The Letters of Arthur Martin-Leake October 1914

World War One letters from a double VC

Read by Nicholas Blatchley

Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies
From Arthur's Wartime Photo Album - Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies
Letter 86940
Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies

To listen to the audio clip, click play on the bar below the image on the right.

{Unlike almost every other letter in the collection, the first one here is typed rather than handwritten.}

{Post-marked 11/10/14} — No.5 Field Ambulance

My dear Mammy,

I wonder if you have received any of my cards and letters. In any case I have given the address again in case you have not. *

We have been in this place now for about 12 days: fighting continues all the time but neither side seems to make any progress. Both sides are dug into the ground and the battle is chiefly carried on with artillery. We know practically nothing of what is going on and if we did I should not be allowed to tell you any news. We get our news from the papers which arrive here a week or ten days old.

In a paper of the 14th I see that Frank is reported as wounded. Of course I am most concerned about this and anxious to hear about it. As he is not put with the seriously wounded I hope it is not much and he is doing well. The shock of such an explosion as he must have been in would of course be great. It is reported in a paper that he had two submarines after him and that he rammed one.

We are living here in a farm house and are quite comfortable with lots of food. In the first week we were at a chateau about a mile from here; a splendid building and lots of good accommodation for the wounded; we had however to leave it because of shells. The surroundings here are heavily shelled but the Germans leave us strictly alone; they seem to know that we are a hospital. There were a great many wounded during the first week and we had more work than we could get through properly, but for the last few days there have not been many wounded through here.

I am anxiously waiting for some home news. What is Willie doing? I hope he is not coming out, he should stick to some job at home, this is too hard a life for anybody getting on in years. We are having the most beautiful weather; such a treat after the wet. Don’t be at all anxious about me, as I am absolutely safe here in a Field Ambulance.

Best love to all and hoping you are quite fit.

Your affectionate son
A. M. Leake

{HALS reference 86938}

* Since this is the first letter in the archive since August, it seems likely that these were not received.


28/10/14 — No. 5 Field Ambulance

My dear Mammy

I received yesterday a complete outfit for repairing clothes, tooth powder, soap… Thank Belle very much for sending them. In my letter yesterday I asked for a tooth brush & gloves — a good strong pair of leather gloves will be best. I wrote to Willie but forgot to ask him to send me an electric torch. It is a thing something like this.* Not too large, because it should be conveniently carried in the pocket. The measurement given is only approximate, also the shape, because there are several different patterns. I should also be much obliged if he will send an extra battery & lamp bulb for it. Will you please give him some money & also pay him what I already owe. I will square up on my return.

These lamps are very useful as much of our work is done in the dark…

{HALS reference 86940}

* He draws a diagram on the letter with dimensions — see scan.

This page was added on 16/04/2014.

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