The WWI Letters of Bert Clements – part 3
- 7th December 2019
The 3rd set of letters of Bert Clements letters cover early 1916. Twenty-one letters by Gunner Bert Clements of Kidderminster are here in the archives, providing one man’s perspective on the war. They were read by Naomi Taylor for the Worcestershire World War One Hundred project to make them more accessible, and we are combining them into four blogs. The first and second blogs can be viewed.
15th Letter – 12th January 1916 – Bert has had an ‘exciting’ week in the trenches. He tells is Dad how a concerted effort made made to blow up the German gun which was sending aerial torpedoes over. Berts says that most of the men in the trenches were pulled back, and that it was one of the hottest places he’d been in during the war with all the German shells and the shrapnel coming back from the British guns.
He also talks about the weather, and thinks that the rain is due to all the firing going on.
16th letter – 29th January 1916 – Bert has had another busy time. The Germans attacked and even got into the British trenches, but they were fought back. There was also a gas alter, which led to them wearing their respirators for an hour – which made answering the telephone hard!
Bert also asks his dad for a shaving kit, which was impossible to get hold of in France, and a copy of the book ‘The First Hundred Thousand’, which became one of the most popular books of the war, although Bert told his Dad not to send it over.
17th letter – 5 March 1916 – Bert thanks his dad for a long letter. In France they’ve had a bad winter with lots of snow, and with the wind blowing it flat you can find yourself in 10 feet of snow in the trenches. He longs for the end of the war as he has been serving longer than anyone else in his battery. He mentions news of poor Ted Jordan.
18th letter 12th May 1916 – Bert talks about Cyril Roberts, who he knew from home, has been captured in Egypt. A fellow soldier, Syd, is waiting news of his brother Ted who was Orderly to Colonel Coventry (of Croome). Weather is very changeable, rain all day one day, very hot another.
We’ll share the final set of letters in the 4th part.