Christmas 1914: Chandos Hoskyns in the Trenches

My maternal grandfather, Chandos Hoskyns was commissioned into The Rifle Brigade [Greenjackets] in 1914. During The Great War, he fought in Thessaloniki, Greece, and in the trenches of France from where he sent the following letter in which he tells his family about something surprising and unusual.

2nd Bn Rifle Bde.
25th Inf Bde.
8th Divn.
Brit. Exp. Force

[Xmas 1914]

Darling all!

I hope you got my Xmas letter all right only I hear Grannie sent it on, the one thing I did not want done as I particularly wanted you all to get it together on Xmas day.

I am sending you the IVth Corps Xmas Card – rather a crude drawing I’m afraid but you’ll find it rather interesting as it has on it all the signatures of the other company officers. It will be rather nice to keep won’t it. E P Watts 53rd Sikhs (FF) is attached to us as second in command of the company. He is a topper. He is in the Indian Army (FF = Frontier Force) & as hard as nails.

I got a topping letter from Mr Gilbert at the same time as your last one. Just after I got it a frantic [?] note came from HQRS “Stand to arms at once!! this was in the trenches. Apparently an aeroplane of ours had been reconnoitring & had seen masses of G’s troops concentrating behind the village in front of us. Great excitement. That night patrols went out to find out what they could. One came back saying the Germans were cutting their own barbed wire entanglements to get through preparatory to making an attack. However nothing happened. On our right some miles away the line was heavily attacked. Later on a funny thing happened. A patrol went, (trembling in every limb) got quite close to the enemy and actually heard — (another thrilling instalment in our next issue) a man playing a penny whistle & man singing!

Well there is no more news to tell. We are resting now after 6 days running in trenches. By Jove the dirt – One almost walks about without meaning to.

Much love to all

Your loving


I am indebted to Tony Allen of World War I Postcards for the use of both images.

Chandos Hoskyns was the son of Benedict and Dora Hoskyns of the Sicilian Earthquake feature.


Sarah Vernon © 20 June 2014

12 thoughts on “Christmas 1914: Chandos Hoskyns in the Trenches

  1. The writing is quite different from my grandfather’s letters from 1918. My grandfather was a farm boy and not very well educated, and his writing showed it. But at least he wrote letters and left us some history.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely. The irony is that the class thing embarrasses me and I’ve always longed to discover an East End pickpocket or such among my forbears! I’m waiting for the results of a DNA test from which should be interesting. Thank you for visiting and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

      • DNA is interesting. My brother had our mom tested. There had been a long standing belief that they had Native American blood on her side of the family from intermarriage going way back. The DNA test showed all European blood, and it caused a row with her sisters who don’t want to believe they do not have Native American DNA in the family.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Chandos Hoskyns; what an interesting name, and so evocative of the era. It must make it very personal for you Sarah, to have such strong family connections to that war. My own grandfathers were too young to serve in WW1, by just one year.
    I don’t know if you have ever seen it, but the ‘truce’ featured in the photograph was the subject of a film that looked at the events from all sides. It may be of interest to you, or other readers. Here’s a link;
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Much thanks for the link, Pete. I am very lucky to have a lot of family ephemera or access to it from my relations. The letters from my grandfather and great-uncle stoked my already burgeoning fascination with both world wars, which is probably why I said to you at the start of this blog that there might well be a preponderance of war articles! By the way, I keep stalking you to tell you that I re-blogged your 1960s film article on my theatre blog, Rogues & Vagabonds but you don’t appear to have seen my comment! I definitely left a comment with the link on Curnblog. Anyway, the link is:


      • I have seen both now, and commented accordingly. Much appreciated, as with all your efforts Sarah.
        For some reason, I do not get notifications of replies on Curnblog, so I have to remember to keep checking the article for comments.
        As for FNH, keep the articles coming. It is always interesting, and the personal angle makes some especially fascinating!
        Regards as always, Pete.

        Liked by 1 person

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