & brother Wilfred.




11.Wednesday Nov. 14th 17


Dear mother & father & all at home,

Well I trust this finds you one & all quite well at home as it leaves me alright. I have enclosed a card for my dear brother George on his birthday. Sorry I could not send it in time for his birthday but I have been waiting to get a green envelope as you can see we seal these ourselves but with all the others we leave opened so as to be censored then they seal them up. I have waited to get a green one so as to make sure that you get the card because someone may take the card out of the plain envelope before it got to the Censor. So I trust you will get it hoping he had a good time for his birthday. Well mother & father & grandmother don't upset yourselves more than you can help nor my dear brothers & sister, because I am sure it is the Lord's will for me to come out here as you will read by the other letter I am sending with this that I am kept back and have not gone up the line with the Battalion he must have sent me hear for a purpose and I am expecting something will turn out before long anyway we must all trust in him and pray that I shall be kept safe and returned safe home to you. I am supposed to be here for a course the Batt. Is at present up the line and I rejoin them when they come out in 12 days time and then we will be out of the line resting for nearly a month. Well we are at present in old huts a good many miles behind the Line but we can hear the guns by times but as for Aeroplanes they are in the air at all times any amount of them. Also the roads out here are awful with the Motor Traffic nothing but muck and slush. We are getting fairly good meat out here considering the million s of soldiers out here whom need such a lot of meat. Well they seem to think out here that the war wont last much longer as the huns seem to be getting tired of it, but it will sure test them when the bad weather sets in. But the weather at present is grand we have seen no rain since coming out here. Well I have seen no one I know yet out here only that lad whom I was telling you about while I was on leave a lad named Hully from Gresford he as some relation at the Pentre.I came across him on the march one day but he is in a different Company than I am he will be up the Line with the Batt. Well I would be very much obliged if you would send me a few things in a parcel don't forget a writing pad as I am short & it is awful hard to get here and send me a few eatables also a bit of cash. I don't think I am asking too much as it is my parents delight to do all they can for their son whom is praying and rusting in the Lord to bring him safe back to them. From your true and ever loving son & brother Wilfred to all at home.


Author: Owens, Wilfred, 1898-1918 2


Year = 1917

Gender = Male

People = Single

Work = Military

Extra = Formal Portrait

Extra = Military

Extra = WW1

Extra = 1910s

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