Century-old World War One letters to be sold at Clevedon Salerooms
PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 November 2017 | UPDATED: 07:18 07 November 2017
A rare glimpse into the life of a World War One soldier fighting on the French frontline will be on offer in Clevedon next week.
Clevedon Salerooms, in Kenn Road, is auctioning a series of letters penned by a 19-year-old soldier to his 14-year-old sister Ruth, handwritten while he was serving on the frontline in France 100 years ago.
Second Lieutenant Albert Illtyd Evans, from Cardiff, was fighting with the 85th Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery from 1916-1917 when he wrote the letters, which span just under a year from his training in Salisbury and Exeter, to his death five months after arriving in France.
The fascinating insights range from the infamous Flanders mud to the need for a better waterproof coat, while one letter describes the terrifying clamour of a British artillery barrage.
It says: “Like Kip (the family dog) barking right in your ear... the fire at first may be so intense that the series of flashes will merge into one – and all is light.
“This barrage will last, say, for three minutes when the fire suddenly ceases, another whistle is faintly heard and bang!
“They go again – this time perhaps on a different target altogether.
“There may be six or seven barrages in a stint. The infantry may or may not go over the top.”
Albert’s final letter, dated August 14 1917, was written just three days before he was killed in action.
In it he describes ‘battery mascots’, two French goats which were with the brigade for many months. They travelled on top of army wagons and gave plenty of hilarity to the residents of French towns they passed through.
Albert is now buried in the Poperinghe New Military Cemetery in Belgium.
The vendor, a descendant of the family, has given the collection to Clevedon Salerooms to ensure it goes to a home where it will be treasured.
Auctioneer Toby Pinn said: “It is a privilege and an honour to be able to read the collection of letters 100 years after they were written.
“Studying them with the knowledge of how Albert’s story ends only adds to the poignancy.”
The collection, valued at £200-300, will be available to view at the salerooms from 2-5.30pm on November 14, 10am-6.30pm on November 15 and 9-10.30am on November 16 when it will go under the hammer.