Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Letter Reveals Brother's Death in the Trenches

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Letter Reveals Brother's Death in the Trenches

Article excerpt

Byline: By Peter Taylor

A heart-rending slice of First World War history has been uncovered in a clear-out by a North East family.

A letter from the Western Front was penned by soldier Joseph Lawrence, 19, to his father, also called Joseph, at home in Northumberland.

Joseph wrote how he went to find his brother Sammie, only to learn he had been killed in action days earlier in fighting near the Belgian frontier.

The sad tale told in Joseph's scrawl had been forgotten and was only discovered during a family clear-out.

Joseph Junior's daughter, Maureen, 72, and her husband, Jim Nitsch, 73, of Horwood Avenue, Westerhope, Newcastle, were sorting through belongings when they came across the yellowed letter written in pencil on November 2, 1917. It says: "I suppose you will know about Sammie, that he has been killed in action on the 26th of last month. It's a week this morning since.

"His battalion is camping about half an hour's walk from where I am at present, so I inquired whereabouts they were and I took a walk down this last Wednesday night and I found them alright.

"The first tent I came to I asked for B Company, so the young chap I was speaking to, he says, who do you want? I says Sammie Lawrence. Well, he says, he was killed last Friday about six o'clock in the morning because I helped to bury him

"Well after I heard that, I was very much upset. I thought Mr Cowans would like to know so if I have time I'll write to him. I'll write him a few lines although he will have seen it in the paper by now.

"Well he was buried alright, poor fellow. The three of them were put in the one grave with a big cross and their names on it so I am going to try to find it.

"The platoon sergeant said he was the best working chap in the platoon. He hadn't the least bit of fear at all. …

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