Spalding and district families share news from the front

Teachers have voted to call off strike action at Spalding Grammar School.
Teachers have voted to call off strike action at Spalding Grammar School.

Letters from the front must have been an enormous relief to relatives at home a hundred years ago.

However, the letters were frequently shared with these newspapers, so acted as a valuable source of information about what was happening to local lads who were involved in the fighting.

In 1916 the Pinchbeck Baptist minister the Rev W F Dart shared information with this newspaper that he had received from his relative, Sgt F Dart.

Sgt Dart had been a prisoner of war in Germany for the past 16 months but had returned to England with other ‘exchanged prisoners’.

In his letter he spoke of the “brutal treatment” he had received, and which had left its marks.

He described one occasion when he was waiting at a station with other prisoners when he was hit on the mouth with the butt end of a rifle by a German soldier. Several of his top teeth were knocked out by the blow, and he reeled off the platform on to the rails below.

Sgt Dart told the minister that if it hadn’t been for the food parcels sent from home he would have starved. Before being released he had been sent to a ‘fattening camp’ to improve his appearance.

News had also reached Mr L J Driver, of Spalding Grammar School, of his brother’s remarkable escape in France.

During a bombing attack a bullet had gone completely through Lieut R Driver’s right arm, and continuing its “journey of destruction”, had then killed a brother officer.

Pte David Codd, of Spalding – who had worked at the town’s Post Office before the war – wrote optimistically to local councillor E I Stapleton. He said: “I am feeling very fit. I think we have got the worst of our job over and shall soon be back amongst you all again.”