Jack, Harry's brother.

25th June


I have just realised that we haven’t introduced Jack, Harry’s brother, the recipient of around half the letters.

John Ernest (Jack) Lamin was born in 1870 to Henry Lamin.. He was considerably older than Harry.

By the 1901 census he was an elementary schoolmaster living in Oxford. Harry is recorded as staying with him. Oxford is mentioned in quite a few of the letters so Harry must have stayed there for a while.

In 1917 John was a clergyman living in Newland, Hull Yorkshire.

He eventually became a canon (an honourary title in the Anglican Church, given to senior, well respected members of the clergy) attached to the Cathedral at York.

Willie knew John quite well and always referred to him in a respectful manner. I haven't yet established details of the latter part of his life.

Link to readings of letters

15th June 1917

The following audio files are now available .

BBC "Five Live" interview with Harry's grandson.
BBC World Service broadcast about the Blog
Harry's Grandson reading a letter to brother Jack after Messines Ridge

Harry's Grandson reading a letter to sister Kate after MessinesRidge

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Harry's letters about Battle of Messines Ridge

June 11th /1917

…. Dear Jack
I was very pleased to hear from you and that you are going on all right I have been to the place you mentioned in your letter we went there for our bath about a fortnight ago. The part of the line and we are in is straight forward so you will know where I am. We have had another terrible time this week the men here say it was worst than the Somme advance last July. We lost a lot of men but we got where we were asked to take. It was awful I am alright got buried and knocked about but quite well now and hope to remain so. We were praised by the general and all, everybody said we had done well, quite a success. I will tell you more when I see you. Mention the name of the place you think I am in and I will tell you whether you are right but I think you will know one of the worst fronts on the line but I think we are having a change of place. When you receive this letter write back and let me know all news you can. It is a rum job waiting for the time to come to go over the top without any rum too. The C.O. got killed and our captain, marvellous how we escaped. The biggest part of our company are scotch man from the Scottish Borderers. I can’t tell what they say they are not like Yorkshire men and we were the fifth wave over. I am glad they are alright at home and getting on well. The little book you sent is very nice it will come in useful I will read it. Glad you have wrote to Kate. My address is the same Y & L. I will write againAnd soon and let you know how I am getting on.

With best love from Harry

could you send me a small tin of salts or lemon something to put to water only a small tin, anything that will not take up much room.

June 11th /1917

Received 21.6.17

Dear Kate

I was very pleased to receive your packet everything came in a very useful. I was very pleased to hear you are going on all right did you receive my letter. We have had some very rough times up here lately especially the last time we were in the trenches you see we had to go over the top. its a rotten time waiting for the order. we had to go over at three in the morning. the bombardment was awful lucky to get out but I’m very pleased to say I am alright and hope to remain so. There was a parcel waiting for me from Ethel and Annie when I came out, it was nice to have some cake and tea. we never had anything but water for about a week, biscuits and bully a bit of Jam but never mind I got over it. I am very pleased Connie is going to school I do hope she gets on alright-I think they all keep well at home. The weather here is very hot I wish it was a bit cooler. Do not be long before you write. My address is 32507 ninth York and Lancs Batt C Company L. G. section B.E.F. France. There is nobody in my company from our way not that I know of you see a mix them up now there is a lot of scotch men with us you can hardly tell what they say. I have been a with the Lewis gunners the last month but I don’t know for how long. It was only three of us came back out of our section after the last fight. I think this is all just now, I will write again soon and tell you more.
With love from

9th Battalion York & Lancaster Regiment

War Diary entries for the Battle of Messsines Ridge

June 7th At 3.10 am (zero hour) our artillery opened up a terrific barrage on the Hun front line & simultaneously the mines under Hill 60 and the CATERPILLAR were blown. At zero +1 (minute) the first wave consisting of B Coy on the left & A Coy on the right went over, and were followed by D Coy (moppers up) & C Coy (Harry's Company) in support at short intervals. The attack progressed very favourably and by zero + 30 the Bn had reached its objective and began consolidating. Very few casualties were sustained in the actual attack. At zero + 3hr 40mins the 8th Bn York & Lancaster Bn & the 8th Bn KOYLI on the right and left respectively, went over from our objective and reached the final objective of the Brigade.

June 9th The Bn remained in its objectives until the evening of the 9th. During this period the Bn underwent heavy shelling & sustained many casualties. B Coy also relieved the 8th Bn Y & L in the front line on the morning of the 9th. On the evening of the 9th the Bn was relieved by the 1st N Staffs Bn. The total casualties sustained were officers - killed 4 (including the C.O.) wounded 6. O.Rs - Killed 39, wounded 211. Died of wounds 9. Missing 18. **

Night of 9th/10th June On relief the Bn moved by motor lorry from KRUISTRAAT to SCOTTISH LINES. Capt. D Lewis took over temp command of Bn at midday on June 7th* from Lt Col Bowes-Wilson, killed in action 7.6.17. Coys at O.C Coys disposal for cleaning up and re-organisation

* Added in very small writing as a superscript.

The very last line took a bit of understanding. To decipher; "Companies are to do whatever their Company Commander feels suitable to clean up and to sort out the organisation".

I would suppose that the gaps due to casualties needed to be sorted.

**To understand the scale of casualties, the battalion would consist of around 1000 men. Over a quarter were killed or wounded in this "successful" attack.

Battle of Messines Ridge

June 7th 1917 was a significant day for Harry.

For the last 18 days and nights there has been continuous heavy bombardment of the German Lines.

At 0250 the bombardment stopped and Harry and his colleagues were ordered to lie down.

A 0310 the largest man-made explosion to date blew apart the German front lines at Messines Ridge. 450 tonnes of high explosive, in 19 mines, was detonated. The explosion was heard in London and Dublin.

"Gentlemen, we may not make history tomorrow, but we shall certainly change the geography."

Remark by General Plumer to his staff the evening before the attack

An account of the battle can be found on the FirstWorldWar.com website, on Wikipedia or on many other sources.

We need to wait for any news of Harry, to determine his fate.

At the front

Two letters written on the same day with a slightly different emphasis.

June 2/6/1917

Dear Jack

Very pleased to receive a letter from you and to hear you are going on all right. We have had a very rough time lately the Germans were only about 40yds away from us, we had a very trying time for the first, but I dont care so long that I keep alright. It will be a good job when the war is over. Ethel tells me they are alright at home but Willie as got a cough. Hope will soon be better. I hear Connie has started school and that she likes it. I hope that she gets on alright. I have not received a letter from Kate yet but expect one any time. this is my address 32507 9th Batt York and Lancs, C Company, 11 platoon in B.E.F. France. I think I am going in for a Lewis Gunner. (Internet link) I dont know yet I will let you know next time I write we are having a bit of a practice this last day or two we have been out of the trenches. We get plenty of tobacco but little bread out here. Write to me when you receive this letter and let me know all you can. I am glad to receive a letter.

With Best Love

from Harry

2nd June 1917

Dear Kate,

I received your letter. I am pleased to hear you are going on alright they all seem to be getting on all right at home which is something to be thankful for. The weather here is lovely and we have had to fine time this last fortnight. We are still out of the trenches but we might go back anytime. Jack has wrote me telling me he has had to leave his lodging and go to the vicarage – I hope he gets on all right. Write soon and let me know how you are getting on. Jack has sent me some sardines and chicken paste which is all right here and it works the bread and butter down. I am glad Connie is going on alright at school I don’t think it will do her any harm. They tell me Willie and Connie keep very good friends which I am glad to hear.

With best

love from