“Are we down-hearted”?

A PoW writes home after two years in the hands of the enemy.

Prisoners of War.

We think it would interest our readers to see extracts from letters from one of our Prisoners of War, Private W. Simmonds, of Dedworth. Every month we send in from Clewer a small collection for the Prisoners of War Fund. This month 16/- was sent. The Boys of St. Augustine’s Home contribute largely towards it. Mrs. Buttress and Mrs. Cowie very gladly receive contributions, however small, as they all mount up. They are sent in the beginning of each month, and after reading the letter you will see how very grateful the recipients are. The parcels used to be packed weekly at the Town Hall, Windsor, but now they are sent straight from the London Depot, 4, Thurloe Place, London, S.W.

Letter from Private Simmonds, Kriegsgefangenenlager, Prisoner of War, Langensalza, Germany, Jan., 1917.

Dear Mrs. Cowie,

So pleased to have the pleasure of writing to you, to let you know that I am still in splendid health, thanks to the parcels you send me weekly, for these I think go a long way to keep our spirits up in this very trying time, but I suppose we shall have to stick to our well-known motto – “Are we down-hearted”? At present there is still the same answer amongst us, that is, “No.” But we shall be pleased when it is all finished and we can return to those who are dear to us again.

Madam, I should be very pleased if you can give any instructions as to the acknowledging of the parcels, as no name of the donor is received from the Central Prisoners of War Committee, London. It was a splendid parcel, and of course I should like for yourself to continue packing the parcel, but there we are in war time, and orders are orders, so we must abide by them for the present, but not much longer, I hope.

You say in your letter, Madam, that we must have patience, but I am afraid mine won’t last out; being here two years has tried my patience to its utmost, but still with the help of those fine parcels I have managed to pull through with flying colours. I shall certainly have to visit that War Shrine in Dedworth when I return.

And now will you kindly convey best wishes and thanks to His Worship the Mayor of Windsor, yourself, and all helpers of the Committee and all in the dear old Royal Borough and vicinity for their-never-to-be-forgotten kindness towards myself and all other unfortunate comrades of the Borough. I am sure, Madam, if you and the Mayor heard how good we all speak of you, you would be prouder than the V.C. winner. Again thanking you and all members of the Committee for their kindness,

I remain yours thankfully,

W. SIMMONDS (Private).

Clewer St Andrew parish magazine, March 1917 (D/P39/28A/9)

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PoWs “as nice a looking set of Britishers as one would wish to meet anywhere”

It was a relief to hear that men captured by the enemy were in good health.

ASCOT PARISH WAR PRISONERS’ FUND.

We have good news of our prisoners. Lance-Corporal Percy Huxford, 8th Royal Berks, and Private Richard Taylor, 1st Royal Berks. The former is at Mannheim, said to be one of the best managed Prisoners’ camps in Germany. His mother has seen a returned prisoner and friend of his, who gave a good account of the camp and of her son, “always ready” (as he said,) “for a bit of fun.”

Private Taylor also seems well. He has sent home a photo of a group of his fellow prisoners, and of a part of the prison buildings. The latter looks a clean, airy place, and the former as nice a looking set of Britishers as one would wish to meet anywhere. Private Taylor himself is included in the group, looks well, and (a cheering detail) has a cigarette in his hand. He is imprisoned at Friedrichsfeld-bei Wesel.

But however bravely they make the best of their wearisome imprisonment, with its attendant hardships, we know how hard it must be to bear, and are glad to feel that the fortnightly parcels sent by subscribers to the above Fund are regularly received, and make them feel that they are not forgotten by their Ascot friends. In each case the parents subscribe a regular amount monthly towards the parcel; the Fund supplementing the rest of the money required.

The parcels are sent through the Agency of the British Prisoners of War Fund of the British Red Cross Society, and we have heard that the official stamp of these parcels seems to ensure their arrival, even when others go astray. Miss La Trobe-Bateman will be most grateful for promises of fresh subscribers if needed in the future; that is to say, if others of our Ascot lads or men are taken prisoners.

Ascot section of Winkfield District magazine, May 1916 (D/P151/28A/5)