1915: A schoolchild’s view of Aldeburgh during wartime

The following brief account of Wartime Aldeburgh in August 1915 by a visiting schoolchild, Jean M Wilson, was published in the Western Mail (Perth, Western Australia) on Friday 5 November, 1915:

OUR LETTER BAG.

A Letter from a Silver Link in England.

Duman, Aldeburgh, Suffolk, England,

August 16.

My Dear Aunt Mary,

The holidays have come round again, so I think I ought to write a few lines to you. We came down here (Aldeburgh, Suffolk) last Friday to stay for a fortnight. Mother is following to-morrow with my aunt. One realises that war is going on down here. In this small village there are about 1,000 soldiers, the town is literally swarming with them. All along the beach there are wire entanglements, tremendously strong. They say it would take the Germans at least half an hour to cut them (if they carne), and in the meantime they could be shot down. There are also on the beach sand-bag trenches and several “dug-outs.” They are really wonderful, just like little houses underground. I should love to go inside one, but the public are not supposed to go within 10 yards of them. We have just come back from seeing soldiers being drilled. It was very interesting. There must have been hundreds of them drilling. On Saturday we went to a fete which was held here in aid of a Y.M.C.A. hut which they are building for the soldiers. There was singing and dancing on the lawn by some little Belgian children and two or three dramatic entertainments, each lasting about three quarters of an hour, a soldiers’ concert, a white elephant auction sale, the band on the lawn, and of course tea. It lasted altogether from about 2.45 p.m. till 8.45 p.m. We have not heard yet how much they got, but they must have got a good bit. Of course they charged 6d. or 3d. each for each entertainment. At the beginning of these holidays I went down to Broadstairs to stay with my Australian friend. I was only there a few days, but during that short time we did a great deal, and I thoroughly enjoyed my short stay. One day we walked up to the North Foreland, and had tea in a Dutch tea house. It was an awfully quaint little place. The waitresses were all dressed as Dutch girls, and everything was Dutch. August 20: On Wednesday we all took our tea out to a little fishing village. Five of us cycled, and mother and Selina went by train. We started about 2.30 and got there about 3.30. It was a lovely day, which added to the enjoyment. We had tea there and wandered about till 5.30, when we came home. Yesterday a friend and myself cycled over to a little village called Leiston. We went after tea, about 6.30, and got back about 7.30. It was lovely. August 30: I have not written for 10 days. During the time we have been out a good deal. On Saturday last we went to a place called Iken Cliff. We went in a sailing boat. The day was perfect, and the water like a mill pond. We had dinner and tea there, and came back about 4.30, arriving home at 8.30. September 2: School takes up again to-morrow, so I must close this letter. I’m afraid it is rather a short one, but I will write a longer one next holidays. I hope the Silver Chain is progressing. Give my love to Babs and Sandra. I hope they are well.

From your loving niece,

JEAN M. WILLIS.

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