5 April 1917 – Settling on board; has seen Tanks being shipped to France

5 April 1917

Same address

GPO London

Dear Mother & Father

Enclosed find pair boots, shirt, jersey & collar which please keep handy should I require some at any time. You will find the couple of buttons in the boot & let Grandma have one.

I am getting quite settled down in my new ship & think I shall get along alright.

The men tell me that they get mails quite regularly about one every week when they are away. Send me the Guardian as usual and a little reading matter occasionally would be quite acceptable.

My cabin is on the upper deck just behind the bridge and I have a full view of the sea from my port hole.

Tomorrow I expect to have my gear running to see if all is in order but its practically similar to the last ship’s gear. One of the officers says he will snap me with the telephones on & if he does I will send you the result along.  I am quite satisfied with this ship & have got along fine with everyone so far.

The food is very good & is quite the best I have had so far. We have had “spuds” up to today but as the supply has run out we have gone on the rice diet.  We expect another supply anytime but what we shall get when away, I cannot say.

We have not been allowed ashore & I don’t suppose we shall be. However I don’t mind so much.

I saw them shipping some L & Y engines across to France when I was in Portsmouth & also a large number of Tanks.

I expect a letter any post now but write as usual and keep your peckers up until the war is over.

Hope Dad is better & that all are well.

With Best Love to all


Let John Bromley have my address


DIARY: In Sound.


In this letter, James mentions seeing some L & Y Engines being shipped over to France, and some tanks.

We think that the L& Y engines probably refer to the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway, that James would have been familiar with.

James also talks about seeing Tanks being shipped across to France from Portsmouth,  Tanks (Mark 1) had first been used as a secret weapon, on 15 September 1916, in a phase of the Battle of the Somme.  Of the 49 shipped to France, only 32 made it the launch of the attack and only 9 made it across ‘no-man’s land’ to the German trenches.  The first battle in which they made a significant contribution was the Battle of Cambria in the Autumn of 1917 and it is possible it is these tanks that James has seen being loaded onto ships when he was in Portsmouth.


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