Dear Harry, my dearest boy.
For you are still my boy – no? Watching you leave like a man pulled at the very centre of me, it was as if you’d just been born, needing my protection like no other time, but there you were, marching off with your big boots and steps looking so brave. I fancy my words won’t come out right, not like your da’s chipping away at his stone, always just so. But I’m going to try. Harry, you will see things no other soldier has – not even your granda’ fighting the Boers, and I hope you will come out of it caring for life as ever you did. You were – are – such a kind and life loving boy – and there will be other life loving boys on the other side, who ma’s worry just the same. I pray God you don’t kill any of them – censored.
If you are hurt you must imagine my hand on your forehead, whispering you better, and know that there is a little space inside you filled with my love. Then there is the fondness of that lass Ada that you met at the Coombe Down dance. I expect there’ll be hanky panky when you get leave, and I hope you bring her home for tea.
Harry, you are in a war not of our making – censored – and how can I tell you that your enemy is not the lad you will have in your sights but those that – censored – run the British Empire. How can I tell you it is wrong and that no man should kill another. – censored – I’ve been reading books as well as going to church you see and your da has joined the stonemasons’ guild where they talk about these things. There is no glory in war – censored – But you have to work this out for yourself.
I have found a mother’s courage dearest Harry, and you must not worry about me.
Love from us all at Fonthill Cottage
Your loving ma
Elizabeth Ann Patch
Aka Jan Woolf