Trenches: ‘anti-aircraft fire’

This is one of many letters sent by staff of the Great Western Railway Audit office at Paddington who had enlisted to fight in the First World War. (RAIL 253/516)

Frederick Ronald Morris, 26 April 1917, ‘in the field’, France. Born: 1 April 1893, Regiment: Royal Flying Corps, Regiment number: 16922, Rank: 1st class Air Mechanic, Returned to office: 10 March 1919, Retired: Resigned on 25 March 1925


Dear Mr Taylor,

No doubt you think that I have forgotten all about you and my friends of the Audit, but never let it be said (this is an army term, if you please.) Truth to tell I have been going to write time after time, but have had to put it off for various reasons. I am taking this opportunity of writing to you, while I am in charge of tonight’s guard. I get this job about once a week now, it’s not so bad, I have three men and a man in waiting; we mount at 5pm and dismiss at 7am. We make ourselves as comfortable as we can, in the guard tent, which just covers over the top of the sand bags, and these have got grass growing out of them now. The sand bags are about 4ft high and make a good protection. April 1st I got my two stripes up, after being a 1st Air Mechanic for 12 months, the Non-Commissioned Officers have a very decent mess here, and everything is ok. I am corporal in charge of wireless, photographic, electrical and all instruments used on aeroplanes, I have had a very good education on all those subjects, but the one I like best is the wireless, it’s far more interesting than photography, which is a very big thing indeed out here, and a lot depends upon a good photograph of the Hun lines…

Yesterday I saw a nice little game between one of ours and one of theirs, after our anti-aircraft fire had taken it up a bit higher, our machine went for it and got well over the top of it, then two more of ours came along and forced it down, she tried all manner of tricks, but down she came alright, and landed a clean machine, not broken in any part, and the two Huns inside it quite well.

We gave a revue (theatrical show) to our chaps here on the 13th, it went off alright, we started at 9pm and gave a two hours show, am enclosing programme, and will forward a photo of myself as the ‘oldest inhabitant’ as soon as I receive them from the Frenchman who took them…Kind regards to all of the section and the remainder of the agreements, and hoping you are fit and well. Good bye. Yours sincerely,

F.R. Morris

Return to Letters from the First World War, 1916- 18