Arch Smith keeps a stockpile of letters from his dad on the battlefields of France during the First World War.
Arch Smith keeps a stockpile of letters from his dad on the battlefields of France during the First World War. Anna Saxby

Son treasures dad's letters from battlefields of France

"THIS is history... This is life."

Arch Smith holds dear the series of letters penned by his father John during the time he spent on the battlefields of France during World War I.

The letters hold particular significance given the fact that, like many returned servicemen, John never spoke at length about his experiences. Born in 1883, John Smith served in France until 1919.

He documented his time away, and frequently wrote letters home to Glasgow, Scotland.

John was lucky enough to survive the war and he returned to Scotland to marry his childhood sweetheart, Mary-Ann Milne. He worked at the railroad as a shunter, and was transferred to Australia upon becoming a guard. Arch said his father was proud of his Scottish heritage.

"I had two older brothers, James and John-Milne. Dad insisted that we were Scottish, even though we were born in Australia."

 

Arch Smith keeps a stockpile of letters from his dad on the battlefields of France during the First World War.
Arch Smith keeps a stockpile of letters from his dad on the battlefields of France during the First World War. Anna Saxby

Arch said his father was hesitant to talk at length about the war.

"My father had a bayonet wound and we never knew why," he said.

"He also survived a very serious mustard gas attack. He was lucky it never injured him mentally."

John's letters show a fondness for poetry, and include woven postcards from France.

"I've come to be in possession of these documents as one of the last relatives in my family," Arch said.


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