The men of the district wrote home regularly. It was custom of the day to print excerpts of letters in the local newspaper; that way everyone shared the news. The letters that survive tell the story of men a world away, full of excitement for a great adventure, yet at the same time yearning for news of home. Tucked away in the bottom of a wardrobe, some letters did not see the light of day for decades. They are faded and yellow, but are precious and much treasured by families. Some men wrote home every few days, others hardly at all. Each man writes of meeting their mates from around the district, assuring everyone home that ‘they are getting on alright’ and ‘it’ll be over soon’.
Dear Mum & Dad, this is the boat that we came over in so I am sending it along to you, hoping it gets there alright. We had a very good trip in her, she’s a nice big boat and also very comfortable. We had a good trip taking everything into consideration, the first few days were a little rough but after that the sea was like glass.
– Pte. George Dickson, note written on a photo sent to Mr & Mrs W Dickson, December 1915
Anzac Dec 5th, 1915, Dear Father, Just a note hoping all is well at home, we are having some very cold weather here lately. We had a fall of snow which was very unpleasant. I am getting perfect health so far which is very important in this job. The Turks gave our trenches a heavy bombardment with big shells last week which was very uncomfortable while lasted, but I think our gun boats give them equally as much at times. Well I have nothing interesting to write about & I am just going into the trenches so I will conclude, from Jack, A. Squadron 13th L.H. regiment, Abroad
– Tpr. Robert John (Jack) McMonigle, letter to Mr John McMonigle, 5 December 1915
Pte. J. Murray formerly of Greta, writes to a friend, says he has spent five weeks in hospital-two weeks with mumps and three weeks with a bad knee. D. Carmichael of Greta, called to see him. He also says that he has been left behind his mates having moved on without him
– \’News of Our Soldiers\’ Wangaratta Chronicle 13 May 1916
Pte. Patrick O’Malley, writing from Egypt to his mother, Mrs M O’Malley, Greta West, says he was still on guard duty on the canal. He was expecting word at any moment to proceed to France. He has met W. Delaney and other district boys, who are all well.
– \’News of Our Soldiers\’ Wangaratta Chronicle 22 July 1916 [p3]
Mr and Mrs Henry Tanner, of Hansonville, have received letters from their sons, Ptes. Herbert and Walter. The former is fighting in France and with two other Greta district boys, viz, Geo. Goodland and Ned O’Brien brought in some German prisoners. They were highly delighted with their success. Walter Tanner is still in Egypt. He is fighting at Ismalia. His health is good.
– \’News of Our Soldiers\’ Wangaratta Chronicle 26 July 1916 [p3]
Douglas Carmichael, son of Mrs D, Carmichael, Greta, writes under date of 18th July, that he is in London attached to the Army Pay Corps. He says:-… “I have met several Australian girls over here and girls of all other nationalities, but none can compare with the Australian. I was at Lord Leighton\’s (the great painter) place where he has all his art treasures hung on the walls of his London house and they were lovely. I took, shots and will send them later. I sent some photos of London and surrounding, am keeping in splendid health.”
– \’News of Our Soldiers\’ Wangaratta Chronicle 23 August 1916 [p3]
Lieut. Austin Mahony, writing to his parents, Mr. and Mrs J. Mahony, Hansonville, from France on March 3rd, says: ‘At last the long overdue parcel arrived today, and the good things contained therein will come in very handy, as in a day or two we expect to find ourselves facing the horrible Hun again. Especially handy will be the socks, just tell grandma that they are very nice with their red decorations, and look very warm too.
– \’News of Our Soldiers\’ Wangaratta Chronicle 25 May 1917
Mr. T. J. O\’Brien, Hansonville, has received a letter from his brother, Pte. Ed. J. O\’Brien. It was written from France at the end of April. He was well also were his brothers, Pte. M. O\’Brien and Farrier-Cpl. W. W. J. O\’Brien. He met Austin and Wm. Mahony, who were also well. The weather was good.
– \’News of Our Soldiers\’ Wangaratta Chronicle 20 June 1917 [p3]
Dear Mother, Received the very welcome parcel of tobacco & cigts yesterday it had followed me from the Hospitals in England and from there was sent on here. I was very lucky to get it. I also got a packet of 31 letters & 4 Wang papers the last date of the letters was 5 Jan.
– Pte. Tom McCarthy, Sutton Veny England, letter sent to Mrs B McCarthy, 20 March 1918