St Mary Bourne Primary School

SMB School aerial 3 Achievement through partnership, growth through learning

The Sycamore Class in St Mary Bourne Primary School has been thinking about how to commemorate World War One. They decided on depictions of a soldier’s kit, interspersed with letters to and from those involved. Here are some examples of their work of which, as I am sure you will understand, the village is very proud:


Between two friends

Dear Frank,

I fear that this could be my last letter to you. Passchendaele is getting worse and worse and the Germans are attacking repeatedly again and again. Me and Keith had to retreat from Brussels to Liège and now there’s just the two of us who signed up together and a battalion of them. Yesterday our machine gun broke down. I feel scared and we are always hungry and sometimes worried to death. I’ll write again

Your good friend



Dear Max,

I haven’t heard from you for a while. We are hearing bad news and so we hope you are OK. The local paper has told us that they are sending reinforcements to you but we read in the national papers that the USA has declined to help. Everyone is very worried.

Yours ever


SMB school contribution

From a German soldier to his mother

17th March 1915

Liebe Mutte,

The conditions here are absolutely horrible. Death is so close now it is brushing my shoulder and thousands are dying every week and I never know if it will be me next. Passchendaele is getting worse. Don’t think I’m sad all the time. I am quite happy even though it isn’t the most pleasant of experiences. Fredrick, Albert and I are still alive picking off the English, one by one. We could be the three musketeers (but we are not French)

Alles liebe von


Copy (5) of SMB school contribution

From a German soldier to his fiancée

Liebe Anne Marie,

We are on the Western Front and we outnumber the English but their machine guns are very good at getting us down. At the moment no-one knows who will win. If we lose and I survive I will get revenge when we attack near Brussels.

I love you.


Copy (6) of SMB school contribution

From an English soldier to his brother


Dear Frank

This may be the last time I write to you because we have to fight and all the bombs seem to be getting closer and closer. My friend John died yesterday so I am a bit lonely without him. I am covered in mud most of the time and usually soaking wet. We have been walking today for a very long time and my legs feel like they are going to fall off. I can’t believe how scary it is seeing so many men dead on the ground – I keep thinking that might be me soon. I am shivering in the cold because it is raining. I can’t write any longer, my fingers won’t move. And now we hear the bombs again in the distance.

I can’t wait to come home

Love from


Copy of SMB school contribution - Copy (4)

To a mother and then from a sister

Dear Mum,

We are at Passchendaele. We saw a whole battalion get blown to smithereens. This was very scary. Please do not let James sign up because he wouldn’t be able to handle it.

Yesterday our sergeant sent out a sniper to scout the enemy, he never came back. However on Saturday at a quarter past ten we charged coming out of our trenches and lots of men were cut down, one right next to me. We won that short battle but my friend Harry didn’t make it.

Yours sincerely



Dear Keith,

I am writing to let you know that James has already enlisted into the artillery regiment of King George. He thinks there is less chance of being killed in this regiment.

I think otherwise because I hear that Passchendaele is bad now. So keep safe,. Keith and if you run into your brother keep him safe too so both of you can return home safely.

Yours sincerely

Your sister Sarah (Nichol)

Copy of SMB school contribution

From a German soldier to his mother

Liebe Mutte

We are losing Passchendaele as we are outnumbered three to one. Herr General was here with us but he got one in the hip. Peter rushed out to help, he hit the brick and got one in the knee and then fell into the British Trench. There was no mercy. They shot him there and then.

Keep safe

Alles liebe von


SMB school contribution

From an English soldier to his school pal

Dear Freddie,

Today has been a terrible day, full of chaos. I have been in the trenches with Tommy and Frank. Sadly Frank did not survive. He was shot and died beside us in the trench. I felt very sad about Frank and his family. I hope to see you again

From Robert.

Copy (3) of SMB school contribution

To a mother and in reply to her son

Dear Mum

I have not been able to write for a while because the conditions have been horrible. I am terribly homesick and have actually been sick many times. Yesterday we suffered severe bombing and just to add to that a gas attack. Sadly my friend William died because his gas mask failed but he will be remembered for his bravery. I wish I was too young to join the army. I am missing home a lot but the food is OK.

From your dearest son



Dear Peter

Why did you not tell me sooner, I could have tried to get you out of there by now. I miss you terribly and I cannot run the farm by myself. I hope you have received the food package I sent. I am so sorry William died and I hope things will get better from now on.

Your loving mother

Copy of SMB school contribution - Copy (2)

From a German soldier to his mother

Liebe Mutte

I miss you very much. We are attacking the British tomorrow and for sure someone will be killed and that person could be me. I just wanted to take the time to say that I love all the family and I l will never forget you. However there is a huge chance that I might not be killed. I am scared an depressed but at the same time for the challenges that are ahead.

Alles liebe





From a German soldier to his mother

Liebe Mutte

Today we attacked the english (and as you can see I did not put a capital E because they are not important enough!). Kaiser Wilhelm was there in person to make sure it all went well. I didn’t fight hard enough, they said, so I was punished. One of the things we have complained about is the lack of paper to write home. This is why this letter is so short.

Love from Albert

Copy of SMB school contribution - Copy (3)

From an English soldier to his younger brother at Ypres

Dear Douglas,

Thank you for the time you took to write your letter. All the family are being strong and thinking positively. I (we) love you and speak on behalf of the all the family. I am glad you are safe at night and are enjoying yourself when you can. We are all missing you. When you come home (and you will) there will be a massive celebration. Don’t worry about us, we are all fine and well.

Love from Freddie



From an English soldier to his family

Dear Mum and Dad and Eleanor,

I know now that all my closest friends have gone and I can’t help thinking I may be next. So I just want you to know that I love you all. However I will carry on as strong as ever until it is my time to leave you all. I am not depressed. In truth I am the opposite, excited, even joyful for what challenges lie ahead. I am safe at night with all my friends around me and I enjoy myself when I can.

I do think that when I come home it will be for good and you will not have to go through anything like this again.

Yours sincerely



From an English soldier to his mother

Dearest Mother

Every day I wake up I fear it could be my last but I have stayed strong. Yesterday we were attacked. It was raining and very wet and the shells were flying overhead. All of a sudden my friend Tom was hit by a bomb. Half the battalion were killed, it was horrendous.

I have to stop here and go because I can hear the captain calling for me.

Yours sincerely



From an English girl to her sweetheart

Dearest Tom,

I’m so worried, you haven’t sent me anything in ages. It’s like you’re dead. I am worried.

Sorry to have had to keep this so short.

Lots of love


 Copy (7) of SMB school contributionWithin one family, letters from Joe, Charlie and Molly

Dear Joe,

Yesterday I was in the trench and suddenly I was bombarded with shells. We were caught by surprise and half the battalion died. You never realise how close to death you are until you actually die. Jack died along with the others, poor beggars, poor, poor, beggars. The Germans attacked us after that bombardment. We ran and ran firing at the same time until we reached the next battalion, which is where I am now. We are under attack here too but I was allowed to rest as the attack isn’t as bad. If a shell lands and it has my name on it know that I love you, and mum and dad and Phoebe too.

Love from Charlie

PS please say happy birthday to Molly


Dear Charlie

Please don’t write so many devastating things. I sleep fitfully at night now and wake up screaming. I am so sorry Jack died and I have decided that I plant an apple tree for him as I know he loved apples. Phoebe still thinks you are on a holiday and Joe was pleased when he got your last letter. Sorry I can’t write any more. Even we have a shortage of paper now.

Love from Molly


Dear Charlie

I miss you very much so does your sister, Molly and Mum and Dad. We were very excited when your letter came and we all sat around the table and read it out aloud. We hope you can come home soon because we miss you so much. Make sure you don’t get hit and be careful because we don’t want you to die because we would be so sad because we wouldn’t be able to see you. We will send you a photo of us all, and the house and the chickens. I hope you get this letter and please do send one back to us if you can.

Love from Frank, Molly, Mum and Dad.

Copy of SMB school contribution - Copy (5)From a German soldier to his mother

Liebe Mutte

Yesterday we lost Passchendaele. It was the worst battle of the war. The British just stormed our trenches, there were so many of them. They were like little eels wherever we thought we had them they slipped out of our grasp. Their machine guns just mowed us down. They waited until we thought they were not there and then they shot us. Sorry that I have had to keep this letter short but we are going up and over now.

Alles liebe



From a German soldier to his mother

Liebe Mama

This is ridiculous. The English are winning, I think, and we have not left yet. Five minutes to go. Let Papa know I’m okay now. We’ll have big celebrations when I get back with lots of ham and sauerkraut. Lecker, lecker

Alles Liebe von


(Max was killed in the very next battle)

Copy (4) of SMB school contributionTo a sister§

Dear Molly,

There had been a fairly quiet couple of days but then yesterday it all started when Billy stood up in our trench to go down the line to the toilet. The Germans spotted him and he got shot. Slowly he fell down to the ground. I was with Robert and Joe when it happened.

I hope I will see you next time I come home

Yours sincerely



And a return letter from her

Dear Herbert,

You don’t write to me much anymore. Of course I understand why. Just don’t do what Billy did, I can’t bear the thought of life without you and I don’t want to talk about it. Life at home is dreary. Ben’s ill and there isn’t a vet anywhere near us anymore. So the poor dog just lies in his basket. Mother has a new job and she gets paid more now. Don’t die on us Herbert, please. Jane will cry and so will I. She misses you. (She says some really weird lovey-dovey things when she writes. – Not sure you noticed even!) That’s probably what girlfriends do!

I miss you!

Love from your sister Molly

PS I hope you haven’t forgotten my birthday! I am 11 now.


From Herbert, in reply to Molly

Dear Molly

This is probably the last time I will EVER write to you because I’m in a trench right now and it’s awful upon awful. I may only live another five minutes and it’s a strange feeling sitting here and it’s odd to think how close we come to death (we being myself, Frank, Walter and the others). When you’re at war it’s hard to tell the difference between reality and a dream. One moment I’m at home with you when we were 10 and 12. The next I’m in these filthy trenches and made to fight for my country. The ONLY good feeling whilst I am here is about representing England and that one day I am going to come back. Molly, I will, I promise.

I love you all to the moon and back.

Now the battle has started. I don’t have a rubber and I need to write fast. I don’t want to die or feel any pain when I do die. At least when I pass I will be with grandmother and grandfather and Billy.

Love from Herbert

PS Sorry I don’t write so often as I should.  And happy birthday, sorry I forgot.

Copy of SMB school contribution - CopyFrom an English soldier to his mother and father

Dear Mother and Father,

Yesterday our worst fears came true. We were caught in heavy artillery fire. We were bombarded with shells and we were smothered in mud. I could feel neither my face nor my hands. The rain pelted down and I was almost deafened. Suddenly there was a wave of shelling and the germans (and notice I do NOT put a capital because they are not important) came out of the mist like petrifying ghosts. It was just what we didn’t need.  Our commander had made a huge mistake. He had told us the germans would not [attack] Passchendaele. He had moved the regiments 392,77, 143, 244 and 193 to Ypres and only our regiment was left guarding the small town.  Anyway back to the battle. Fred’s gun had blocked up and the germans were now advancing. It was every man for himself. There was german-occupied Belgium in front and a river behind. Our machine gun returned fire. There were a couple of screams but they were still advancing like demented souls, intent on their task. A shell blew up next to Fred and some shrapnel became entwined in his throat. He was dead in seconds.

I gave up. I’ll admit it. I am now cowering in a shell hole but my confidence has returned and I am firing at the germans whenever I can. I am so close to death now. I want you to know I love you if this is my last letter.

Your loving son,



 From a sister to her brother, Tom

Dear Tom,

I am missing you dearly. The house feels empty without you. I heard that Fred died, I am so sorry. Anyway, please write to me, I need to know you are fine. Where are you? What is it like? I hear the conditions are appalling. It must be terrifying. I tell you I am so scared for you and I’m home in England safe and you are there. Please stay safe

Lots of love

Gas Mask

Gas Mask

 A letter with a secret message. Take the word before each of the words underlined and he will be ready an the hour appointed by the number of farewell words

Dear Robert,

I love you and need to see you soon. A bomb nearly killed me. They were also bombing the ship, poor things. Have you ever visited Sieblings town? It is a lovely place. Sometimes I wonder where you are. Can I see you soon. Sometimes I am depressed and imagine I am a prisoner of war.

Bye for now



3 thoughts on “St Mary Bourne Primary School

    • Aren’t they? I find it amazing that they are only ten or eleven years old, but I am assured they had very little help – except possibly with the spelling of Passchendaele!

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