Many thanks to Marg of Co Cork for the following letter.
The letter is from James of Liverpool (born 1885) who was the son of Irish immigrants. James is writing to his maternal Uncle who was in Galway, Ireland.
1st Ty Irish Battn
Nov 25th 1915.
24th Northumberland Fusiliers
Dear Uncle Tom,
In another few days the call we have all been longing for will come & we shall proceed to the Front, whether in France or Serbia we do not know. Anyhow we go & in a very few days now. After 13 months hard training.
I suppose I’m ungrateful & unnatural to have kept silent all these years. I know I am, but still I have had you often in my thoughts & as you see, I’m not going away without saying ‘Goodbye’ & ask your benediction. And say a prayer now & then for me – not that I may come back, for I don’t expect that somehow & anyway I should be proud to die for the Cause – but that I may die, if I am to die, nobly and fighting bravely, worthy of the regiment I have the honour to be in and heroically as every Irish soldier does die.
I suppose – at least I’ve heard, that you did not approve of my action in joining the army, to do & die for England! Why not? After all though she has been a bad sister, she is a sister & we must help her. Besides who would be out of such a fight. And do we want it said, when the war is over, that Ireland did not do her share. Oh! Tom, if ever an Irishman lived who worshipped every blade of grass in her green fields & every sod of turf from her brown bog I am he. And I am proud to think that the lads I shall lead into action a few days hence are Irish lads & that the music that will fall on our ears will be [are – crossed out] the shrill notes of the old Irish war pipes. Indeed it would do you good to see the Tyneside Irish stripped for action 4,500 of the finest, hardest men that ever put on khaki.
This all sounds like an Apologia – and I don’t mean it to be. I am writing just to tell you that in your regard I am the same James as I always was; that I love you just the same & want you to look on the many acts by which I led you to believe that I was ungrateful, unmindful of the old days and that that love was dead. And I’m sending you a photograph so that you may see that if the Army has done nothing else it has made a man of me. Did you ever think that the [unreadable] you used to [unreadable] would one day work [?] all day, sleep in the fields all night and work in trenches for 24 hrs in pelting rain as I have done lately?
There is very little about A. Mary here – but ask her not to mind and tell her I mean this letter for you both. I hope you are both well & that she is now grown out of the bilious bouts. I have.
And lastly. If poor old Granny understands, Mum [? Mumma?] tells me she is very childish nowadays, just tell her I was asking for her & that I send her my love. And would you you who are so kind to everyone & whom everybody loves, at least they used to, do all that you can to make her last few days of life as easy & as comfortable as you can.
Goodbye now dear aunt & uncle.
I send you my best love & renew my request for a prayer that I may not fail or falter.
Your loving nephew
James McLoughlin Lt 24th S [G?] B N
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