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Soldiers in the first world war were not allowed to write about certain things like their position, the conditions, suspected enemy movements or plans for attacks. All the letters sent home would be proof-read by officers (sometimes by invalids in the infirmary) and censored to prevent anything uncouth or confidential being sent home to families.

This was because the Officers didn't want to worry the people at home. If the truth about some of the horrific conditions were found out, families would campaign to stop the war. This could lead to riots and all sorts of unwanted problems. It could also reduce the number of men that signed up for the army. At the time, the image of the army was of well-fed happy men doing their bit for queen and country and the officers did not want to pop this 'happy bubble' that was virtually all lies.

It was also because if the letters were intercepted an contained information on the position or plans of soldiers (on wither side) the consequences could be disastrous.

So soldiers had to be careful about what they wrote in their letters because, if they wrote about the bad things their families would receive a very censored letter and that would probably worry them more than being told the truth about the conditions.

In order to 'play it safe', as it were, most soldiers wrote about the weather and used a kind of code so as not to worry their families. For example:

A soldier could write: We had a quiet day today

when actually they had been gassed but survived

or he could write: It's been a bit lively here

that actually means: we've been bombed to pieces.

They also might say [name] bought it, to mean that [name] died.

radically edited by CalenLoke

apologies for poor spelling.

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โˆ™ 2011-09-14 00:05:01
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Q: What did World War 1 soldiers write in their letters home?
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