From army records we know that Jack was sent home on the 11 February 1915 having been suffering from neuritis, effects of the cold and frostbite since January. Frostbite was a common problem amongst the troops and one to which Jack had referred to previously (See Blog dated 4 Jan 1915).
December 1914 was incredibly cold and frostbite and trench foot became major hazards. The puttees that were wound round their lower legs shrank when wet and reduced circulation, feet swelled and the pain became excruciating. At the end of a tour of duty, boots might have to be cut off and sometimes also toes.
The photograph above shows the winter garb worn by soldiers of the 1/5 London Regiment (Jack’s Regiment) in the trenches of Flanders. The Regiment’s war took them first to the village of Ploegsteert – nicknamed ‘Plugstreet’ by the British soldiers. In a typically flat lying area of Flanders, the trenches here were half trenches and half breastworks – positions built above ground level – and they soon became clogged with water and mud as winter set in. [Courtesy of WW1 Photos Centenary Website: 2014-2018 By Paul Reed]
45 Park Lane
Dear Mother & Father
Thanks for your letter of today. I have heard nothing officially about the draft yet. Shall try to get home this weekend don’t know if I can manage it. Hope everyone at home is alright. Thank Ethel for letter. Love to all. Your affectionate Son
Jack appears to have been staying at home since the return address is his parents’ address. Where Jack was between February and July is unknown, but he made his way to Southampton where he embarked for France at the beginning of September 1915 – see next three letters.