To Mr Anthony Browning

How are you? How is mother doing? Hope she is ok Please give my regards to young Louisa. Hope she is studying well. My journey to France was very enjoyable. We first took a short train ride to Dover. Then we went by boat to Calais. From there on it was just a short walk for around 16 miles. During the journey I was excited and nervous. Surprisingly I made quite a lot of friends. We shared stories with each other and many more. The sandwiches mother made were delicious. They lasted for the whole journey, even though I shared it amongst everyone there.

Most of the young lads that are with me haven’t got a proper family. My good friend Edward is one of the minorities who have any of their family members alive. Edward’s lost his father and mother to a bad case of murder at the age of two. His elder sister brought him up. Most of the other lads on the train have lost their families in the brutal war. I am currently a Stroker along with Edward. When I first came here I was doing first aid with all the other lads. Then they trained us all to be cavalry. It wasn’t easy I tell you. Some of the horses can get really nervous. I trained for around four weeks.

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At the end of the training news came that there was an urgent need for more Strokers. A stroker’s job isn’t easy you know. Your life in danger every second you are on duty. No body volunteered so they randomly picked out me Edward and young Michael. Young Michael is only eighteen. He is a little lad. He joined us when he was only seventeen. He lied about his age. When they told him that he was going to be a Stroker he was well scared. He tried to negotiate with the general but that general is a tough old man. When he says something, he means and gets very angry when someone opposes.

Although we re all at war, we are having such a good time. Every night we all get together and sing songs and tell jokes. We all are one family. We have such a nice time in the evenings that we forget where we really are. Young Johnny knows some very good jokes. He can also imitate a commander really well. You should see him, standing tall with his nose up and his bottom stuck out. Anyone would think that was the commander himself. We also sing a great deal of folk songs. We sometimes even make up our own. We have a great time under the stars. If we make too much nose the general comes and tell us off.

He doesn’t like us getting together. He says that we are not here to have fun but to fight the opposition. He says we loose concentrating when we are having fun. We never take any notice of him anyway. In a way what he is saying is right but lads like us need fun. You should really come here and see us. You’ll be very jealous. We are having such a nice time that you would not like to leave. It’s all fun and games in the evening but it isn’t like that in the daytime. As a stroker I shared a tunnel with my friend Edward. You have o stand up on this little wooden plank and look through this wire fence.

The guns they give you are also very heavy. It is very scary because you aren’t very far away from the enemy. If you aim well you’re sure to get them. If they are near to you and aren’t moving fast, the best place to shoot is the head. They go down almost immediately. The enemy does the same though. If they manage to see you, you hear bullets coming towards you from all directions. You can even hear some whiz past you’re head. That’s how I lost Edward. It was only last week. We were out on duty and the opposition spotted us. They started firing from everywhere.

Edward and I quickly ducked and started running, but Edward wasn’t fast enough. The bullet got him right in the back f his head. How I wish I could have just lifted his head up for one second and tell him goodbye. But I couldn’t. I had to keep running to save myself. I can still remember that day. I managed to run back to my trench safely. I sat there and thought about Edward. I started crying. I couldn’t help myself. I didn’t eat my dinner that night. It wasn’t something fancy anyway, just some soup and a piece of bread. I was so gutted that I didn’t even go out with the lads that night.

I just curled up in my wet and muddy trench. After the incident I really miss home. I wrote to Edward’s sister yesterday. Informing her about Edward. I am really scared now. I always think that I am going to end up with the same fate as Edward. I pray everyday day now. I pray for a war free country. Please pray for me and all the other lads. I hope that the war will be over soon and I can rejoin you, mum and Louisa. I could not right letters all these weeks because I did not have any paper. They just gave us this paper as most of the lads were complaining. Hope I can write back soon.

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