Saturday, 29 May 2010 17:24
Letters home: Pray for me
Lance-Corporal Frank Earley was a young journalist from Derby who regularly wrote to his family from the front.
His letters were normally full of enthusiasm and excitement. In July 1918 he wrote, "As you see, I am still alive and well, and as usual enjoying life to the full."
It is only in his very last letter, on 1 September 1918, that he revealed his more reflective side.
The next day Frank Earley suffered a serious wound to his chest and died some hours later. He was 19.
Sunday afternoon, 1 Sep, 1918.
My dear Father,
It is a strange feeling to me but a very real one, that every letter now that I write home to you or to the little sisters may be the last that I shall write or you read. I do not want you to think that I am depressed; indeed on the contrary, I am very cheerful. But out here, in odd moments the realisation comes to me of how close death is to us. A week ago I was talking with a man, a catholic, from Preston, who had been out here for nearly four years, untouched. He was looking forward with certainty to going on leave soon. And now he is dead - killed in a moment during our last advance. Well it was God's will.
I say this to you because I hope that you will realise, as I do, the possibility of the like happening to myself. I feel very glad myself that I can look the fact in the face without fear or misgiving. Much as I hope to live thro' it all for your sakes and my little sisters! I am quite prepared to give my life as so many have done before me. All I can do is put myself in God's hands for him to decide, and you and the little ones pray for me to the Sacred Heart and Our Lady.
I hope that you will not move out of the old house yet. Write and let me know when anything happens. I see that you went to Preston a few days ago. It seems years and years since I tried to get drowned in the canal.
Well I have not much time left and I must end.
With my dear love. Pray for me.
Frank Earley is buried at Bac-de-Sud Military Cemetery, Bailleulval, nr Arras.
His letters are held by the documents library at the Imperial War Museum. Extracts appear in 1918 Year of Victory by Malcolm Brown.
Last Updated ( Saturday, 29 May 2010 17:30 )