India: ‘had a game of footer’

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.

When James Hyam, also nick-named Fatty, wrote from India he used these three postcards which showed different scenes from Alexandria in Egypt where he had ‘a grand time’ en-route to India. (RAIL 253/516)

James Walter Hyam, 15 April 1918, Roorkee, India. Born: 24 July 1891, Regiment: 11 Hussars, C. Squadron; Royal Field Artillery; Royal Garrison Artillery, Regiment number: 223725; 184963, Rank: Gunner, Died: 1951


My Dear Bertie,

Have arrived in India for the purpose of relieving some A1 (military fitness category meaning capable of active service overseas) men here who have been here for a long period. It’s not a bad show here just above Delhi but so d____d hot: risen to 106 degrees in the shade and we have more hot weather just coming. Our parades are as follows 6.30-7.45 and 9 to 10 and finish for day. There is an abundance of sport and grub here. Fancy getting eggs laid too. A supper of say ½ new mutton chop, potatoes, peas, broccoli and tea 4d.

The things that are expensive are goods from England especially English soap, sauces, writing paper and of course we are unable to get English made fags. We had a grand journey from England; route was Southampton to Cherbourg then to Italy. In Italy we went to Alexandria, stayed there three days had a grand time, streets of red lamps etc. and lovely shops. No two houses in main stretch are alike. Then from Alexandria we come to Port Suez by train

then on P. and O. Liner Kaiser I. Hind to Bombay had two days there and that’s a grand place too, lovely wide streets and grand buildings. They have a sea front very much like Hastings and all the big boys have their after dinner drive there and form a queue by shore. Some stuff there too. Lots of Europeans knocking about too. Had a game of footer for the Railway Operatives depot last night, 6pm, with King’s Own and won… But it was so ruddy warm and I felt like a wash out at finish. Kind regards to all. Give Bill Butler my address and ask him to drop a line.

J.W. Hyam, Fatty.

How are the tours going is Frosty still serving?

Return to Letters from the First World War, part two