Uncle Tom's Letters - The Letters of Private Thomas Wainwright, edited by Lyn Dyson

Uncle Tom's Letters - The Letters of Private Thomas Wainwright, edited by Lyn Dyson
Uncle Tom's Letters - The Letters of Private Thomas Wainwright, edited by Lyn Dyson

Published privately by the author in 2012, 246 pages. Paperback - c.21.5cm by 28cm (N6433)

From the introduction: Some years ago, Uncle Tom gave to my father a suitcase full of miscellaneous correspondence. It was not until after Uncle Tom's death that my father felt it appropriate to examine the contents of the suitcase. I was enthralled to find that it contained a series of letters written by Uncle Tom to his sister Gladys, throughout the First World War. What a wealth of social and family history they contain! How lucky we are that Gladys kept them all, and then presumably her mother kept them intact until Uncle Tom claimed them back. Uncle Tom's writing was always neat and clear, but sometimes paper was in short supply and lines had been crossed, or ink had run or faded. Some of the paper where it had been folded was fragile and too much handling needed to be avoided.

Uncle Tom was Thomas Wainwright, bom in Ludlow, Shropshire in 1887, the son of Thomas Wainwright a saddler and his wife Anne Bengry. Tom grew up in a large family with three brothers, one of whom died in infancy, and nine sisters. Gladys suffered from TB and sadly she died in September 1918. Another sister, Mary, died at the age of 26, we think from a brain tumour. She died in the lunatic asylum at Bicton, in Shropshire in 1908. Tom's brother, George, died in a bicycle accident in Bridgnorth in 1903.

The business was started by Thomas Wainwright senior, and Uncle Tom worked for him there. His father was apparently a very hard task master, and this may be one of the reasons Tom was quick to enlist into the army at the beginning of World War 1. So when Tom enlisted into Kitchener's army, he was the sole surviving son of Thomas and Anne Wainwright.....

Apparently when he enlisted the men were asked if any of them had any first aid experience, and Tom replied that he had, so he was sent to RAMC. He spent the entire war in northern France. We have to bear in mind that letters home were subject to censorship, so most of the time we cannot be precise about where Tom was writing from, or what action he was seeing. In any event Tom would not have gone into too much detail to his sisters and parents. The last letter in this series was written almost a year after the war ended, to a family friend. It provides a very fitting conclusion to this publication, as if Uncle Tom were writing the final chapter himself. It is fortunate for us that the letter was "returned to sender."

Uncle Tom never married. On his return to civilian life he resumed his position in his father's saddlery and leather and sports store, eventually taking over the business. He retired around 1952 and sold the business. From then on he lived in hotels and travelled extensively. He had a large number of nephews and nieces and kept in touch with all of them to varying degrees. There are also a lot of great nephews and nieces, and great great nephews and nieces, so there are many of us who remember him simply as Uncle Tom. He died in 1989 at the age of 101.

Please note that although new, the book does have light undulations to the inside pages throughout (caused during the printing and binding process). There is also a small price sticker on the rear side cover.
Condition New