a letter home

ANZAC Day has prompted me to write about a letter I found amongst a pile of my grandmother’s papers passed on to me. This letter still brings tears to my eyes, even after multiple readings. When I collected it from the framing shop, I had to blink rapidly as I thanked them for their work. The letter now hangs in our living room.

The letter is from my great-grandfather, James Trickett, to his two sons, one of whom was my Papa (my mother’s father). James wrote a long and loving five-page letter, filled with life advice for his boys. The tone is hopeful for his return and yet the instructions prepare his sons for his possible death.

This is the first page:


James did survive to travel to France, but according to a letter from his commanding officer, in late January, 1917, he complained of a headache, and then suffered a ‘bilious attack’. He became very unwell, and eventually was taken to hospital, where he was diagnosed with ‘spinal meningitis’. He died in early February, 1917.

Here is the last page of his letter:

IMG_4137 2

Here is the entire letter on the wall:


Lest we forget.

*Just in case anyone is concerned, the letter is framed with archival matting and tape, and has maximum UV protection glass. The letter is also hung on a wall which is not touched by any direct sunlight, and which receives only muted daylight.

10 thoughts on “a letter home

  1. What a beautiful and moving letter! It’s been framed beautifully too, and I can imagine you pause when you’re walking past it at times.
    I love that the letter reads just as if your great-grandfather is speaking the words. There is so much hope beyond the reality he was facing.

    • Hi Marie, I feel like you must know me already because that’s exactly what I do. I often stop and read a few lines.
      You’re right about how the letter reads – it does sound just like a father talking, and that’s what I love about it.
      Thank you for your thoughts – lovely to hear from you.

  2. It was very moving to read your post, Fiona, and to see the beautiful way it has been framed, and kept at the heart of your own home. I am sure your great grandfather would have been proud of the way you have respected and valued his courage, and his family’s ultimate loss. Love, Amanda.

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