​​​​War Diary of Ernest Bertwistle 1914-1916
War Letters of Ernest Bertwistle​
War Letters of Elizabeth Bertwistle​
A Short Biography of Ernest Bertwistle​

E​​rnest Bertwistle in the Dress Uniform of
The East lancashire Regiment

​The 4th East Lancs Regiment, Territorials, mobilised on the 5th August 1914 after war was declared and volunteered f Bertor foreign service.  They were assigned to Egypt, for garrison work, in order to release regular troops stationed there for service elsewhere.  The 4th East Lancs sailed from Southampton on the steamship Deseado on the 10th September, in company with the 5th East Lancs and the Divisional Staff.  They reached Alexandria on the 25th September and entrained for Cairo where they were to garrison the Citadel.  Life consisted of training, inspections, parades and marches.  By the end of October however Turkey had entered the war and there became a real prospect of active fighting.​​

​​​War Diary of Ernest Bertwistle 1914-1916

On the 5th of August 1914 the Battalion was to undertake something that had never been known before and that was the mobilisation of Territorial Force for which our Battalion was one.  After 15 days receiving kit etc., we marched on the 20th to Chesham Road Camp where the Battalion underwent a course of field training and counter-marching until the order came to move to Southampton, which we did in two troop trains for embarkation for foreign service.

The Battalion embarked on the 10th September on the "Deseado", strength 30 officers and 1000 men; also on board was Major Gen.Douglas CB, DSO, commanding East Lancashire Division and staff, along with the 5th East Lancs Regiment.  Leaving the dock side about 3 pm we sailed in the bay to await the escort that was to guard us on our voyage at sea; the name of our escort was Nirvana, and after a voyage of about 10 days we arrived at Gibraltar, where we stayed for about 5 hours; then we moved off again; this time it was Egypt. 

We landed at Alexandria on the 25th September, disembarked and entrained for Cairo, arriving in the evening at Cairo Citadel Barracks, taking over from 1st Battalion Worcester Regiment, where we had to see our first life in barracks; arriving in the dark we could see nothing of the place.  We had to live in till the morning of the 26th, and a sight it was to see the rooms and the walls round the Barracks, and from there we could see the whole of Cairo and surroundings, but the town itself, well, it was like marching through wonderland and the smell, well, one got used to that the longer he stays in town.

Day by day rolled on and still did work until the 14th December, when the Battalion changed quarters to Abbor Hilmi Barracks.  Still in Cairo to undergo Brigade training over the desert sands; from here we commenced the long march to the Renown Third Tower, which the men loved very dear.

On the 20th December (1914) the Battalion furnished two Companies for lining the streets on the occasion of the Accession of the Sultan of Egypt and a sight it was to see the natives' different Regiments.  Everything passed off well and we returned to Barracks after a hard day's work in the sun.  On and on passed the days till the 28th January (1915), but before passing Christmas, I must say that we had a very good day, with good meals, and at night we had a concert. 

Now I will go back to the 28th January (1915), and still far away from home.  This day we sent our first draft of invalids home, all good lads having been broken down by the hard work given them and downhearted they were to have to leave the boys.  They sailed on the S.S.Glengorn Castle for England.  On the 30th January (1915) we moved to Heliopolis and I think that we have seen enough sand that will last a lifetime.

Having seen all that was of interest in Cairo, we left on the 16th April, where we entrained for Port Said, where we got the first sight of the one and only Suez Canal, to do duty on the defences of the Canal in relief of the 69th Punjabis Indian Expeditionary Force, who embarked for the Dardanelles.

After seeing the sights of Port Said, the Battalion received orders on the 5th May (1915) to pack and embark for the Dardanelles, sailing on the 6th May at 7am, and after a sail of about three days we arrived at the seat of war.  Disembarked at Cape Hellas and went into bivouac on the top of the cliffs about three-quarters mile east of the Cape. 

Here we saw what we had never seen before, and then there was the sound of screaming, shells and bullets; this is what is called the famous Gallipoli Peninsula, arriving on the 9th May (1915) the one and only 1/4 East Lancashires are to fight for their country.
Men of the East Lancshire Regiment at Their Ablutions
In Gallipoli: The Sign Reads "Keep Smiling"

At 9pm we received orders to move in Brigade Bivouac about a mile further in.  After we had got acquainted with the deadly sounds, the Battalion moved on the 11th May forward into the advance trenches about 2000 approx. SW of Krithia relieving the Home Battalion of the RN Division.  A and B corps went into the firing line and C and D in support and reserve; in this move we lost 1 killed and 4 wounded, these being our first casualties.

12 May 1915: Firing trenches were in action with the Turks between 10pm and midnight but no casualties
13 May 1915: This day A and B corps were relieved by C and D with only 4 wounded
14 May 1915: All company engaged in improving trenches and communications
15 May 1915: A relieved D company; B company relieved C.  The firing trenches which were forming a re-entrant, were advanced at night.  Major Carus with his men rushed out and dug themselves in about 50 yards from the Turks; these trenches brought us in line with those occupied by the Lancs. Fusiliers on the left and the French troops on the right.
16 May 1915: New firing trenches completed with 2 wounded
17 May 1915: C & D companies in firing line; 3 killed, 2 wounded.  Now we are beginning to feel the effects of the war.
18 May 1915: The Battalion was relieved by the R.N. Division - commencing at 3am and moved to a bivouac about one mile W. for rest after the strenuous exertions of the past week, during which the men had been working almost day and night improving and extending the trenches, and about 6pm we were very heavily shelled by the Turks with shrapnel for about 2 hours, the shells bursting in and over the dugouts constructed during the day; here we lost very heavily for one day and finished with 4 killed and 18 wounded; everyone of us tried to roll ourselves up as small as possible to try and escape from receiving a wound.
19 May 1915: On this day we only had an odd shell or two; this being so, we only had one wounded.
20 May 1915: A few more shells with two wounded this day.
21 May 1915: We moved forward into the firing line once more but not without the Turks letting us have a few more shells, leaving about 7pm.  We had one more wounded.
22 May 1915: A and B companies moved out from Bn. bivouac at 7pm and occupied reserve trenches astride "Krithia" road.  The French troops on the right of the line heavily engaged with enemy; day, evenings shrapnel and bullets falling frequently in the Battalion bivouac in the valley; this day finished with one killed and 4 wounded.  At 10pm a report having been received that A and B company had not come in touch with Lancs Fusiliers.
23 May 1915: Still in dugouts by brown house.  East Lancs wounded along with a few more snipers.
24 May 1915: Still in the same dugouts; too many bullets round here for my liking and the Turks gave us a few shells, wounding a few more men.
25 May 1915: Moved out of dugouts near Pink Farm, led by our Adjutant; lost our way and wandered about for a few hours till daybreak and lastly arriving the place waited; this day down came the rain and it was over the **** or almost to the knees (rotten).
26 May 1915: Today we were attached to the Worcester and Essex regiments so that we will have more pluck and fight better alongside our backbone army.
27 May 1915: Went into reserve trenches to await the next move.  Shelled very heavily by Turkish guns.
28 May 1915: Still in reserve.  Shells, a few from Joe Turk but ours was many; our ships and land guns bombarded the Turkish trenches and the Australians and **** and sniper advanced.
29 May 1915: Still in the same place
30 May 1915: Still in reserve
31 May 1915: Still out of firing line

1 June 1915: Went in to the fire trenches
2 June 1915: Not much doing today; just a few shells flying around. 3 killed.
3 June 1915: Not much doing; just a few more iron rations.  Our casualties - killed 32, wounded 51.  That is up-to-date.
4 June 1915: This was the day that our men showed our people at home what they were made of and won a name that will live for ever.  The big guns opened with a bombardment and at the hour given, left their trenches and charged the enemy.  The Turks fled all ways but sorry to say some of the lads came through all right and others fell.
5 June 1915: The same as yesterday; a general advance along the line.  Smart work by our lads.
6 June 1915: Heavy shelling by enemy trying to recapture what they have lost.  The Battalion move to reserve trenches.
7 June 1915: Quiet day.
8 June 1915: Still nothing doing
9 June 1915: As per yesterday
10 June 1915: Moved to No.1 support trenches, Krithia Nullah
11 June 1915: Still in support
12 June 1915: Very heavily shelled with lyddite
13 June 1915: Rather a quiet day
14 June 1915: Quiet morning but a bit of a burst towards night. Casualties five
15 June 1915: Not much doing
16 June 1915: Quiet day
17 June 1915: Heavy firing on both sides but no-one moved.  The Adjutant having had enough, left us and went into Hospital.
18 June 1915: Nothing much doing today.
19 June 1915: Rather rough morning; plenty of firing.
20 June 1915: Moved to reserve trenches.
21 June 1915: Moved to firing line to relieve the 6th L.F.
22 June 1915: Div. relieved by the K.O.S.B. and was heavily shelled by the Turks.
23 June 1915: Plenty of shells from Joe Turk guns.  One or two casualties.
24 June 1915: More shells and still in reserve trenches.
25 June 1915: Nothing much doing; a German bomber hovering round our lines and dropped a few bombs but with no success; our ships opened fire on Turkish village and set fire to the headquarters of German General.
26 June 1915: German bomber hovering round, a few bombs and off back.
27 June 1915: The Turks bombarded our trenches.
28 June 1915: Bombardment by our ships and land guns on the Turkish line and our men the allies did a small advance.
29 June 1915: Quiet day; only a few shells from Asiatic Army.
30 June 1915: Another quiet day; thought we were going to have a storm at night but it passed over very nicely.

1 July 1915: Quiet Day
2 July 1915: Nothing doing
3 July 1915: Quiet all day but poured down with rain at night
4 July 1915: Just a little bombarding of the Turkish trenches
5 July 1915: Nothing doing
6 July 1915: Moved from support to fire trenches
7 July 1915: Nothing much today
8 July 1915: Joe Turk having a rest
9 July 1915: Joe Turk wakens up and sends us a few shells
10 July 1915: Things not quite so lively today.  Just heard a good rumour, going back to Egypt; fell through, rotten
11 July 1915: The battalion in support.  The Colonel having had enough was relieved from having command of the Battalion and left at 10am, embarking at 11 am for England. Colonel Lindsley took over command
12 July 1915: Bombardment of Turkish trenches and an advance by the R.Scots and French
13 July 1915: Bombardment and charge by Scots and Naval Division
14 July 1915: Moved in support trenches
15 July 1915: Quiet day
16 July 1915: Quiet day in fire trenches
17 July 1915: Still in fire trenches
18 July 1915: Received orders to move back.
19 July 1915: This is the first that the Battalion left Clapham Junction to have what has turned out to be a real rest in some well sunk dug-out, near Pink Farm, for which the Battalion have well earned more then awaiting orders to what may come.
20 July 1915: Another day come and still in rest bivouac
21 July 1915: Still in rest camp and this is the day I was ordered to join the Battalion
22 July 1915: Still in rest camp
23 July 1915: Here is the new batch from home; 291 all told and a poor lot they are.  I knew about two of them.
24 & 25 July 1915: Still resting
26 July 1915: Still in rest bivouac and had another inoculation, this time for cholera.  I don't know what will be the next complaint.
27 July 1915: Still having well earned rest
28 July 1915: Still in rest bivouac with digging parties going out
29-30-31 July 1915: Still resting

1 August 1915: Nothing much doing again today, only digging and sending our Sergt.Major to hospital and Rowlands being put up as acting (more swank)
2 August 1915: Still in rest bivouac and making the best of it.  Turks still shelling the Lancashire beach.
3 August 1915: Still resting; a Turk aeroplane passed over our trenches; men gone out digging.  Just been to the stores to make a cross for one of our officers Lieutenant Heywood; had tea and returned.
4 August 1915: Up at 5 am, just in time to see our aeroplane returning, perhaps from an air raid, four of them, or maybe looking for one of the Turks.  Anyway there was nothing much doing, just a few shells and that finished the day.  P.C. home to my wife
5 August 1915: Up at 6 a.m. just in time to see German aeroplane drop 2 bombs and off back with 2 of ours after him but could not catch it.  Anyway the day rolled on and we got a surprise; Joe Turk had the cheek to drop 3 shells in our camp, but no-one hurt and at 6 p.m. 1 German and 1 Turkish aeroplanes sailed over and dropped two bombs and that finished the day.  Letter to my wife.
6 August 1915: Another taube (type of aeroplane) flying round; nothing doing in the morning but at noon the order came to be ready at a moment's notice to move, which at 7 o'clock the first company moved off into the 2nd Australians line; this day there was a bombardment of land and ship guns, the British capturing two trenches; this commenced at 2.30 and finished at 10pm; all night the Turks tried counter attacks but failed on their attacks.  We got 500 men and 20 machine guns prisoners
7 August 1915: Bombardment commenced again 7am; two companies off in the fire line and captured 3 lines of trenches but almost lost theirs only for the supports.  The Turks keep trying with their counter attacks but no avail.  Our companies returned about 10 p.m.; one of the biggest days we have had.
8 August 1915: Sunday and still holding on; plenty of shells flying round; just missed our house not in dodging bullets; Turks try an attack but failed; seeing to rations; big night.  Letter home to wife
9 August 1915: At 2.30 a.m. the Turks try an attack; our men mowed them down.  After this things were somewhat quiet and at 4 p.m. the Battalion moved to the redoubt line; had a walk up and returned to sleep in 2nd line; just another attack by Joe Turk and fell asleep, not till seeing plenty of water go up to men in firing line.  12 midnight our chaps having made an advance of 300 yards, dug themselves in and held on like madmen.
10 August 1915: Moved my things up to redoubt and have had plenty of running about; still holding on and making good.  4pm B was relieved by C company and they held on and are expecting making it stronger tomorrow.
11 August 1915: Nothing much doing; Turks very quiet, must be resting or something
12 August 1915: Plenty of work clearing up fire trenches and at 6.45 the Turks made an advance and it was held for about 4 hours; we lost a little of the trenches but got it back bit by bit; everybody well on the watch all night.  Letter home to wife.
13 August 1915: Nothing much doing, just holding them in their places, the Turks, and at 12 o'clock we were relieved by the R.Scots and not before our lads wanted it; we lost a few good men killed and wounded and now we are once again in rest bivouac near beach, very tired; plenty of work this day.
14 August 1915: Up at 6 am, nothing much doing, a few shells amongst us - no damage.  Digging party out.
15 August 1915: Up at 5.30, issue of rum to men and had breakfast.  Letter to wife. Adjutant gone in hospital; church service in the rest camp, not till dark, heavy bombardment by the French at midnight
16 August 1915: Nothing much doing, Turks resting
17 August 1915: Letter to wife.  Still resting.  Inspection by Army Corps Commander; all kits and dugouts clean.  Change in the weather, looks like rain but passed off alright.  Letter to Pa and H.Lewis.
18 August 1915: Another batch of 189 men of the 2nd/4th East Lancs landed here.  Quiet day.  Just a few shells at midnight.
19 August 1915: Just a drop of rain.  Just another move order came at 12 to be ready at moments notice.  A Company left us at 3.30 for Eshe Lines.  Captains Birtwistle and Dixon gone in hospital.  7 o'clock Turks giving our trenches a bit of a bombarding; the Battalion moved 500 yards near the beach.  I did not move that night.  PC home.
20 August 1915: Nothing much doing.  Moved my belongings after breakfast; looks like a long rest; hope so.  Finding plenty of guards and digging parties.  Rather cold this at night
21 August 1915: Another quiet day still in rest bivouac
22 August 1915: Order came to move at 12 noon; left the place at about 2 o'clock onto the Gullay beach and slept in the cliff side.  Quiet day.
23 August 1915: Up at 5am; had a walk along the sea-front and then a wash in the sea; quiet day
24 August 1915: Still on sea shore.  50 of A Company gone in firing line; not feeling so well.
25 August 1915: Quiet day by the sea
26 August 1915: Just two shells and 5 wounded, for a change lucky shot by Joe Turk.  Still by the sea
27 August 1915: Quiet day by sea a bit rough
28 August 1915: Nothing much doing where we are.  No rumours
29 August 1915: Received one pound of my pay.  Quiet day
30 August 1915: Moving higher up the cliff.  Good view.  Had good tea; herring and apricots, at same time watching gun boat firing; shook the cliff side.
31 August 1915: Up early 5am and breakfast consisting of fried steak and tomatoes; plenty good; very nice for a change.  Had a walk to the store.  Battalion on parade on beach for one hour's drill; 5.30 waiting for my tea (salmon and chunks); had walk along beach then off to bed. Very quiet day.

1 September 1915: The first of the winter months we are told, which is rather cold and windy.  Plenty of working parties out today.  Good feeding today.  9 o'clock off to bed after writing home.
2 September 1915: Nothing much doing on this side of the hill.  Plenty of digging parties out; doing a lot of running up and down issuing blankets to men, a bit cold tonight
3 September 1915: Quiet day, lazy day for fatigues, had a good view of what seems to be a convoy of ships, led by first class battleship, but too far out to say if they are full of troops
4 September 1915: Up early, parties out, report came in that two transports and mailboat and gunboat gone down, torpedoed by Turkish torpedo boat, which was afterwards sunk; no further report about it
5 September 1915: Sunday; Letter home, quiet day by the sea, teatime, order came that half of Battalion was leaving us, A Company to the 5th Manchesters and B Company to the 6th Manchesters.
6 September 1915:Up early. A and B Companies march off to join other units at 9.30.  Don't know what they will do with us next.  Nothing much doing.
7 September 1915: Just another move about 100 yards further back, still on the cliff.  This makes the tenth move since we landed, or since I landed; first time today to see a woman since we landed and they were nurses sailing by on a steam punt from off the hospital ship (not feeling so grand today)
8 September 1915: Feeling better.  Quiet day.  More men leaving us
9 September 1915: Busy day.  C Company and half of D Company gone to join the L.F. up in firing line.  Marched off at 4pm
10 September 1915: 5 new officers joined us this morning, what for I don't know.  Quiet day.  Received an order to get ready to go to Alexandria; running about till late getting orders; had supper out of parcel received from home (mince)
11 September 1915: Up at 4am to brigade Office at 5am; left bivouac for landing pier at 5.30, arriving at 6.15; embarked on lighter Ermine for Lemnos and sailed at 8am from the Gallipoli Peninsula, arriving Lemnos at 12 noon; here we disembarked the sick (110) officers and men and at 1.30 embarked on a paddle boat and sailed to the Aragon, got aboard to await orders; left her on a steam launch for Mudros to stay the night.  Had a good tea on Aragon with butter and thin bread, with sweet buns to finish with.
12 September 1915: Up at 5.30; had breakfast in Sgt. Mess at 8.30, awaiting orders.  The orders came to embark on steam tug for the Aragon to receive orders.  Leaving Mudros at 1 pm by tug; off the tug on the paddle boat and waitied alongside the Aragon till 4 p.m. and then received orders to embark on the cattle boat called Knight Templar, arriving and boarding her at 5.30 and sailed out of Lemnos at 6.30 p.m. for Alexandria.  Good night’s rest after being told off to small boats.
13 September 1915: On board, up at 6am. Good bath, change of clothes, then breakfast consisting of steak, bread, butter, jam and coffee.  Parade at 10.15; next your own boats changed drinking water and made all ready for if wanted.  Dinner, roast mutton, baked potatoes and boiled rice.  Quiet.  The Pass alright.
14 September 1915-Tuesday: Still on the water and making the best of the weather.  Very good meals all day; expecting to reach Alexandria tomorrow about 10 o’clock.
15 September 1915: The day of my birthday and arriving in Alexandria harbour at 12 noon but did not disembark until 4.30.  Got on the car to Mustapha barracks; had tea; met 2 of our sergeants; got a blanket and got down for the night.
16 September 1915: Had a look round the barracks; found the kit sheds; did a little work and had a look round Alex at night; met Pem Isherwood.
17 September 1915: Just a little more writing making out rolls; went to Nile Cold Storage Co.  Had tea down Alex; met Pem and had a look round for Jack FINN and found him.
18 September 1915: Worked till dinner and went to meet LEWIS at 7 p.m.  Talked all night till 10 o’clock and then for home.
19 September 1915: Went down to orderly room to meet officer; after we received orders was invited to have ride with him to Alexandria in carriage, and very nice it was, and then we drover to St Mark’s church to service, which I also enjoyed.  had dinner in town and met Lewis, Pem and Finn, so we had a car ride to the gardens, returning for tea in town and at night had a look at the pictures, arriving home at 10.30.
20 September-Monday: Received orders that no kits have to go back; awaiting orders; saw Lewis off at Sidi Gaber station at 9a.m. and then off back to kit sheds for a few hours.
21 Septemebr 1915: Still waiting orders; received message to meet officer at 7.45 where he is staying, that’s the Savoy Palace Hotel.  No orders so shall stay a few more days.
22nd September 1915: (Letter home) Nothing much doing. today; having a very nice rest.
23rd September: Still awaiting. orders.  Had a walk down to kit sheds.
24th September: Still resting in Alexandria. (Letter home)
25th September: Just had a letter from Sgt. Lewis and been to see him in hospital; at night had a concert in mess.
26th September: (Letter home) Received orders to embark on H.M.T. Inkosi to sail tomorrow; had a look at gentleman's house at night and it was very nice, arriving back to camp about 10.30.
27th September: Up early, down at kit sheds about 8 o'clock, motors loaded up and off to boat at 8.30, arriving on the quay side about 9.30; got all officers' kits on board and settled down waiting to sail; the boat left at 7 a.m. and at same time had dinner 2nd class.
28th September -Tuesday: Still moving along slowly; meals very poor.  Slept on deck this night; did a day's duty as ship's orderly sergeant.
29th September: Quiet day; nothing doing to alarm us.  Parade in lifebelts at 10.30.  During the day the body with lifebelt floated by, also lifeboat empty.
30th September: Slept on deck; last night much cooler.  Got wireless that a boat had gone down.  Torpedo boat came alongside this morning at about 8.30, put up a few signals and then left, but came back to escort us into Lemnos and now we find out that the boat that left Alexandria an hour before us has gone down; everyone well on the lookout; in all I hear that three have been torpedoed and just miss us.  Up to now we only get the name of one and that's the Toronto.

lst October 1915-Friday: Outside Lemnos in a fog and just missed ramming a boat during the night by a few yards; anyway all went well and we arrived at Lemnos about 10'o'clock only to hear that a boat had gone down with 1000 troops on her.  Noon awaiting orders.  Landed.
2nd October  (Letter home) Still waiting orders.  Just heard the good news from France.  The Star Liner just arrived in with 6000 troops aboard in the name of Olympic.  Our troops going ashore in batches.  We landed ashore about 4 p.m. and Turks head Mudros West there we stopped the night (rotten).
3rd October:Up at 6 a.m.; went with officers to Camp Comdt. Office for orders.  Officer gone on Aragon for orders; return myself to camp; seen officer at 6 p.m. and we report tomorrow at 3 p.m. on the Aragon.  One more night here.
4th October-Monday: Up and ready early: left camp for landing stage at 8.30 and sailed on ferry boat run by sailors at 2.30; had a good sail round harbour and then went abroad the Aragon only to get orders right away to embark on the Ermine for Cape Helles, which sailed at 4 o'clock and landing, the Peninsula at 9.30 and slept on board all night.
5th October:  Up and clean shave and was at 4 a.m. ready to go ashore.  Landed on shore at 6.30 and sat waiting for transport cart till 10.30, then set off on beach side to my Battalion; as I went along I met Mr. Bennett, the Q.M., so he showed me the way to where the Battalion had moved to, landing his dump about 1 p.m.; there I stayed the night where I had a good night's sleep.
6th October: (Letter home) Left the dump at about 2 p.m. to report myself to the Battalion, arriving at 4 o'clock, only to be sent back to assist the Q.Master, landing back at 7 o'clock and got down for the night.
7th October: Up at 6 a.m. and commenced making a new home.
8th October: (Letter home) Still on with my house but at night it commenced to rain so could not live in it; was not quite finished.  Slept with Mr. B.  Saw a duel in the air today but both got away safe.
9th October: Still on with winter quarters.
10th October-Sunday: (Letter home) Plenty of shells on beach but quiet around here.
11th October: Turkish taube flying round; airgun had a shot but missed.  Just had 2 shots near us; only one slightly wounded.  Having my teeth repaired.
12th October: Quiet day; doing odd jobs on the dump.
13th October: Still at the dump.  Up went a trench by Joe Turk; 6 men in.
14th October: (Letter home) Joe Turk got a little more ammo and is letting it fly around.
15th October-Friday: Nothing much doing.
16th October: Quiet day; packing up stores for Battalion going for rest.
17th October: Battalion left about 7 a.m. for Mudros to have its long earned rest.  I myself had to do what was left and act as Sgt. Major (rotten job).
18th October: (Letter home) Rained all last night; feeling a bit out of sorts.
19th October: Up at 2.30 a.m. to visit sentries and back to bed; off to beach at 9 o'clock and got my teeth.  Posted the men and got off to bed.
20th October: Nothing much doing.  4 new officers landed from England.
21st October-Thursday: Turks aeroplane came over this morning, had a look round; we fired but missed her; then after dinner came a few shells very near us; she must have seen something.  All passed off very well.  New officers left for instruction with 8 Manchesters.
22nd October: New draft from 3/4 E.L.R. landed about 40 men; very busy.  Order came for them to join 8 Manchester’s.  Left us in Eshi Line at 4 p.m.  Rained all day.
23rd October: Still raining and cold; quiet day till 11.30 p.m., then order came to be ready for an attack as the Turks were massing behind birdcage and Gulley Ravine; all pass off alright.
24th October: (Letter home) No attack was made last night.  Quiet day.
25th October-Monday Nothing much doing.
26th October: 15 more wounded men returned to us.  Quiet day.
27th October: Sending 27 men to the 6th Manchesters tomorrow.  Nothing much doing.  Duckworth off to hospital today.
28th October: (Letter home) Quiet day. Send off the 27 men at 4.30 and we get relieved by the 10th Manchesters tomorrow.
29th October: Waiting for the 10th Manchesters to come; they arrived at 2 p.m.  We left at once for Gulley near Dump.
30th October: Got settled down.  Quiet day.
31st October: (Letter home) Nothing doing.  Still waiting for Battalion.​

lst November 1915-Monday: Expected Battalion today but not arrived.  Quiet day.
2nd November: Battalion arrived back and marched to G. Ravine.  I joined the 2nd Mr. Dump and rode down to beach for rations for the first time from here.  Just about 4 shells came at us about 5 o'clock; one man and two mules hit.  Quiet after that.
3rd November: (Letter home) Went down to supplies.  A few shells from Acia landed in the water; one above any landed near a rowing boat, just missed him by a yard.  Quiet round here.
4th November: Still knocking about.  Quiet day.
5th November: As before.
6th November: (Letter home). The same.
7th November-Sunday: Still going along.
8th November: Still the same.
9th November: Nothing much doing.
10th November: (Letter home)  
11th November:  
12th November: 
13th November: (Letter home) Issue of winter clothing.
14th November: 
15th November: The night of all nights   wind, rain and snowballs, a night like the 25th of May but it only lasted about one hour, but it was long enough; my little house managed to stick up.
16th November: (Letter home) Turkish taube sailed over, dropped a bomb and left.
17th November: Same as before; nothing doing, but a very bad night of wind and rain.
18th November: Cold day and a very bad night; thunderstorm.
19th November: Quiet day; a few shells from Joe Turk.
20th November: (Letter home) Still going on.
21st November: Rations drawn at night instead of morning.
22nd November:      
23rd November:    
24th November:    
25th November: (Letter home)      
26th November: Bad night for rain; wet through.
27th November: (Letter home) Day of promotion to A/R.Q.M.S.
28th November: 

Nothing from 28 November until 6 December
6th December 1915: Promoted A/R.Q.M.Sgt.
7th December: A touch of the back yard trot not so bad.
Nothing until 21st Dec.
21st December: Still going on; a very wet day.
Nothing until 28th Dec.
28th December: Battalion received order to prepare to be relieved which came at 2 o'clock; being in the firing line at the time was a welcome message and the line was took over by the 9th Worcestershire Regt.  The Battalion marched down to W. Beach and sorry to say that one man was killed and 3 wounded when being relieved.
29th December: The Battalion embarked at 1.30 this morning and sailed for (don't know), also Q.M. and all went off very nicely as far as I know.  I got my orders to proceed to V. Beach with baggage, landing there at 9.30 p.m. but had to go to W. Beach and there stopped for the night: no sleep.
30th December: On the move early, 5 o'clock; loading commenced at 6 a.m. on lighter at No.3 pier, then when finished at 8 a.m. was took out to boat and transferred baggage on to Shatworth Force and sailed away from Lancashire landing (but not before having a shot put at us which came within 10 yards); 12.20 p.m. then off we sailed to Mudros, arriving at 6.30 but too late to get in so we had to stay out all night and sailed in on the morrow
31st December: Sailed in at 11 o'clock and land on shore at 4 o'clock and joined the Battalion.  New Year's Eve.

1916 1st January: Quiet out of danger of shells and bullets and able to walk about and what a change it is.
2nd January: Still at Mudros.
7th January: Had a ride round Mudros.
12th January: Advance party left this morning on H.M.S. Mars for somewhere.  Handed half our blankets in to Ordnance.
13th January: Had a ride round Mudros; got back at 4.30.  The order had come to pack up and embark tomorrow.
14th January: Embarked from Sarpi Pier at 11 a.m. and boarded the Arcadian at 12.10.
15th January: After being in harbour all night we received orders to sail at 9 a.m.; after we got to sea we was told off to boats and got our lifebelts.  Dining 2nd class.
16th January-Sunday: Had a good hot bath; went to church parade at 11 a.m. and the day passed along alright.
17th January: Up at 6 a.m. but no land in sight but saw it at 12 noon and arrived in harbour at 2 o'clock and stayed on board all night.
18th January:   Boarded the train at 12.30 for Cairo station at 6 p.m. where tramcars conveyed us to Mena Camp.
19th January: Nothing much on this day.
22nd January: Went out to meet Lewis and then to some civilian friends and had a very nice evening.
24th January-Monday: Went up to Citadel to Lewis; sent off a parcel home; landed back to Mena about 10.30.
25th January: Lewis came to see me at Mena and stopped all night.  Very busy; leaving tonight at 7 o'clock for Tel el Kebir; arrived at Cairo station at 10 o'clock by car; boarded the train at 10.30.
26th January: Arrived at Tel el Kebir at 4.30; plenty of troops here.
27th January: Heard that we move again in a day or two.
28th January: Still waiting to move.
29th January: Order came to move; down came the tents at 9.30; all baggage on the siding at Tel el Kebir by 12 noon; boarded the train at 4 o'clock and left at 4.45, arriving at Shallufa at 8.30; marched over the pontoon on to the Desert Camp, arriving at 1 a.m.​
30th January-Sunday: Getting all baggage across the canal and seeing to rations.​

9th February 1916: Left Shallufa about 12 noon for Geneffe, about 4 miles further down the canal; my staff travelled. by light railway.  It is wonderful to see the large boats pass along the canal.
14th February: Played officers at football and got beat 3   0; holding back for bets.
15th February: Played again today and got beat the same.
19th February: Moved from Geneffe back again to Shallufa to make a small dump as the Battalion go on the desert tomorrow; sending rations to the Battalion by camels; shall see how I go on tomorrow.
20th February: Things go along alright with the camels.
29th February: Had a walk to the Boss at Geneffe, only about 4 miles along the Canal.  Got back about 3 in the afternoon.

2nd March 1916: Bad day for winds; a terrible sand storm; can't find your way on the Desert.
9th March: Accident; sprained my ankle; not bad but enough to stop me from knocking about.
7th March: Arrival of the Q.M.S. Duckworth.
18th March: Appeared in Orders as Sgt.
26th March: Send to Battalion for Extract of Battalion Orders.
28th March: Made an application for my rank.
29th March: Left by train at 9 o'clock p.m. for Port Suez.
30th March: Arriving at Port Suez at 3 a.m. after a lot of shunting about; slept in luggage van till daylight then unloaded baggage; landed on camping ground about noon.
31st March: Setting out Camp and looking after rations for men.

lst April 1916-Saturday: Nothing much doing today.
4th April: Battalion arrived at Suez
5th April: Discharge came; interview Adjutant
6th April: Received warrant and left Suez at 5.45, arriving at Ismailia at 8.20; changed again to Benha 12.15 and arrived at Alexandria at 5.40.
7th April: Landed alright and met Lewis.
17th April:  List of names for home; embark tomorrow on HMT Arsova.
18th April: Parade at 7.30, arriving at the dock about 9 am; marched on board at 10.30 and allotted messes.
19th April: Gangway taken down at 11 a.m. after we had lifebelt parade; had been sailing about 4 hours when siren sounded and everybody ran to their places.
20th April: Passed about 10 boats this day; also patrol boats; the day passed off alright.
(Good Friday): Rather cold and rough.
22nd April-Saturday: Still going but can't say where.
23rd April-Sunday: Still sailing round and round, for why can't say; the Captain knows best.
24th April-Monday: Sailed through a very dangerous part; sea all marked with oil.  Expecting to arrive in Gib. tomorrow.
25th April: Arrived at Gib. at 6 a.m.; went on guard at 4 p.m.  Sailed from here at 5 p.m. along with French gunboat as escort.
26th April: Escort still with us; sailing along very nicely, changing course a few times.
27th April: Nothing much doing., going through the Bay.  Escort no longer in sight.
28th April: Bit of' a rough sea; all the better, for that will keep away submarines.  Expecting arriving England tomorrow at 6 a.m.
29th April: Up at 11.30 for a look at England; could not see it; passed Eddystone at 6.15 and arrive in Plymouth Sound about 7.30; waiting to be tugged in; arriving at 10 a.m. in dock.  Marched to rest camp at 10.30 and arrived about 4 o'clock, with rumour that. we should stay till Tuesday but not so, as we left at 7.45 to the station at Plymouth, leaving there at 9 o'clock en route for home.
30th April 1916: Arrived Crewe at 4.30; next stop Preston, which we got to at 6.30 and had to wait till 8.45 for train to Blackburn, arriving at 9.45 and walked in the house at 10 a.m.

Home once more.

Judged unfit for further foreign service, Ernest served out the rest of the
Great War in stores at Ripon.
IMG_1144.JPG IMG_1143.JPG
Certificates of Service for Ernest Bertwistle Left 1898-1908
Right 1919

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War Letters of Ernest Bertwistle​​​

Ernest Bertwistle With Officer

NOTE: Very few letters from Sergeant BERTWISTLE were kept by his wife
Southampton postcard post marked 10 September 1914
Dear Wife, By the time you receive this P.C. we shall be on the water.  We left Bury @ 1 o’clock & landed here @ 1 o’clock after a weary 12 hours in the train.  The boat we are sailing on is the Royal Mail (Deseado)  Yours Ernest

16th September 1914; on board H M Transport Deseado
Well, as you will know, we left Southampton on Thursday @ 5 o’clock & sailed @ 5 knots an hour till we landed to Sandown Bay their (sic) we had to wait for the other Convoy (that is 17 ships altogether), it is a fine sight to see them just @ present in 3 lines, that is 5 in a line with a gunboat in front & one behind) it took them a day to get into line & then we set sail.  It was a bit rough and raining but it was not rough enough to make me sick.  But anyway we got to the Bay of Biscay & instead of sailing through in a day & a half it took us over two & a half days, so you can tell the speed we are going at.  Today we are off the coast of Spain.  If I look through the porthole of my bunk I can see it so we are in the land of sunshine.  I believe we are expected to land Gibraltar tomorrow morning.  I don’t know that I can tell you much more about the voyage, only we are travelling 2nd class and it is not so bad, the sleeping is extra, a nice little bunk for two and four.  There is LEWIS, FRANKLAND, & DUFFY & myself in here, but I must make one complaint & that is the eatables.  I am not eating as much as I should like to but that does not matter as long as my health is good well I think it ought to be I had nothing to do @ camp [Chesham Fold] & I have done nothing on board (oh by the way I am telling a lie) I commenced yesterday with working in the printers shop printing the ship on this writing paper & postcards - I mean to say helping the printers.  I forgot to tell you that we have General Douglas on board our ship so we have to be good but they give us until 9 o’clock & then we have to go to bed some of us I for one go to bed every night @ 9 o’clock.  I will write again when we get to Egypt.  I think we are going there so if you have not written to me you might drop me a line or two when you get this & remember me to all at home & tell them I will write to them when I get to our station.
I think by the time you get this (Kit) we should have landed or near too, so I will close with love to you & our Baby (you might ask Baby whose little girl she is for me Liz & let me know & give her these also xxxxxxx & then I know she will not forget her playmate)
By bye for the present Your xxxxx Ernest.

27th September 1914; Citadel Cairo Egypt
Just a short note to say that we have got to our barracks.  We arrived @ Alex @ 7 am on the 24th.  Left there by train for Cairo.  Got there about 10 o’clock at night & after about 3 mile march got to our home.
You talk about a Country, I do wish you was with me Sis if it was only just to see Cairo, it is a lovely place & every morning a nice blue sky.  If we look out of the room window we can see all the town.  I have not been in the town yet but I think I shall have a look before I leave it.  Up to yet we have only got our helmets but I have got a pair of shorts, there are trousers cut off at the knees & the money I must not forget to tell you about that every time you buy something you loose a farthing it is some kind of Duty on it.  The married folks left here this morning (Sunday) for England, some were glad & others were sorry to leave it.  I wish I had you living in one of the houses.  I think this is all, I am pushing to catch the mail.

4th October 1914; Citadel Cairo Egypt
Introduction  I don’t know I have much to say about the Place because I have seen much of the town what I have it is as I said in my last letter letter missing it is wonderful but the smell it is rotten.  They all sit outside in the sun smoking their long pipes but I don’t know what they smoke but it stinks.  But anyway we are not allowed to go out @ nights or @ the daytime only on biss & I have [been] out three times with Mr BENNET so I have seen a bit by day.  I shall be able to tell you about the thing when I come home.

8th October 1914; Citadel Cairo Egypt
Your letter to hand of the 7th; letter missing & glad to hear you are all getting along alright.  I see by your letter that you are still receiving money.  You did not tell me where it had come from.  I don’t think it is half my pay because it should be more than 24/-, any way you must take all orders that come, refuse nothing.  Have you had anything from the Prince of Wales fund yet, if not you might see about it & chance your luck of getting a bit more .  You must have all the money that comes to you & what you don’t spend will do for a holiday when we meet again.  endearments follow
I have a look at Cairo @ night but I think the best place is in Barracks for a Gentleman.  They talk about Paris, well to my mind this place wins.  I suppose they have to make their living some-way but they say it id worse after ten o’clock & that is the time we have to be in.  Me & Pem [ISHERWOOD] & LEWIS are going to see the Sphinx on Sunday all being well.  I don’t know as to whether we shall go by Donkey, Camel Train or Lorry.  I suppose we shall get there.  It is starting to get cold @ nights but still the same hot sun in the day.  Your Mother should be here for flys.  She would grumble.  They are a pest, they are worse when you are getting your meals all over the stuff & the bread we are getting - god love my poor teeth - the crust is like a board.  I could just eat my Saturday tea, you will know what that is but it makes no difference.  I can’t have it.  more endearments follow

24th October 1914; Egypt
Your letter to hand; letter missing, opening endearments  I see also that the mills are doing bad, that looks bad for the coming winter I am sorry to hear that Pa is not doing so well as he expected but I suppose it will have its time.
I want you to let me know how much money you have received for August & September so that I can see if I am getting my right pay here, which is not very much to live on not according to the prices here but I don’t care one bit as long as you are doing alright.

5th October 1914; Egypt Cairo
Your letter to hand letter missing, opening endearments  Now that you have weaned Mary you will be running off to work (perhaps) but that is left to yourself but don’t forget that I want you to be in the pink when we do meet again.  I have had a letter & some cigarettes from Frank COOK - small merceys thankfully received & two packets from Mertha so you see everybody is thinking about me.  I wrote to G HOTHERSALL last week & Harry GILMOUR.  Mrs NASH & Fred WOOD but I am going to cross it off it costs too much money & my pay is not so much.  That reminds me, you say you have got the lowest rate of pay, well so far as we can get to know that is 10d a day for you & 2d for Baby.  I left you half of my pay as I told you & my pay is 2/4d a day & 6 pence on top of that will be 2/10d , for September you will. or should have, received a third of my pay for 19 days, that is perhaps that 24/- which as far as I can reckon is half of my pay for 18 days & what about September allowance; was that separate for September, if so you are all right.  Let me know as I told you Kit in my last letter & for this month is that 18/- a week in addition to the separation, if so you will not do so bad.  Now please let me know in return to this letter & then I know how my pay stands that’s a love.  If you do that I will know that you still love me.
You talk about going to camp for 2 weeks, it is not in it with this it will take months to make up for all this lost time.  Pem ISHERWOOD told me that you were all coming over, if that is so let it be soon, let me know when you get that money & if it is alright from the Barracks that will help you a bit more.  You see I have not forgot you.  I think of you every night when I lay on my hard bed which I am getting used to very nicely.
I have just been down town, me & LEWIS, to have our photos taken so I will send you one perhaps next post.
You will remember me trying to compose that Bugle March, that one that they shout in, well I have managed it so the mess have presented me with a penny trumpet.  You should hear the men shout when we play it.  the adjutant says it is the best he has heard & wants me to send it to Booseys, London, & get comments on it but I am a bit shy so I don’t think I shall bother.
I tried to join the Egyptian Army last week @ 16£ a month but they will not have me because I am married, they have to be in 7 years before they are allowed, so that is off.
I don’t think I like Cairo much because it wont do for a shy young man like me, will tell you more when I see you.

On 5th November 1914 Britain officially declared war on Turkey.  The pro-Turkish Khedive of Egypt was in Constantinople at the time.  He was deposed in his absence and his pro British Uncle, Prince Hussein Kamel Pasha, proclaimed as Sultan.  He entered Cairo on 20th November and two companies of 4th East Lancs Territorials were part of the welcoming guard of honour

14th November 1914; Cairo
Your welcome letter to hand, I mean two; one of which seems to be hers of 3 November.  I see that you are expecting getting into some fighting, well we might & might not & as for myself I don’t think I shall have to go so don’t worry love.  I shall be able to do my bit if the worse comes to the worse.
I see you want me to put my love on one sheet & the other for viewing.  I am sorry Kit but I can’t split it up, you will have to satisfy them with telling them what I say.
expressions of longing for home follow
I am just breaking the time on our half day holiday; that is Wednesday afternoon & Saturday afternoon, with playing hockey & football.  it is not so bad in hockey only for knocking lumps of flesh off.  I’ve not done bad, only two lumps off the leg and one on the arm, but am better now.  I had a letter from your Bill & he says he is working his machine [Dobson Automatic Reacher-in].  I am sorry I can’t do any biss here for him as they do nothing only grow the cotton here.  It is a treat to see the plants & watch them pick it off.  they put it in bags & the camels carry it off to the packing room to bale it, so that is something fresh.  I have had a letter from Mr WOOD & he wants me to bring turkey back & he will provide the sausage (German).  The choir boys sends me their best respects & hope to see me soon but we shall have to wait.  I got my “Weh Tel” alright & tell Mother I thank her for it.  If you want to send me something, you remember them underpants I got @ Wolfondale the two “Stepples” I could do with a pair.  I have only 1 pair but I don’t use them, well not as yet but it is getting cold now, but never mind I will try & get a pair here now the vaccination is over they wants us to be inoculated, do you advise me to have it done, if so I will go through it again.  closing endearments

6th January 1915; 4th East Lancs Regt, E L Division
Just a few lines to let you know that I have received your Christmas Box alright, you could have sent nothing better, everything in the box was in good condition.  I had a look in when I got it & put it in my box, had a walk out to give some orders & then I came back & when I saw the mince pies you should have seen me get them down it did not take long I tell you & jolly good they were.  You are a darling wife, you must love me truly as you would not send me a box like you have done.  I have not had no loaf yet but I shall do before I go to bed, for my supper.  It is a grand change to have of stuff from home the meals here are rotten.  I get more tired every day, the same over & over again.  I don’t think I shall eat any more potatoes when I come home, we get them every dinner time & you know how I like them, once a week is enough & the bread is like eating stones.  My teeth is sticking it champion.  there is a lot of men with them and you should see them laugh with two or three broken off, but never mind it will all be over someday & then we shall be able to talk over the times when we were parted.
You said in your last letter you did not want me to send any more of those table cloths, well I can’t get one if I wanted, I don’t think, so I have bought an Egyptian cover for the piano, so the box you sent me will just do for send a few things I have home & you can give them to those who they are for if you like.  I will let you know a week before I send it so that you will know then it is coming.
I got a bottle of Awbridge Cough Mixture here in Cairo for my cough & do you know what they charge for a 10 penny bottle as they sell @ home?  Only 2/-, no so bad is it, but I had to get something & went for another last night but can’t find another in Egypt so I suppose it will have to go as it came.  Don’t worry love it is mending.

6th February 1915; 4th East Lancs Regt, E L Division
I have not much news to tell you because just @ present I am in a mix-up with my Ration Mess money & of course if I had you here I could have got you to give me a lift, but it will all come out in the wash.
We are still under canvas Marquees on the Heliopolis racecourse according to Bill Kennedy, we have not got to fight the Turks yet.
the rest of the letter are expressions of longing for home, wife & baby

18th February 1915; 4th East Lancs Regt, E L Division, Cairo, Egypt
Letter acknowledges one of 4th Feb, now missing, and is thanks for the contents of a food parcel - pies, loaf & toffees - page 2 is missing

4th March 1915; 4th East Lancs Regt, E L Division, Cairo, Egypt
Covering letter for a box of gifts and curios for the family; including Alabaster eggs & stands, Cleopatra’s Needle & small pillar - still in the family’s possession

On 16th April the 4th East Lancs went to Port Said for Suez Canal guard duty.  They were however only there for a fortnight as on the 6th May they embarked for the Dardanelles.  It had become obvious that the naval forces could not win through and that land forces were needed.  The first Gallipoli landings, by British, French and Australian troops, took place on the 5th April and met with determined resistance from Joe Turk.  According to the BERTWISTLE War Diary the East Lancs landed on 9th May after a 3 day journey from Port Said, Bill Kennedy names the transport ship as Galeka

27th May 1915; 1/4 East Lancs Reg, Med. Expy. Force
Dear Wife, Your letter to hand dated the 6 May & glad to hear you are all doing well, as for usual I have nothing to tell you but a line or two will put you @ rest.  I suppose you will know where I am & I am quite well, remember me to all, not forgetting the Lady. From Your Ernest.

Two undated signature pages of letters in pencil on paper torn from notebooks were, by their context, written from Gallipoli

...be digging a bivouac in the back yard or a trench & live the life of a hermit it is a grand life always in the open only for the fear of shells etc. it would be alright, but I am going along alright & still on the same job & quite satisfied as I have not much work to do only to see that the men get plenty of something to eat, so I think I will close.  Remember me to all, not forgetting my queen & you.  From Yours Ever - E

...god that we shall meet again & soon & the letters you send love are alright, you never complain, that’s what a soldier’s wife should do.
Tell Father that he should not take any notice of rumours or he might hear that I shall be a Colonel, the only thing I hope is that FRANKLAND pulls through for he was badly wounded & should be home by now [Letters from Maple Street first mention FRANKLAND convalescing 16 August 1915 and home on 1st October 1915 - “and he doesn't look bad considering”].  I don’t know that I have anymore to say only remember me to all @ home.  With love from your Soldier Laddie - Ernest

The War Diary shows the East Lancs to have been involved in trench warfare throughout their time in Gallipoli.  How much information was allowed by censorship to reach England is unclear but one letter survives which can hardly have brought comfort to the anxious relatives in Blackburn
17th August 1915; From the Dardanelles 
Yours to hand dated the 28th & sorry you have had to wait so long for a letter but I don't know as to whether it is my fault or not I think it must be the ship & you say that I don't mention my packets of fags that's in the letters, I thought I did, & I am sorry but I have received everything you have sent up to yet so that's all right & with regard to your Jim's wife I got one about that time but there was no letter inside to say who it was from well you can just imagine how I kept wondering who sent them but could not tell the writing on the envelope but anyway tell her I got them & smoked them & that will be all right.
I am glad to hear you are making the best of the weather & hope you keep it up as for me I am just about fed up with being out in the open, just fancy 3 month & never had a cover over my head & might you laugh to see us, rabbits are not in it for getting under cover especially when a shell comes, first sound and we are off in our holes.
The next time you see Mr GOWEN you might tell him that all my teeth have come off the plate in front and it is a rotten job eating with the back plate.
I see you keep asking me if I want something, well I want a lot but I can't get it & that makes things a lot harder but sometimes I feel I could eat something good but it is not worth sending from home although we are not doing bad now we get rice & milk & currants & raisins & it is quite a change but butter I have not seen for 4 months so I don't think I shall want any on my bread when I return but one gets fed up with things here.  I would go anywhere if I could just have a look at you & home for a few days it will be like being married over again only for the little girl bless her, it would just do you good Kit to hear me laugh @ her wouldn't it.  I know it would, I feel I would just like to hear her, but never mind I have not given up hope yet there will come a day.
You mention something about the flys in one of your letters, well they are a pest just @ present.  I have got both hands bandaged up with knocking my hands in the trenches and the dirty flys that have been on the dead bodies come on the cuts & now I have got them festering, it is a kind of small septic poisoning but only in a small form, but it is rotten all the same but you don't need to worry its nothing much so I hope you wont ask about the flys again.  Don't ask me to tell you Sis about the things I see & are because one is enough to suffer in it.
I am just beginning to think I am going to be away on another birthday if things don't alter.  I had a chance of improving my position well it only meant another 1/- a day in my pay but I don't want to rob anyone I am quite satisfied with my job & I am quite @ home & should have to run more risks, so you was not here with me to ask your opinion so you can tell me if I did right, my position that I am waiting for is with Mr BENNET that is the best paid job & if I don't get it well I shall remain the Sgt Drummer.
I don't know that I have much more that I can say only that I am in the pink not counting my hands, oh by the way I think I asked you to send me a tin of health salts & shaving soap & a photo of you & Mary but you may perhaps not have got the letter yet but to my mind you should have got it & I have sent my watch as well so I am waiting for the next post & see what it will bring.
I think I will finish now Kit as there is quite enough for one mail & I call it taking advantage of the uncensored letter so I will close remember me to my little girl & you Sis I could just do with holding you in my arms just for a minute, the other night I had you in my dreams & you gave me one of your sly glances the sort you give when I am begging but it did not last long enough & finished.  I think this is all this time.
From Yours for Ever, Ernest

The War Diary records a respite from Gallipoli from 10th September - 5th October, thanks to being sent back to Alexandria on Regimental business

14th September 1915; From On Board the Knight Templar 
I am having a trip to Alexandria for the mens’ kit bags & I can tell you that when the Colonel sent for me & told me that I was to embark for Alex I was struck dumb.  I looked @ him & thought he had gone off his mind but anyway it was right for I am sailing now & expecting to reach Alex tomorrow all being well.  I can tell you it goes down bad with a few & I shall get to know about it when I return, but all the same I calls it an honour to be chosen & for the whole Brigade too, but I am glad to get away from the sound of the guns & etc.  It will be a very nice change for a week, in all they say I shall be away for 4 weeks.  I can tell you one thing & that is with my mind being clear from all worry of the battlefield I can do nothing but sleep & how nice it feels to have a nice bed & bread & butter, a thing I have not had since the middle of April.
What will Pem ISHERWOOD say when he sees me, he will go mad and the people will think we have gone off our chump for the time being.  He wrote to Mr BENNET a little time back & told him to kiss me for him so now he will have the chance.  I only wish it was England & then I would sing my head off but anyway now that I am an old soldier I am waiting for the time to come & hope that while I am away the Turks will finish & that would be the best move of all, for the Peninsular is an awful place one can't tell until he has been in it with this & the number of men we have lost as you will have seen by the papers.  All our officers have left us only Mr BENNETT, all gone sick, some for home, I call it a down right shame to leave us at the mercy of strange officers, even ROBINSON our Colonel, he told us in Egypt when we got orders for the Dardanelles that I will look after you & bring you home safe & it looks like it but never mind we have got through so far without him & we shall go the same if not better.  Whenever there was fighting going on you could not get him out of his hole but he could chew the rag if anything went wrong the soft D-- excuse my strong talk but I feel I must, now that I am away from it for a few days, but I feel my place is with the lads, if I don't shoot with the lads I see that they get their food all right, but it is a bit risky sometimes as I have felt the whiz of the bullets but all the same it is nice to have your mind clear.  I wish I could meet you when I get to Alex & call it home.
By the way I shall not receive any letters until I return to my regiment so I shall miss all my birthday presents & cards but they will all be waiting for me as Mr BENNET will look after them.
I don't know that I can tell you much more only it looks like we are going to spend the winter in the trenches, poor lads, when I left it was getting cold @ nights & I had just given them all a blanket each, so you see I don't waste much of my time & as for going back well I will have to as duty calls & I must obey.
Remember me to my little lassie & tell her not to forget her soldier daddie in the Dardanelles who will be coming to have a play with her someday.  I am writing to LEWIS to see if he can't come down & have a look @ the old warrior before I go back, before finishing I might say that I am in the best of health, could not feel better, hoping this finds you all the same.

The stay in Alexandria ended on 27 September.  He rejoined his battalion in Gallipoli on 6th October 1915 and remained there for the rest of the year
25th December 1915; Xmas Day From the Dardanelles  
Well it is Christmas here today & the sun is shining lovely.  Things are going on just the same.  Joe Turk as no respect for the day & work goes on just the same so I think we shall have to call it an "Ideal" day & we are having a bit of plum pudding & spud pie for dinner & but no apple sauce.  It would buck things up a little if we only have had a mail but I think all the boats have got last as we have not had a parcel mail for over a week or so, anyway we have got to make the best of things & thank God I am in the best of spirits & am happy so that helps one a lot.
I waited up till about twelve thirty to see if Father Xmas would come but no luck & when I awoke this morning all that I found was a pot of tea so I wished myself a Merry Xmas & got out of bed, & then I heard our band of the Division playing Xmas music & very nice it was.  It bucks things up when (one) can hear a bit of music & when we leave this place who is going to march in front of the band, I don't think it will be me but there will be enough of them at home to welcome us when we come but when, no one seems to know, someday I hope.

In the event the order to withdraw came on 28th December 1915 and the Battalion spent a fortnight on Mudros before returning to the comparative safety of Egypt

2nd January 1916;
no address but he was on Mudros according to the War Diary
My dead Sis, Your letter to hand dated 13, 17,& 21 not so bad for one mail is it & also your parcel the contents of which is choc, loaf & salmon thanks very much.
I am glad to hear you are still looking alright the photo is not a bad one, but it is short of me to set it off.  I could like to have mine taken now that I have got all my hair, you would laugh, I look like I have just done about two years but it is healthy & you can keep it much cleaner.  I am sorry you fell over the foot C but you did not tell me what you said, did you see stars.  I see that our Will’s going to do his bit yet - tell him he will have to be sharp.  You might tell Aunty Jin that I thank her very much for her kind offer but I am in want of nothing.  You was right when you underlined Xmas fun.  I don’t know that I can leave this job not as I have got it for good.  Sorry I can’t help you with the Xmas tree.  I would not mind having a look at it (perhaps I shall soon).  You would have some fun I bet.  I am sorry to hear over your Bill & I hope by the time you get this he is knocking about again, remember [me] to him.
With regard to my promotion you can send all my letters now with R Q M Segt instead of the old title & I am pleased to say that I am far from danger but I can’t say more, but don’t worry it is a good move & if I don’t write for a few days you will know I am in the best of health & doing well, so when you write as I said put in the corner of the envelope c/o GPO London & then they will follow us. Don’t stop writing.  Excuse me answering your letter in what you might call a nut shell it is for the best.

Back in Egypt 17/18 January the next posting was Shaluffa by the Suez Canal

8th February 1916; Shalluffa
I fancy you will wonder where we shall be next, goodness knows.  I see that you are working again.  I wonder what you will be doing with it, saving it for when I return I suppose, but don’t over do it Sis.  I can imagine how you feel, that you want something to break the time, but I want you to be in the very best of health when I come so you will do as I ask wont you love.
I will give it to Grandma B teasing my little girlie, just tell Mary to tell her I will go for her when I come home.  That’s the way to bring her up Sis, I mean with regard to the bed part, I shall want it all to myself (nearly) for a few weeks (that is if it is soft) wont it be a change.  You used to say the camp was a long time, but what price this.  Anyway if we keep waiting, we shall meet again someday & it may not be long for one never knows​

27th February 1916; Shaluffa
I see by your letters that you have guessed the place where we are & a lot better it is.  I don’t care if I never hear the sound of guns again.
I am sorry I can’t send baby a picture as we can’t buy them here on the sandy desert miles from nowhere, but if we ever get in a town again I wont forget, that’s if I can think on as my memory is playing bad with me just @ present, I can’t remember anything as is told me unless I book it down but I am a little better of it now.  I fancy it is with the hot sun down but I have had plenty of work lately but now I am getting more rest so I feel better.  It is nothing to worry about Sis; I get through my work just the same.
paragraphs follow asking Sis not to work too hard in case it has a detrimental effect on Baby

4th March 1916; Shaluffa
[Much of the letter is confusion about a pair of gloves arriving in a parcel from pa, which he later realises are the ones she got and which he no longer needs now he is clear of Gallipoli]
. . . I am sorry now that I sent to you for them, but I did not know as we was going to leave the Peninsula.
We have just had a three days sand storm & it is rotten as everything you eat & drink is full of sand , not bothering about getting your eyes full.  Good Saturday night & here I am miles from nowhere with sand all around for miles, but it makes it a little better to see the big ships pass by here.

The War Diary notes that his discharge came 5th April 1916.  He embarked on the HMT Arsova from Alexandria on 18th April and arrived in Plymouth Sound on the morning of 29th April.  He took a 9pm train from Plymouth and, after an overnight journey via Crewe and Preston, walked in the house, 10 Maple Street, at 10am on the morning of 30th April 1916, after an absence of a year and nine months.  But, as Kipling once said: There's no discharge in the war, and he is next located serving with the East Lancs in Southport.

Postmark 22nd November 1917 from 93 Tulketh Street, Southport
Just a line to say that I got back safe & sound & I also got your letter this morning.
I quite enjoyed my flying visit very much it did seem so nice to have you sit so near me & telling me all that was going on while I am away & to walk in the house & be loved as I was.  Ah well it was worth it and I fancy I shall try it again sometime but not this week as we have got plenty of work with the drafts going away.  I feel jolly tired tonight, I fancy it must be being C C fire beater. closing endearments

2nd January 1917; from 93 Tulketh Street, Southport
I have got an awful temper this morning, nothing can go right, the reason is we have just got news that we are going to move & the place is Ripon as if we wont do here.  Ah well Lissie I am afraid I shall have to see if I can get a night at home before we move.  I am so sorry that Mary can’t paint me a picture but tell her not to worry as I will wait until she gets a big girl & I come home to stop so that I can help her to do it.

10th March 1917; No.42 Camp Ripon
The final extant letter is mainly endearments and hopes for the future without any news about the war or local events
Myself & THOMPSON thought of going out to tea today in Ripon, but just our luck working until 5.30 so we had it at home so the cafe was two short for tea.  Anyway we did not do bad here, we only had home made bread (from THOMPSON) & we started with fish (kippers one) after we had fowl (eggs) so we are not doing too bad, but don’t forget Lissie that we have to pay for them what with the breath & what they give us, well, we are living but only just.  But I mustn’t grumble sweetheart because I am in England & not far from you.
I must not forget to tell you that I have had a letter from LEWIS & they have got their ration money dropped to a shilling a day, so that is not much to live on.  How would you like it Lissie, could you manage to keep me on so much, anyway, Mrs H LEWIS thinks it is not enough but you can’t have it everyway, he is @ home & I think that counts a lot, I don’t know what to do whether to go in for it or take my chance here & go where they send me.  I am afraid they may send me a working somewhere now that I am C II unless I get sent to a draft & still remain a soldier.  If I applied to H Livesey’s foundry I could perhaps get sent there, that’s if they made an application for me.  Anyway I think we had better let it take its chance & see what will come.
Trivia is followed by the usual longing for home
I never lay down @ night & forget the one I would very much like to be with, but the time is drawing near when we shall see what will be the result of this parting or the times we have spent apart & the sooner the better, as I think sometime that with having been away so long that you will be forgetting what it is like to have me @ home always.
I hope by the time you get this Mother will be better & you will all be sailing along very nicely.  Remember me to Mary & I would (like) to have a look @ Doris to see the change.  Goodnight Sis from your ever loving E.

At some stage the family moved temporarily to Copt Hewick, a village just east of Ripon, in order to be together for the remainder of the War.  After the war they returned to Maple Street, Ernest found work with the Co-operative funeral service, brought up his two daughters, Mary and Doris, enjoyed summer holidays at Blackpool and performed in local concerts as an amateur baritone, despite the bronchial cough developed in the trenches.  He died at 91 Brownhill Road in 1953.  Lizzie lived until 1971, with the company of daughter Doris who never married and lived until 2002 at 11 East Lancs Road, Brownhill.  The elder daughter Mary married Albert ASPDEN of Darwen in 1938.  History to some extent repeated itself, with Mary being left at home with a baby son to look after, while Albert served with the RAF during the second World War; but her husband, unlike her father, was never sent on active service overseas.  The family moved away from Lancashire in 1957 and Mary died in January 2005, age 91.

 Buglers and Drummers of the East Lancashire Regiment
Elizabeth and Ernest Bertwistle with their Daughter Mary

From 10 Maple Street, Blackburn
27th Oct 1914;
I have just got back from LEWIS's, I went with Mrs FRANKLAND so we had quite a party.  Fancy six children among us.  It seems none of us are getting the pay allotted to us.  I wrote up about mine to Manchester and I will enclose the reply so that you can show it to LEWIS and FRANKLAND if you wish.  We keep hearing that you will have to go to the front before long, let us hope not.

3 Nov 1914;
You might have to fight by the time you get this unless Turkey alters her mind, but we will hope for the best.  I feel sure you will come back all right whatever happens.  I am sending the Weekly Tel(egraph) this week.  Mary Alice is like a dog with two tails because she has had a letter from you.  Your father comes every day to see if we have heard from you, so if you like you could write one page so that I could let him read it.  I don't like to let him read my love letters.
(Baby) went to our Bill's till dinner time then she went to LAWRENCE's till 3.30 then I fetched her home and she slept about two hours and then I took her to your house and it did suit Grandma.  Your mother is not well, I think it is her stomach and it is upsetting your father.

6th Nov 1914:
I went to the theatre yesterday afternoon to see Gypsy Love, it was quite a change and we have a good do to come in, Mrs LAWRENCE is drawing her fortune tonight [tea leaves or playing cards] , I don't think she will forget you.  You mention in your letter about me going to work. I think I shall as soon as there is any.  I saw Belle the other Sunday, they are stopped till further orders.  Jimmy has got work at the station so that will be better than nothing.

17th Nov 1914;
There are all sorts of tales going, one is that you are coming home and then going to the front.  There is a letter in tonight's paper from Capt. BROADBENT describing some of the things he has seen.  It is very good.  I don't know how you go on for war news over there, we don't get to know much here.  When you've read the paper through you know as much as you did before you started.  The paper lads shout the same thing every day, "Great German losses".

24th Nov 1914;
(Baby) says Harry LAWRENCE has to buy her a "doll doll" at Xmas.  From all accounts the war will not last much after Xmas, everybody is looking a lot brighter.  There are no concerts or balls going on here, everything is very quiet, we are saving up for when you come back.  Your reserve battalion had a good send off, I believe they marched to the station close on a thousand strong, so we shall have some terriers when you all come back.  Harry METCALF has joined and gone with them to Southport. 

27th Nov 1914;
According to the paper tonight they are fighting not very far from you.  I hope you are all right.  I have heard today that one of the band is dead so you must look after yourself and come back all right.
Your mother was telling me on Sunday that I don't worry about you half as much as she does.  Auntie was there so she started telling her that the Turks were invading Egypt.  Your mother said her lad wouldn't have to fight because he didn't carry a rifle, so we told her you would be worse than fighting, you would have to go with the ambulance and you would have nothing to defend yourself with.  She nearly had a fit.  Never mind, I don't think you will get hurt, but all the same we are all looking forward to the great day when you come marching home.

4th Dec 1914;
I got your letter asking for a pair of pants so I will send them on as soon as I can.

9 Decth 1914;
We are going to your house [Eastwood Street] on Xmas day after tea.  Mary and I, Harry and Willie and their ladies, I don't know who else.  Harry is stopped, Willie is on short time, Mary Alice is stopped; so of course they are all on the road to the workhouse.

11 Dec 1914;
I called at the barracks this afternoon and saw J THOMPSON.  He says they have had no word of any kind from Egypt about your money.

16th Dec 1914;
I had Mrs FRANKLAND and Mrs LEWIS to tea yesterday.  Mrs FRANKLAND has got a new long coat and Mrs LEWIS is going to get one so I think I will get Auntie to make me one, it will be a bit of something for her, I don't think she has anything in.
The paper lads are shouting that the German fleet has been shelling Scarborough, so they are getting pretty near.
I had all your family last week, Mary Alice came Monday and Friday, your mother on Wednesday, Willie and Lily on Saturday and Harry on Sunday.  Harry is working short time this week.  Chris has never been heard of since the battle of Mons, his wife has not heard from him for 15 weeks.

19th Dec 1914;
Glad to hear you are going to church, it will be very nice I am sure.

23rd Dec 1914;
We are all going to Eastwood St on Xmas day to tea and paying for it.  Your Harry is in some glee I can tell you.  He is stopped again this week so he is cleaning up like a lark so your father said this morning.  Willie is on full time again but Mary Alice is at home yet.

26th Dec 1914;
I thought I would write and tell you about Xmas.  Auntie Jinnie brought baby a nice basket with chocolate eggs in it on Xmas Eve and Annie gave her a little horse and cart . . . She got a box of chocolates off Auntie May.  We went to your mother's for tea.  Mary Alice went to STANCLIFFE's to tea.  Harry came across this morning to ask us to go again tomorrow to eat up.  The town is full of soldiers on Xmas leave . . the first lot of KITCHENER's army are going to the front as soon as the new year comes in so they should help things on a bit.  I have heard that the 4th East Lancs have been fighting so you must let me know if that is so.

In mid December the Battalion moved to Abbas Hilmi Barracks, Cairo.  Christmas was marked with church parade, good meals and a concert.

30th Dec 1914;
Your father has lost a lot of blood through his nose bleeding.  It is lucky he has got rid of it.  It has left him rather weak but I don't think he is any the worse for it.  His arm does not get any better yet and he is always cold.  He has the bed downstairs yet and a fire and even then they have to put the bottle in to get him warm, so he is not so grand.  He came this afternoon to tell us you had written to Willie but not to him, he says he wont send you anything again.

3rd Jan 1915;
I had Willie and Harry and their ladies to supper on new Year's Eve.  We had a very nice time.  They stopped till nearly twelve.  Baby stopped up to hear the gun.  It was a lovely moonlight night, but New Year's day was awful windy.  You will see from the papers that we lost a battleship through the storm.

13th Jan 1915:
The reason I have not written is on account of rumours that you were on your way home and I have been waiting to hear from you.  I think it is the Artillery who have to come home to go to France.  We sent you a parcel last week.  May baked the cakes, your mother made the pies, your father packed it and I put the fags in and paid postage.
Little Freddie, next door, his father listed last week.  I saw Edith PRESCOTT yesterday and she asked me to thank you for your card.  She told me to tell you to look out for Arthur, he is talking about listing.

14th Jan 1915;
I am sorry you have to sleep on the floor but it is better than being at the front.  It is awful to read about the fighting.

18th Jan 1915;
I took Mary to your house last night and when I got there what do you think; there was Harry and his lady sat talking to pa and ma, then Willie and Lily walked in, then Mary Alice and family.  Mary Alice has been ill, she's got indigestion.  She got a bottle from the doctor and she felt better.  Last Sunday being wet she stopped in and had toffee nuts chips and fish.  Strange to say she was worse on Monday.  She went to the doctor again and he told her to have milk food.  On Sat night she had meat pie, nuts toffee chips and fish so she gets a lot of sympathy.  Trade is mending up and food is going up.

20th Jan 1915;
I have sent you a parcel with some cough toffees in and if your cold is better they will do if you get another.  The bar of chocolate is from Polly HITCHEN she gave it to me to send with kind remembrance.

25th Jan 1915:
Trade is mending a little, Mary Alice has started work on two looms, Harry is working short time, but Willie is on full time.  Your father keeps about the same and so does your mother.  You mentioned good fires in one letter, you should see the fires we are keeping at present.  I never burnt as much coal in all my life but the weather has been so damp and cold and Livesey's 1/6d helps to pay for it.  Everybody is quite lively today over the North Sea battle.  I suppose you have heard that the German airships are going to pay us a visit, well they say so.

27th Jan 1915;
I have just been to Aunt Clarrie's to pay for my coat and she says she has had two letters from you.  She has a letter part written but is stopped for news.  She told me to tell you that Aunt Ann is so proud because you have written, she tells everybody about you.
According to the papers today the Turks are not far from you so it looks as if you will see a bit of fighting.

On 28th January 1915 the battalion moved to Heliopolis and carried on training and marching.  Meanwhile it had been decided to try and force the Dardanelles, as a purely naval operation, to open a supply route to Russia

1st March 1915;
He (your father) still keeps about the same, he is better when the weather is better but very starved when the weather is cold and it is colder now than it has been all winter.  There is no war news from France today but Freddie's father has written to Mrs SLATER and he says that the war wont last long.  He can't tell them anything more he's not allowed.  Let us hope it is true.
I am beginning to think that they will send your lot to attack Turkey but I'm only guessing.

4th March 1915;
You should have been here last week to learn how to wash.  Some young women were advertising Toro at the club so we all went and learnt how to wash without rubbing.  We all bought some and it’s all right.  I would send you some but it needs boiling water and you might not be able to get that.

8th March 1915;
We have just got to know that Uncle Harry (DOBSON) is dead.  He died in the workhouse infirmary on Thursday and they have only just found out that he had any relations.  Our Will has gone up with Mr TALBOT to see about burying him.  He was here a fortnight ago and looked very well so it has given us quite a shock.
I hope you are no worse for your night out with Mr BENNET, I want you to see as much as you possibly can of the place and then you can tell us all about it when you come back.  I don't go out much and it isn't very lively stopping in and reading war news about men being killed and ships being sunk and as for anybody running off with me, well there's nothing left to run off with, all the men who are worth anything have listed so I am afraid I shall have to wait patiently for you.  About the stout, I am not vexed I don't care what you drink if it will do you good.

11th March 1915;
Mrs GILL at the top of Eastwood St is dead the funeral has just gone past.  We buried Uncle Harry yesterday, Talbot made the coffin and they brought him to the door in the hearse, we had one carriage and came back and had tea at our house.  There was only just the six of us and Jinnie made the tea and looked after baby.  They sent a lovely wreath from the Co-op.  He is buried on the top of his father and mother just beside the church.
Our Bill has got his first order for his patent.  Livesey's have made the drawing frame, Wards are making the frame for the machine and our Jim has to make the little machine.  The Dobson Automatic Reacher-in.  Jack WARD (of Ingham Street Works) is finding the money in case anybody tries to do him out of his rights.  I am afraid it will drive Annie off her dot, she is telling everybody they are going to have a motor, a lobby and a scullery.  I'm sure she isn't there at times.
Baby is telling everybody that Dada is coming home in the summer to take Mary to Blackpool, I am afraid it wont be this summer.

13th March 1915;
Your pa has been too busy this week to come and see us, he is making a dog kennel for somebody with Willie's assistance.  They are going to put our skirting boards round for us next and then we are going to have the beautifiers.  We want to be fine before you come home.

17th March 1915;
I have to thank you for the photos for Auntie Jinny and May.  I haven't seen Annie yet, she was out when I took hers.
I suppose you will have seen in the papers that we are under the lighting order, it is dismal at night, all the shops have their blinds half drawn, the trams have got green blinds most of the shops close at night.

21st March 1915;
The recruiting sergeants are very busy about the town, cousin Robert [DAWSON] is one so your father said.  They are visiting all the mills, they got 30 on Wednesday at Roe Lee.  They have bands parading every night and the Athletes Volunteer force, better known as the Last Gaspers, parade once or twice a week.
I see you are expecting being moved, I think that you will have to follow the warships in the Dardanelles.  I don't know, that is only my idea.  Bertha is nearly all right again, she hasn't been out yet.  Your father doesn't alter any, he has only been once this week, and his bit of work seems to have knocked him up.  He will perhaps be better when the weather mends.  Your Harry is working overtime nearly every night and at weekends.  Our Bill has got orders for six machines and they are trying to have them ready for Easter.  I don't think I shall go to Blackpool this time but I shall take baby to the fair all being well.

24th March 1915;
I have seen a photo of you sent to his wife by Quarter Master Sergeant ROWLANDS.
You know a soldier is a very important person nowadays and everyone wants to do something for them and give them something.
I wish I could send you a nice oven bottom cake, we are having them to tea and some fish cooked in the oven, we are looking after ourselves I can tell you.
27th March 1915;
I haven't seen Mary Alice but she has sent word three times that she is coming to tea before she goes back to work.  Baby likes her coming, Mary pulls faces at her and Mary Alice lets off with that laugh of hers, baby titters again, she shakes all over her body when Mary Alice laughs.

30th March 1915:
There is always something to feel sad about, the German devils have sunk two passenger boats and over 100 people drowned while they stood by and laughed.  Nothing is too bad for them.  Mrs O’HARE has got word that one of her brothers is missing.  You say that Harry LEWIS is vexed because his wife has gone to work.  I think she has done right, you have no idea what it feels like at home, nobody coming in to dinner or tea, everyday and Sunday all alike.  There are lots of women going to the mill who don't need to do because their husbands are away, so that they wont have time to think and study about it.
We had the new artillery in town on Saturday and I went to see them go back and I thought what it would be like if you were only coming home.  I think Blackburn will go mad when you all come back.

It had become obvious that naval forces alone could not win through the Dardanelles and that land forces were needed.  The first Gallipoli landings, by British, French and Australian troops, took place on the 5th April and met with determined resistance from Joe Turk - wholesale slaughter when the River Clyde disembarked troops at Cape Helles.  On 16th April the 4th East Lancs went to Port Said for Suez Canal guard duty.  They were however only there for a fortnight as on the 6th May they embarked for the Dardanelles and landed safely at Cape Helles on 9th May.

From 10 Maple Street, Blackburn
3rd June 1915;
Just a few lines hoping you are well.  I am doing a bit more sick work at the mill.  Baby is very good to leave now, in fact they  say she is better without me.  You see she thinks I should always be nursing her and playing with her.  I hope you are still living, you were all wiped out on Monday.  I don't know who has been setting the tales out, but it has been pretty lively here this week.  First you were all wiped out, then A and B company.  They are driving Mrs FRANKLAND off her dot, she came down yesterday morning to see if I had heard anything.  Your mother is the same and your father was all over the town to see if he could get to know anything.  It keeps us all upset. We shall perhaps get to know something before long.  The mill doesn't seem as hard as it used to do so that shows that I'm getting stronger.  I am not short of money at all but I want to have some in hand for when you come back.  We don't know how things will be then.  Everything keeps going up, meat is now 1/4d a pound.  I hope it wont be long before I hear from you, it seems a long time since I had a letter but I know you will write when you can.  I must close now and put my dinner up.  It seems strange getting up by myself at half past five.  Hoping you are still alright.

6th June 1915;
I have just got your letter written on the 13th and though it is only very short it is a great relief to hear from you.  I have heard that Harry LEWIS has finished soldiering.  Your Harry saw Mrs LEWIS one day and she told him so.  Jimmy has joined the R.F.A. one day last week.  Your Billy is feeling pretty bad at present, he would like to join but his mother wont let him.  They want men for making ammunition. so I think he will have a go at that.  I don’t know who has been setting all the tales out last week, someone belonging to St John's telephoned to Kate RILEY on Tuesday that you were reported killed and it upset your Auntie very much.  Then someone was telling your mother last night that Blackburn lot had been wiped out, so you have some idea of what we're going through at present.  I saw Billy SWIFT this morning and of course he wanted to know how you were going on and he hoped you would come through all right.  Baby is getting a little treat, she is in a fair way for getting spoiled.  Everybody knows her and they stop and ask her where her Dada's gone.  She says he's gone to the Dardanelles.  She is a picture of health, tall and plump.  She never ails anything.

10th June 1915;
From all accounts you are in a rather hot shop but I hope you come out all right.  I have just heard that Sgt. FINN and Captain HENRY are wounded, also that WESLEY has landed with some baggage.  I am very sorry about young James.  You might tell us a bit more when you write, if you can, but I suppose you wont have much time for writing.  We are having a heat wave here at present, it has been awful in the mill this week but I am expecting to finish tomorrow.  Baby will be nearly two by the time you get this, she is getting a big girl now.  I will write again this weekend, you must excuse the short letter as I am very tired and sleepy.

13th June 1915;
Your letter to hand dated the 31st and glad to hear you are still living.  I am sorry you haven't got the cigarettes, there are plenty on the way which I hope you will have got when you get this.  I took the note to your house and of course your mother had a wail about her child.  Your father doesn't make as much noise about it, but I think he feels it more.  He doesn't mend a bit and the rumours that have been going about seem to have upset him.  I am still working and it is very hot, but it is all right for a change and the money will be useful when you come home if it is only to buy you some new clothes.  I suppose you will be too fat for these if the photos are anything to go by.  Baby is growing out of her shyness, she is getting a little terror.  I have just got the key of your box and the advice note to say they have sent it on from London.  The bill is 19s-9d and then there is the railway company.  Good job I have been to work isn't it.  They are begging in the papers for comforts for you, now if there is anything you want you must let me know.  I have plenty of money.  I am sending a box of cigarettes along with this letter so let me know if you can when you get them.  Baby is having new clothes on today, she is costing me a small fortune for shoes and socks.  Aunty Jinny (LAWRENCE) has bought her a new bonnet.  The German airships are doing a lot of damage in different places but the papers are not allowed to say anything about it.  I don't think they will get here but I daresay they will have a try as we are a centre for ammunition.  I hope I am not making you down in the dumps with my letters, I ought to try and cheer you up a bit.  I wish I could send baby to talk and sing for you, she would make you laugh.  So you had better not get killed or you will miss it all.  She was singing yesterday and she came to a top note so she said "I can't sing that mother, its too far off."  She doesn't like being washed, she does kick up a shine.  It is rumoured that the ships are through the Dardanelles but they are keeping it back for some reason.

3rd July 1915;
I have just had Harry TAYLOR here asking for your address so I suppose he will be writing to you.  I have sent a box of cigarettes from Auntie Jinnie so you must look out for them.  I had Jimmy here last night, he has just got his uniform and he looks splendid in them.  It is fetching him out already.  They are expecting being sent to Southport for training.  You are not getting on very fast with getting through the Dardanelles, I think it is proving a harder job than they expected.  You've never told us how many Turks you've shot.  I see that Sgt. TURLEOT is reported killed, isn't that the man who took the battalion cup off you.  It is sad about HORNBY's son, it would be better if they could get to know something definite.  We thought of having our holidays next week but the weather is awful now when I'm not working.  It is Gertie's field day today and it has rained all day without stop.  The firm is doing brisk business, they got orders for 17 more machines yesterday.  I have put five pounds in the war loan so I am not doing bad.  You shouldn't be away at this time of the year we are having lamb and green peas and mint sauce for dinner tomorrow.

10th July 1915;
I haven't been able to write sooner because we have been to Blackpool.  We went on Tuesday morning and came back last night.  I am sorry to say the weather was very cold at Blackpool so baby couldn't play very long at a time on the sands.  We stopped at Mrs WHALLEY's and she wished me to remember her to you.  Baby is rather nervous yet at going in strange places, I had to carry her nearly all the time so I have come back stiff and sore.  Well you have all these things to put up with when you are a soldiers wife.  Baby has done very well for her birthday.  Aunt Clarrie brought her a basket full of oranges and chocolate, Mary Alice bought her a two shilling piece, Aunty May a box of chocolate, Aunty Jinnie a bonnet and a pinafore, Harry L a little sunshade and grandma a new stool.  She got about six birthday cards.  I got your letter dated 21st, it's something to know you are still alive.  It does seem a terrible long time since you went away, nearly a year now.  The longing for you sometimes is awful sonny, I don't know what I should do if you got killed.  Let us hope you are one of the lucky ones.  Aunt Clarrie says I must tell you that if she doesn't write she always thinks about you, and Polly HITCHEN wishes to be remembered.

14th July 1915;
Your letter to hand dated the 27th.  They come very regularly now.  I gather from your letter that it is pretty rough out there, let us hope that it will soon be over. I try not to worry any more than I can help because it wont do you any good.  If we could do anything to help you on we should feel better.  We can only pray and hope for the best.  Mary is getting a little treat, your mother came to look at her last night and she sang and danced for her.  She is still Dada's little girl.

16th July 1915;
I have just got your PC dated the 2nd.  It isn't much but it is all we can expect at present.  You have had another big battle since it was written so I suppose we must expect more losses.  FRANKLAND is doing very well from all accounts but I was sorry to hear about Tommy WILDE losing a leg.  I think you are doing very well now and another two months should see you through the Dardanelles.  Perhaps they will give you a furlough then because I am still expecting you home in October.  I have said so all the time so we will see if it comes true.  We had a picnic yesterday to Bonny Inn and it was lovely.  The weather is cold for the time of year but it is better than being hot.  You will have heard about the coal strike.  Ours were 1/7d a bag before, I don't know what they will be now.  We have been saving coal all summer, the coal shed is full to the door so we shan’t take any harm for a while.  Some of the mills are doing very bad just now.  Mary Alice has only three looms.  Your Harry is working overtime every night so he has decided to go away for the holidays.  I am glad we have had ours, I don't want any more for a bit, it is such hard work with a baby.  She is getting quite an appetite now, she orders meat a tatoes to dinner everyday.  If she doesn't get it, she keeps asking for her dinner all the afternoon.  My mother has bought her a stool for her birthday.  She was buying a little one but Mary got hold of a bigger one and walked out of the shop with it.

18th August 1915;
Baby went out to tea yesterday with Auntie Jinny to SUTERs at Darwen. Jinny says she was good, she couldn't have been better.  They went into Bold Venture Park after tea.  They were quite delighted with her and asked her to come again.  She has been out all afternoon with Jinny and Annie and Gerty.  It is Jinny's birthday tomorrow, so we are celebrating it in the usual way with chips and fish.  You see what you are missing all through being a soldier.  Your father has just been to see if we have heard from you, we are all getting a bit anxious about you.  Your mother had been watching a trainload of wounded go past last night, on the way to Whalley hospital, and it has upset her a bit.  We are not getting much news about the Dardanelles at present.  There was a report published in yesterday's paper but it was all about April and May.  I suppose we shall have to be as patient as we can and hope for the best.  Mrs FRANKLAND has gone to see her hubby.  She has gone on her own and left the children at her sisters for a week so it will be a nice holiday for her.  Our turn will come let us hope before long.

22nd August 1915;
Doc LEWIS called one day but I was at work so I didn't see him.  He has finished fighting, there is something the matter with his heart, but they are going to find him something to do over here.  He saw the photo of the bugle band and he said a lot of them had got killed.  Mr OGDEN has just gone past in his uniform of the Volunteer Training Force better known as the "Gaspers".  The uniform is like yours but lighter, more of a light grey.  We were talking about you last night at your house and the boys said they would like you to see Charlie Chaplin at the pictures.  They said they would like to hear you laugh.  I think he is on the pictures at every place in England.  I have seen him twice and I think he would make anybody laugh.  My painting is at a standstill just now but I shall have another try when I have finished working.  Baby has too many nurses, Grannie is nearly weeping some nights when I get home because they keep taking her child.  Willy's girl came to take her out one afternoon but Annie and Jinny had got her first.  She turned out on Friday, she said, "I'm not going with their picnics, I'm stopping with grandma."  So she stopped with her grandma and grandma was very glad.  It is in yesterday's paper that Harry GILMOUR's son has been made into a Sec Lieutenant.

25th August 1915;
There are all kinds of tales going about the Dardanelles.  Some people know for certain that you are through.  I am glad that you are getting plenty of things now from the fund.  I haven't got your watch mended yet, there isn't a jeweller at Bastwell now and I can’t think on to take it when I am going in town.  You are doing very well to keep all right out there and I hope your luck will bring you through without getting hurt.  I suppose they will have told you that Mrs WALMSLEY at Padiham has had a stroke, so they are in it with two women in bed.  Your father keeps about the same though I think he is worse in his speech.  We have a job to tell what he says sometimes.  He bothers too much about the war and he gets excited when he talks about it.  Baby has had her bath and gone to bed but she insisted on writing Dada before she went.  She likes her bath and I have a job to get her out.  She is getting a big girl now, I have bought her some clogs but she wont have them on yet.  She knows how to get her own way I can tell you.

29th August 1915;
I have got your letter dated the 12th, the one in the green envelope.  You are getting to see the liveliest part of the biggest war the world has ever known.  Nobody will ever look down on Terriers again, but nobody thought you would have to fight.  You will have some thing to be proud of if you come back all right.  You are wrong about FRANKLAND being dead, he is doing very nicely and is coming home shortly on a furlough.  I saw G HOTHERSAL last night and he said he hadn't heard from you for a long time.  He has had fourteen of his men gone and listed, some are in France now and they all write to him so it takes all his spare time answering them.  I saw PEARSON too and he wished to be remembered to you.  I have to learn my lesson before I go out because I have all sorts of questions to answer; such as: "How is Ernie going on?  When did you have a letter?   What is he doing now?"  I have heard today that you are going back to Egypt for a rest.  By the way, you have been killed about three times this last week.  I have finished again at the mill for a while and mother has gone to Bonny Inn for a week, so we are very quiet.  I see you are looking forward to seeing us again.  I think you had got a bit tired of me before you went away but I am looking forward to your return in the hope that it will be as you say in your letter "like lovers again" I know you will like your baby, nobody could help, she is such a sweet child.  She is in bed now and it is getting late so I had better close and go and join her.

The War Diary records a respite from Gallipoli from 10 September - sent back to Alexandria on Regimental business until 27 September.  He rejoined his battalion in Gallipoli on 6th October 1915 and remained there for the rest of the year

2nd October 1915;
Home again after a nice holiday.  We are all better for it, especially baby, she is like a young elephant.  She has enjoyed the sands very much this time.  Our Jim has papered the kitchen while we've been away, so we have a nice job now trying to get straight.  I am glad you have got away from the fighting, if it is only for a short time it is better than nothing.  There were two letters waiting when I got back, one written on the boat and the other from Alexandria.  FRANKLAND arrived home last night for a week.  They had decorated the street with flags and streamers for him.  I hope it wont come true that you will have to be out there all winter. general chat about fags and baby follows.  It is my birthday today and yesterday our wedding day.  You have been away twice now, I wonder if you will be back next year at this time.  We have had a real victory this time in France so we are hoping that the war will soon be over. 

5th October 1915;
I have just got your letter dated the 22nd and you say you are still at Alexandria.  I had FRANKLAND here yesterday and he doesn't look bad considering.  He walks rather slow and stiff.  He had heard that you had left Alexandria to take charge of a platoon but you don't mention it in your letter.  There is still time for you to get home this month.  I had Jimmie here on Sunday and he looks champion.
I went to St Stephens on Sunday night it was the harvest and they sang one of their ancient anthems, it was a nice change and I enjoyed it very much.  We all feel much better for our holiday, Harry LAWRENCE said it was the best holiday he had ever had.  I didn't think he would have enjoyed it because we couldn't knock about much with baby and mother.  They helped me with baby all the time and bought her everything she wanted.

8th October 1915;
Your father says it was in the paper the other night that Sgt Major ROWLANDS is coming home.  It should be your turn before long.  Mary has got a new coat and bonnet and I wonder if you will get to see her in it.  She is quite proud of it and looks a proper girl in it.  Your Willie has just been and she sat on his knee with her crayons showing him how to colour with them.  The fighting seems to have come to a stand still out there at present, I fancy they are waiting to see what Bulgaria is going to do.  I hope Mr BENNETT enjoyed his bottle of beer, I am sorry I can't send one through the post.  I have to thank you for the photos on behalf of all of us.  Aunt Clarrie came on Wednesday night, we were just having my birthday in so she just came in for some chips.  She is doing better this year with her sewing than she did last year.  Mrs WALMSLEY has had another attack so she is still in bed.

15th October 1915;
They say in the papers that they are going to give up the Dardanelles after throwing all those lives away.  If you have to leave they ought to let you come home before they send you anywhere else.  We are still going on as usual, baby is in our Jim’s helping him to put some oilcloth down.  We have just come back from Wilpshire, baby has begged all morning to have a ride on the car to Wilpshire so we have been with Annie.  It has been lovely, we are having nice weather for the time of year. more about baby follows.  Our Will is getting on famous with his business, getting orders every day.

18th October 1915;
There is very little war news at present, they are having rather a rough time in France from all accounts.  Baby keeps begging to go to Blackpool again and I have told her we will go when dada comes home so she is looking forward to "the Day". more about baby follows.

22nd October 1915;
Trade is slack so they don't want any sick weavers at present, it is either too much or none at all.  I could just do with a bit to liven me up a bit.  It gets a bit dry keep cleaning up day after day.  I suppose we ought to be thankful that we have good home and that we are safe away from the war.  The back door has been coming off the hinges and our Jim has put a piece on and now we've got a broken window, a big piece dropped out of the top light in the kitchen and it is very draughty. The usual about baby follows.

25th October 1915;
It was your Harry's birthday yesterday and we all went to tea and had a very nice time.  Mary Alice was asked but wouldn't come, I don't know why.  Your mother's speech was something like this, for thirty years I nossed tha and looked after tha and thar living yet.  Baby is very good to take now, she played with Bertha on the rug while we had a game of cards.  Grandpa doesn't alter any, he goes out very little now, I don't think he ever gets much further than Bastwell.  If he goes into town he has a job to get back.  There is a lot of wood on their back now and he spends most of his time watching the men.  Our Bill's patent is still going on by leaps and bounds, they've got 16 orders today.  They can't keep up at all, nearly all the men from Wards have listed or gone on munitions and our Jim can't get stuff to make the little machines.  It takes all our Bills time up interviewing people and writing letters.

29th October 1915;
I have got a letter at last dated the 6th. Standard para on sending comforts parcel.  We have just got to know why Mary Alice didn't come last Sunday, she said, "Fancy having a party when we don't know where our Ernest is."  That is one way of looking at it but it cheered your father up a little.  I saw Mrs FRANKLAND yesterday and Louie is at Southport with FERGISON.  He is in charge of the can't walk far brigade and it would do you good to see them on the march.  She says she doesn't think he will ever work again. Usual about baby.
Doc LEWIS has got sent to Margate.

1st January 1916 (No.1);
It is New Years Day and we have had it very quiet.  We had Harry and Willie with the girls to supper last night.  Harry is all right again and he was very lively.  He was telling about taking lobscouse to his dinner and it all got mixed up with his bread and sweet loaf and pie, so he warmed the lot and had half to his breakfast and half to his dinner.  One of the tacklers wanted to know what it was that was whistling on the kettle.
Aunt Clarrie has gone to Padiham for a week or two.  It is blowing a gale today, it has blown our Bills coal shed down.  We kept baby up to listen to the bells but it has made her very tired and cross today.  She has gone to Aunty Jinnys to play with Tommy.  I haven't got our gloves yet but I shall get them on Tuesday most likely, and your mother is making some cakes and a loaf to send at the same time.

2nd January 1925;
I didn't get to finish last night, our Will and Annie came in and we had a bit of a sing song.  Your Harry has just been on his way to Sunday School, he goes to the Parish now every Sunday afternoon.  He is going to call for us when he comes back, Jimmy is over and is coming to his grandma's to tea.  I thought of having a good rest and read this weekend, but I am lucky if I get to read the war news.  There is Jinny, Annie, our Will, May, your Willie and Harry and Grandpa.  They all come in nearly every day so we don't get much time to ourselves.  Baby is getting a great big girl, she has cut her last two teeth this week.  I forget whether I told you what baby got for Xmas.  A new pinafore from Mary Alice, a box of chocolate, a ship and a little doll from Willie, a box of chocolate and two bunnies from Harry, a new hair ribbon from grandma D, a little bucket and basket for her tree from grandma B, a pair of gloves from Jinny, a big box of chocolate and some cakes from our Jim's wife, two little boxes of chocolate from Annie, a muff and little teapot from Aunt Clarrie, and last night Lily brought her a pair of white gloves which she had knitted herself.  Mary has got the biggest part of the writing desk, she says she is busy helping mother to write.

4th January 1916 (No.2);
Your Harry called for us on Sunday to go to our tea.  Mary trotted off with him and I followed on.  She likes a tea party.  Jimmy was there in his uniform.  You wouldn't know him now, he is so tall and broad.  He looks a lot better than he did last time.  Harry and Willie took him to the Palace last night.  Harry is having the time of his life, he is courting four nights a week now.  Both girls were there on Sunday, they've both got rings now.
I am still working.  Aunty Jinny comes and helps mother to wash and Mary helps to blue.  When I got home last night, she says, you didn't come and help to wash, we've washed and we've got done.  She likes going to grandma BERTWISTLES to her tea, she gets a big cup and saucer to herself.  Your mother teases her with "Mary's dada rides a donkey".  You should see her face slip and then "He doesn't, he rides a gee gee".  She was telling Jinny the other day that she is going to get a new bed all to herself when dada comes home.

8th January 1916 (No.3);
I got your gloves on Wednesday and your pa packed them up in their parcel.  I hope you get them all right, they are good ones.  I got them at Wilsons and they are lined with camel hair.  Let me know if they are all right.  I am glad you have got the cigs that we joined at.  I was beginning to think they were lost.  Now I want you to say which way is best to send your cigs.  You see they are fourpence a packet now and it is much cheaper to send a lot.  But if you would rather have them sent in the letters, let us know.  We want to do that which is best for you.  I hope you have not been disappointed this Christmas at not getting a big parcel, but big parcels are not allowed to the Dardanelles.  I know lots of people who have sent big parcels, but they never land, so I thought it would be better to send small parcels as often as I can get a tin to put them in.  I haven't got your stick yet.  Your Willie has got his armlet to show he has attested.  He is in one of the groups to be called up this month and he looks in a blue funk about it, but I expect he will get used to it. You will see in the paper that the Vicar across is dead.

11th January 1916 (No.4);
You have left the Dardanelles at last, so we shall have to wait a bit to get to know where you are.  I hope they have found you a better place.  I haven't heard anything yet about my pay, I will wait a bit longer and if I don't be getting it I will write to Manchester about it.  Your pa is not very well, his head troubles him a lot.  I am working again, I managed half a day at home, then they were after me again.  They are short of weavers all over now, so there is not much chance of stopping at home.  Annie is working as well this week.  You needn't be afraid of Mary's foot cycle, it has three wheels so it doesn't go over.  You would be surprised to see her ride on it.  She has only had it outside once yet.  She has just come back from the coop with grandma and she wants to write, she takes half of the writing desk.  She is always asking questions, she wants to know what everything is for.  She never bothers after me when I go out if I tell her where I am going, but if I go without telling her, she is heart broken.  I told her yesterday I was going to work, and soon after she says; "Yon's your blower, Mother get to your work!"

15 January 1916 (No.5);
You want to know what to do when your time is up.  Well if they will let you come and let you stop when you get here, I should say come, but if it means coming for a few weeks and then having to go again, I think you had better stop where you are.  We all think you have done your share, but they are bringing conscription in next week and it would be awful if you came home and then had to go as a private.  I don't understand it properly so I don't know what to advise you for the best.  You have had a long dreary spell, and I wish, with all my heart, that it was over and you were all coming home for good.  We haven't got to know where you are yet, but most people seem to think you are in Egypt.  The Dardanelles has not been a success but people have nothing but praise for the troops who have fought so well.  Mary has got a little gold chain bangle off H LAWRENCE for Xmas and it is very pretty.  She calls you "Dad" now.  She says "My Dad's coming home tomorrow!"  I have finished work again for a bit.  I have had a fair spell this time and I'm feeling a bit done up.  It has been a nice change, it gets rather dreary at home in winter.

19th January 1916 (No.6);
I suppose they will have told you about Clarrie having to go under operation.  Poor Belle is among it just now.  Mary Alice has gone to the Infirmary tonight to see her.  I am not working so I've had a good rest today.  Grandma has gone to Bonny Inn so I took Mary for a walk up Little Harwood.  We met Fanny with her new baby boy.  They have four now, not so bad.  I took Mary to Grandma BERTWISTLES on Sunday night and of course she talks about you.  Mary says nothing but she takes it all in and this morning, when we were cleaning upstairs, she says; Mother, wont we have a bit of fun at Grandma BERTWISTLE’s when Dada comes home at dinnertime.  She has gone to bed, it is something fresh for her to go to bed soon.  She wanted me to sing some hymns for her.  She likes hymns and Grandma told her they sing hymns at Sunday School so she wants me to take her.  I said I would take her on Sunday so I will see how she goes on.  I hope you are managing all right with your new job, I think Mr BENNET will see you through all right.  St Michaels curate wishes you to know that he enquires about you.  Mrs SUTER hopes you are quite well.

23th January 1916 (No.7);
I have just replied to an offer of an engagement for you from the Brass Band Club Great Harwood.  I have told them that you are away on active service.  I have just heard that you have arrived in Alexandria, that means you have been on the water a fortnight.  You will be used to sailing by this I should think.  You have managed to find the liveliest part of the war.  We have been to Sunday School this afternoon, baby and I, and she was good.  She says she is going again.  It was a very nice change, I enjoyed it very much.  You will get your pa and ma's photo by this post, it is very good, they have had it taken purposely to send to their son.  You will be sorry to hear that Aunt Ann is dead, she died on Friday morning.  Clarrie is doing as well as can be expected.  Jimmy has been allowed home on a furlough.
I forgot to tell you that our Bill has joined St Stephen's Club and I don't think Annie knows yet.  It amuses us a little because she has talked so big about not allowing her husband to join a club.

26th January 1916 (No.8);
You say you are still at Mudros and that you have written from there.  This is the first I have had from there, I suppose I shall get the other later.  I wonder where you will be when you get this.  I have heard you are for Salonica next.  You seem to be out for a tour round the world.  I showed the letter to your pa and he sent word with Alf to Mr PEARSON about the cigarettes.  They are both working on a breakdown at Cob Wall.  Poor baby is heart broken, her dolly got burnt this morning with the gas iron.  Poor dolly it was like a wounded soldier from the front.  It had only one arm and one leg and now it is without head.  I will take her down town tomorrow night and buy her a new one.  She wants me to buy her a pussy or a bunny so she can stroke it and feed it herself.  I tell her to wait till Dada comes and see what he says.  And her Dada's going to make a cradle for her dolly and a real bed.  You would have the time of your life if you were here now.  I haven't got any increase of pay yet.  Your pa has seen somebody who works in the pay office and he says they have got no word there yet.  I suppose things will be a bit mixed with you moving about.  I am working again for a few days.  We shall be able to have a grand holiday when you come home.

30th January 1916 (No.9);
I have done well for letters.  I have had six and three field cards.  I am sorry you were disappointed at Xmas but you wrote and told us you were coming home so I didn't know what to do.  In one of your letters you say enclosed is a note for Mr PEARSON but I couldn't find any note.  Your photo has come too late for Aunt Ann, but I will give it to Aunt Clarrie when I see her, she is at Padiham yet.  I had Mr TAYLOR after your address the other night so he will be writing to you.  He is one of the attested but he has very bad eyesight.  Your Willy's group will be called up in another week but the firm are applying for exemption as an indispensable, so I don't know how he will go on.  I took baby to a concert last night at St Michael's School and she was very good.  She liked the ladies singing but she didn't like the funny man.  I hardly think you will get to come home now till the war is over, most people seem to think it wont be very long now.  It will be all right if you get back safe and sound.  We are all in the pink at present, baby has done very well this winter and so has mother.  I don't know that I have any more to tell you so I will close and get my dinner put up ready for morning.

6th February 1916 (No.11);
I hope they keep you in Egypt for a while.  Baby was delighted with the pictures and I told her about the box you are sending and these are a few of the questions.  Who will bring my box, will my dada bring it, will it come on a boat, will it not fall in the water and get wet, will my dada sit beside it on the boat and mind it, when will it come, when is my dada coming, I'm going to love him when he comes.  I have had a letter from Aunt Clarrie and a funeral card, she wants to know how you are getting on.  Your pa was here yesterday after news, he says I get all the news and he gets none.  I forgot to ask him how Willie went on.  Mary Alice is out with Willie and his girl now, she keeps things lively.  She says they go to their tea too often.  I am still working, it is better than being at home this weather.  Our Bill has got nearly all right but his nerves are very shaky yet.  He has been worried a lot about a machine that has been brought out in opposition to his, but it has proved a failure so that is off his mind now.  The latest joke is about Annie taking Gertie to the Olympia, when they got in and sat down, they found they were in the Central Hall, and she doesn't know how she got there.

10th February 1916 (No.12);
I went to Eastwood Street on Sunday night, there were the boys and their girls, Bertha, and George and his wife from Accrington.  Your Willie had the flu and I think I've got it.  He has got put into group 17, but his bosses are going to appeal again.  I don't think he will get off, but he thinks he will.  I don't think George and his wife (I don't know her name) I don't think they will get to come to your house again, they said baby was like me.  Baby is getting rather pale, she doesn't get out much when I'm working and she doesn't eat very well.  She says she is going to Blackpool when I've finished working.  She will be grand to take this time.  The other night I was just going to sleep when her small voice said, mother you've never sung Tipperary for me, I said oh go to sleep!  Well but you said you would sing Tipperary.  Now if you don't go to sleep I'll lick you!  Now you're going to make me cry, It always makes me cry when you say you'll lick me!  Well go to sleep!  But I can't hardly shut my eyes! and so on till she goes to sleep.  This morning she woke with the larum, "What's the clock doing mother?  What does it make that noise for.  Are you going to work again, if you'll let me come downstairs with you, I'll play with you; and so on till I get dressed.

12th February 1916 (No.13);
I think you will be foolish if you leave Mr BENNET.  You say in your letter you think I shall be vexed if you don't take your discharge.  I think you will be wiser to stop where you are.  As you will see from the paper, all single young men have to report before March 8 and then they start with the married ones.  It is not that I don't want you to come home but I want you to do what is best for yourself.
Harry has taken Clarrie's box to the infirmary, her mother will be there so she will take charge of it.  Gertie will write and thank you herself.  Do you think you could get off for half a day and put a curtain up in the kitchen.  We have to cover our windows so that no light can be seen from above so I shall have to cover the kitchen window some way.

17th February 1916; unnumbered - presumably 14
The weather is fearful at present, wind, hail and snow.  Your Harry took (AUNT) Clarrie her box on Sunday, she tried to write with the pencil but she was too weak.  She is very bad indeed.
Baby keeps on growing, she is tall for her age.  She has gone in our Bill's to play with Gerty.  We have a job to get her out when she gets in there.  Annie is getting her scullery put up at last.  Our Bill is doing well now.  He goes round after orders now and our Jim fixes the things up.  He is putting six a week up now.  I haven't got my curtains up yet, our Jim has fixed the hooks up for me, so the curtain wants hemming now.  It took all last night going after stuff and rod and rings.  It has cost me six and sixpence altogether.  Auntie Jinny has just called, she has to fetch her nipper beer before half past eight now, she doesn't half grouse about it.  She has brought me a stocking to knit the heel for her.  She knits socks for soldiers but I do the heels for her.  The way they are moving you about it looks like there is something in the wind, we shall have to wait patiently and see.

The War Diary notes that his discharge came 5th April 1916.  He embarked on the HMT Arsova from Alexandria on 18th April and arrived in Plymouth Sound on the morning of 29th April.  He took a 9pm train from Plymouth and, after an overnight journey via Crewe and Preston, walked in the house, 10 Maple Street, at 10am on the morning of 30th April 1916, after an absence of a year and nine months.  But, as Kipling once said: There's no discharge in the war, and he is next located serving with the East Lancs in Southport.

letters addressed to R.Q.M.Sergt. E. BERTWISTLE, 
4th(R) East Lancs Regt, 93 Tulketh Street, Southport
18th November 1916;
Baby is very much better now, she has had a good sleep this afternoon and she had a good night last night . . . Our Bill has just been and Mrs SLATER and Auntie Jinny and they all say she couldn't be doing better but if she does worsen any way we shall fetch the Doctor right away.
More medical detail follows
I haven't seen any of your folks yet so I don't know how they are going on about Harry and his wedding, I fancy he will be having a lively time.

25th November 1916;
Now about the new suit, who have you got your eye on now.  It just depends who you are going to mash when you get it, but joking aside I should hardly get a new suit for this kind of weather.  It will be all right if you are likely for staying in England a bit.  Mary is just siding your little drawer, she cried for it so she got it.  She seems all right now except for a cough, that will go away in time.  Mary Alice came last night and gave her sixpence, then Harry came and he said he has had to put his wedding off a bit, it was causing too much of a sensation.

On 2 January 1917 Ernest writes to say he is to be posted to Ripon
On 12th February 1917 their second daughter Doris is born and the extra work seems to leave Lizzie weary and with less time to write.

Letters addressed to R Q M. Sgt. E BERTWISTLE,
4th (R) East Lancs Regt, No 42 South Camp, Ripon.
26th February 1917;
We are all surprised at you being put so far back as C11 and from your letters it seems to have made you a little down.  It would be all right if you get sent to Blackburn but you will have to see what they do with you.
I hope they will find you a nice easy job that will give you a chance to get your health back.  Your pa came this morning, he wanted to know how you would go on about your rank.  Our Bill and family have been swanking at Blackpool this weekend.  Hoping you are on the mend.

19th March 1917;
I am sorry my letter has upset you.  It was written under difficulties in a few minutes.  I didn't intend to hurt you, you ought to know that.  I have got a carriage for baby, a new one.  We got it in Penny St and it was £2/15/6.  We went to Carlisles first but they wanted £3/3/-.  They are like everything else, they have gone up.  It is like the other one we had but I think it is a bit stronger.  I have got a money order this morning for £9/13/7 being arrears due on soldiers promotion to warrant officer from 29/1/15 to 26/10/15.  I couldn’t reckon it up at first but it must be some of your pay so you must tell me if it is all right.  We are having nice weather here now, it is lovely today but I have got the lump.  I have no heart to dress up and go out so I will wait till tomorrow and see how I feel then.  I hope the better weather will do you good.  When I wrote that other letter I had grandpa and Mrs SLATER and they had been talking about how silly we were for selling our other carriage and buying a silly go chair and spending silly money on a carpet sweeper and so on.  It makes you feel awful when one is not up to the mark so please be patient with me sonny till I feel better.
21st March 1917;
Starts with list of things bought and how she is still not feeling 100%.
It has gone very cold again so baby hasn’t been out in her carriage yet.  We are thinking of christening on Thursday night and I am going to ask Alf to stand and Jinny and me.  I asked Annie if she thought out Bill would stand and she said he didn't like anything like that.  You see they don't belong to the Church of England.  Mary Alice and Alf came on Sat night and baby smiled at him and it quite suited them.  Mary Alice says it is the bonniest baby she has ever seen and its just like "eawr Ernuss" so don't you feel nice looking.  Mary has gone to grandmas with Bertha and baby is asleep.

22th March 1917;
still apologising for the upset
We are making ready for the christening.  Alf is being best man and Mary Alice came last night and brought a pretty silk frock, needlework pinny and a silk bonnet, so it has cost them something.
I thought of giving your pa something but he hasn't been here today, he has been having another bad attack so I may not see him for a bit so how would it be if you sent him something for the christening instead of asking them to come.  We haven't room to ask a lot so there wont be anybody but Mary Alice, Alf and Bertha and Gerty and Jinny.

26th March 1917;
Your letter and PC to hand and sorry you are still down in the dumps.  You should come here and get livened up.  They've just been giving us a duet seeing which could yell the hardest.  Mother has been rather worse so I have to do the best I can, I have been on the run all day.  Baby has been very cross today.  I am not grumbling sonny, I am just telling you how hard it is to spare a few minutes to write to you.  It is rather difficult to write loving letters in a great hurry.  The christening went off very well, baby was on her good behaviour and never cried at all.  Poor Percy, you had better try for a pass and come and do a bit of nursing.  Grandma had lost her glasses and she has just found them in the gruel.  We have had a picnic today.  Grandma says I must tell you to come and join in the fun.  We had your ma this afternoon, she says grandpa had a bad attack again this morning.  I have had a bad cold, I suppose that is what is making baby cross but we shall all mend with the weather. 
More endearments and apologies follow

27th March 1917;
Your letter and PC to hand and glad you are cheering up a bit.
We have been clever today, I have managed to do the washing myself today and grandma has looked after baby.  I am glad to say that mother is mending nicely but she cannot use her hands very well yet.  She can mind baby so that is a good help.  We were wondering if you would be here to put the clocks back on Easter Sunday.  You were here last year both times. 
General chat about the weather and baby follows.

addressed to: RQM. Sgt. E. Bertwistle, Quarter Masters Stores, 
Infantry Command Depot, Right Wing, Ripon

17th May 1917;
Yours to hand of Sunday, it is one of the extra special ones because it says you will be getting leave.  Mary had a dance when I told her and she says I have to tell you to come on Saturday because Gerty and her are having a Maypole in Gerty's back yard.  Also we have some potatoes for the weekend, we swapped some sugar for them.  But anyway come as soon as you can and then you will stand a chance of another leave.  I sent your lamp and boots, tools and cigarettes last night so I hope you get them all right.  I got the pound note all right, thanks very much.  I am saving up for when you get leaves so that we can have a good time.  Let me know when to send your washing.  I shan't need to send it if you come.  Your pa went to Padiham yesterday, well he set off to go, I haven't seen him since so I don't know how he went on.  I am glad you had a ride round on Sunday.  I can't come with you, so I like you to see as much as you can and then you can tell me all about it.  I am a bit out of sorts today, half baked sort of feeling and of course it makes baby cross.  Mary is wheeling her round the kitchen to keep her quiet.  Grandma keeps up very well but she daren't go out while it is east wind.  I hope this letter doesn't make you feel tired but I can’t raise enough energy to tease you this time.  I think I will get washed and dressed and wash Mary, she has been rolling in the dirt and she is a right dirty sight.  She told me to tell you she has been sitting on the floor outside.  She is getting a treat I can tell you, she would just do with her pa to keep her in order.  You've got a nice job on when you come home.  She is ordering me to send you a puffer.  I haven't been out for about a week, we have plenty of sun but such a cold wind.  Aunty Jinny has brought Mary some pebbles from St. Annes so now she wants to go and fetch some for herself.  Baby is getting at the far end so I shall have to come to a close and see if I can get her quiet.

Picture of a "puffer" train follows with six carriages occupied by Mary, Doris, Gerty & Edna, Me, Aunty Jinny and Grandma.

Grandma says it would be better if we got Dad's shirt patched instead of making puffers.  I have just got your letter written yesterday, two in one day, wonderful.  I didn't say I wasn't getting enough letters, you said in one letter about not having time to write so I thought you were going to cut me down.  They are the main thing, I always listen for the post, but it is all right now you have a bit more time.  You are greedy, I always send you my love at the finish so what more do you want.  I want a letter every other day darling, so don't forget, my love, and come as soon as you can.  I hope the postman wont lose you again, dear, and you will get this all right.  I am not quite sure what you mean by the promise, pet, but I think I can guess.  But, sonny, joking apart, I am very glad you are getting along all right.

The series of letters ends on this typical loving note.  At some stage the family moved temporarily to Copt Hewick, a village just east of Ripon, in order to be together for the remainder of the War.

Ernest Bertwistle 1883-1953 
Brief biography compiled April 2021 by his grandson Ray Aspden
Three sons of John and Hannah BERTWISTLE, of Higher Slade Farm, Padiham, came to live in Blackburn, for reasons which are not recorded.  The eldest, Thomas was a solicitor, the youngest James worked as an architect.  He was one of Miller‘s “Worthies of Blackburn“ and, as well as design work for Blackburn Railway station, he excavated at Ribchester and designed golf courses.  The middle son John continued the Padiham Bertwistle tradition by working as a joiner and cabinet maker. 

John BERTWISTLE married Mary WILKINSON in 1846 and their only son, John Thomas BERTWISTLE, born 1852, married Eliza DAWSON in 1875.  Five children were born, all of whom survived infancy and married, viz: Albert 1877, Mary Alice 1881, Ernest 1883, Harry 1886 and William (“Billy”) Dawson 189*.  The family are recorded at 67 Moss Street, Blackburn in the 1891 census.  

Ernest (Grandpa) BERTWISTLE, after basic schooling at St Michael’s Infants, and a part time apprenticeship in his father’s joinery business from 1896, volunteered in 1898 for the East Lancashire Regiment and subsequently served as a boy bugler in the South African War.  For this he was awarded the Campaign Medal 1900/01 and received a citation from the Mayor of Blackburn.
According to the East Lancs. Regimental History, the 30th, 40th and 47th were separately engaged in the first phase of the South African War: the 30th in General “Bob” Roberts’ march on Pretoria; the 40th at Spion Cop and the Relief of Ladysmith and the 47th in the defence of Kimberley.  Subsequently, after the flight of Kruger and the transfer of British command from Roberts to Kitchener in November 1900, all three Regiments were involved in the arduous guerrilla campaign which lasted until the Treaty of Vereening in May 1902.

Ernest BERTWISTLE was discharged on 24 July 1902, with the 1902 Orange Free State & Cape Colony clasp on his South African Star, and later became part of the Bugle Band of the East Lancs Territorials - he is the one leading the band on the occasion of the visit of Princess Louise to Blackburn in 1905 (picture 92 in Blackburn in Old Picture Postcards).
On 1 October 1908: Ernest BERTWISTLE, joiner of 6 Eastwood Street, Blackburn, married Elizabeth, daughter of John DOBSON, overlooker of 15 Cedar Street, Blackburn.  By 1912 Ernest & “Lizzie” BERTWISTLE were living at 10 Maple Street, next to his in-laws; one of three terraced houses left to his children by John DOBSON.  When his Mother used to boast that “Our Ernest has his own house,” she had to be tactfully reminded that it had been bought with Dobson money.

A daughter Mary (Mum) was born 9 July 1913.

On the outbreak of the Great War the East Lancs Territorials volunteered for overseas service, in order to release regular troops for the front line in France.  This measure took Ernest BERTWISTLE to Cairo for garrison duties and later to guard the Suez Canal when the Ottoman Turks allied themselves with Germany.  

In 1915 they were called on to support the military campaign in Gallipoli – a hair-brained attempt to win the war by attacking the soft-underbelly of Europe!  Fortunately the Territorials were not part of the initial landings and Ernest survived, although the experience permanently impaired his health and he was forever after a martyr to bronchitus.

During the war Lizzie kept up a steady stream of letters, and parcels of comforts, to Ernest.  Many of her letters, and some of his replies, as well as his War Diary, survive.  Despite sometimes not knowing if her “soldier laddie” was still alive to read her letters, thanks to wild rumours which arose on the streets of Blackburn, she gave him cheerful and encouraging reports from home.  Baby (Mum) had not forgotten her Daddy, Lizzie still loved him - and she reassures him by saying that there are, in any case, no decent men left in Blackburn because of conscription.  
There are flashes of her wicked sense of humour in comments about her mother-in-law’s propriety feelings towards Baby - your ma was told Baby looked just like me, which didn’t go down very well as you might imagine.  She records the apprehension of his brother Billy BERTWISTLE at the prospect of being called up and the equal apprehension his disabled brother Harry BERTWISTLE had of telling his possessive mother that he wanted to get married.  There is however pride when little Jimmy, son of Albert (who “disappeared“ to Australia), is called up.

Her own brothers were in the throes of developing “their invention” - the Dobson Reacher - and Jimmy DOBSON’s wife is said to be “all swank” and talking about having a lobby installed.  
Her own mother helps in the house but causes great consternation by loosing her glasses - eventually found to have dropped in the gruel!  
The letters from abroad, and the War Diary which Ernest BERTWISTLE kept, are sparse on details; he finds Cairo an exotic place, but reassures his wife that he is not taking advantage of the night life.  At the Dardanelles he is “living like a rabbit, and firing at Johnny Turk in the front line.  But despite the hardships, dangers and loss of close friends; there is no intimation that he ever had any doubts about the war itself, or what he was called upon to do.

Ernest BERTWISTLE left the Dardanelles at the end of December 1915 and, after service at the Suez Canal, where he was faced with controlling camels, he was discharged in April 1916, and arrived home on the 30th.  The rest of the war was spent as a Quartermaster Sergeant at Ripon, being deemed unfit for further active service.
A daughter Doris BERTWISTLE (Aunty Bertie) was born 12 February 1917.
After the war Ernest BERTWISTLE found employment with the Co-op Undertaking Department.  I remember seeing him with tears of laughter rolling down his face as he listened to the gramophone record of Leslie Sarony singing “Ain’t it grand to be bloomin’ well dead.”

His father died in 1919 and his Mother lived until 1932.  They are remembered as a close family with boisterous parties, particularly at New Year when they observed the custom of first footing - there is also a memory of the brothers juggling while washing up and a distraught Aunty Alice (Billy’s wife) wailing, “Oh mi pots!” to no avail.
But Harry BERTWISTLE died young in 1927 of influenza and the family parties were said to never be the same again.  Harry had been born with a turned foot, which his Mother refused to allow being operated on, in case it proved fatal.  She reportedly said when he died that she had fulfilled her promise to be always there for him.  Quite what his widow May made of that remark is not recalled.
Ernest BERTWISTLE was much in demand locally as a bass baritone, performing as a soloist in the Messiah, as well as party pieces at Masonics and other functions.  His​ repertoire featured songs made famous by Peter Dawson.  Ernest was himself a mason.  There is a story of him dealing with the Chief Constable of Blackburn in his professional capacity as an undertaker, and finding him a bit difficult, “until I gave him the handshake.”  He enjoyed his drink and his daughters soon realised that “Going out to check the time by Bastwell Clock” of “Having a word with the policeman on point duty” were euphemisms for the pub or club.  He was among friends who would carry him back to his doorstep if the need arose.

Holidays were spent at Blackpool, usually with Mr & Mrs Forrest.  There is a story that Grandpa BERTWISTLE was once mistaken for Lobby Ludd and became besieged in a rock shop until Grandma came to his rescue.  The holiday snaps show Ernest on the beach in flat cap and waistcoat.

In the summer of 1933 the family moved out from Maple Street to a semi-detached at 91 Brownhill Road.  This was seen as desertion by the rest of the family, despite being only a mile or so up the road; but it was shrewd long term planning, as Bastwell declined rapidly as a residential area in the post war years.

​Grandma and Grandpa enjoyed their cards, and many a game ended with tears of laughter when one had managed to succeed in “cheating” the other.
Ernest died in 1953, age 70, of bronchitis aggravated by Gallipoli and a love of cigars.  Lizzy died in 1971, age 89.

Earnest Bertwistle, An Old Soldier