Thursday, March 3, 2011

The J.T. Fairall WWI Letters: (4) November 22, 1917

Winchester Cathedral, a few miles
north of Southampton
In the fourth letter written by J.T. Fairall during WWI, Jack has finally made it back on land.  Currently in Southampton (southern coast of England), he is taking in the scenery and the people of the United Kingdom.  The British accent is a bit challenging for Jack to understand, particularly of those in Liverpool where he had just come from, and anyone from a Scottish or Irish descent.  

Jack relates to his mother a comparison of prices of goods between the States and England.  It gives the reader an idea of the currency exchange rate - in 1917, an American got a better deal in England; while in 2011, the opposite is generally true.  

Jack seems relaxed, appreciating the holly trees and parks, as well as the local restaurants and cafes.  He also believes he came across a familiar name to the family, a K.E. Rockey.  None of Jack's letters confirms whether it was indeed the Keller Rockey he thought.  Jack's letter (among several others to follow) is written on a YMCA paper, printed especially for the U.S. military.  The YMCA played a major supporting role for the military during World War I.      


Dear Mother

We are now in Southampton waiting to be sent across.  We have quarters in an English rest camp just at the edge of town in what was evidently a park, a very pretty location.  It is filled with trees, some of the prettiest holly trees I ever saw much prettier than the holly that we have at home.

This is a very small world.  I don't believe I ever went anyplace that I didn't meet someone that I know.  The first name that I saw when I landed in camp was Capt. K.E. Rockey on a headquarters door of the American marines.  I inquired of some of the marines and I am sure that he is Keller Rockey that we know.

Southampton is a very pretty town.  It is very neat and clean with several parks scattered around.  The dwelling houses are very quaint.  There are some that are set back in yards but most of them set on the sidewalks with no porches.  The majority have [illegible - four words?].

The people here are much easier to understand than in Liverpool.  The night before we left L[iverpool] we had leave several of us went sightseeing.  We had dinner in a cafe and I left a cap.  I was lucky when I remembered it.  It was about 11 P.M.  I just got back in time to the waitresses going home.  The manageress a very pretty little woman opened up and got my cap.  I talked with her for a while but surely had a time [illegible - three words?] for everyone here talks very fast especially the people of Scotch or Irish decent.

I have been very interested in the store windows.  About 80% of the mndse here is much cheaper than at home shoes that we would pay $10.00 for sell at about $7.00 all other stuff is as cheap a suit of cloths that we would pay $35.00 for sells at $25.00.  The people here cannot complain of the high cost of living.

As it is dinner time I will close as ever

Your affectionate son 

address J.T. Fairall R.M.A.
Aviation Section Sig Corps
American Expeditionary Forces
via New York

* 19 is date stamped on the top of the page, but the year is not further specified.  Based on the known timeline, the letter was likely written in 1917.

Envelope (back is blank)
Page 1

Page 2

Page 3
Page 4

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