Thousands follow soldiers fate in WW1 "blog"

By Mike Collett-White Reuters - Monday, January 7 03:59 pm LONDON

(Reuters) -

Thousands of people have been following the fate of a British soldier fighting in the trenches of World War One on a Web site publishing his letters home exactly 90 years after they were written.
Like William Henry Bonser ("Harry") Lamin's real family almost a century ago, the modern reader visiting does not know when the next letter is coming, or whether the one they are reading is in fact his last.

Many are braced for the dreaded telegram from the army notifying relatives of a soldier's death.

"There are a lot of people saying how keen they are to follow him and are rooting for Harry," said Bill Lamin, the 59-year-old IT teacher who found his grandfather's letters when he was a boy and decided to turn them into a blog.

"They get hooked as if it is happening now. People are rooting for a guy who is in the thick of it," he told Reuters.

The most recent entries from Harry, who served with the Yorkshire and Lancashire Regiment, were on December 30, 1917, after he had moved from the battlefields of northern Europe to Italy.

He thanks his brother, Jack, for the box of biscuits he sent and wishes his sister Kate a happy Christmas and New Year.

Many of the letters are mundane and focus on his wife and child in England, but some offer a glimpse of the horrors of trench warfare that young men faced.

"We have had another terrible time this week," Harry wrote on June 11, 1917, when describing his part in the Battle of Messines Ridge.

"The men here say it was worst (sic) than the Somme advance last July. We lost a lot of men but we got where we were asked to take. It was awful I am alright got buried and knocked about but quite well now and hope to remain so.

"It is a rum job waiting for the time to come to go over the top without any rum too. The C.O. got killed and our captain, marvellous how we escaped."

In another entry from October the same year, details of British casualties are pencilled out, possibly by army censors seeking to maintain morale back home.

Lamin said the daily number of visitors to his site reached around 20,000 last week after several media reports appeared, although the daily total was normally lower.

"World War One has always been fascinating for people, the horrors of it," he said.

Dozens of people have written to the site to comment on Harry's experiences, including many from the United States.

One anonymous contributor wrote: "As a boy I was taught that war was glorious, I now know that it is exactly the opposite and will teach my children the same."

Lamin refused to give any clues as to Harry's fate, listing only his birth date as 1887.
Interesting Concept , I found it most interesting to read the entries.

Of course it would have been far too easy to simply go to the CWGC site and look.

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