Letters from Scottish brothers killed days apart during World War I sell for almost £ 3,000
ALBUMS featuring letters written by two Scottish brothers killed days apart during World War I, collected by their heartbroken mother, cost £ 2,800 at auction.
The letters were written by brothers Eric and Ronald Travis Townsend, of Troon in Ayrshire, to their mother Lucy, who lovingly preserved their words as well as photographs of her sons in leather-bound albums for them to are not forgotten.
In a letter, Eric jokingly asked his mother, “Can the haggis be released?” In Palestine, where he was stationed as Christmas approached. Meanwhile, Ronald, who immigrated to Canada in 1913, wrote to express his determination to come back and fight for his country to be the pride of his children.
Eric, captain of the 5th Highland Light Infantry, was only 22 when he was killed in action on November 8, 1917. Ronald, of the Royal Flying Corps, was killed in action in France just 22 days later, at the age 28.
Both albums, “Letters from Eric Travis Townsend” and “Reminiscences of Ronald Travis Townsend” went under the hammer at Bonhams’s Fine Books and Manuscripts sale in London, where they reached £ 2,800 – nearly five times the estimate. from £ 600.
The poignant books were bought by a bidder in the auction room after stiff competition from absent bidders and rivals bidding over the phone.
Luke Batterham, a specialist in Bonhams fine books and manuscripts, said after the sale: “These books come with an incredibly poignant story – they were put together by a mother in memory of her sons who were both killed in action. .
“They contain letters on the front, often wacky and in a light tone so as not to worry their mother, as well as photographs and memories of their childhood.
“They were put together so that the youngest members of the family will never forget them and the great sacrifice they made.
“Looking through the pages of the wonderfully presented books, one sees the seemingly idyllic, Edwardian upbringing of two children, then suddenly war.
“Their successful sale shows that their legacy lives on and, although more than 100 years have passed since the end of the Great War, their grave sacrifice has not been forgotten. ”
Eric Travis Townsend and Ronald Travis Townsend were born in Glasgow and raised in Scotland, but were educated at Rugby School, where they excelled in the sport and served in the cadets.
Eric, born in 1894, joined the 5th Highland Light Infantry on leaving school and was mobilized for action on August 5, 1914, the day after the declaration of war.
His letters home provide a living account of his war from his departure from Devonport Docks aboard the Transylvania on June 2, 1915, to Malta, his action in Gallipoli, his transfer to Egypt where he was wounded and to Palestine.
A few weeks after jokingly asking his mother, “Is Haggis postable?” “He composed his last letter, November 4, 1917:” Dear Mother … The war has resumed here, but we are completely out of it … in fact enjoying the sea baths!
Just four days later, he died in battle. A note from a captain of his company stated that he was fighting with the Highlanders for a ridge, “taken and taken back four times, and it was in one of those advances that Eric was killed, I think by a machine gun ”.
News of her death is likely believed to have reached her mother before her last letter.
Ronald, born in 1889, had emigrated to Canada in 1913, but at the start of the war he joined the 50th Gordon Highlanders. Trained in accounting, he was assigned to a position in the pay office of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.
Determined to fight, he wrote home that when his children asked him what he had done during the war, he did not want to look them in the eye and tell them that he had “signed checks.”
Resigning from his office job, he won his “wings” with the Royal Air Force and was sent to France, where he died in action just 22 days after his younger brother Eric.
It was recorded that Ronald’s plane was hit “while conducting a flight over the enemy line at Lesdain, near Cambrai … and he made the ultimate sacrifice”.
In 1927, their grieving mother erected a memorial plaque to her sons at St Ninian Church in Troon.