During the First World War, letter writing was the main form of communication between soldiers and their loved ones, this helped ease the pain of long term separation. Soldiers from Parramatta would write letters to home in their spare time, sometimes from the front line but also in calmer moments away from the front. While there was censorship that meant soldiers couldn’t write of everything they experienced or the places they were stationed, the emotions expressed and the information conveyed, revealed strong personal insights into the nature and experience of war. At times, the narrative paints a graphic and confronting picture of the life in the trenches, however, also included are stories of bravery and resilience often related with humour and optimism. Receiving letters and packages from family and friends especially around significant dates such as birthdays and Christmas was integral to maintaining mental health and morale. The correspondence kept men and women connected to the lives of family and friends which were so far way. In return, the letters written to soldiers and other service personnel from the home front now form a fascinating source of information about everyday life in wartime Australia.
Neera Sahni, Research Services Leader & Cathy McHardy, Research Assistant, City of Parramatta, Parramatta Heritage Centre, 2019