'Help her to forget me, and fall in love with someone else': British Tommy's heart-breaking note to his mother telling her to comfort his sweetheart should he die in the Trenches... nine days before a bullet ended his life

29/06/2021 | Matthew Tredwen

'Help her to forget me, and fall in love with someone else': British Tommy's heart-breaking note to his mother telling her to comfort his sweetheart should he die in the Trenches... nine days before a bullet ended his life
  • Lieutenant Frank Stuart Shoosmith fought in the Gallipoli campaign in 1915
  • In letter to his parents, he urged his mother to 'take care' of his partner Ivy
  • He added that he hoped they were proud if he died 'fighting for my country' 

A poignant letter penned by a tragic British Tommy to his family 'in the event of his death' nine days before he was killed has emerged for sale 106 years on.

Lieutenant Frank Stuart Shoosmith fought in the Gallipoli campaign in 1915 as Allied casualties spiralled into the hundreds of thousands.

Fearful he could suffer the same fate as so many fallen comrades, the 21-year-old wrote a letter he hoped his parents would never have to read.

In one heartbreaking passage, he tells his mother to 'take care' of his partner Ivy and 'help her to forget me'.

He urges her to 'fall in love with someone else' and says he hopes they are proud that he died 'fighting for his country'.

Just over a week later, on August 21, 1915, he died instantly when he was shot through the head while moving along a trench.

He was one of 31,000 British soldiers killed in the campaign. In total 51,000 Allied troops lost their lives. A further 250,000 were injured.   

The letter was kept by the mother and then transcribed by another family member into a book containing all Lieutenant Shoosmith's wartime correspondence.

The book of his letters is being sold with C&T Auctions, of Ashford, Kent, alongside a watchstrap containing Lieutenant Shoosmith's photo which his mother wore in his memory. 

Lieutenant Shoosmith, of the 5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, wrote on August 12, 1915: 'My dearest family. Am writing this letter as a precaution and it will be forwarded to you in cause anything shall happen to me.

'You see one can never tell the fortune of war, so it is as well to be ready.

'I don't think I have much to say, there is not much I can say.

'If I shall get knocked out you will know that I died fighting for my country, and I hope you will be proud of me. What more can I do?

'Of course take care of Ivy, help her to forget me (in a way) and she must fall in love with someone else, whatever happens take care of her.

'I think that is all. Goodbye, love Stuart.'

A C&T Auctions spokesperson said: 'The "memorial" notebook contains transcribed letters to his family from Gallipoli in 1915.

'There is some very interesting detail including his work as a machine gun officer and his personal impressions of being in action.

'The letter he wrote in the event of his death is particularly poignant, and there is also a watchstrap with a photo of Stu believed to have been kept by his mother in memory of her son.'

The sale of the items, which are valued at £300, takes place on Wednesday.

A C&T Auctions spokesperson said: 'The "memorial" notebook contains transcribed letters to his family from Gallipoli in 1915'  

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