BRUCE BAIRNSFATHER AND OLD BILL

R.I.P

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REST IN PEACE

Gunner William Barnes 144961

27th Siege Battery RGA

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This web page is dedicated to the memory of Gunner William Barnes who died aged 27 on 17th April 1918 as a result of being gassed on 7th April 1918.  I have various papers, letters and personal effects from himself and his brother Edward and I will endeavour to transcribe the letters and such for inclusion here.(William Barnes far right in group of 3 photo above)

He joined the Militia in December 1906 but does not seem to have transferred to the Special Reserve in 1908.
He and his brother Ted enlisted under the Derby Scheme on 9 December 1915. Ted was called up on 29 February 1916 but William appealed against conscription in April 1916. He claimed the carpentry business started by his father would have to close as Joseph was now 70. The appeal failed, William had to join the VTC and would be exempted until 1 July 1916. He appealed again, the hearing being in December 1916 and a final exemption date of 1 March 1917 was given.
A newspaper article of 20 April 1918 suggested Joseph went to Dover intending to see William but after his departure the telegram notifying his death arrived.
William is commemorated on three more War Memorials in addition to the main one at the Triangle.

William Barnes landed in France 17th July 1917, spent 10 days at Le Havre, moved on to Ypres 27th July where he saw action for the first time.  Then on to St Jean for 6 weeks, on to Kitcheners wood for 6 weeks, was at Siege Park for 1 week then 1 month at Clifford Camp (rest). 27th December moved to France through Hazelbrook, 1 months training at Frander (sp) near Lilles. Action February 4th onward between Le Havre and Lens.  Marzingearte (sp), Neully, Mines Noelles (sp).  Not entirely sure of the exact position for his last days in France/Belgium.

William Barnes was gassed on the night of Sunday 7th April 1918 with either Phosgene or Mustard Gas (more likely mustard gas due to the time delay in his death). This attack was part of the large scale German Spring offensive during which they tried to knock out the enemy [British] guns.  William was transferred back to United Kingdom to the Norfolk War Hospital at Thorpe Road, Norwich. C2 ward where he died of pneumonia (developed secondary bacterial infection)on 17th April 1918.

British_55th_Division_gas_casualties_10_April_1918

PICTURE ABOVE GAS ATTACK APRIL 1918

for more about mustard gas please click on the link below

http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/kylet1/gas.htm

funeral of Gunner Barnes

Abiding with the families wishes, Gunner William Barnes was laid to rest after a quiet and impressive service at the Chapel he long attended at Abbey Row, Malmesbury (picture below). The passing bell appraised the townspeople of the sad event whilst the Abbey and Westport St Marys flag stood at half mast. Many people lined the streets as the cortege passed for the service at the Baptist Chapel. The coffin was of polished oak with brass furniture and bore a floral cost, the hearse was followed by the mourners being his father Mr Joseph Barnes with his three daughters and sister Miss Barnes. The burial took place at the Baptist Cemetery, Burnham Road, Malmesbury.

 

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Norfolk War Hospital formerly an assylum before being used for WW1 injured soldiers

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Abbey Row Baptist Chapel

 

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William Barnes (above) Grave of William Barnes, Burnham Road Cemetery
 
 
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56 High Street were William Barnes lived
 
 
 
 
 
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 WILLIAM BARNES LETTERS

Letter 1

From Gunner W Barnes

144961 RGA

385 Siege Battery

Roffey Camp

B1 Hut Horsham

Sussex

Undated

Dear Mag & All

Here I am again another Sunday rolled round and a beautiful day too. I was in hopes of getting a week end. I tried hard but it was no good they wasnít having it nor my mate they wouldnít let him off just the same, I had the trains and all looked up ready and thatís how we get sucked in, but never mind I expect I shall get a leave in about a months time and that will soon slip by, well this is our last Sunday here worst luck, we shall never better this place for a camp, we are off to Lydd on Friday that in Kent somewhere near the coast, a regular military place according to accounts, we go there to finish off our training and from there we either go to Portsmouth or Bristol to a rest camp and we get our leave from there, well I received the parcel safe and Aunt Rosa cake went just good got a bit left for supper tonight. I had a good jam roll from Siss only she didnít put her address very plain so I donít know whether she got my letter or no. I heard from Poll as well so I had a good week taking it all round, you must mind and not forget Ted, as I can buy myself anything while I am in this country and he cant so well out there, I had the 10 shillings alright but I shouldnít have bothered with it if I had knew they wouldnít let me have the week end, I see it as been another big air raid, I hope it wasnít nowhere handy our Siss, they done some mischief again no mistake, what a bad job about poor old Harry Reeves, I was surprised and only been there a month poor old Mrs Reeves must be upset, went into town yesterday and had a bit of the best of it again being Saturday that the only days we have a chance of course we have Sundays off bar marching to Chapel in the morning, I had a good long letter from Ted this morning hes still keeping alright that a good job, we were on all night Wednesday on the pick and shovel at that, digging emplacements for our guns and dug outs for the men to get in, but still I have had a fairly easy week bar that, so mustnít complain taking it all round. Iíll bet we shall get it a bit rougher at Lydd, by jingle if old Tater isnít some time thinking about it this time will soon be quarter time again, you seem to be coming in for the thunder storms, we had one a week ago last night and a pretty heavy one too, but we havenít had one since and it seems pretty settled now again and warm at that. Edwin had a sound job with those old carpets up at Squire Comptons they were got pretty bad the last time I put them down, hows the stone yard job going on, or is that completed, giving us all a farewell tea at the YMCA here which is very good of them. I wonder how old John Lewis is getting on he holded on well that was one thing and by jingle I cant see much prospect of it being over yet worst luck, wants some of George Johnsons hail stones I cant see much prospect any other way. Mr Farmer seems to be letting you have a change I should like to have heard Mr Bricknell must wind up now glad you are all still keeping well from your loving brother Will.

 

Letter 2

From Gunner W Barnes

144961 RGA

385 Siege Battery

B1 Hut
Roffey Camp

Horsham Sussex

Undated

Dear Mag & All

Was very glad to received your letter again, I was just beginning to wonder what was gone wrong with the works di you receive the letter I sent last Sunday. I received Aunta Rosas parcel Friday morning and your letter and one from Ted and the North Wilts on Saturday so I had quite a collection for the end of the week, it was very king of Lucy to make those cakes they went just good you must be sure to thank her havenít hardly finished the sweet yet, I have sent two letters to Ted since I came here I hope he will get them alright, seem to have a lot of German prisoners where he is but I hope they wont get shifting him again, fancy the Earl of Suffolk being killed like that, I expect that will make a difference over at Charlton. Iíll bet old Bert Weeks swanked it a bit, I hope I shant have to stop so long before I get a leave as he has, old Tom Hughes will soon know a bit about it too, especially if they have popped him into an infantry regiment and I shouldnít be surprised, I see old Iles and Pontings managed to scrape out of it again, I see that Harry Tugwell is killed that Elsies cousin isnít it, my word anyone donít know who is going next. I see Charlie Millet is dead too shant see him when I come back. I expect Mr Matthews made his coffin didnít he, it is just alright for our Dad and Edwin to have a good job in the shop must take it steady and have a pretty good price for the council as they have plenty of money, our shed must be got very low never seen it so low as it was when I sent away, who have you ordered it off of, Cox or Holmes, itís a beautiful day here today the best we have had although we have had a fine week one or two pretty sharp frosts, we have a double round for two or three miles with our hats and coats of the first thing every morning, one thing we have a cup of tea and a couple of biscuits at six oíclock before we start and come back to breakfast at quarter to eight and quite ready for it we are, went to Chapel this morning was thinking about you all at home, our Dad must be almost all alone up in the gallery and Tom Hughes is another one gone out of the choir, gets worse and worse as the saying is, I went to town and had a bath yesterday so will send my vest home in a day or two of course I shant wait till next week again and when you send it just pop in one of my pairs of braces for a reserve like in case these army ones break, as we sweat a bit on this job and makes them a bit rotten. It will be just alright for our Siss to come home in June for a good long if her Gentleman goes to France. I expect Aunt Rosa and Aunt Criss is having a stroll out this afternoon if its Aunt Christys time out, and our Dad having a nap in the front room, old Tater is all behind with that rent again as usual I thought he would be, I wonder if old Granny has got his for doing that room yet, I suppose Tater doesnít say nothing about it to our Dad, we went for about a ten or twelve mile route march Friday morning only itís a lot better country for marching here no hills of no account all flat, we have all our equipment on when we go on a march like that rolled coat, bandolier belt, water bottle, haversack, a clean shirt a pair of socks, a towel, a razor, knife fork and spoon of course all that goes in our haversack and then we have our water bottle and mess tin quite a doing I can tell you, of course you have it all strapped on , you take no much notice of it like that, its quite a lot to learn on this job and no mistake going to take some time if we have to know it all want some of Harry Randells intellect brain power to mind it all, not to waste time here, on the double all day long, Iíll bet twould make old Tater sweat must wind up now am still keeping alright and hope everyone is at home from your loving brother Will.

 

Picture of younger brother Edward refered to as Ted in Will's letters.

Letter 3

From Gunner W Barnes

144961 RGA

385 Siege Battery

Roffey Camp

B1 Hut

Horsham

Sussex

Undated

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Dear Mag & All

Here I am again Sunday rolled round once more, how the time goes, it will be eight weeks tomorrow that I went to Plymouth, the war must be that nearer the end anyway but I think its some way off yet although we must always hope for the best. I just hope old John Matthews is right. Iíll bet anyone will be able to hear him some way off when it does come off, I reckon the tulips look alright in the boxes but its most to early to begin watering yet although we have had some beautiful weather but yesterday it turned off rough and cold like March again and rough in the night too, fancy old Grant at the Knoll being dead, it was quite a pant for Dad and Edwin scotting the coffin up there, that going to be jolly awkward if we are not going to be able to get any timber along seem as if the Government wants to collar everything. Edwin had quite a walk up to Mr Bowers to put the carpets down, did they say where their son was sent to or isnít he gone, Iíll bet Mrs Bower was upset if he is, very good of Arthur Hinwood to enquire for both of us he isnít a bad sort. I see his wife has a baby so he will have some music now, I donít know where old Sid Adye is got too but he hasnít come this way, there are about 800 of us here in this camp. I expect old Sid is gone to some other district, very good of our Poll to send half a crown between us you must be sure and thank here when you write if you want any money to pay for postage, Aunt Rosa can take some out of mine that will be alright as it all goes good here, although we get very good food here only its only three meals a day, we mostly get fried bacon and bread for breakfast and that goes good after we have been doubling about for a hour and a half, we have plenty of meat cooked or roasted for dinner and we get some potatoes and peas and greens and onions, we have Swedes when theres no potatoes but that no bad and we always have some pudding to finish up so I suppose we mustnít grumble, must be like old George Pike good job it isnít no worse although its quite bad enough. I had a letter from Ted heís on the move again, good job heís keeping alright, took a fit in their head to take us out for a route march the other Wednesday night started at half past nine got back at half past twelve went about ten mile one thing we didnít start till nine the next morning. I have been learning the telegraphy and signalling this last week or ten days so that has been a lighter job although it wants some learning. I donít know whether we shall be keep on that job or no but its better than doubling about on the guns as we are sat down or lay down out in a field taking down messages a good bit of our time, have quite a soft time some days. I sent old Tater a notice so I should think he would stump this week, but I expect he has got a job to scrape it together again and any excuse is better than none, did he get any potatoes for his garden, Iíll bet Edwin though that was going on 8 shilling for a bushel of potatoes how are ours holding out expect they are getting towards the bottom, all the trees and edges are beginning to look alright here now, itís a very pleasant part of the country, especially if anyone was on a different job to the army. I was on guard yesterday so didnít have a chance to go into town but I went in Friday night and had a look round, Ted had quite a flare up when he went into town he must have had a good view up on top of those cathedral steps, fancy stopping over last train good job you told me I shouldnít have thought of that, but I donít expect I shall have any chance of coming till I have got three months service in. I think we are going to Lydd the next shift from here, but that wont be for another three weeks or a month and I mustnít look ahead so far as that, expect Miss Hetty wants to know all the news if Aunt Rosa is gone up Cowbridge, canít think of anything else this time, am keeping quite well and getting on alright, glad all is well at home, remember me to Aunt Chriss and all from your loving brother Will.

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Letter 4

From 144961 Gun W Barnes

385 Siege Battery Left Section

Le Havre B E F France

July 23rd 1917

 

Dear Mag

Just thought I would write a few more lines and let you know I am still keeping alright and shall be glad to hear from you to know how things are going on like, we are having it jolly hot here now makes anyone sweat have just been and done a good bit of washing shant say that I have got it all nice and clean like, itís a puzzle to keep anything clean here, and we were on all day yesterday Sunday and Saturday afternoon, donít take no notice of Sundays here, it wants Old George Johnson to speak to them a bit and no mistake, we have 12 in our tent so I can tell you that a warm job and a tight fit, we get plenty of hard biscuits and cheese now, something like the boy I wrote a letter to him but they wouldnít pass it sent it back again, so I suppose I must have another try. I hope he is still on the same job, I expect our Polls holiady is over now it be alright for Siss along with her for a bit, is Maud gone down to Billy Mortimers yet his time will soon be up now. Iíll bet Sid Adye will think itís a bit rougher still when he gets here, is he gone from Lydd yet, I canít think of anything else to tell as they are so particular, so shall have to tell you all when this affair is over whenever that will be, I will write a few lines every week just to let you know I am going on alright and keeping well, hope Dad and Aunt Rosa and all are keeping well, and how is old Friend Hill getting on, soon be time for him to think about that rent again but I wouldnít bother him for another week must finish now, from your loving brother Will.

Letter 5

From W Barnes

August 6th 1917


Dear Mag & All

I was very glad to get your letter and I have had two North Wilts and received the parcel quite safe last night Sunday but it was all knocked to crumbs bar the chocolate and the jar of honey which went good, but we get very good food here as far as that goes so if you send me a bit of chocolate occasionally it will do very well, I have just borrowed this bit of paper to write to you as I thought you would be worrying if you didnít hear, I am writing this whilst we have a half hour to spare from the guns, my word we have had some rough weather but its better now thatís one good thing, we get no rest here in any form we are on the guns for 24 hours and 24 hours off, but then we are on the shell carrying and I can tell you itís a bit of a racket here, we sleep in a bit of a dug out no boards or anything here but still we must be like George Pike good job it isnít no worse, you must thank our Poll for the cakes and chocolate but if you send me a piece of chocolate occasionally just for a change it will ÖÖÖÖ..well, I had a nice long letter from Ted yesterday he seems to be very lucky and a good job too, I hope he will be kept where he is now for by gum we donít get much rest here havnt had a real nights rest since we came here, tell Ted I will write to him as soon as I have some paper, donít see no one here in the civilian line houses and churches and everything knocked to ground, donít forget to send them socks as by jingle the must pretty well pulled the others off my feet. Gunner W Barnes 144961 27 Siege Battery RGA BEF France, Sarah man didnít stop long up Cowbridge how was that, we had nearly [censored] journey on the [censored] when we [censored] my mates and all of us came, I quite thought my mate wasnít going to stand it long but he seems to be getting more used to it now, but we went straight on the job the same day and it sort of shook us all up a bit, a good job to get those windows in up Milk Street thatís coming to some of old Nats last jobs I can find, is our Siss still at Reading, must close now am keeping well and hope you all are and Aunt Chriss and Uncle Edwin an Aunt Helen from your loving brother Will.

 

Letter 6

From W Barnes

August 14th 1917

 

Dear Mag & All

Was very glad to get your letter and hear all the news again and received your other parcel quite safe today Monday. I sent a post card to tell you I received the socks safe yesterday, shall be able to go on like a house afire now, the parcel was in better order this time and the jam goes just good and where did that special cake come from. I was just run out of soap altogether so it came just right, I think if you send me a parcel once a fortnight it will do very well as we donít fair so bad for food, have just been and gave old Fritz another bombardment to help him on a bit, he doesnít send so many over at us as he did thatís one good thing, should just like for old Lloyd George and some of them to be here for a week or so and Iíll bet the war would soon be over ten if they had to get on with it like we have, how come old Thield (sp) to get away from Cowbridge heís a foolish fellow, you must thank Albert Adye for that writing pad what ever made hi do that its very good of him, however is it for old Splinter to be fast on the harvesting cant understand that, as we are short here, Ted still seems to be lucky thatís a good job, we get dished out with cigarettes and bacca and some run occasionally. Iíll bet our Dad and Edwin is glad to get those windows in up Milk Street, has Miss Pitts got another cook yet, hows Aunt Chriss getting on, I have some money to send home but theres no post office here to register it, we draw half our pay here and have the other put to our credit draw that when the war is over, alright for our Siss to be still along with our Poll 144961 (27 Siege Battery BEF France, how about old Tater hasnít he stumped up yet its quite time, must wind up now nad hop you all well as I am and mustnít worry about me, as I shall keep alright and come back safe and sound some day I hope the sooner the better from your loving brother Will, donít forget to thank ÖÖ.. .for that writing pad and the socks do just alright and what a swanky pair of black ones mind it we donít look so spruce out here as we did in England just received the North Wilts

Letter 7

From W Barnes

September 1st 1917

 

Dear Mag & All

I think its my time rolled round again to write you a few lines again but I havent received no letter from you this week yet but I expect I shall get one tonight Saturday, should just like a good old fashioned Saturday night at home for a change but by jingle if I know when thatís going to be, I thought I had better write tonight as I shouldnít have much time tomorrow as we are on the shift about a bit, we had some very rough weather again the beginning of the week could pour the water out my boots quite 6 inches in our gun pit but it soon drys thatís one good thing but it would never do for our Dads and Mags rheumatics, but I suppose we must be still like George Pike good job it isnít no worse, I expect Ted told you in his letter about that Frenchman he met when he was coming back from the service how he was obliged to go in the cafť and have a drink with him rather laughable, well I just received your letter and glad you are all still keeping well, you are right it is a bad job for poor Archie Perry how poor Mrs Perry must be upset, and Iím hanged if old Splinter Pike isnít right there is some mud here pretty well pull your boots and all off as soon as get some rain, very good of Mrs Lidney to enquire for my address I wonder what battery old Sid is in and old Splinter as I should like to know as there are a lot of batterys round thi sway, very good of Miss Bower to enquire for us, I expect Dad wanted the specs on at the picture frame work, I wonder how old Basern (sp) is getting on, none to grand Iíll bet, old Charles White is lucky and no mistake, I should just like to hear Mr Pricknell, have been on the job every Sunday since we been here as yet, the best will come in just right for a change but it isnít no hurry to send the other for a week, I had a good washing day yesterday and gave it all a scrub up, itís a sound job wants old Mother Jones here a bit, you had better send me a few more envelopes when you send next time as these are most gone must finish now am still keeping well from your loving brother Will. Still same address

Letter 8

From W Barnes

September 8th 1917

 

Dear Mag & All

I was very pleased to get your letter again and hear that things are still going on alright. I also received the vest quite safe and the chocolate and jam went just alright all helps along, are having some very nice weather this last few days just hope it lasts for a month as we have had quite enough of the other sort we are shifted about 2 mile further up now and old Fritz donít forget us he seems to have a good stock of ammunition in again somehow, put about 2 or 3 hundred of his coal boxes at us the first day we were there but we have been pretty lucky so far the next battery to us he has knocked about anyhow, he seems to be very strong here cant shift them much but I think we shall have it over by Christmas or hope it will be anyway. I and a bombardier have a little dug out to ourselves not much head room but still its not so bad shall be able to sleep anywhere, the noise of the guns donít wake me up now, take no notice of them now its quite a sight on a dark nigh between the flashes of the guns and the rockets going up lights the whole place up, ÖÖon you had a good congregation to hear Mr Pricknell I thought about you all we were just busy shifting our guns sure to do it on a Sunday so Aunt Rosa changed the Francs alright we donít draw much here got more than 40 Francs owed me now but I suppose we shall have in a lump after a bit, fancy May Jones getting married very good of her husband to enquire for us he isnít a bad sort and very lucky to be able to keep out of this affair, old Tater has got a job to make two ends meet I reckon he always get some excuse but never mind as long as we get it, I reckon old man Hughes must be heaving a trying time of it between one thing and another must be trying everyone and everyone is downright tired of it out here, old Frank Tugwell is pretty lucky to get back to a rest camp for a bit, our Cissys gentleman soon had enough of it, just about a lot buried near where we are now, was burying some yesterday thatís the first army chaplains Iíll seen, Ted is still going on alright thatís a good job and roll on peace and plenty again should just like to be home and cleaning out the pudding dish for supper shall forget what its like am still keeping quite well, Daisy is still going to keep well in inviting you down like that, must wind up now from your loving brother Will.

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War Memorial  which has Williams name on it

 

Letter 9

From W Barnes

November 17th 1917

 

Dear Mag & All

Just received your letter and parcel safe tonight Saturday everything will go just good and be sure and thank our Poll for the pine apple had quite a flare up for supper, are having some regular November weather and no mistake and donít improve the mud I can tell you, canít think what its going to be like in another couple of months time, but theres must make the best of it. Iíll bet Bert Weeks will know a bit about it if he happens to come to this front of course he might go to a quieter front, old Charlie Pike is close to Sid Adye according to Mrs Mortimer how are they getting along. Not much of a job for Freddy he will have a lot a learn Aunt EmilyÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖ

Rest of letter appears to be missing Ö.

Letter 10

From W Barnes

February 24th 1918

Dear Ted

I was very pleased to get your letter again and hear you are still rubbing along alright a letter is always welcome, you are right we are having some splendid weather for the time of year. I hope it will go on all through March like it, we had some jolly rough weather last march, I donít forget that have just received a letter from Mag and she says Splinter is home on leave so he is lucky he has only been out here about three weeks longer than me and I canít see much prospect of mine yet. Cis is gone to Clifton I hope she will get on alright and it isnít very far off either my word it is a small family at home now, I should just like to know what Edwin left not much hope of Harry, not to tell Dad anything but we shall pick out. I wonder how his job will answer sure to be all A1 at the start you didnít; strike out getting in hat doorway at that service. Iíll bet old George Johnson wouldnít have stuck it long as you say Iíll bet he is still as old fashioned as ever, bet Daisy do think it isnít going to last much longer if they cant get a smell of a joint some weeks, me be some bad management down that way, somehow good job they get plenty at home as you say for, how long did you pay old Squire Weeks that club money for up till March was it, soon be time Friend Hill seen about that rent again, must finish up now am keeping quite well from your loving brother Will.

Letter 11

From W Barnes

 

March 3rd 1918

Dear Ted

Here I m again Sunday rolled round once more and my word cold enough to starve anyone having some of old Beney Pikes March winds and no mistake, not much occasion to wipe the sweat off like, I was surprised to hear poor old Dolly Cray was dead, I never knew till I had your letter, I havenít had the North Wilts from home this last week somehow, did you see it in the paper, you are right old Splinter was lucky to get his leave so quick, they are started again in our battery so I think if things go well that I shall stand a chance of going next month, Iíll bet Edwin would have squinted his eye if he had been alive when old Squire Moore came along, used to always put him in good tune for a few days. I remember old Dr Boffie well up at Miss Pitts that time, he little thought then that he would have to go as well, but that was some good old times as you say for roll on the time when they will come against, donít get much strawberry and cream and some of that best cake out here, my word that would go good now, good job you have some concerts and lectures it all helps to liven you up a bit, we had a bit of bad luck in the battery this last week worst luck had [censored] that came out along with me, I was only joking with them the night before about our leave, well I hope Dad and Aunt Rosa will keep alright this weather, have just got a letter and a parcel from Mag so must see what that contains canít think of anything else to say this time, glad you still keeping well I am, from your loving brother Will. I have run short of writing paper so mustnít take no notice of this rather dirty paper just looking up the spare sheets like.

Letter 12

From W Barnes

March 10th 1918

 

Dear Ted

Here I am again still alive and kicking and very pleased to get your letter again and hear you are still rubbing along as well as possible, well we are having some splendid weather this last two or three days like any summer, a bit different to what it was the other week we did have some cold winds then and no mistake good job they didnít last long, this is Sunday today and we havenít had much firing on been on the pick and shovel instead we got plenty of that in between whiles, but its getting pretty lively here now old Fritz seems to have had plenty of ammo up somehow, well I have had the new pay entered up in my book 1s 7d a day so thatís a bit better. I bought five war certificates so thatís £3 17s 6d and I can change them at the post office at any time if I want so I am sure of that and I can have another good draw when I go on leave, draw all I am in credit then if alls alive and well, it would be alright if you could get a few days as well but I expect thatís out of the question, of course I donít know when it will be yet but I should think somewhen next month, that is of course without a big strant comes off anyway. I will let you know as soon as I get near, I hope your jolly cold is got alright, I have been very lucky for that havenít caught one you know not down right bad like of course have had some on a small scale like, but I donít know what we should have done at Flanders if it hadnít been for the rum that was what kept us going, my word we did have some rough times there, I often marvel that we came through that safe you are right the affair seems to hang on about as usual but I still think that it will end up all of a sudden one of these days and I hope it wont be long, I canít think of any thing else so must wind up am still keeping well from your loving brother Will.

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Letter 13

From W Barnes

March 17th 1918

 

Dear Ted

I was very pleased to get your letter again and hear you are still rubbing along alright, we are still having some lovely weather and I hope it will last. I didnít have that paper with Dolly Grayís death in, expect someone else had the benefit of that, might turn up some day now. I had a jolly good parcel from Nelly and them at Lymington something of all sorts, jolly good of them. Harry seems to e getting on alright at his new job, they had a letter from him at home, donít reckon he will have a lot left out of his salary by time he has paid for his board and lodging and one thing and another. I wonder if he will settle at this job when he once gets into it, reckon he will be trying to knock old Squire Bowman out, you are right I think it will be a job to beat the good old walks we used to have at home roll on the time when that comes again, Mag said in her letter that Tom Rich had his shop closed at ten oíclock on Saturday thatís a bit special isnít it must be jolly quiet at home now, old Tater has started turning his garden up so Mag said time he stumped up that last quarters rent, good job Cis is getting on alright, I canít think of anything else this time and this is my last sheet of paper must get another pad tomorrow am still keeping well and glad you are too from your loving brother Will.

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high street malmesbury 1924

 

Letter 14

From W Barnes

March 25th 1918

Dear Ted

Here I am again still alive and kicking and very pleased to get your letter again and hear you were still rubbing on alright, are still having some jolly nice weather a bit extraordinary for March like any June in the middle of the day, yes I told them at home in my last letter about that club money and Iíll bet old Squire Weeks will soon be over to see about it, he doesnít forget those sort of things as a rule, what do you say, well I donít expect I shall get my leave next month now as it has all been stopped worst luck for the time being, but expect it will soon start again as soon as things quiet down a bit again, should just like to have you home the same time but as you say for its not much chance but itís a matter of two years now since we seen each other, jolly glad you have got shot of your cold and jolly glad they are keeping alright at home and you are right Iíll bet they do adjourn pretty early at night, I shall soon have to write to old Squire Hill if he doesnít soon buck up what do you ay, Alf Player seems to hang it out very well, its all in his favour thatís one thing, that Miss Carter cant be very old I know as you say for doesnít seem long ago she had her hair down her back, roll on the time when we shall be able to have some good old fashioned walks round that way again, good job Cis is getting on alright canít thing of anything else this time am still keeping well from your loving brother Will.

Letter found in Williamís wallet on his return to England having been gassed on 7th April 1918 Believed to be the last letter he received

 

M/280567

M7. APC

From Edward Barnes to W Barnes

April 4th 1918

 

Dear Will

I received your letter this Tuesday and Iím jolly glad you are still alright. Well I have had absolutely no time for letter writing myself this last ten days or so. The first part of last we were working pretty well day and night too and I can tell you I was jolly glad to get a few hours sleep any when or anywhere then. We had a deuce of a ride by lorrys down to this place so we see a bit of country. Shanít forget this Good Friday and Easter Sunday in a hurry but I thundering will hope the next one will be spent in peace and comfort when we an laugh at the time we were having the last one like. As far as I can see of this place so far itís a case of jolly long hours work and no comfort at all, still I suppose itís a good its its nothing worse. We are sleeping in tents and I was lucky enough toÖÖ..for one with boards in, most of the rest had to be unlucky that way. Might be alright if we get things running straight after a time. Old Fritz paid us a visit second night by way of a welcome to the lid on things like. Much rather he would keep anything he has got to give away in that line to himself. Will I havenít had time to write letters home this week yet, expect you will think I am a long time but I can tell you it was only a bit of luck I got time to write this. I had a letter from Mag and she says old Tater stumped up the Christmas quarter and Dad paid Clark and Smith the Ö.of insurance out of it so that is a good job. Mr Weeks told them to let the club money stop till next quarter so lets hope by then things will hae quieted down and perhaps you will have got your leave by then. Bit drastic for the Jerrys to make such a push all of a sudden I really didnít think he would ever try it on that scale. Hanged if I hardly know what to think of things now certainly donít look much like finishing yet. I see in the North Wilts that little chap that used to knock about with George Weeks (Jimmy Hubbard) has been killed out here, donít know if you knew him or not. As far as I can tell you at present the same address will find me next time with the addition of a PO4. I will write you a long letter again when I do get a bit of time, though I had better send you this to let you know I was still alive and kicking. Was very glad to hear you were safe so far anyroad. Should just like to see you as its over two years now as you say for since the last occasion we saw one another. Mag says they are going to start a milk factory where Mrs Pontings yards were, all helps the town on a bit and roll on the time when this lots over and all of us back there again. Well by time I have had a wash it will be time to get into kip again so must close and remain your loving brother Ted.

 

 

Picture below shows a number of items related to Gunner William Barnes, his wallet, brother Edwardís wallet, war souvenirs, shrapnel balls, badge, german money, photograph of family and friends, postcards of France, mirror, writing case which was used to write these letters, death certificate and other items of ephemora.

 

 

 

Picture 084

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GUN SIMILAR TO WHAT BARNES WOULD HAVE USED

The Mark 1 howitzer was first produced just before the start of World War One in July 1914 and it was rushed into production and reached France in October 1914.

Image

Facts:

    450 of these artillery guns were built between 1914 and 1918

    It weighed 15 tons

    It fired a 131 kg shell of high explosives

    It could fire this weight shell 9,198 meters

    It took 36 hours to dismantle and three specially built carriages to move it.

 

At present I am writing a book on the subject
Please watch this space for further detailsBook

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