Letters, parcels and newspapers from home were essential in keeping up the morale of the troops at the front.
The Rothschild Archive has a number of very moving private letters written during these dark days. Evelyn Achille de Rothschild (1886-1917) who tragically died from wounds in 1917 wrote to his father Leopold (1845-1917), and his mother Marie (1862-1937).
25th August 1915
I am waiting anxiously to hear news of Tony. I hope he is going on well and on his way home on a hospital ship. I was told he was on a hospital ship at the base and did not get a chance of seeing him. They tell me he was not bad and was seen helping back Gooch of the Berks who was badly hit. I hear on all sides he did splendidly as cool as possible and always busy collecting men and leading them on and the Colonel has sent his name in. I hope Tony will be back before you get this letter and so you will hear more than I do but I will tell you as much as I have been able to gather always keeping within the censor. I enclosed a copy of the divisional order which speaks for itself and the Colonel is anxious it should be published in the local papers. The division was in support during an attack. They had to advance in the afternoon across a mile and a half of open country under very heavy shrapnel and rifle fire and moved as steadily as if on parade. They reformed under a hill and at dark moved on to attack. Our brigade went right on through our first line trenches and got into the Turkish trenches on the next hill but there was nobody on the flanks and the position was enfiladed and untenable and they eventually had to retire. The flanks had not been able to get in and the other brigades of the division did not get on either. Longford led the brigade in attack in the gallant way we expected and it is very sad that he was killed. It was a very high trial to come straight into an action like that but I think from all accounts the regiment and the whole brigade were splendid and the men fought magnificently. I always felt the Buckinghamshire farmers would do well and they have certainly done so and I only wish I had been with them. It is very sad coming back and finding all the gaps and our casualties are terrible. Twenty-one officer causalities out of twenty-nine who went into action Out of the brigade which was a bare infantry battalion in strength. Five out of eight of our officers hit seventy-two men wounded and fifty four killed or missing; I hope some of the latter may still turn up and others may be wounded and prisoners but I am afraid most of them are killed. Wood of Whitchurch was killed he was such a splendid boy and his father was so proud of him. Seaton Bell Sherman, Terry, Briggs, Haynes, Slumpton are all wounded, and young Brown and Pratt amongst the missing. The rest of the brigade lost about the same proportion others not so bad. Seaton did very well till wounded and Morris was splendid all the time from all accounts. They had a very bad time and of course felt it but are in very good spirits now and quite cheerful. We are now in reserve. Our Colonel is in command of what is left of the brigade and in very good form. News is as you can imagine scarce and I am hoping that I shall get a post soon but it seems that mails are slow and uncertain. The weather is very nice not too hot and the nights not cold yet. Water is not too plentiful an there is very little for washing. I got here Monday night and rejoined the regiment yesterday.