Sol­diers live on through let­ters home

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Remember When? - by Mike Ben­nett mben­nett@thek­m­

PUPILS and par­ents at Great Chart Pri­mary School have been learn­ing about a spe­cial col­lec­tion of let­ters from the First World War. Staff at Kent Archives have been help­ing the chil­dren to dis­cover let­ters, pic­tures and sou­venirs from 90 years ago and hear­ing fam­ily sto­ries from the rel­a­tives of lo­cal sol­diers and sailors. The last of the three his­tory lessons will be held next Tues­day in the school hall close to the Sin­gle­ton Manor home of the re­mark­able woman who com­piled the col­lec­tion.

War de­clared

In Jan­uary 1915 El­iz­a­beth Strouts started the Great Chart Sailors and Sol­diers War Fund, less than five months af­ter war was de­clared on Ger­many. It raised £1,605 and friends used to send let­ters and parcels to lo­cal men in the armed forces. They sent a to­tal of al­most 6,000 let­ters and 1,000 parcels. Records were saved in 22 al­bums now kept at County Hall in Maid­stone and sou­venirs sent home by sol­diers and sailors to record their war­time ex­pe­ri­ence are part of a col­lec­tion in Ash­ford Bor­ough Mu­seum. Mrs Strouts would visit and com­fort the fam­i­lies of those lost in bat­tle and make hospi­tal vis­its to the wounded. The let­ters home from the front line ex­pressed sad­ness and shock, ex­haus­tion and At the first fam­ily learn­ing ses­sion last month Vic Chit­ten­den, son of William Chit­ten­den, a trooper in the Dra­goon Guards, said: “My fa­ther was in the trenches. He was in the cav­alry but rarely used the horses. “He never spoke about the war ex­cept to say how the rats ran along the top of the trenches. I was in­ter­ested to see the let­ter he wrote.” Present chil­dren and par­ents helped to cre­ate and dec­o­rate a new Roll of Hon­our fea­tur­ing the 100-plus names in the Great Chart war al­bums.

Cpl Sa­muel Brunger, who gave his life for King and coun­try in Pales­tine

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