At 11am on 11th November 1918 the guns of the Western Front fell silent after more than four years of continuous warfare. On this day at the 11th hour we will observe a minute’s silence to remember those who died or suffered for Australia’s cause in all wars and armed conflicts.
Following are a selection of letters written by Charles Cripps to his family from France during WWI 1915-17. The spelling has been kept as they were written.
Unfortunately the originals of these letters have gone missing, however thankfully, I photocopied them many years ago. It would be nice to know that the letters are in safe hands though.
Dec 2, 1915. Dear Maggie & Elsie My Dear daughters I am writing you this from a longer distance that I have ever been from you before & I hope you will always rember this & look after your mother & be good girls. Give my love all I hop god will watch over me & bring me back to you all From Your Loving Father C Cripps.
Jan 7, 1916. Dear Elsie, I am writing this hoping you are all well at home & that you are still geting on with your scooling & I hope you give your mother no truble. My Dear child you would lick to see this place it is so diferant to any thing you have seen in Austrailia every thing seem so strange they drive motor & carts on the right side of the road insted of left as we do at home & trains & trams travle on the right hand side where ther is dubble line. There is a splendid tram service hire & very cheap & train fares are just as cheap. The birds that I have noticed here are diferant to those of the same kind in Austrailia the sand larks are larger & of a darker colour. Magpies are of smoke colour & black instead of black & white & swallows are larger & of a dirty brown colour. You can read your mothers letter & that will give you the rest of the news give my love to all & accept a Fathers Fondest Love Your Loving Father C Cripps. Address; No 3765 CT Cripps, 12th Reinforcements, 11th Battalion, 3rd Brigade. A.I.F.
Aeidrine camp Egypt 22/1/1916. PS I had no more money to bye any more presants. CC.
Dear Elsie, I hope this will find you all in good health & I hope the boys had a good harvest although it did not look too promising when I saw it last. Dear Elsie I am going to write to some of the other girls next week I have been writing to you & Maggie every week & not to the others so you must not be disapointed if I do not write next week to you & Maggie if you get them all you must be geting quite a lot of PC. tell the boys I have sent two letters to them since I sailed & hope they got them. God Bless you all From you Loving Father C Cripps.
Aerodrome camp Egypt Jan 22, 1916
Dear Maggie, I am sending you this photo which I had taken here & as I do not know the day or night when we might get the alarm sounded for us to march to the firing line I thought I would give you some ideas what we have to carrie when on the march with water bottle full & beding, cartriges & rations & it weighs over 90lbs. I have been on some marches of 12 miles, but not with the full kitt. I have only had what you see in this photo, the cartriges puches are emty but it will not be long before we have these full. God Bless you all. From your loving father C Cripps (signed.)
Feb 6, 1916. Aerodrome Camp Egypt.
Dear Maggie, Just a line to let you know that I am still here & well there is no news of intrest to write about since I sent you word last week 30th Jan. I often see some of the boys from Northampton I saw Bert Humberson last week & he is looking well. D Gray is still here he is with the cooks now, & dos not know when they are going to send him home I also saw W Rosser in Cairo one night wile on picket dutie. Well My Dear I hope this will find you & the children all well & my God protect you is the work of you Loving husband. C Cripps.
Geraldton Guardian December 1916.
Private CT Cripps, writing from Belgium on October 5, to his wife Mrs CT Cripps, of Northampton, says: I received your very welcome letter of August 6th, and was pleased to hear that all were A1 at home. I also received several birthday cards from relations and a cake from Sarah, and all my comrades say they never tasted a better cake in their lives. I received a letter from G Cripps, and he tells me that he has got a commission and is going to Egypt. That was good news, and I also got bad news in the same letter, that my brother Tom’s son was killed in France. Poor boy! I was in hopes of meeting him some day and bringing him to Australia with me if we got through all right. I feel very sorry for Tom and his family, they will feel the loss very much.. well, the winter is coming in now, and we are getting plenty of rain and cold, and next month I expect we will have snow, but never mind, we are beating the Germans, and I expect the war will be over by next summer, but we never know what might happen by that time. I had a very close call the other day. A piece of shell, 3in long and 2in wide fell at my feet and buried itself in the ground 6in deep. I believe God was watching over me that day, because two seconds before I was standing on that very spot where that piece of shell fell, so you see God is good. I will now say good night my dear wife and children.
Dear Maggie on the same day he says: I received you post and birthday cards, and pleased to hear you were all well at home. I have not seen any of the boys who enlisted after I left. I would like to see Jack and Alf Woodcock, and also the others, for I don’t see any of the lads from Northampton, and such a number of the boys have been knocked out, poor fellows. The Germans don’t fight with us so hard now. They stuck up a notice board facing our trenches saying: “Australians, advance if you dare.” Well, our boys did dare, and took the trench and the notice board too. After that they are more ready to hold up their hands and ask for mercy. I will be glad when it is all over.
From where the sun seldom shines
France Jan 17, 1917
To My Dear Sons & Daughters at Mumby. I now take this opertunity of writing to let you know that I am still A.1. except for the cold which is rather hard to bare the countryside is now covered with snow six or eight inches thick. Well I have not received any letters from any of you since I wrote to your mother & I am afraid that the parcles that you sent along, have been lost in fact most of our Xmas mail must have gone with the loos of one of the mail steamers.
I hope you have had a good harvest & are getting along A.1. Well my Dear Children I hop you are all still at home, I dont think that Dave or Jack are fit for soldiers & I can’t understand how any Dr can pass them for active service. I have not seen any of the boys from Northampton although I have been on the watch for them & I would be very pleased to meet any of them & have a long talk of home sweet home & get any fresh news from them.
I receved a letter from Nell Cripps (Georges wife) & she enclosed her photo taken with the three children & they all look tray bon (very good & she asked me to come & stay with her when I get my leave & I also had a letter from Kate Turner asking me to come to her place so if I get my leave soon I will have some of my relations to show me round to where the others live so I will be kept busey wile I am in England. I would have liked to have gone to Wales but I have never got Ainnees address I asked for it in several of my letter but have not receved it so far, & if I get it now it will be no good because my leave ticket will be made out for London.
Well I have not got must to write about & I am writing this laying down on the broad of my back & it is not the most comefitable way but you must know we have no desk or table here so Ill now close with hoping this will find the new married cupple & all the rest of you in good health & happiness X X X
From Your loving
Farther C Cripps (signed)
change of address
1st Div Salvage Coy
1st Australian Div
Give my love to mum & xx the Dear ones at home X X & kind regards to friends.
France Jan 25, 1917
My Dear Son
Just a line to let you know that I am in recept of your letter Dated Nov 27th 1916 & I also receved one of the parcles it was the one with the 5/-shillings cash in it & two tins of Pine Tree Layings 1 pr of socks 2 tins tob. writing pad, tooth past & brush packets of cigarettes & c. & I was very pleased to get them. Thank you all very mouch for your thoughtfulness.
Dear Tom I note what you say about my experance here in this war & what some cowards say about my being in the back blocks & in the coock shop there are no back blocks in this war, a soldier who is with his unit is eather in the trenches or just behind & when the enemy is not shelling the trenches he pay particular attention to those places behind the lines of trenches & many a time we have to do the work that must be done at night when the Germans cant see us, why three of our boys in the salvage cy got blown up the other day but they were lucky only of them had to go to hospital after being thrown ten yards with the explowsion, of cause they were all shakin & could not do any work for some days. the hutt we are sleeping in now, was hit with a peace of frosen earth whighing about one hundred whight & nocked off its piles, how would the Northampton liar like to be woke up at night like that, I can tell you it makes a fellow think his time is coming, but perhaps those yarns are from D.G. & if so the people of Nton known how unreliable he is at any time. Wile on this subject I am pleased to say that I am geting great praise from my mates & officers & the liars that talk behind my back will be made to look very small if I should have the luck to return & I hope with Gods grace to do so soon —
I am pleased to hear you are getting on as well as could be expected these times with the farm & hope you continue to get along all well. Re Myers by all accounts he has been shuffling he knows exactly how we stand he knows that I put 100 & the five pounds another entry befor he got the new car & then there was about 90 that we had erned with the commisions on insurance & implements & it was desided that if I drew a little over the money I put in it would be nothing but fair this he aggred to & promised to pay me 123 pounds & clear me off & have the busness on his own. If he dose not settle the account befor I get back (& I am going to try & get back) I will make things too hot for him in Northampton.
Well my son I must now close with hoping you & Norma are living happy together give my love to all & kind reguards to friends, Your loving Farther C Cripps (signed)
France Aug 18, 1917
Just a line to let you know that I am still quite well & I hope this will reach you safely & find you & the family all in the best of health I am sorry to say I have been receaving no letters from home for such a long time. I suppose they have all got lost with some of our mail boats. I hope you have had better luck in getting mine this is the third letter that I have writen to since I left London but Ho Maggie it seems such a long time since I heard from you & it seems so lonly here when I get no letters & I know that you & some of the others have writen some but never mind keep on writing. I must get some of them that get through with being sunk.
I have had lots of letters from my relations in England & they tell me they have writen to you & Emma she was sending my photo which I had taken in England with my brother Tom she is going to send them one at a time so you will have a better chance of getting them or some of them.
Well my Dear I hope you are keeping well & I hope the boys are getting on alwrite with the farm & are getting a good season, the farmers here are having a very rugh time of it, you know it is harvest time here & it is raining every other day & nearly all the crops are going down & getting damaged with the wet & the potatoes are rotting in the wet grond some of the soldiers have been helping with the harvest.
I have sent some presents home for you & the girls let me know if you get them & I sent a P.C. a very pretty one, to Bertha Bandy & thanked her for send me the scarf she made. When I wrote my first letter to you after coming back from England I also wrote to Sarah Boater & T.A. Drage giving you all the news let me know if the letters got home safely.
Well my wife I must now draw to a close as there is no news exept war news & that I am not alowed to write about, tell Aaron Rodger’s that Ernie wrote in answer to a letter I him, & he was quite well at time of writing & camped in England. I have not had a letter from J Woodcock for some time & I cant find out how he is getting on. I wish this dredful war was at an end & us all coming home again. Give my love to all the family & my kind regards to friends & receve a husbands fondest love & this X
France Aug 24, 1917
My Dear Maggie
It is the second Anniversary of the day on which I left home to go into camp & my thoughts are with you more today than usual although I think of you every day & wonder how you are, I do hope you are keeping well & hope you dont get those pains in your head so often as you used to. I cannot express the longing I have to see you all again.
I hope you have had better luck in getting my letters than I have in getting yours for I have been getting none lately. Ho My Dear it seems such a long time since I heard from you, there was one Australian mail in a few days ago, I saw the other boys getting letters & I was in hopes of getting some, but there was none for me & now I am in hopes of getting some next mail that will be in about a fourtnights time. I get letters & parcles from England the mail is safer coming from there & all my nieces & nephews write to me regualy & I know you, Maggie & Elsie write regualy but some of the mails get lost & I am afraid some that I send to you get lost also, If people in Australia only knew how we prize a letter I am sure they would write to any soldiers they know it would be better than any other comfort they could send, it is no good sending a letter & then waiting for a reply 24 letters a year would only cost 2/- & a little truble to write them & it would be the best present you could send to a soldier he would know he was not forgotten by relations or friends. It is a strange thing that people will not give letters to soldiers, they expect him to give it back, as it were, by replying, that is all very well in peace times but it is selfish in war time, we have no drawing rooms here to write in, very often without pencils & paper & too much mud, mud, mud.
Well My Dear Wife I do hope you get this letter & let me know how you have been receving the other letters I did not write wile I was in London but I wrote immeadialy I got back both you & T.&.D. & Sarah B. I mention it in my last letter to you, give my love to all the family. Kind regards to friends & a husbands fondest to you My Dear Wife X X X From Your Loving Husband C Cripps (signed) X X X X PS Emma told me she sent 2 photos.