Many men who signed up had a strong faith. At Redruth Wesleyan Chapel, 150 members of the Young Men’s Bible Class volunteered. Many wrote back to Harry Rich, a local mining entrepreneur, who ran the class. This letter from Corporal A. Polkinghorne to Harry Rich was written on 26 April 1917.
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Letter from Corporal A Polkinghorne to Harry Rich
26 April 1917
2407677 Devon Regiment, No 1 Rest Camp, Durban, South Africa.
‘Just a few lines to let you know I am alright .I am bound for India.I expect that means Mesopotamia.’
Well Mr Rich, I hope you are well. I only wish I was with your Bible Class now, but never mind I hope it will not be long before we meet again at the Wesley Sunday School. I can tell you this is a very fine place. I am in the Wesley Schoolroom writing this letter. They have the Schoolroom for the troops of the Allied army. We can get tea here in the Westley Schoolroom free every day if you like to come in. I went to the Chapel last Sunday. It was fine I can assure you. It put me in mind of Redruth. It is hardly as large, but near enough. Not much difference between them.
Now, Mr Rich, there are a lot of Cornish people here. Of course I’m in the Devonshire Reg, but when I was writing my name in the visiting book here, they found I was from Cornwall they wanted time to visit a lot of Cornish people. Of course I did, but I never found any from Redruth yet. I’m visiting more this week. I went to tea last Sunday to a Cornish chap. He used to work and live at Hayle at the (Carwin Dairy). They was very good to me. I can go there when I like. They are Wesleyans. I am stamping this letter. I can please myself. I’m not bound to do it, but I thought it would not get censored. I am here at a rest camp. We landed here last Friday. We have visited Serra Leona (sic), Cape Town and Durban so far on our voyage. We have had a lovely trip so far. We left Plymouth March 25th. I’m not certain of the date but it was a Sunday night about 6pm. I thought as was going out of the Plymouth Sound – about the people in Redruth Wesley Chapel and I could not be there. I thought mother and May was there for me and my two brothers you are in the fighting line. Anyhow, Mr Rich, I am far away from home, but I know how to look after myself. We landed after a fortnight trip at Serra Leona (sic). We was there (sic) for 3 days. They we started for Cape Town. We had another 2 weeks on the water then we got to Cape Town. We were there for a weekend. Then we had another 3 days ride round the Cape, and I can tell you it was pretty rough weather. The sea was like mountains. Then we landed here last Friday. We are here for 5 weeks in a rest camp…. I’m going to another Cornish family next Sunday tea. Then go to Chapel in the evening with them. They are called Cobbledick. Another Cornish family here I know are called Capt Tonkin. Remember me to all the class. I hope they are all well. I hope to be with them as soon as the war is over. I hope it will not be long. You may know about Durban, but I’m camped by the beach near the Imperial Hotel. The people who came from Hayle are called Clemence. They live at Umbelo (sic). They know Redruth. I told them I was in your Bible Class. They knew your name but they did not know you personally. You must excuse the scribbling but I thought I had a few minutes to spare, and you would be glad to hear from me. If you see mother she will tell you the name of the board I came out on. Of course I’m not allowed to say for much. Tell her you heard from me. She will be glad to know I haven’t forgotten you and the class. I think I have said all for the time so I shall have to withdraw this letter to a close (sic).
From your old member of the Redruth Wesley Bible Class who is on active service
Your sincere member
Cpl A Polkinghorne
Late 28 St Day Road