Letter Home

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: War and Military  |  House: Booksie Classic
A letter is sent home about a man dying at war.

Submitted: January 28, 2014

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Submitted: January 28, 2014

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The streets were lit with the occasional lamp and the headlights of the passing cars. Dark clouds of fog were hanging in the air and the rain was seeping through her jumper, soaking her. She was walking towards me, clutching tightly onto a piece of paper. I couldn’t tell what it was. She was too far away. As she got closer I could see that it was a photograph but the colours were starting to run. Even through the rain I could tell that she had been crying. She sat down on the other end of the bench. The deep dark red circles around her glassy eyes enticed me to find the story behind them. Drops of rain crawled off the leaves of the overhead birch tree and splashed onto her cheek. They merged into the tears and she wiped them away. I slid along the bench and put my left arm around her. Leaning into me and placing her head on my chest, she took in a deep breath and let out more tears. I raised my right hand and stroked her smooth long hair, running my hand over her shoulders and down her back.

 

The tears began to stop and her breathing returned to a normal rate. She explained what the photo was of. It was her dad, wearing his army uniform, smiling. He was a man proud to be serving his country. She reached into her pocket and pulled out an envelope addressed to her mother. Passing it to me she grasped my leg as if what I was about to read would hurt her.

 

Dear Mrs Patterson,

 

It is with deepest regret that I write to inform you that your husband, Corporal William Patterson, was killed in action yesterday. It was ten o’clock and we had just received orders to start our attack on the Afghans. The raw stench of the decaying bodies of our fellow soldiers filled the air and urged us to finish this war. All of the soldiers were getting mentally prepared and Willie was checking all the soldiers had their guns at the ready. The whistle blew and we clambered out of our barricaded base and headed into the Dasht. We moved quickly. Manoeuvring through the barbed wire and around the muddy blood-leaking bodies of the soldiers who failed to return home safe.

 

The Afghans must have heard or seen us coming as they let loose with gunfire. Willie dove into a shell hole, pulling two inexperienced soldiers down with him. They stayed stationary, waiting for the raining bullets to stop. I scrambled down into the shell hole and joined them.

 

Willie could see one of our platoon members lying on the ground starting to squirm and pressing tightly onto the left side of his chest. He made a brave move, running towards him and dragging him back to us. When the shots stopped, the whistle blew and we continued our march forward. We could hear the repetitive banging of the explosions. Bullets began to fly once more. The sound of the ricocheting shells from enemies’ machine guns scared us beyond belief. The screams of our soldiers who were being mowed down echoed in my mind as we moved forward, shooting as we ran. As we got closer the Afghans fired grenades at us. The first few were close and the more they fired, the closer they got. We, again, took cover in a nearby shell hole.

 

The firing stopped and we thought we should head back. We went one at a time whilst the others were protecting us from the Afghans. Dave went first and Jimmy followed. It was just me and Willie left.  He ordered me to return to base but I wouldn’t leave without him. Slowly we both started moving away from the Afghans. We had just about reached our base when I heard the guns. To avert overhead fire, I hit the floor. Staying as close to the ground as possible I turned to see Willie wriggling and crying in pain. “Leave him, it’s too late, he’s got no chance”, said a voice from behind the fortified walls. I grabbed onto his arm, stood up and tried to pull him closer. He gave me a letter from his breast pocket and uttered a few short sentences . I didn’t want to leave him. A bullet passed into my left shoulder and I was pulled into our base. I was treated for my wound and when the gunfire stopped Jimmy retrieved Willie’s body.

 

His body is being flown back to the UK as soon as it is safe to fly out of here. Some of the soldiers that he was close to are flying back over with the body and I hope to be able to get on that plane and go to say goodbye to a wonderful Corporal at his full military funeral (if you decide he should have one).

 

We have sent you his dog tags, wedding ring and any photos we found amongst his belongings. I was with him through most of his duties and he never stopped telling me how much he loved his wife and daughter, how he couldn’t wait to get home and see them again and how he would be a grandfather when he got home. The letter from Willie said, “tell Nicola how much I love her and I hope she can move on and enjoy the rest of her life without me and make sure Clara knows that she was the greatest daughter a man could ever ask for and I will be watching over her throughout her life, making sure she is fine and make sure my little grandchild grows up knowing that even though I never met them, I still love them”. His last words were “I will always love them, it will never stop being true”.

 

It was a privilege to have known William. He was a charming lad, a great laugh and an excellent leader. He will be greatly missed by all the soldiers in the platoon and I will never forget the magnificent man that made life at war a little bit more bearable. 

 

Once again I am extremely sorry for your loss.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Sergeant, Pete Chambers

 

I closed the letter and she put the envelope back in her pocket. We just sat there, on the bench, in silence, letting the information sink in. Our little baby would never get to meet their granddad. Clara would never get to see her dad again. He wouldn’t be able to walk her down the aisle on our wedding day.

Once we were home, we sat by the fire, where William used to sit, and we reminisced about the wonderful, exciting time we had with him.  He would never be forgotten. He would stay in our hearts forever and we would bring up our baby to love the war hero his/her granddad was.

 

 


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