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Help trace Woolwich writers of treasured First World War letters
LETTERS written by two Woolwich schoolgirls during the First World War have been found in a wartime diary in Cumbria. SARAH TROTTER hears how the Cumbrian family wants to reunite Woolwich relatives with their heritage.
MOVING letters from Woolwich schoolgirls wishing an anonymous soldier luck in the First World War were treasured and carried for four years through the trenches.
They were found, carefully folded up, in the diary of medical man Abraham Hill Lord who was sent out to bandage soldiers on the front in France and Belgium as part of the Royal Army Medical Corps.
His family uncovered the missives in a blanket box after his death and are now trying to trace any relatives of the little girls who wrote them and give them a family "treasure".
One letter is written by Winnie Colly from Mulgrave Place School on April 3 1915 and was sent with a care package to boost morale for the troops.
Part of it reads: "I hope this awful war will soon be over and that you are a lucky one and come home to motherland safely.
"The pencil you see inside wrote this note, well this is all for now so ta ta, much luck from your little Woolwich chum,Winnie Colly."
And another is written by Edith Moore, then aged 11 years old, from 30 Greenlaw Street on March 12 1915, and offers a glimpse into life in wartime Woolwich.
It begins: "Dear Soldier Friend, "I hope you will be pleased with this little bag I am sending you. There are a few things in it.
"Dada told me that in the Arsenal the men are working by candlelight at night.
"Woolwich town is in darkness. The lamps in the street are out.
"The shops shut at half-past eight. They have to put out the lights in the window.
"On Woolwich Common we can see a lot of soldiers drilling on horseback."
And ends: "May God bless you and keep you all through this war and bring you home safely.
"I remain yours sincerely, Edith Moore, age 11."
Mr Lord was a 41-year-old stone mason who volunteered with St John’s Ambulance when he was called up in 1914 to help injured soldiers in make-shift ‘hospitals’ about a mile behind the front line.
After the war, he worked as a builder and went on to have 12 children and 10 grandchildren.
His grandson Alan Lord, 80, from Staveley in Cumbria, told News Shopper: "Throughout this time, he kept these little diaries about as big as the palm of your hand.
"In amongst these were two letters from these girls in Woolwich. I thought - this is something that somebody will treasure no doubt.
"Even reading it now, I feel quite emotional really.
"You can imagine why we want to get this back to people who are family, because this is an insight into grandparents, probably great-grandparents, of the present generation."
Speaking of his grandfather, who had no connection with Woolwich, he added: "They did this in primary schools, wrote letters at random.
"But he must have thought a lot of it, because he carefully folded them up and carried it throughout France, Belgium in all sorts of conditions."
If anyone is related to Edith Moore or Winnie Colly and would like to find out more please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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