During the First World War, the terrible experiences of life in the trenches were brought to life through a series of letters, some of which were published in The Hunts Post.

Soldiers were forbidden from giving away details about life on the front line, including everything from the obvious such as troop positions and battle plans, to complaints about their experiences that could indicate low morale. The Post Office was responsible for censoring letters from the troops and 'keeping up appearances' that all was well on the Western Front.

This is a poem sent in from a soldier at the front who wished to remain anonymous.

Here are a few of the letters which are part of a collection held by the St Neots Museum.

F Clark
Mr F Clark (Homnourable Artillery Company) "We have just survived a terrible three days in the trenches and were up to our knees in mud and water. In fact, when we first got into the trenches, three men sunk in the mud up to their waists and had to be dug out. We have been hoping against hope to get home for Christmas, but alas, all our hopes have been shattered."

Roger Tebbutt (1st Battalion, Cambridgeshire Regiment) “I believe I left off last time trying to describe my impression of the trenches. I think I was wise: I can’t. The chief impression is of the ludicrous two uneven lines of earth holes, or heaps of sandbags, with men crouching behind them. I believe our division’s trenches are the worst in the line as, instead as in other divisions, brigades keeping to their own trenches, ours take turns in holding one lot. Our company were working by [one set of trenches], which are comparatively comfortable and uneventful. The others are from 100 to 25 yards from the Germans – in one case a sap [a listening post] is seven yards away.” Roger's letter was sent home to his mother in Bluntisham. It is postmarked March 14, 1915 when he was aged 21 and stationed in France.

Laurie Whitney (1st Huntingdonshire Cyclist Battalion)
Laurie writes to his sister-in-law Alice Whitney (nee Wyman) in 1916 to talk about the death of his brother Charles who was killed in action on September 15, 1916, while serving with the 7th King's Royal Rifle Corp.

“I know he must have loved you dearly,” he wrote. “As a man finds it nearly impossible to tell a woman all he thinks of her, and he cannot make a pen express his finest thoughts and Willie did not wear his heart on his sleeve and it was not in him to be theatrical, so I know you must have been very dear to him indeed and he revelled in the joy of possessing the wife he had. The part women have to play in this war is more than they can be expected to bear and the future for you seems desolate but I hope you will be able to face it with a brave heart and a smiling face.”

Private Alec Childerley (Cambridgeshire Regiment, Eltisley)
His letter was published on December 8, 1916.
"No doubt you will be surprised to hear I have been wounded in the back, but I am going on nicely. I should never have been alive to tell the tale if it hadn’t been for the parcel you sent me in the wooden box. We were going in the trenches to relieve another battalion when all of a sudden a shell from the Germans burst within a short distance of us. I was hit in the back by a piece. I had got the wooden box tied to my back and it was smashed to pieces and all the contents. The tin with the Oxo cubes was bent all shapes. I have only the parcel to thank for my life. I happened on a St Neots boy this afternoon at the Dressing Station, his name is Bill Gilbert. He was sick but I am glad to say was not wounded. I am quite happy and well looked after and in a few weeks will be fit again."