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.
Brit. Exp. Force
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
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