My grandfather, Hugh Winter, was in the Machine Gun Corps during the First World War. The Corps was known as the Suicide Club because of its particularly high mortality rate. 170,500 officers and men served in the Corps, with 62,049 becoming casualties, including 12,498 killed.
Hugh had a younger brother, Tom, born 1888, who became a merchant seaman. During the First World War, Tom served on the merchant vessel, the SS Kutsang.
On 14th April 1918, Tom wrote a letter to Hugh. The actual letter is one of my most precious possessions.
It is a very affectionate letter, from one brother to another, talking about “how much we really love each other” and “I am longing to see you again and have some pleasant times”.
In the letter Tom questioned why Hugh was in the trenches, saying that it should rather be him.
Tom ends the letter:
“I am going to close now, hoping you are safe and may God look after you and bring you safe home to us all again for I know we all love you very much. Well good bye and may God Bless you Hugh and may God spare you. From your loving and ever affectionate Brother, Tom”.
Fifteen days later, in the early hours of 29th April 1918, exactly 100 years ago today, Tom’s ship was torpedoed and he drowned. Hugh survived the war. My father was born in 1924. He was named Tom.