Writing Home: The World War One Letters of Frank Brown

In 1914, a group of Albury men went to war while their friend Frank Brown stayed behind. Although Frank was refused service on medical grounds he kept in contact with several of his friends. In particular, he regularly wrote to Arthur Leslie Hewish, his mate Les..

While Frank was unfit for service in the pre-war militia, Hewish was a Lieutenant in F Company, 44th Infantry Regiment. Being called up for garrison duty at the beginning of the war Hewish was stationed around Sydney area before enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force in May 1915.

Joining the 3rd Battalion as a Lieutenant, Hewish served at Gallipoli from November 1915 until the withdrawal from the peninsula. From there the battalion transferred to the western front where he was promoted to Captain in late 1916. He fought in the battles of Pozieres and Ypres with his final engagement in the battle of Passchendaele. The letters that Les wrote to Frank were coloured by his experiences. Earlier letters were more light-hearted, with the tone becoming more serious as his experience of war grew.

In his letters the hardships of life at the front are contrasted with descriptions of the unfamiliar landscape and seasons. Life at home is referred to, alluding to old times and what they will do when he returns after the war. Unfortunately that was not to be.

Arthur Leslie Hewish was killed in action at Passchendaele on the 5th of October 1917 and was buried in the Aeroplane Cemetery 3.5 km north east of Ypres, Belgium.

Although he did not go to war, Frank Brown experienced it deeply through the letters of good friends. He kept all of Hewish’s letters and a few from other friends. They were passed on to his family who donated them to AlburyCity where they form an important and very personal part to our World War One collection.

Accessing the collection

Images of the letters and transcripts can be accessed here.

Click here to view the collection on Flickr.

Audio Recordings

To listen to recorded excerpts from the letters, click the dates below. Each extract is taken from a letter written by Captain Les Hewish to Frank Brown.

8th JAN 1915, Liverpool7th NOV 1915, Gallipoli13th FEB 1916, Zeitoum4th AUG 1916, France
22nd OCT 19168th DEC 1916, France24th JAN 1917, France5th FEB 1917

Education Resources

An interactive eResource for teachers and students can be accessed here. The resource includes suggested learning activities, key extracts, transcripts and recorded excerpts.