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Private Laurie Nightingale

Harrogate Herald - 1st December 1915

Writing from St Paul's Military Hospital at Malta to his sister at Pannal Junction, Private Laurie Nightingale says : 

November 18th : Dear Flo, Just a few lines to let you know I am getting on all right. I am sending a few photos home which no doubt will interest you, and one or two I want you to take care of until I return. I don't expect to get back to the firing line before Xmas. I may get as far as Mudros, but this bit of a rest has made a man of me again. I want you to get me a postcard of a torpedo destroyer called HMS Mosketo. That is the boat that took us from Mudros to Embros, an island within sight of Gallipoli. Then I have only to wait and get the photo of the boat to bring me home, which I hope won't be long. It may be the good ship Roberty Lee. How is Ted going on in France? How did he fare in the big advance? I wrote him the day before I left the peninsular. By the way, have you heard anything of Maurice since he got back to Blighty? The doctor is coming round, so ta ta for the present. Fondest regards to all at home.

Harrogate Herald - 1st December 1915

It is a matter of extreme satisfaction to all of us connected with the Herald to know that our paper is serving useful and novel purposes in the interests of you boys at the Front. Here is a case in point. Private L Nightingale, of Pannal Junction, landed in Suvla Bay (Dardenelles). He was not aware of the presence in that part of any Harrogate boys. You may imagine his delight when he received a certain copy of the Herald to find that Harrogate soldiers were very near him. He ascertained this from the picture page and accompanying soldiers' letters. At the first opportunity he made a tour of the trenches, and by the help of the Herald portraits not only found friends but Harrogate men he did not know, identifying them by their likenesses. You can imagine the lonely feelings he first entertained, surrounded by so many strange faces, was soon dispelled. Spofforth people will be pleased to know that he found Myers, of Spofforth, an old Sunday school fellow. Nightingale served three years with Mr Gunter at Wetherby as a jockey. Nightingale had to go into hospital at Malta, but is now doing well.

Harrogate Herald - 8th December 1915

Private L Nightingale, writing to his parents at Pannal Junction, says :

November 11th, 1915
Dear Mother - Just a few lines to let you know I have been knocked out of the betting in the Gallipolis race at last, but I am pleased to say I did not let Johnny Turk knock me out. I was certainly getting out of his way. I jumped into a trench and sprained my back. We were digging a trench about three hundred yards from the Turks, about a mile in front of the firing line. We had got it nearly complete before they spotted us. They opened rapid fire on us, and wounded the chap I was filling sandbags with and killed the fellow behind me, and one bullet hit my shovel, so we had to beat a hasty retreat to the trench. I helped my mate to the trench, and was jumping in myself when I slipped and fell with my back against some sandbags, but I am about all right again now. Before I got on board the hospital boat I was in the field ambulance lain in one of their Red Cross vans. The Turks sent a shell, which burst just above the van. I though the roof was coming in. three bullets came through the top and dropped just at my feet. How they missed me God only knows. I was on board the hospital ship Morea a week; it was a fine trip to Malta. It would have been better if she had been coming to England, but I have got nearer than I thought I should. I expected they would put me off at Lemnos, an island about two hours' run from the peninsula. The doctor told me later that I should have been put off there. There had been a mistake made. I asked him if he could make another and take me to England. He didn't half have a laugh. You don't know what a treat it is to get away from the firing line and to get to a place where you know you are safe for a bit. I have got a photo of the Morea and the Aquitania, the boat I came out on. I am going to send them home as soon as I can get an envelope to fit them. The card you sent me was very nice. When I saw the card with the old folks at home on I was forced to have a few tears. It knocked me more than anything. I am amongst the Australians here. In my ward there are about a dozen of them, and jolly fellows they are too. Well, mother dear, I will have to dry up. Your mind will be at ease for a bit now at any rate, so keep smiling.

Harrogate Herald - 22nd December 1915

Private L Nightingale, writing to his parents at Pannal Junction, says : 

Just a few lines to let you know I am out of hospital. I came out about a week ago, and am pleased to say I am quite fit again. We are about two miles out of the town Valletta. We have nothing much to do only answer roll-call at 9am, and in by 10pm, so you bet we have been having a rare old time. I made up for the dreary days I spent on Gallipoli. It's a fine place, but it would be better if there were a few more English people in it. I can't stand this Maltese lingo. Don't write back till you have heard from me again, as I expect to start some time for Egypt, and from there I don't know whether I shall be drafted to my own regiment on the peninsula or to Salonica. By the way, I am writing you a few lines about the blue suit I wore while in hospital :

There's a colour that's familiar everywhere you go,
Worn by Tommy Atkins, who's been against the foe;
It's a colour with a story that appeals to me and you,
The wonderful equipment - the convalescent blue.

It isn't worn by shirkers, who are fond of pretty socks,
Fond of fickle lassies, who're fond of pretty frocks;
Fond of waving penny flags and saying "Au revoir"
To the boys in khaki marching off to the war.

It's the convalescent colour that is worn by soldiers true,
If you've the right to wear it, you fell prouder when you do;
It's the one and only colour that is sure to make a hit,
For it shows that for King and country you've done your little bit.

Malta, November, 1915

In another letter he says :

Just a few lines to let you know I have arrived in -------. I sailed from Malta on the Franconia December 1st, and arrived here on Saturday the 4th. We had a pleasant voyage, travelled second class. I have not had a look round here yet, but I am going to have a trip out tonight. I will drop you a line later, and let you know what sort of place it is. Has Fred gone to France? I have dropped across a few of my chums from the old battalion who were wounded in the landing at Suvla Bay and also on the 21st August. It is grand to meet some of the old school, but I am sorry to say that there are many I shall never meet again in this world. I am down at the base here.. I don't know how long for, though. I shall probably be here a time, so you can send me a parcel on, and it will be sure of getting it. Tell Mab and Lil I have not forgot them. I will write them some time during the week. I think I have told you all the news at present, so keep smiling. Wishing you all a merry Xmas and a bright and happy New Year.


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