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First World War letter found discarded on Chatham pavement

A pensioner has found an emotive letter written by a soldier serving on the frontline in the First World War, 11 days before he was killed.

Martin Boalch was on his way to get his newspaper on Chatham’s White Road estate when he noticed a folded piece of paper on the pavement.

Some of the letter which was found by Martin Boalch (16966649)
Some of the letter which was found by Martin Boalch (16966649)

He carried on thinking somebody must have either dropped or discarded it.

But when it was still there on his return journey, he decided to take a closer look.

To his amazement, it was a photocopied letter, dated September 4, 1916, penned by Sgt Robert Constantine penned to his brother Jim and signed “affectionately Bob”.

In the ink-written note he describes the gruelling training for the “push” in the bloody conflict in northern France.

He writes: “There’s an awful bombardment raging while I’m writing this."

Emotive letter from WW1 soldier killed in battle (13300380)
Emotive letter from WW1 soldier killed in battle (13300380)

He talks of the “awful grub” and how he was “sick of the damn job”. But adds: “It’s no use grumbling. I’ll have to stick it.”

Attached to the two-sided letter was a postcard of the serviceman accompanied by some text.

It reads: “Sgt Robert Constantine enlisted at Gateshead before the outbreak of war in 1914.

“By September 1916 he had been fighting for two months on the Somme where he wrote to his brother.

“Constantine was killed in action 11 days later. He has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial, near Albert on the Somme.”

Mr Boalch, 68, who lives in Freeman Gardens, Chatham, with wife Marilyn is keen to find the owner of the letter, possibly the last written by Sgt Constantine before he met his fate.

The retired warehouse man said: “I have no idea how it got there on the pavement. Perhaps a schoolchild dropped it on their way to school. All I want is for it to be re-united with its rightful owner. It must mean a lot to somebody out there.”

Mr Boalch found it in Scotteswood Avenue just after 9am on Tuesday, June 25, on his way to the post office but has yet to find the owner.

If you think the letter belongs to you or a member of your family, contact our newsroom on 01634 227803.

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