Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sept- Nov 1913

Here are the first of the cards written in code. I have worked out the following: Efbsftu is Dearest and Ebsmjoh is Darling. Those code crackers amongst you can probably get cracking! I will put them up on the 'Lover's Code' page. If you'd like to decipher any of the messages, leave a comment with your translations.

Sept 16th 1913: 30 High St;

My Dearest,
J. tfou ufmfhsbn this evening. Hope it is to hand.
Efbsftu, J bn ufssjcmz mpofmz apx, Cvu xf tibm hfu pwfs ju.
Diffs vq Ebsmjoh. J tbx uif cbdl pg zpo hpjoh gopn the cpupn of Pesthouse have up uif Tubuijpo. Rang my bell hard but xnt heard nothing. Love& kisses, Yr own Rothwell

Nov 24th  1613: Baldock (in great haste)

My Efbsftu,
Many thanks for letter recd today. You may expect letter rather late, Edbs this week as I am going to full dress rehearsal at Hitchin tonight & one or two other events, so am full up with no time to write. I hope you are better, My Ebsmjoh, mpwd & ljttft, your own Rothwell

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

July 1913

Baldock July 25th 1913

My Dearest,
I really cannot make up any news. Everything goes on much the same as ever, except that the days insist on going infernally slowly. I hope that everything is going on favourably Darling, with you. I saw Doris R. just now. I suppose she came back today. Thank you very much, love, for your letter with the somewhat strange beginning. On Tuesday evening, come & meet me at about 6.30 at the junction of the Chalk Pit Rd and the path over the fields. I shall walk by the latter. Be patient my angel: it is not long now. Love and kisses from
Your very own – Rothwell-

I wonder what the strange beginning was? Then he must have got snarled at a wee bit ....

Baldock 30th July 1913
Sunday 11.15pm

My own Darling,
V. Many thanks for your really glorious letter rec’d this morning. Please note my change of address after Saturday next (July 5th) to – 30 High St (Fred Farr’s). I will write & give particulars sometime Darling. I hope you get on very well this week. Please don’t get the pip, Sweetheart, this time. I have just come from Baileys. I have been to supper, and have had a very nice time. We are getting on very well as regards “Balance” and are more forward than we have ever been before, but Dearest, you can understand that I am too busy to write really, but will send PC’s and will write longest possible letter end of week. Good night my sweet angel. Love and Kisses from Yr own loving Rothwell.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Baldock: September 22nd 1913

My Dearest,
You will find here some rather indistinct views of Bury: I have been out to have a much needed shave. It took ½ hour to find a hairdressers. Of course they did not return until 8.15 last night after I had rushed to finish your letter. I wonder what you are doing now dear (12.35 noon). Cannot say much here as I am not using code but can send you much love & kisses I think.
From your own Rothwell.

Hairdressers- always had to get an appointment when you most need it! This is the first time he mentions 'the code'...more will follow.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Baldock June 9th 1913

My Dearest
Very many thanks for your lovely long letter which I received yesterday. At last it is almost half term! I am writing to you so you may expect a budget by Sunday or Monday next- or even before. I do hope you get on alright this week Dear. Baldock is about the same. Poor old Egan died at 2 o’clock on Saturday afternoon; I was up at C. to supper last night. I am not so busy now as I was thank goodness. Will start writing tonight. 
Much love from yr own Rothwell.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Rothwell was an 18 year old bank clerk in Baldock when the first of these postcards were sent to his girlfriend Hilda in Dorset. By 1918 he was 23, had suffered ‘malaria’ (more on that later) and was serving in Egypt and Palestine; he died aged 36. The impossible neatness of his handwriting, the courtly endearments and turn of phrase seem a different world entirely from the lives of his great grandsons. But then they have never had to grow up in such a hurry; these letters are from a time before teenagers.

Baldock June 8th 1913

My Dearest,
Thankyou very very much for your lovely long letter: it came on Sunday morning & took me quite by surprise. I have been very busy for the last 10 days & I must confess I have been a bit lazy. This evening I have been all around Clothall district and have just locked up here. I will try and write more tomorrow Dear- at least I will start: I am sending the other ones for you to read. Goodbye Darling.
Love from Your own Rothwell.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Love in the First World War

My husband's bachelor uncle, Peter, died in 2002 when we were living for a time in Bristol. As representatives of the family, we helped pack up some items of interest for the family back in New Zealand. There was a postcard album that belonged to 'Mother' stuffed full of vintage images from 1913-18. We flicked casually through them and then thought to look on the backs. On most were letters written from Rothwell, my husband's grandfather to his girlfriend (and later,wife) Hilda. What amazed us was what a romantic old thing he had been. He addressed her often as 'Dearest Dadie' and used a secret code to tell her things he obviously didn't want her parents, or the war office reading. The album has been sitting about for the last 8 years gathering dust, but as a way of sharing it with the family and maybe cracking the code, I have decided to scan the postcards, transcribe the handwriting and share it with the world as an enduring testament to an ordinary but devoted relationship in times of adversity. And that is what we all strive for.

I will post as often as I can amongst my other work, so if you follow with an RSS feed or other, you'll get the updates as soon as I put them up.