Arthur James Pegler would have been my Great Uncle (handsome fellow wasn’t he). My Grandmother’s big brother he was a good few years older than her, Arthur was 24 when he died on the Somme. She would have only been 4 in 1912, when the first of the letters was sent and only 8 in 1916. My grandmother died in 1999 and I don’t think any member of my family was aware that she still had these letters. That she kept them for over 80 years probably says something of the loss she and the rest of her family felt. What little I know of him is now on this blog.
What do the letters tell us? Well, from my possibly naive stance, that Arthur was more concerned about is family than himself. Reading the last of his letters certainly gives that impression. As part of the original British Expeditionary Force he had been in France for nearly 18 months and at the end of 1915 he had probably seen just about everything. That he starts his letter with “I hope Mother you do not worry” says it all. I suspect that he had already resigned himself to his fate, suspecting it would only be a matter of time. Nevertheless he kept going for another nine months until he became one of the 420,000 British casualties on the Somme.