Letters of the First World War: “Cheer up old chap”

Rifleman Albert Rudge in uniform, probably before leaving for France in 1915. This photograph has been passed down through Albert's family. Image © IWM / Janet Rudge.

Rifleman Albert Rudge in uniform, probably before leaving for France in 1915. This photograph has been passed down through Albert’s family. Image © IWM / Janet Rudge.

In 1917 Rifleman Albert Rudge, invalided out of the army, received a letter from his comrade, Jim, who was also in hospital.

Albert Rudge had been serving with the King’s Royal Rifle Corps since his enlistment in April 1915. In 1916 he was seriously wounded at the Battle of Delville Wood, which was part of the Somme offensive. Albert was taken to hospital in Authie, where his right leg had to be amputated. He was just 20 years of age.

His family have added several fascinating letters, photographs and documents to Albert’s Life Story on Lives of the First World War, including a four-page letter sent to Albert from an army comrade, “Jim”, in early 1917.

The letter implies that Jim was also recovering from injuries elsewhere, and in it, Jim attempts to comfort “Bert” on the loss of his right foot.

Letter from Jim to Bert, January 1917

“My Dear Old Chum Bert,

Just a few lines hoping this finds you going along as well as can be expected as it leaves me feeling a little bit more like my old self. I was very sorry to hear you had had the misfortune as to lose your right foot. I heard about it from young Will Morris.

But I am sorry I have not had the chance to write it before. So you got it in Delville Wood. I expect Will has told you about me getting gassed at [the] settlement. I did not think I had got it so bad at first but I knew about it after. Well I have had about a month in England now. By the by, you know Joe McFadden he has been down here and he got his discharge a couple of weeks ago. I expect you have got your discharge by this time.

Now cheer up old chap so you have an artificial foot well never mind you have done your bit

Well old chap I would have loved to have seen you. But let’s hope we will meet later on. Will sent me your address, so that was why I was able to write you. I heard from him a few days ago and both him and [? name] are going on alright. I am at a very nice place down here but it is very cold. I think it is slightly [? rammed] but it is better than being over yonder. I do not really know what they will do with me. Yet they keep telling me to carry on. They told me it is a case for time.

Well old chum, I hope your Bro keeps alright the one that was in Solonaca [sic: Salonika]. Also I hope all your people keep well. Now cheer up old chap so you have an artificial foot well never mind you have done your bit if anyone has I do not think I can say more now I must now doze.

Hoping to hear from you soon. Wishing you every luck and prosperity I remain your old sincere chum Jim

PS excuse short letter longer one next time”

Pages 1 and 4 of a letter from "Jim" to Rifleman Albert Rudge, dated January 1917. Image © IWM / Janet Rudge.

Fourth and first pages of a letter from “Jim” to Rifleman Albert Rudge, January 1917. Image © IWM / Janet Rudge.

Letters on Lives of the First World War

Many thanks to Albert Rudge’s family for sharing these fascinating letters on his Life Story.

In the future, we are hoping to introduce a document viewer which will allow you to browse and zoom letters, diaries and documentation.

What have you shared on Lives of the First World War so far?

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3 Responses to Letters of the First World War: “Cheer up old chap”

  1. Janet Rudge says:

    I think the place mentioned in the letter where Albert’s friend Jim was gassed was Guillamont, as that is in the area, although he has spelt it Gillamont.

    I have searched for Jim’s record, according to the details given in his letters – but cannot find him:
    Rifleman WJ Sutton 13741, 12th KRRC. Can anyone help find him?

  2. Jo says:

    Janet – I think this might be him! He’s recorded with service number R/13741, and as a Private with the KRRC, not a Rifleman, but here’s Walter J Sutton with the King’s Royal Rifle Corps: https://livesofthefirstworldwar.org/lifestory/4328333

    • Janet Rudge says:

      Thank you – yes it looks as if it must be him. Perhaps he changed regiment after he recovered from being gassed, hence the different details that showed up when I searched.
      Janet

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