First Day of the Somme - La Boiselle

Oliver Hopkins' Letters


Oliver Hopkins fought in the Battle of the Somme, where he was wounded.  He died four and half months later the following year in the Battle of Arras.



Letter 1

Dear Mother Father sisters and brother
I now take the pleasure in riteing you a few lines hoping to find you all well
as it leaves me getting on quite well I am glad to say, I am not to get up yet if the doctor nowes but I do get up after tea time but I must not let the nurses see me
for it seem tiring to lay in bed all the time
I eat as much as a man dose and more that is not wounded so you now
I am all right if I can eat and I get plenty of sleep as well
my wounds do not hurt me one bit now thank god for it
I like the sister to dress them and she say thay each heach so much but I wish thay would let me get up if a man can eat a good dinner he is getting on well tell jim I have a ---- sheet just like he had at Cambs hospital
and they take ower temperature
2 a day mine at the old place jim will now all about it
there is 6 beds in the room where I am in this place has been an infirmary like that on a Fulbourn just the other side of Cambridge
we laugh and say we ought to have been in here 2 years ago
we are quite cherrful as though there is nothing the matter with us and we are as strong as bull but I don't want them to take me back to France no more
that is no Bon as the French people say
6 months is plenty for a man and a day like ? the 1 of July it is a nugh to kill a man to see it and to see our big Guns and Howitzers doing there very good work we watched them shelling them the Germans lines and Villages for a week as hard as thay could and the men had there Jackets and shirts off from 6 to ----
that was the last hour befor we went over to see what thay Germans was made of
my gum we have got some shells out there and Guns to it has opened old Fritz eyes but the begers had got some very deep Dugouts to get in to or thay would not have stood an earthely charnce in the Bombardments
there dugouts was 100 feet deep and would hold 70 men
thay are far better than us in that line I must say, and thay all got down there out of the way till we was ready to go over and was waiting for us with there machine guns it was them that mowed us down like cutting that coleseed down in that big ground down the drove that year we fell down just like that well we was a fit as horses going to a big show that morning
we was up a good time
I think it was 2 oclock and had 2 eggs what our officers got us from Albert the day befor and we had them a[nd] 2 biscuits
each man and some tea and a good drink of Rum each
in fact some chaps had more than thay wanted
at 5 oclock the Officer fell us in with our guns and shells
2 men carrying the Gun and the rest carrying Shells
the men that was carrying Shell had 66 lbs and other things as well
we was all loded down well
we went down to the trenches
then we had a night in the woodI will show you the place when I get home
I have got a map

when we had got down to the trenche
the Offices told us we had got one hour to set our gun and get the shells ready to fire for we had got 50 rounds per gun befor 7/30
well we got them of an
got our guns as soon as the Battalion ready two minits befor 7/30
we Blowed up a mine and as soon a[s] that went up the Lads went over line after line went we went over with the 2 line of the Suffolks and took our guns with us
well as we got out of our trench I could see the lads falling down on my left and right and the Officer said Hopkins we must get there at all cost I was hoping we should as well for we should have been all right he would have Won some thing that day

we started of and got a little way when our Chaps got hit and then a nother and we goes another 100 yards and then I hit my left arm just below the elbow another in my belly
I called out to the Officer and then fell in a Shell hole and bandge my self up the best I could and had a drink of water [there] was some more in with me
I was there till 3 in the afternoon and I crawled back to my own trench and then to the dressing station
I got my wound dressed there and thay told me to get to Albert the best I could for there was so meny Stretchers cases
well I walked but I was not the only one got in - there and went to Frankville that is a Village some way back and we was there 3 days and left there by Red Cross train arrived at Etaples that is on the coast
I had the Bullets taken out there and then sent to England the follern Sat and got to Liechester on Sunday?
I want you to let people have a look at this if you like
and go to the school and look n the map for Bootle
that is where my Officer comes from and I want to rite to his mother and get to now where he is if he is alive
I hope he is?
I hope he is got through all right
our other [officer] that came from Cambridge got killed by Shrapnell the same morning
he was a good chap to his name was Ingle from Hills road Cambridge
Mr Savage mite now him
he got hit the same time as Cpl. Day
thay never lived long you can rite to Mrs Ingle and tell her I saw the last of him he was not in pain long well
I will tell you more when I get home keep getng on with the work the best you can and don't worry about me I am Still in the Pink ?


Letter 2

Dear Mother Father Sisters and Brother

I now just find time to rite you a few lines hopeing it will find you all well as it leave me quite well at present well we are having a lot of moveing about lately from one place to a nother we are moved a long way down the line but I must not say ware we are for there is a lot of trouble about this letter riteing to England so it don't do to say much? we have not been in the trenches no more yet but I think we are going in this week in a fresh place well we are having a lot of wet wether lately and cold to well has some of them green letter been opened what I have sent home for some of the chaps letter is been opened will you tell me in the next letter if thay have is Tom got on yet as I here he is and the zeps is been over that way is that so there is 7 Divisions of Troops where we are I think is a big job comeing off now shortly at Albert so look in the papers well I think this is all this time with best love from Oliver


Letter 13

Dear Mother Father and all I now take the pleasure in riteing you a few lines hopeing it will find you all well as it leaves me at present I am glad to say well we are having some very nice wether out here now and very hot to and we are I the trenches again but in a differint place than we was before we have been in 2 days now from the time of me riteing this and the Germans do send us a lot of bombs over there is a lot get killed and wounded every day I am sorry to say I shall be very glad when we get out again for it is hell on earth as you might say if you look in the papers you will see where we are the place is named Albert it is in every week I have it in the papers just let me know if you see it it has been a big town but it is a long way from it now for it is all knocked to pieces by shells the church is had the steeple knocked right off? when we are out of the trenches and the hills are tireing to and not much water to drink for a lot of water is bad well our trenches is on one hill and there is a vallie in between us so if we ever go over the top as they call it we shall have a hill to go up and the is all chalk and very dry we have to were steel helmets in the trenches now to stop the shrappenl from the shells well i dont think we shall be able to get home ye for thay out let only 1 go at a time for they say there is goneing to be a big move on now shortly?well I must pull this to a close now from your ever loving son Oll remember me to all the old pals and to Jack Shipp


Letter 4

Dear Mother and Father and all I now take the pleasure in riteing you a few lines hopeing to find you all as it leaves me getting on well as you can expect but I have got 2 very nice wounds to be getting on with for a week or two but I am very glad I have got to England where thay look after us tommys that is more than thay [do in] France I must say for there was so meny of us wounded we never used to get them dressed some days at all and not much to eat only Bully and Biskets that was in Hospitals in France so you do now we are glad to get to dear old England well I got wounded on the first of july at 8 oclock in the morning well we had got the order to go over a day or two befor that day so as to get all ready for it and thay gave us plenty of Rum that morning so we was well fit for the Germans and it was a nice morning to the sun was getting up well we got out of our trenches at 7 on the 1 of July every body went over like brave lads and as soon as the Germans saw us they had there M.G. on us and mowed us down like mowing down corn we could see our mates falling down some died and some wounded and then the next man to fell [I] thought[t] it was my turn but I kept on till I got a wound in my left arm and then a nother in my body I fell in a shell hole and kept there till 3 in the afternoon and then I got up and got back in our own trenches and walked to Albert that was 2 miles I had my wound dressed there and then thay took us by moter to a Hospital I was there 3 day and then we was brough to Etaples and then to England and now I am in Leicester Hospital I dont now how the Willburton Boys are tell me when you rite?