British Letters 1

The Letters of James Christie (ASC)

James T Christie was born in Rothiemay, Banffshire in 1899. His father, James (b.1871), was coachman on the Mayen Estate and the family's address is given as Mayen House, now a Grade 1 listed building.

His mother was Isabella (b.1873), his sister, Isabella D. (b.1900) and younger brother Ian (b.1904).

Letter 1 16th April


M.T. ASC grove Park

Lee London W


Dear Mother

I have just found a few minutes, in which I am able to let you know I am getting along very nice. Grove Park is a very busy spot. I am informed that there is 5,000 men stationed here, and we are on the move from half past six am until four pm 3/4 of an hour for break and an hour for lunch. The food is very decent here and I'm quite full up every time I visit the dining Hall.

We are out today on a four ton lorry, the make was a 'Pierce Arrow' I managed all the forward gears and missed reverse.

I cannot get peace to write just now. I shall write tomorrow night as we get off on Tuesday.

We were before the major today and was getting chucked into a 'light car' test. I think I'll manage all-teak [sic].

I have got every thing plenty and fast-bat.

I am very sorry I forgot to bring my small mirror along - but don't send it as I may be shifted from here to Norwood Park or to Almisq [?] South Park. We are shifter all over London. Well dear mother I must chuck it as the light is very bad, will write tomorrow sure. I hope you are in your usual at Mayen. Have my clothes arrived? I sent them off on Thurs.

You loving son, jamie

Don't write until I write

Sunday is the same as Sat here. It is shocking isn't it.

Letter 2 15th May 1917

No 305688

A Hut, bed 5

RHH Woolwich

London EC18

My dear Mother,

I received your welcome parcel today. I found the sweets, biscuits and fags - I am very thankful for your kindness. I'll put the shirt and flannel on and I'll send home my dirty onces first opportunity but don't send them back to me so we are supposed to wear the army ones. They will not allow anyone to send home c,clothes but I'll not ask them. I can find a way of doing it.

I feel a great deal stronger now and I expect to be in Sydenham on Thurs. so don't write again until I send you my new address. I could get home if you were to send a letter asking me to get home to see you as you were in ill health or a letter from Dr Turner would work better but I should have to pay my fare one way and that would not do just now. I must ring off now only I hope you are in good health and all the others too.

I will write first chance when I get back to my Depot with best love from your loving son James

Letter 3 9th July 1917

Brooklyn VAD Hospital

Sydenham Ave


London SE

My Dear Mother

At last I started, no doubt you think I've been sometime about it. The weather has been fine lately and we've had so many outings that I always put it off. Its raining here today so we've all got to stay in and I think this is the proper way in which to kill time.

We had a horrible air-raid yesterday in our end also in the opposite extreme end which is the SW or West and I've seen some of the damage.

Three shops have had their roofs and floors telescoped to the ground and a few dwelling houses in our end damaged but the death toll is not great.

London Bridge had a narrow escape. A bomb fell and sank a barge about 200ft distant. The Tower bridge also escaped similar disaster th bomb falling and smashing 3 barges which were moored along the embankment.

At Brooklyn here we were warned at 9.15 of an expected raid and at 10.10 we heard the squadron in the distance. Then we saw 29 machines flowing along slowly and ever so low. There were five of our Bleriots hovering high above them, but they never cam in contact. The Huns have got the pluck and you'd say so too if you saw that 'show' yesterday.

When they were just in what they thought the business part of the city, they opened out in all directions discharging bombs. My goodness I never heard the 'marrows' of it. Then the anti-aircraft guns didn't half bark but of no avail they all got clear of London. I believe that one was fetched down somewhere along the river but I don't know as I haven't seen it yet. We don't want another raid. My word you've no idea how it puts the 'wind up.'

Never mind we all escaped, only a 'wee bittee' excited. We were at a Sports club in the afternoon, so that help to banish the thoughts of it. My word we have had some outings of different types, but I can't write their descriptions as our tea is ready.

I was at the Presbyterian Church again this morning with my nurse. The sermon was very good "its just like being at home."

I am sending home this photo under your care. Will you please put it in a place where the light doesn't fade it, say in a book only not in the room as its damp. Please don't ask question. What what!!!!

I hope you are quite well and have no more "turns" to bed. Are the rest all well. No doubt Ian would like to get the "wind up" and be sent home from school. I think you are well off at 'Mayen'.

I am still mending "slowly but surely" but I expect to be home after I am patched.You bet I'll have a run on the MB will write again soon.

from Jamie

What do you think of the N___????

Notes: Jamie is referring to the raid of 7th July 1917 when 22 Gotha bombers made a daylight raid on London. This resulted in 57 deaths and 193 injuries. 100 sorties were flown against the formation but only one bomber was shot down for the loss of two fighters.

Letter 4 Sunday 5th August 1917

Brooklyn VAD, Sydenham

Sydenham Avenue London SE

My Dear Mother

I have been expecting a letter from you this week. Perhaps you've written and it might have gone astray, as they are rather careless in the P.O.s

I wrote thanking you for your letter the other day, but I made a mistake, it was Ian's letter so I wish you to thank him from me. Tell him he's lucky to have holidays. Perhaps he doesn't think it nice to attend school, is he getting a prize at all.

No doubt Ella will have heaps of them, but perhaps the Rothie people have out-classed her owing to her 'brain-waves.' Is she still as clever at everything, tell her that my wish for her is the 'Best-o-Luck." Also if she wishes to be a nurse there will be no difficulty of a 'crib' as they are in great demand.

I have been in bed just a week to-day. I never thought that I would be confined to the 'wool' again. My temperature was 103.2 again, and I was pretty bad, not being able to eat anything. I'm up this afternoon for two hours but not allowed to leave the room. I am really improving now, only I was a bit bad a-while. I was at Woolwich last Friday (I mean the Friday before) and had three teeth extracted and of course me being an invalid they gave me gas which I also felt the effects of. But, mother, don't worry over me as I'm really improving. I had a decent breakfast which consisted of several pieces of toast and warm milk. For dinner instead of fish I had chicken soup and a little custard, so you see I'm beginning to eat again, you know I had only milk and cornflour drinks for a few days and now I'm not quite so fat as I was but I'll soon pick up now.

I expect you wonder by that photo why my whiskers and moustache are allowed to grow. The reason is that I've had septic-poisoning and am not allowed to shave. I didn't want to tell you as I knew you'd worry, but I was only able to scribble that P.C. and of course it will tell the tale. The nurses are still as nice, but I caused them a bit of trouble, I had a nurse all night with me and I was always in need of something. When I come to think of it I was rather bad tempered, but of course they excuse us then. I wasn't allowed out of bed, I had to use a bed pan and water bottle. I tried to get up one night, but was 'caught' and didn't I get a telling off?

How are you keeping now. I do hope you are improving, is the weather bothering your 'rheumatics' it will if its like ours its simply awful here rain every day with occasional bursts of thunder.

I believe that the guns in France are to blame for this; there must be heavy fighting now. How is Dad getting along still as busy, have you a heavy crop of fruit and vegetables, there are fine ones down here.

Would you send me a 'sprig-o-real heather' pleased and another 3/- as I don't want to break my fare, with warmest love to all

from your loving son, Jamie

Note: The weather in August had been especially wet. This was a very unsettled month with frequents bouts of rain and unseasonably cloudy skies. On the 1st,  nearly 31mm of rain fell, a continuation of the heavy rain that fell at the end of July. It was also very cool with a maximum temperature of 13.9°C. It became warmer at the end of the first week, and on the 7th the afternoon temperature was above 24°C. However, warm days were few and far between during the remainder of the month and further heavy rain fell.

Letter 5 Aug. 25th 1917

The British Red Cross Society VAD Kent 132

Brooklyn Hospital

Dear Madam

I have received your letter about your boy James who has been under my care here a long tiem.

There is nothing much the matter with him: but he seems a good deal troubled with his digestion and as he has been here as long as he ought to stay and yet is not quite fit for general duty. I am going to send him to the Royal Herbert Hospital, Woolwich for a thorough and complete examination of his 'inside' by X-rays.

So he won't be going back to duty just yet.

He is a nice lad and we are all very fond of him.

I trust he may have the good luck to come through this dreadful war safely.

Yours faithfully

W. H????

Letter 6 Aug. 27th 1918

The British Red Cross Society VAD Kent 132

Brooklyn Hospital

Dear Miss Christie

Thank you very much for the flowers, it was very kind of you to send them.

I am sorry to hear that your brother has been in hospital but hope he is well on the way to recovery now. Will you send us his address, as one of the nurses heard from him, but as he sent no address was not able to write back.

Thank you for your letter, and hoping you have better news from your brother:

Yours sincerely

Ada M Bennett, Commandant