Sergeant Robert Constantine: letters from the Somme

Letters from the Somme: getting awful grub

Sergeant Robert Constantine wrote to his beloved brother Jim during the Battle of the Somme in 1916 complaining of the food.

Just 11 days after writing, he was killed in action.

4 September 1916
Dear Jim,
Received yours dated August 27th. Yes I got the parcel safe. We haven’t half been getting put through it lately. We have now been in ******** out of the line about 3 weeks but we are training heavy to take part in the push and I am only wishing the war was finished before we go up, but no such luck, never mind I’ll just have to take my chance the same as all the other boys.
There’s an awful bombardment raging while I am writing this so some poor chaps are going through it hot.
I had a letter from Percy and he was telling me about Robbie Rogerson and all the young ‘uns being out here. The Tyneside Irish are down here but I’ve not come across any of them yet. Poor Dougall called up at last and in the dandy Ninth, what does he think? I’m afraid they’ll all be wanted out here.
We are getting awful grub just now and I don’t know how I am sticking it. The small place we are in at present you can hardly buy anything fancy 1½ Fr (1s/3d) for a loaf of bread & tin stuff is awful dear, sardines 10 pence a tin, same in England for 2½ pence, salmon 1s/8d in England 8d & 9d a tin, eggs 2½ pence each boxed at that, the sooner this is over and I’m back home the better.
I am getting properly fed up and sick of the damn job, but it's no use grumbling I’ll have to stick it. Well Jim, I think this is all at present. Hope your letters have more news. Hoping all at home are keeping well. Remember me to all. With love to all.
From your affectionate brother
(Let us know if you get the card I am sending you safe, it’s for Alice.)
God Bless you all. Cheer up.

Letter from Durham County Record Office

Remember Robert

Born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1887 and married in 1910, Robert enlisted at Gateshead before the outbreak of war in 1914. In April 1915, he fought in the Second Battle of Ypres.

He was killed in action on 15 September 1916. Sadly he has no known grave, but his name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial near Albert, on the Somme.

Thousands of young men like Robert never returned home from the Somme, and those that did were never the same. Today, a hundred years later, you can commemorate their service and sacrifice. Robert's letter, and other items to help you hold your own Remembrance event, are available in our Somme toolkit.

Order a Somme Toolkit and hold your own commemoration for those who served at the Somme.

Related Stories