Stanley Booker’s letters, Dear Mother: Great War Letters from a Bristol Soldier

Stanley Booker’s letters Edited by Barry Williamson
Published by Redclitfe Press

ISBN 1-904537-07-3
Published 11th November 2003

Lieutenant Stanley Charles Booker M.C. of Bristol served with the 2/7th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment. He was killed in action in France on the 10th October 1916. At the time of his death he was at the front near Richebourg L'Avoue. He was killed that night by a sniper's bullet when he was part of a rescue party sent out to search for wounded men after an unsuccessful raid. That night the moon was as bright as day and the men in the rescue party had little chance of survival.

This booklet was put together by Barry Williamson, a teacher at Bristol Grammar School following a class project on the First World War. Having selected Lieutenant Booker an old boy of Bristol Grammar School to research. During the course of the research he tracked down a cousin of Lieutenant Booker and as a result two boxes of family papers were kindly deposited in the school archives.

These papers consisted of photographs, school records, Army papers, sketches, badges and, best of all, 54 letters written by Stanley to his mother while he was training as an officer in Essex and then serving at the front near Richebourg L’Avoue. The letters were not short messages about food and weather. They comprised 76,000 words of close detail about an ordinary soldier’s life in the First World War. There was no cynicism or despair, only a determination to do one’s duty and demonstrate that Germany could not get away with bullying the weak.

In the last letter he wrote to his mother from Salisbury Plain before embarking for France he wrote:
"Now, Mother, please be cheerful while I am away because after all it is only right that I should go, and many others have gone to do more than I; it is the right place for all Englishmen now and we are only taking a small part in a great work. If God wills I shall come back to you safe and sound; if I do not, why there is nothing hard in dying for a great cause, after all it is the cause that matters and not the life of this individual or that. I trust God will give me courage, patience and endurance in danger and hardship and I hope only to do my duty as an English gentleman; and these things are greater and worthier than long life or safety. So please be patient until I return again."