Alf Smith’s letter home received 22 September 1918

With cover addressed to Mr. T. Smith, 100, Arcadian Gardens, Wood Green, London North.  Postmark unreadable.  German censor stamp obliterated by “Opened by Censor P.W. 918. London postmark Sep 21. 18.


Englischen Kriegsgefangenen

Private Alfred A. Smith

53rd Machine Gun Coy:

Nummer 27521

Stammlager Friedrichsfeld



July 22nd 18


My Dear Father,

I am very pleased to have the opportunity of writing you a few lines, but I expect if you compare my letters you will find it is the same each time as we are still anxiously waiting for letters from home; you can guess what a grand day it will be when the mail does arrive as it is over four months now since we were taken prisoners but we are still in the land of the living & doing our best to be cheerful.

Well Dad I will start off by making the usual enquiries about the dear old home-land we are always thinking about it & singing ‘take me back to dear old Blighty’ &c which I hope will very soon become true.  How is Wood Green looking?  I expect very nice the country is very beautiful here & would be enjoyable if we had our freedom but no doubt this is a blessing in disguise as there must have been plenty of hard fighting since March, but I would give something to be back with the boys again in some of our good old camps.  I have one pal here who lives in Imperial Rd.

There are two men just joined us who have been prisoners about nine months you ought to see the grand parcels they are receiving through the Red Cross it makes one envious when you see them opening tins of food but of course they had to go through the same as we are at first or even worse as it was the winter when they were captured; but I think we are nearing the turning point now as we have heard there are parcels &c arriving for us at the main camp, but they are not sent on until there is a large consignment of them so I hope to have some good news to tell you before writing again in another fortnight.

Now a few enquiries about yourselves.  I hope you are all merry & bright & quite comfortable in Arcadian Gdns.  I hope Albert, Affie, & Joyce are in the best of health also Ciss, Charlie, & Peter give them all my love when you write or see them.  Have you heard from Albert Taylor lately?  I hope he is safe & well.

I have come to a full stop now cannot think of anything else to tell you.  We had a bit of a sing song between ourselves the other night it helped to pass the time away as it is rather a job to know what to do during the evening not having anything to read.

There is plenty I could tell you if I was home but I must leave that until after the war so here goes for a finish.  Glad to say I am quite well & I trust you are all in the best of health.

With much love to Jess, Ethel, Winnie & yourself let me know all the news when you write.  Take all the care you can & enjoy yourself as much as possible.  Au revoir.

Your devoted


Letter to father 22 September 1918


My dear daddy,


Many thanks for your letter dated 13th.  You seem in good form which is good news to me.  The old adage that no news is good news seems pretty true as applied to the female side of the family, for jaunts to London which you tell me about seem evidence that all is well.  I am glad you had a good time at Mr. Prestons.


The course is over & the students went away this morning. My own students invited me to dine with them last night & we had a very jolly evening together.  I had to make two speeches but got through all right.  I had to rise at the unusual hour of 4.30 a.m. this morning – Sunday morning too – I was detailed to march the officers to the station 3 miles away.  It was a beautiful morning – a full moon till long after daylight.  The dawn was wonderful & I have never seen such weird colouring.  The moon turned green – an extraordinary effect.


Arrived at the station we were treated to a wonderful exhibition of French shunting. There are 3tracks like this illustration The main portion of the train was on C (main) track & there were 5 trucks on A track which had to go on the rear of the train.  He took them one by one from A track & put them on to B & then repeated the process & got them eventually on to C.  A more rag-time affair I have never seen.  All this was done to the accompaniment of blowing whistles & excited shouting.  I saw the shunter propping open one set of points with a brick-end!


However things weren’t so bad really as we got the train off just short of half-an-hour late. They have got a journey of 25 miles to do, but they are due in at 6 p.m. tonight!


I hope you managed to find Win all right. She would be delighted to see you.  I had an amusing & interesting letter from her the other day.


There have just been two excitements in the farm yard. The pond is flooded, & an old hen in a desperate hurry to get to the other end of the yard tried a short cut by attempting to fly across.  She “crashed” half-way & went down like a stone in the middle of the pond.  Later a tame rabbit got loose & was immediately hunted by the dog.  An exciting chase round the yard ensued – the dog after the rabbit & an infuriated madame (who must at least weigh 20 st) after the dog.  Strange to say the dog didn’t win.  Hoping all is well


With very best love to all

Your loving son




In cover to A.W. Allen Esq. Duffield Nr Derby.  Postmarked Army Post Office S35 dated 23 Sp 18.  Passed by Censor No 34** signed G. W. Allen.