Writing Home

Frank Brown's WWI Letters

Many of Frank Brown’s friends enlisted in WWI, but Frank was deemed medically unfit to serve and remained at home in Albury throughout the war. His best mate Arthur Hewish, known as Les, enlisted as a Lieutenant and was later promoted to Captain in the 3rd Battalion. Les fought at Gallipoli and on the Western Front and regularly wrote to Frank.

Well old chap I can tell you I have seen some sights & done things here I‘ll never forget, talk about experiences. Well the fact is we as a rule we don’t care to talk too much about them.

The thirty letters that Les wrote to Frank narrate life on the Front and throughout the time Les served there. He wrote about the tough living conditions and the horrors of war. Amongst the hardships and trials faced, his letters also talk about his future back in Albury and the good times to come.

But Les’ life was cut short when he was killed in action at Passchendaele, Belguim, on the 5th of October 1917. The month before he wrote to Frank recounting a night’s action during the battles held around Pozieres in September 1916. Fear and confusion was felt as Hewish tried to move his men up to an allotted position.

Hang it I must knock off writing in this strain or I’ll be as nervous & shaky as anything by thinking of these things.

Before the war Les worked with his father at Albury’s Blakes Busy Book Bazaar while Frank worked at the Albury gasworks. Frank later worked at Barham’s Sawmill, where his photo shown below was taken. Together the young men ran a boys club at their local church, and this developed into the 1st Albury Scout Group after the war. The green and brown colours of the 3rd Battalion, to which Les belonged, were adopted by the Scouts in honour of him.

Frank kept Les’ letters as a personal reminder of his lost mate.