Misdated Letters

Each of the posts in the Blog is intended to be written on the 100th anniversary of the day on which Sherriff wrote the relevant letter home. Quite often, however, his letters are misdated. This is particularly obvious around the start of the New Year, when letters from 1917 are misdated to 1916. Wherever a letter is felt to be misdated, the Blog entry is posted on the day which we can best ascertain to be the day on which he wrote it.

But there are numerous other examples. In a letter to Pips dated 26 October, for example (Surrey History Centre reference: 2332/1/1/3/99), he remarks that they have ‘spent 4 very happy days’ in the tunnelling work. This would suggest that the letter was written on 28 October (and, indeed, a letter to his mother on that day makes almost exactly the same reference). Furthermore, there are two other letters to Pips on 26 October, and it was highly unlikely he would have addressed three to his father and only one to his mother on the same day. Consequently, the Blog post is assigned to 28 October rather than the date given in the letter itself.

Take, as another example, the letter he wrote home to his mother describing his over-eating of the contents of a parcel, and the mess made by the rats in his dugout (Surrey History Centre reference: 2332/1/1/2/100). The letter is headed both ’28 October’ and also ‘Sunday’. But Sunday was the 29 October. He had sent her a long letter dated 28 October, which we can be fairly sure was accurately dated, given the similarities with the letter to Pips. It also seems unlikely he would then have sent an additional brief letter on the same date, and even less likely that he would have made a mistake in the naming of the day (rather than the date). Hence we have chosen to post the entry on 29 October.

All misdated letters will be included on this page.


Original Date Letter to: SHC Reference: Revised Date Reason
26 October Pips 2332/1/1/3/99 28 October Textual References
28 October Mother 2332/1/1/2/100 29 October Textual References
3 November Mother 2332/1/1/2/105 4 November Finished on 4th
19-20 November Pips 2332/1/1/3/111 19th & 20th Treated as two letters
18 December Pips 2332/1/1/3/124 &


Both 18th Two fragments, treated as one letter (which they clearly are)
26 December Mother 2332/1/1/2/128 27 December Begun on 26/12; ended on 27/12
19 Jan 1916 Pips 2332/1/1/3/4 19 Jan 1917 Clearly written in the trenches, not while training at Romford
2 Feb 1916 Pips 2332/1/1/3/9 2 Feb 1917 Clearly written in France, not in Romford
7 Feb 1916 Pips 2332/1/1/3/11 7 Feb 1917 As above.
22 Feb 1916 Mother 2332/1/1/2/147 22 Feb 1917 As above.
24 Feb 1916 Pips 2332/1/1/3/17 24 Feb 1917 As above.
15 Apr 1917 Mother 2332/1/1/2/162 10 Apr 1917 The text in the letter makes it clear that it was written while he was training recruits – i.e. before 13 April
17 Apr 1917 Mother 2332/1/1/2/164 16 Apr 1917 Text in letter makes it clear it’s  earlier than the other letter to his mother dated 17 Apr
20 Apr 1917 Pips 2332/1/1/3/165 21 Apr 1917 Text makes clear letter started on 20/4, but completed following day.
8 May 1917 Pips 2332/1/1/3/173 9 May 1917 Text makes clear he’s about to march beck to the line, which Battn Diary dates as 9 May.