Letters home from officers on the Western Front – (other ranks were not allowed to write uncensored letters) – have become a genre of English literature, remarkable for their poignancy, especially for those whose senders did not return. Such a one was the author of this collection – originally privately printed for his family and friends. John (known as Jack to his family ) Baldwin Hoyle MC was on the western front for one year – between July 1915 and July 1st 1916, when he was killed in the slaughter that marked the first day of the battle of the Somme. Lt. Hoyles was a dutiful son – his parents say he wrote to them almost every day, and his letters and postcards were designed to let them know of his doings without unduly worrying them. They had much reason to be anxious, for their other son, Geoffrey Hoyle had been killed at Hooge outside Ypres soon after Jack reached the front. Tragically, Jack was to follow him. Acting as Forward Observation Officer – a task he had been anxious not to ‘mess up’ – for his battalion (the 7th South Lancashire Regiment) he was seen entering a German trench near Ovillers where his comrades had suffered cruel punishment from enemy machine guns. He did not return and his body was never found. These letters must stand as the memorial to a brave man and loving son whose courage, in his bereaved parents’ words, ‘Never failed him as he followed to the end a road that, until duty pointed, he had never dreamed that he should tread’.
SOME LETTERS FROM A SUBALTERN ON THE WESTERN FRONT. July 1915-June 1916.
Poignant letters home from a subaltern killed on the Somme. Jack Hoyle MC died on July 1st 1916 near Ovillers after entering the German trenches. His body was never found.