On 15th September 1915 David Henry Taylor wrote to his sister Ethel (aka Ginger) Linn. David lived with their mother, Fanny, at 56 Ramsden Rd in Balham and his sister lived in New Jersey USA. David’s letter described the Zeppelin damage in London:
“I have just returned from viewing the damage done by the Zeppelins last week….Just around the corner from Upcot Street a house was smashed, and some of our people were out in the street in their night clothes, but luckily nothing was done to our places….I first went to Farringdon Road, opposite the Goods Station one house had been gutted, the front wall of the two top stories blown into the street, and the two houses on either side considerably damaged and of course the windows for some distance either way and opposite were smashed….In Leather Lane, the L.C.C. buildings in which Beatie Bulford lives (only a block at the back of hers) a bomb stripped the roof, blew part of the front wall into the street, tore out the windows bodily, the bedding is hanging down the front of the building, (some of it in the street) and of course the windows and shop fronts up and down the street are all gone. In this case the explosion had a most curious effect, the two windows immediately below the damaged wall are still perfect the glass not being even cracked whilst those opposite and on either side are smashed to atoms….A Public House in Red Lion Street, (just at the back of Bedford Road) looks for all the world as though somebody has lifted it bodily and dropped it again, it has that crumpled appearance and the Penny Bank next door has no windows left and the shop fronts all round are gone. Wood Street (which you remember was burnt a few years back) and Aldermanbury the darlings sprinkled with incendiary bombs setting fire to several large buildings. It was here that the most damage was done as 5 or 6 large blocks of offices and warehouses were gutted.”
David joined the Kings Royal Rifles under the Lord Derby scheme and served in France and Belgium before he was wounded and taken prisoner in July 1917 and spent the rest of the war at Holzminden PoW Camp. The archive is an amazing story of two London families: David’s and his fiancée’s, May Muggridge, who lived in Beckenham and was the most senior woman working at Northern Assurance in Moorgate. May frequently visited Fanny in Balham and her many letters to David described the women’s emotions, leisure activities and practical aspects of their lives. The letters are well written, often humorous, and give amazing detail (although heavily censored) of life as a soldier and life at home. It is a war story, a love story, a true story of WW1.
There are over 400 personal letters covering the period September 1915 to March 1919 in the family archive that is now being made available on-line on www.ww1-letters.com.