The Guardian newspaper has just published an article about an archive of letters and wills written by soldiers fighting in the First World War. These letters and wills never reached their destinations.
I have been identifying material held here to be used for our First World War centenary project. A team of volunteers will be researching our image and document collections, transcribing records and telling stories of the families’ represented in our Documentary Photographic Archive.
I knew I had seen a copy of a will, sent home for safe keeping.
George Bradshaw’s letters and postcards written to his parents in Moston cover the period from December 1915 until June 1917. He trained and served as a hospital orderly.
In August 1916 he sent a pencil copy of his will with a letter to his parents.
The writing is faded and the lined paper sheets have been handled more than the accompanying letters, so the writing is difficult to decipher, though the message is simple and clear.
Form of will to be used by a soldier desirous of leaving the whole of his property and effects to one person.
He leaves everything to his mother, Jane Bradshaw.
He is Private 106056 in the RAMC and it is dated July 31st 1916.
His will is witnessed by Thomas Parkinson of a Blackburn address and Thomas Edward Townend of Rotherham.
The receipt of this document must have been a difficult experience for his parents.
George wrote another 86 letters after this one, all saved by his family.
It will be fascinating to find out more about him and his wartime experiences. His letters mention his brother, who also joined the Medical Corps.
There is also a notebook he kept for a short time as a diary, recording family details and his time in France. It will be good to read between the lines and research a fuller picture of his particular First World War experiences.