Envelope addressed to Miss Crawshaw, 29 etc APO 13-12-14; passed by censor no. 1611 Lce Cpl Crawshaw, 1st Dorset Regt., British Expeditionary Force 13-12-14
I received your letter alright and was surprised to hear that Tom as to another 11 days’ leave he is doing alright. Well Till I am still in the pink and am getting on alright the weather out here is not up to much we are getting plenty of rain so you can guess what it is like in the trenches.
Something seemed to tell me that Dolly would either write to me or you let me have her address and I will drop her a PC if you write to her remember me to her. Yes I think it was good of her as you mentioned. Bert is doing alright what I can see of it when is he coming out here, he is a long time about it, and tell Horace he should put a sprint in it and come out here also. Remember me to old Tango and also Uncle, don’t he wish he was young enough to come back in the Navy I be he wishes he was back again.
How are you all getting on at home still merry and bright and how is Mother still knocking. Please to hear that you are sending me out a parcel, much in not much. No Till I think this is all the news except that I have heard from Muff and she is getting on alright. No I have not received the chocolates no I think this is all the news at present trusting you are in the best of health and also all at home. Tell Aunt I am writing to her tomorrow, don’t forget to write back soon.
Your loving Brother
PC franked 13 De 14 – censor 1611 (apparently by the name of E Rogers) to Miss Crawshaw, 29 etc
Just received your letter and was surprised to hear Tom is still on leave, I bet he is going strong not much 3d a pint. Please to hear that you have heard from Dolly send me her address and I will drop her a few lines don’t forget to let me have it.
You want to tell Bert to hurry up and come out here its about time he was out here. Don’t. talk about rain we have had bags of it. Please to hear you are sending the parcel. Have heard from Muff and she is getting on alright. I am getting on alright and still in the pink. You will have to excuse letter this time as have not got time to write a letter. Remember me to all at home and ask Mattie if he got my letter.
No I must conclude trusting this letter finds you all at home in the best of health and I hope to hear from you all before long. Don’t forget D address.
Your loving Brother
So two letters were sent today to Mabel both with almost exactly the same content. It’s most likely that Frank received a letter from Mabel having just posted the first one and decided to send out a quick reply. But it could be that he completely forgot that he had written the first letter. Was Frank that below par? He’s so full of life in the letters and asks after all the family. He certainly doesn’t sound like a soldier suffering from depression or shell shock.
Speaking of family, it’s the first time he’s asked after his mother, Ada, since 17th September. She must be a postwoman as Frank uses the same “knocking” allusion for his Uncle Matt. In fact he doesn’t ask after his parents’ much in all the letters he’s sent home so far. I feel Frank looks up to his Aunt Carrie and Uncle Matt more than he does his own parents. I wonder why the Crawshaw family are so dysfunctional? However, as is often the way, the children seem pretty tight knit and the close bond between Mabel and Frank is undeniable.
Frank mentions Tom yet again. I still haven’t found anything else about him. Tom is on leave so he must have been in active service or a Territorial before the war begun. Frank has his usual moan about my Great Grandfather Bert still being stationed in England – and later, a lack of chocolate in the post. Frank also mentions Horace – we haven’t heard about him since August 1912. This could be one of their cousins, either Horace Yates (born 1903) or Roland Horace Spooner (born 1892). If Frank’s “Horace” is either of this pair, then it’s more likely the latter cousin as he’s the same age as Mabel and Frank. I can’t find any military records I can confirm are him, but Roland Horace Spooner survives the war and, I believe, married an Annie Mary Ashworth in 1924.
Tango appears once more. I’ve previously suggested that Tango is Lilian Webster. But the fact that Frank refers to Uncle straight afterwards indicates that she’s an Aunt and married and perhaps old (in Frank’s eyes at least). Lilian is only 25 and appears to be single. So my assumption seems to be wrong again. Muff must be another of the Webster clan. This needs more research and time I’m afraid, but I will return to this later on.
Frank asks after Dolly in both letters. We haven’t heard about Dolly since Frank “chucked her up” back in June. Frank appears to have had a letter from her. He mentions he had a feeling that she was going to write, which is either very prescient of him or something has made him think about girls other than Jessica. Has something gone on between Frank and Jessica?
I’ll return to the second letter, a postcard, tomorrow.
The Dorsets remained in billets for another day. Major Henry Ernest Walshe (1867-1947), CO of the South Staffordshire Regiment took over command of the Battalion.