These letters are a personal first-hand account of the late 19th and early 20th century from an extraordinary perspective.
Arthur Dease has an important story to tell, these first world war letters are an excellent eyewitness account of WW1 and Edwardian times. World War 1 Letters home from the front lines, letters from behind the lines, letters from the trenches and letters from the home front in London.
There is plenty of talk of mud and trenches, gas attacks (experienced first hand by Arthur), home front and society gossip. Most importantly Arthur's letters are an Edwardian and World War One human interest chronicle written by an intelligent and articulate observer from a very different perspective, not a tedious conventional military history. These letters are social history at its best.
These primary source World War 1 and Edwardian letters home are an almost unique view of late Victorian and the early 20th-century world. Arthur writes about the First World War, the people, social and political events of the day as they unfolded, and of course, the battles, trench warfare and horrors he witnessed first hand.
These letters are Arthur's eyewitness account of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and WW1 and the rapidly changing times and culture he lived in an excellent social history. There is no political correctness, just a good first-person observation of a vanished society.
Each generation sees the war from a different perspective; history is always reinterpreted, but Arthurs WW1 letters home tell the story of the moment.
Arthur also travelled around the world and sent a large number of letters home during the period 1892-1920. I have also published some of those from the USA, South America, and Australia. I try to add new items regularly. These letters also show a fascinating glimpse into the privileged world of an Edwardian gentleman and a picture of the lost pre-WW1 world.
Text I have added for the sake of clarity is enclosed in [ ] brackets. Some of the words, place names or people names can be difficult to read and I replace those with "??????", but again I will revisit these letters and amend where possible.
Next Page - Family Background
Some extracts from Arthur's First World War and Edwardian era letters home:
"Yesterday we had 3 or 4 volunteers & 3 or 4 chauffeurs gassed, most of them have been yesterday or are being today, evacuated, so we shall be very short, I hope no more go! I don’t know when they will be right! It makes one blind for time being, sort of tear gas, mustard gas they call it." April 22nd 1918
"Front trenches were 25 or 30 yards from the Germans, it seemed so extraordinary, at one point I went to the front line German trench was only yards off, it is hard to grasp unless one sees it." May 29th 1915
Generally I far prefer meeting people of ordinary means than millionaires, they are usually far nicer, at least that is so out here, & I am told it is the same in America by those who know it. A millionaires idea of hospitality is generally to give you an enormous dinner which means indigestion for a week after. Melbourne, Australia March 16th 1904
"If Allies ever do really win it looks pretty blue for Kaiser, Crown Prince & all leading Generals & people who sanction these things, surely they can never escape hanging." 2nd August 1916
We should never forget the WW1 fallen, but should also remember those lucky enough to return home, many of whom bore the physical and mental scars for the rest of their lives...
There are site search boxes on each page, a Site Map, and I have added an index for each year 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918 and pre WW1 this gives a month by letter summary for ease of research, and I have also added Arthur's Miscellany - a selection of history related news articles and retweets in an easy to read format.
As with all history try to read these letters without the benefit of hindsight, Arthur's letters tell the story of the moment, the human touch behind history. Contemporary sources such as Arthur's Letters written at the time without the benefit of hindsight.
These bundles of letters are no longer forgotten dusty relics but have become a living and breathing testimony of life 100 years or so ago, social history brought to life.
When transcribing these letters I leave the grammar etc. as it was written. I also omit the more mundane sentences or paragraphs, replacing these with "...", however I will revisit all of the letters in time.