A letter from the heart

Anzac Day: Private OJ Wilmott's letter to his grandmother

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A Victorian digger wrote this whimsical letter to his grandmother during World War I

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By return mail, Private OJ Wilmott, a Digger from St Arnaud in Victoria, wrote this whimsical letter to his grandmother on September 14, 1917.

"Dear Grandma,

No words of mine can say, and no pen can write and explain, how pleased I was to receive your nice long letter of 27th June which reached me yesterday. Letters take nearly three months to get here, you know.

It was better than any medicine I have yet tasted. There is a song that I often sing, and your letter from home made the words come alive for me.

Here is the chorus:

When you're a long, long way from home,

It makes you feel you're all alone;

It's hard to find a pal that's true

That you can tell your troubles to.

And when you write a letter home

Your mother's voice rings in your ears.

So you cross your t's with kisses

And then dot your i's with tears.

For the sunshine turns to gloom

When you're a long, long way from home.

It is a great favourite of all the boys, and I think the words are splendid.

The summer is finished here now, and everything hints to an early winter (which means that we shall not see much of the sun for months of bitter cold).

You cannot credit the intensity and severity of winter here, and the boys are not looking forward to it with any hope of pleasure or gladness.

But don't think they are downhearted (never) as nothing can break the remarkable fortitude and spirit of our lads.

They are simply wonderful and can more than hold their own with all-comers in anything at all. I am like all the Australians here - proud to be an ANZAC. There is no place like Australia. It truly is God's own country.

I have seen some wonderful sights and places since leaving home, notably La Belle France and England.

But Australia's natural beauty is on its own. It is superb, and the scenery is ahead of anything I have yet seen; and, above all, the Australian people are second to none.

Your grandson.

Courtesy of Australian War Memorial.

I am like all the Australians here - proud to be an ANZAC. There is no place like Australia. It truly is God's own country. - Private OJ Wilmott

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