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First page of Albert Hartland’s letter

With some of the material we have in the archives, we know very little about the individuals concerned, so if anybody has further information we’d be delighted to hear it! In amongst a collection of material relating to the celebration of the Wolverhampton Festival of Remembrance, there is a photocopy of a letter from an Albert Hartland to his family in Newhampton Road.

Although he belongs to the 2/5th South Staffords, at the time of writing in 1918, he is attached to Signallers 176th Infantry Brigade, based in France.

Hartland writes of life on the front line, “endless roaming about the worst country on earth.” He talks of one man in his battalion who is 42 years old, and has been

up the Line every time except one. Of course they consider his age, + make things less hard for him, but one has a hard job to have an easy time in the front line.”

He tells his family about a mutual friend of theirs, a Mr Piper, talking of him in rather unflattering terms, stating that “those who know Mr Piper accuse him of having a deep + sincere regard for shell-proof dugouts when in the Line.” He also compares his lot with that of “Old Bert”, who has hardly seen any action at all. “When he was out first time, he got wounded in the first big Do he had been in + then it was Blighty”, and when he came back he appears to have joined a battalion that don’t go in the Front Line.

Envelope for Albert Hartland’s letter

Apart from this letter and its accompanying envelope, we do not have any other records of Albert Hartland. According to Freebmd his birth was registered in December 1897, which means that he was 21 when he wrote from the Front. Because we have an address at 338 Newhampton Road West on the envelope, we can also track down what is presumably Albert’s father, Eli, in the Rate books for Park District in 1917:

Rate Book 1916/1917

Hartland’s medal card can also be found at The National Archives.