Messages from prisoners of war

It was not just men in the trenches whose letters were being recorded in The Luton News. Messages from prisoners of war were also being reproduced.

For instance, Sgt A. Birley, of the 1st Battalion Gloucester Regiment, who was held prisoner at Munster, Westphalia, sent a postcard to his wife, who was staying with her sister, Mrs W. O. Payne, in New Bedford Road, Luton.

On it he wrote: "You are blessed by many a poor soul for the smokes. I am as yet the only one to hear from England, and to see the men stare at the packets of cigarettes would have made you weep.

"Why the public have not turned their attention to the prisoners is beyond me. I could not sleep last night for my good fortune. You know I cannot tell you much, but your parcel and money has lifted many from the depths of despair, to hope one more that they will soon hear from their homes. The cigarettes made them almost delirious with delight."

Pte W. Smith, of the Bedfordshire Regiment, who was also a prisoner at Munster, wrote to his father, Mr G. Smith, at 73 North Street, Luton. He explained that he did not receive a parcel sent to him in the trenches as he was captured before it arrived. He hoped it was shared out among the rest of his company.

He wrote: "Can you send me a little grocery, such as bread, cheese, cake, tea, sugar, cocoa and 'fags'? I will make it right when I get home. It won't cost anything to send. Write when you like, we can always get postcards."

Rifleman 5631 G. T. Hepworth, a prisoner at Doeberitz, sent a postcard to his wife at 100 Langley Street, Luton, saying he was in good health. A photograph of his wife and children was his treasured possession.

He added: "I was pleased with the tobacco and cigarette papers. I have received two money orders for 5 shillings, which I have found very useful as I can buy bread and butter and other things. I wish you could afford to send me out a tin of cocoa, milk, sugar and jam occasionally, as you don't know how I miss your looking after me. We here will have to stick it out till it is over."

[Source: The Luton News, January 21st and 28th, 1915]