"The most wonderfulest City in Italy"

Feb 1/1919 32507/9 Y&L

Dear Jack
Just a line to let you know I am alright I have not much time as I am very busy man this week I have been working in the Church Army dishing tea out in the afternoon and night. I dont get away till 9.30p.m so I have not much time the job is alright, but I expect we are moving next week so I shall have to go back to the company, but address my letters the same as I get them alright We have a parson in charge of us of course he is like all the rest a bit of an old figgett. (fidget?) gets excited now and again, so you have to talk to him a bit. We have had supper with him these last four nights, of course we have cooked it between us. Well before I had this job I had a weekend at Venice, about three days, It is a most wonderful city, all built on small islands and their is some fine buildings. I went in S. Marks Church it is a wonderful sight, well I enjoyed my self very much, I got £5.00 to go with so I expect I shall be debt now but that does not matter so long that I am on the right side, and I thought I shall never get another chance. I will tell you all about it when I see you I hope to be seeing you in the summer time. Well write as often as you can I am pleased to hear that you and Agnes are keeping well. I hope you will write as often as you can. I am very pleased that they are going on alright at Ilkeston, Ethel tells me what a rum chap Willie gets I shall be glad to get home again I would rather do any thing than go on parade and do guards in fact I think I would rather be in the trenches in Italy. I am just going to have supper now.
With best love
to you both

32507/9th Batt
Dear Kate
I am getting on alright and am sorry I ask you to send me a shilling or two as the next day I was given a week end leave. I got £5.00 and went to Venice it is one of the most wonderfulest cities in Italy, it must be a sight in summer time to see the boats on the river and canals We put up at the Grand Canal Hotel, and we was alright. I have bought Connie and Willie a broach and Ethel a present, things are very dear, but I did not mind, and I had a shilling or two left. I will tell you all about it when I get home but I dont know when that will be, I hope it will not be long, only men with slips are getting home and I dont think our firm have got any work so they not bother with slips. I am glad that they are going on well at home, and pleased to hear about Connie I hope she will be able to walk soon I am working in the Church army Hut this week so I dont require any money, the job is all right plenty to eat, so you bet I dont grumble I have just made supper stewed meat, onions and potatoe and a piece of toast not bad, I dont think I shall be here above a week. I will write again soon but write as often as you can
With Love

War Diary Update.

I have just received an explanation from the Public Records Office at Kew, regarding the non-availability of the 9th Battalion York & Lancaster Regiment's War Diary. Apparently, they are being used by the Ministry of Defence. I'm sure that they'll learn a great deal from them. The PRO has asked for them back but haven't indicated any timescale. "We can confirm that the document is currently in use by the Ministry of Defence. We have requested that it be returned to us so that you can place your order, and will let you know when the document is orderable once more." BL

Book Publication Date Change

I've just heard from the publisher that the book release date will be three weeks later - 23rd April instead of 2nd. Apologies for that. I'm sure that it'll be worth waiting for. The editor wants to be sure that the illustrations are all properly sorted. BL

Letter to Kate, 22nd January 1919

32507/9th Y&L
Jan 22/1919

Dear Kate
I have just received your letter and was very pleased with it, it was such a long time since I heard from you. I am glad that Connie is getting on alright I hope she will soon be able to walk. I have not wrote to the firm yet I think it is not much use, as I dont think they have much work. Ethel has not said anything about the other men writing I dont think they all have if they want us they ought to send for us. I am going on as well as possible but I am just about fed up. Well I think we all are its about time we all got home but I expect we shall have to wait a bit and be patience things are very dear out here and I am very short of money as we dont get much pay. Glad to hear that you enjoyed you holiday with Jack and to hear that he is getting on alright. Write as often as you can and let me know all the news. If you can spare a shilling I should be very pleased as it would come in alright, hoping to see you soon
With Best Love

Harry's frustration is clear in this letter. "The firm" would be the lace factory where he worked before the war. He doesn't seem to be very optimistic about a job there. You may recall that Connie, now 9 years old, is at school in Liverpool, around 100 miles (160 Km) from home. BL

The Book is Available World-Wide

Amazon have now offered the book of the blog on all its sites. Search for Bill Lamin on your national site, and there it is.

They are accepting pre-orders at a discount in some countries. (Oddly, it's discounted in Canada but not in the USA.)

I find the whole thing astonishing.

War Diaries Explained!

One of our regular commentators has contributed a set of explanations of some of the terms used in the War Diary. He has looked through the September 1917 War Diary and pulled out any terms that may need explaining or clarifying. Re-reading the Diary along with Roger's contribution may help with comprehension. His words are included as comments on the War Diary posting for September 1917, as well as in the "Readers' Comments" Blog BL


Harry's battalion was stationed in a small town in the foothills of the mountains, about 50 miles (80Km) due West of Venice. Harry would recognise the location as they wrere there for a short stay the year before, in April 1918. It is in a small valley and so, in the winter may not see a lot of the sun.

Rocco has turned up some traces, left by the British troops, on the walls of the castle there.

Letter to Jack, 2nd January 1919

32507/9th Batt york & Lancs
C. Coy 12 Platoon
I.E.F, Italy
Jan 2/1/1919

Dear Jack,
I am sending you a few lines just to let you know that I am alright and keeping in good health. It is a long time since had a letter from you, but I got the pipe alright which you sent. I am glad that you and Agnes are keeping well, and I hope you a have had a happy Christmas although I expect you have both been very busy Christmas was very quite out here, but I enjoyed myself in a way, not much money but we had a good dinner. We are in a little town called Arzignano it is a very damp place as it lies in a valley between the mountains. I dont know when I shall get home but I hope it will not be long. All men going on leave now are alright for if they get work while at home they can stop so it makes it better for them. About all the miners have gone, some which came up in April 1918 have got away. Let me know next time you write if you got the cards I sent. I am glad to hear that they are all keeping well at home and are keeping free of the flu. I guess you must have a busy time in Hull with so many prisoners of the war coming in. Everything is so dear out hear the money now is thirty lires to a pound, we used to get forty at one time but still things are no cheaper rather dearer Willie must be getting a rum chap as Ethel tells me some funny tales about him in her letters. Write as often as you can and let me know all the news, I hope soon to be able to write you from England. Wishing you both A Happy New Year
With Best Love to you both

No real sign of any movement towards home. The "Spanish" 'flu was rampant in the winter of 1918 - 1919, causing an estimated 25 million deaths - a greater toll than the War. But Harry's got his new pipe. BL