A letter from a century ago…I can hear the shells falling

I have been over with my mum and sorting out dusty boxes, one of which turns out to have been sorted well before I was born. It contains letters from a century and more ago.

Who the people are is now mostly long gone, but it was deeply moving to find one pencil-written to someone in the family from ‘Ed’ on the frontline in France in the First World War.

“I can hear Fritz’s shells falling and our own anti-aircraft guns shelling his planes. Tomorrow night we go up to the front line trenches again. May I be saved from harm.”

And then, lower in the box, the connecting thread – an envelope with writing on the back from an earlier sorting of letters to Nellie, “including from Ed, killed 1918.”

If I close my eyes, the world turns and I try to imagine those shells. I open my eyes and the world returns.

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