The following short letter is from Fred's mother, apparently after another home leave.
Home June 9/16
My Dearest lad
Just a line to tell you we received the P.C. this morning & how glad I was, I did not think you would have got in so soon. I watched for the Postman but I did not expect anything, as I thought you would scarcely have time to write so it was an agreabbl surprise. Ernest Cawthorn came home last
night he was sorry he did not see you, but they only let them out on the Thursday, he is looking well he is getting right fat in the face, he has liked where he has been, he says he wants to go back. We have just had Mrs Hoyle with the papers, she does not know if Harry is coming, she has not had any word but she says she will look for him tomorrow night.
I think this is all just now, I am sending it in the Guardian, I forgot to put you some soap in, I will send some next week when we send a parcel, I hope you have got settled, but it takes a long time, will write again soon best love Mother
June 18th 1916 (Sunday)
The following two letters from Fred's younger brother Norman and his mother were enclosed in the same envelope addressed in Norman's writing to 4695 Pte Fred C. Firth, 3/5th Duke of Wellington's W. R. R., No 3 lines, No 26 Hut, Clipstone Camp, and postmarked 18 June 19…. The reverse of the envelope is stamped Thomas Firth, Plumber, Marsden. A "sturk" (stirk) is a young cow or bullock.
19 Peel Street
June 18th 1916
Just a line or two it is Sunday dinnertime, [and] I seem to have a bit of time as I've just been playing my instrument and got out of wind and fairly feel "puffed". I have been to Chapel this morning and taken up the weekly offerings so you see I shall soon be a sidesman. We are practising the Anniversary Hymns this afternoon and G.H. will be conducting.
Mary and I went to Clough Head last Sunday and it was a "poor do" for I did not like the selection of Hymns at all their was W. Whitwam there as usual "banging" forms about and he nearly knocked [the] pulpit down in his alley attempt to get a form in too many and there were as many "tall Shiners" as I couldn't tell what when it was over I asked someone for my hat and they were giving me a "tall shiner" but I rejected it and said I hadn't got into a parson yet. I sat at the side of "White Ned" you won't know him but he is one of weavers and he would have me sit at the side of him.
On Whit-Monday morning I went with father to Huddersfield Fair with Joe Armitage and he bought 2 sturks but they are at a price, Uncle David says they have got to the "devil of a price" so I think things are coming to a "Crykus" says Aunt Martha. We have got 3 sturks now as he has bought another one last week
We walked on Whit-Monday and managed very well without a band but of course you must remember we had John Allen O'Co[r]kers conducting and he had a "pitch-fork" and Mr Evans with his good voice also "William O'Bobbiners" and of course our worthy "Chief Ruler".
Well its g got practice time so Good Noight Moi Lad.
Your Loving brother
Home June 18/16
My Dear Fred Do not think I have forgot you with not writing sooner, for I am always thinking of you, & wondering what you are doing, even if I cannot always find time to write.
I suppose Mary told you that Grandma was very ill, I went down on Wednesday & the doctor seemed to think she was a little better, however on Thursday morning she was a lot worse, Your Grandpa went down to fetch Aunt Fanny, but she could not come so Uncle Arthur went to Crowthers for Aunt Alice, so she is going to stop at home till she is better, I went down on Friday Morning and helped Aunt Alice to clean, the doctor came when I was there & said she was a bit better she was to have bran bags on instead of poultices, it is the Bronchitis she has had & Influenza, it has left her very weak. I shall try to go tomorrow, then Aunt Alice can wash till I look after her. I just got home on Friday
[First page ends here]
as Mary was tying your parcel up. She forgot to put the Guardian in but we will send it to you. You said in your letter that it seemed a long time since you left home, Are you not liking as well? I have written you two letters, did you not get the first one, I wrote it as soon as I got the Postcard for I thought it would seem long if I waited till you wrote again so I wrote straight away.
Arthur Horsfall is over this weekend, he landed Home about 3.45 on saturday Morning, he has to go back on tuesday dinnertime, so he has not so long a stay. Uncle Herbert & Arthur came up to Marsden yesterday Afternoon & had tea with us, they wint to look at the farm he is looking well, he is almost as tall as his father & he is broader, He seems to be liking very well, though he will be glad when it is over & he can come home & stop. He seems to thing it will not be very long now, he is expecting being home for good at Christmas, I hope that will be true.
(Second page ends here]
I had one of your Companions in the Hut to see me yesterday, his name is Dyson. I was pleased to see him, as he had come from you, I felt as if I could have got hold of him to think he was lif living in the same Hut as my lad was in. You have no idea how it feels to see some one who has been with you. he said he would call again before he went back, so if he does I will send you some choclate, as I know you like them.
You do not say anything about going out, perhaps you will not be going out yet, I do hope & pray that you will not have to go, but I suppose we shall have to leave it. We are all in his hands & he can look after us in France as well as England but you will be such a long way from Home and all your friends.
I will close now hoping you are spending your Sunday as you would if you were at Home, remembering there is one above who sees all that we do.
With best love for my Dear lad. Mother
[on reverse of sheet] P.S. Put a line in for Cooper if you have time.
This fragment, apparently from David Firth, Fred's farmer uncle at Gatehead, may "belong with" the letter above; the reference to buying two stirks certainly suggests it was written around the same time.
P.S. Since Nellie wrote your letter I have informed her that the Bull has been sold to Mr G.H. Dodson & your father has bought two stirks in its place.
For the cows wont milk, & the
Bull wont roar. –
The ducks wont quack,
Nor the pigs wont snore,
The Cocks wont crow,
Nor the Hens wont lay
And all's gone wrong,
Since Freddy went away
This undated letter from Fred's mother appears to belong here in the sequence, as there are references to his grandmother's illness, and a message sent to Fred via his fellow-soldier George Dyson.
My Dear Fred
I am sending your watch & a few choclates by George Dyson, I had to have it repaired at Edwards Mr Hoyle could not do it within five weeks & I knew you could not wait so long, so I took it to Edwards & I called for in on Monday when I went to Grandmas. The Doctor said she was a bit better on Monday, she could sit up about 20 minutes, so you see how bad she has been, & she is very weak yet. I shall try & go down tomorrow, so you will see I have not much time for writing, but never mind you know I am always thinking of you. You said in Normans letter that you might be going out this week I do hope not but let us know as soon as you can. This is just a short note I will write you again soon Oh bye the way, Mary wrote you last week & sent you some stamps, did you get it? you have not answered it. Just say if you have got it.
With best love from Mother