Tram worker’s letter from WWI hospital


To mark the upcoming centenary of the outbreak of World War One, we bring you the second in a series of letters that were sent home to Ilkeston from the front line.

The letter, reprinted here, was published in the ‘Tiser on December 11, 1914,and comes from Private J. Burbridge, a former Ilkeston tramway employee serving on the front line with the Royal Army Medical Corps at number five General Hospital.

It reads: “It cheers one up a lot to get a letter from the old town.

“The first day I landed in France I met a man named Mr West with a motor lorry from Ilkeston, but haven’t seen him since.

We have had some very cold weather out here, snow rain, frost. It makes one long for home.

I shan’t be sorry to get back home again. Still we are all doing our bit for the old country with a good heart.

“What is the reason the boys at Ilkeston aren’t keen on enlisting?

“Surely at such a time as this England needs them all. But we shall come out top dog, you bet!

“We have just come up here from the South. This is a tine (sharp) country, and the French people have been very good to us but the worst of it is one can’t get any English beer.

“It is amusing to see London buses out here. On one of them was written ‘A Tanner from London to Berlin via Belgium.’

We just keep smiling and thinking of those at home.”