Letter from Shepreth war victim to go on display

A LETTER written from the trenches by an 18-year-old Great War soldier from Shepreth less than three weeks before he died will go on public display for the first time this week.

A copy of Private Harold Pearce’s 1918 letter to his mother Flora will be one of the centrepieces of an exhibition about life in Shepreth during World War I.

In the letter, written in France on August 4 1918, the teenager, who died on August 24 1918, told how he was “in the trenches now” and asked for “some nice lumps of chocolate”.

“It is now four years to the day since war was declared on us,” wrote Private Pearce. “Think it quite time this beastly war was over. What say you mother?”

The contents of the letter, and those of a second letter written by the soldier in May 1918, will go on show in the village hall in Shepreth on Saturday, alongside photographs of soldiers being treated at a military hospital set up in the hall during the First World War.

Organisers of the exhibition were given permission to copy the letters by Private Pearce’s niece, Eve Hardman, 82, who lives in the village.

In December, workmen found a postcard sent to a soldier being treated at the hospital in 1915 hidden behind a wooden wall panel in the hall.

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The card, sent to Private Edward Wolstencroft by his sister Nellie, will also feature in the exhibition before being returned to the soldier’s family.

Records show Private Wolstencroft, who came from Edmonton, Middlesex, was killed in 1916 during the Battle of the Somme when he was in his mid-20s.

Dianne Sinnatamby, a member of the hall management committee, said: “The wood panelling has a little shelf on top and I suspect the soldier stood the card on there and it slipped down the back.

“It’s amazing to think that it’s been lying there for 95 years and nobody realised. I plan to show it to the children and to talk to them a little bit about the war and the soldiers who were here. It really is living history.”

Village hall booking clerk Louise Barrell said: “It’s fascinating to wonder who Edward Wolstencroft was and what happened to him.

“Its so sad to think that a little over a year after receiving this card he would die in one of the most horrific battles there’s ever been.”