‘I could not have had better parents, of that I am sure’ Heartbreaking last letter home written by soldier, 18, killed in First World War is unearthed during museum renovation
A heartbreaking letter from a teenage soldier killed in WW1 was unearthed during museum renovations.
Private Vincent Collins, 18, wrote the last letter home to his parents in 1915 – the night before his unit moved into the trenches.
The soldier, serving with the 8th (Argyllshire) Battalion, was wounded later that year and died from his injuries.
The letter was sent to his parents Harry and Martha and ended with the emotional sign off: ‘I could not have had better parents, of that I am sure. Especially you dear mum.’
Private Vincent Collins, 18, wrote the last letter home to his parents in 1915 – the night before his unit moved into the trenches
It was discovered during renovations at the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum, Stirling.
Museum bosses said that the fragile letter will not go on display due to its poor condition.
Allison Spark, Collection Development Officer at the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum, said: ‘Handwritten letters and messages like these are very precious.
Museum bosses said that the fragile letter will not go on display due to its poor condition
‘Not only do they give an indication of what life was like at the Front, they’re also very touching.
‘Vincent’s letter in particular, while short and hurriedly written, really communicates his nervousness and fear about what was about to happen and the love he felt for his family back home.
‘It still gives me goosebumps when I read it.
‘Sadly, Vincent’s letter is in such a poor condition we aren’t able to have it on general display at the moment but our film really does bring it to life.’
Other handwritten artefacts include a letter from Private George Martin, 2nd Battalion, who wrote a letter to his sweetheart not long before his death on the front in 1916.
He wrote: ‘We have not said about being engaged, we are practically* I hope this war will finish for I want to get home.’
Alongside George’s letter on display, is another poignant note from Private James Sword.
He enlisted in December 1915 at the age of 36, and was one of the lucky men to return home to his family.
The letter on display is one that he received from his children, John and Bella.
John wrote: ‘mother’s looking for the bus every day and I am a good boy* and you have to come home for Christmas’ and on the back of the letter are kisses from both children.
Private Sword had previously lost his daughter Margaret to illness, so items from home would have meant even more to him.
Rod Mackenzie, Museum Curator, said: ‘The museum is home to a collection of over 12,500 artefacts, all with their own fascinating stories to tell.
‘Handwritten items like Vincent’s letter home, the letter to Gertie, and John and Bella’s letter to their dad really do bring to life the impact war had on everyday people.
‘We are incredibly proud to play our part in preserving these.
‘We would love to hear from people out there, whether in Scotland, the UK or indeed around the world, whose relatives may have served as a member of The Argylls.
‘Visit our social media channels and share your stories.’