100 years ago on 12 October 1917 my grandfather’s brother, Sam, died in the mud at Passchendaele.
Three days before he died in Belgium he wrote his last letter to his nephew, also called Sam. This is what he wrote:
“9 October 1917
My Dear Sam
I was very pleased to receive your most interesting letter and to hear you had seen the battle pictures and tanks. You ask me if I have seen them. Yes I have been in action with them twice but they are too slow for us we usually have them far behind. We have just been in a big push and you will see by the papers captured a lot of prisoners, but there were a lot more killed than captured. They surrender at the first chance, and a more miserable lot you never saw, a lot of them are mere boys from about fifteen to eighteen and seemed very pleased to get out of it. The ground we advanced over was a horrible sight being covered with dead and nothing but deep shell holes from our guns. We have been relieved for a few days. But we are into it again shortly. It is a great pity that the weather has broken as it may stop the advance and is not too comfortable laying in shell holes when you are wet through. Myself and two more fellows were in a shell hole for three days and nights and during the day time we could not show a finger. That is the time when hours a like days. I haven’t seen Addie’s brother “Frank” yet, but I saw her brother Bill the other day for a few minutes. I could not say much to him, we being on the march, but I expect to see him again shortly. Tell Dad I have not seen Stringleman since the beginning of last August and have not seen Wilson or Newman at all. I often see Bruce Harris, he being attached to my Battalion now. Do you remember him? He used to be postman at Riccarton. Bob Raxworthy is wounded and the two eldest boys killed. I haven’t heard how the others got on in this last stint. I shall have to close now, dinner being about ready, and if a man doesn’t get in early he misses his whack. Love to all.
Your affectionate Uncle Sam”
Lest We Forget