You may remember that in the Roll of Honour of those from Portsmouth killed in the First World War published on February 1, I mentioned the name of Thomas Mackrell.
He was the canteen manager in HMS Good Hope and was lost when the ship was sunk at the Battle of Coronel on November 1, 1914.
She went down with all hands, 900 men.
I received a letter from Julie Robinson who told me her father was Thomas’s grandchild and that he had in his possession the last letter Thomas wrote to his wife. It is dated October 29, 1914.
Here I publish just the first page of four, almost a century after it was written. The dashes are words which are now illegible.
My darling wife,
Just a few lines hoping they will still find you and Elsie quite well as I am.
Pleased to say this still leaves me quite well at present.
Am getting ____ of this lot ____ cannot get food for the ship’s company in the canteen.
I have sold everything I had in it.
My darling I hope you and Elsie are still _____. Thomas goes on to tell of where he had been and hoped that his ‘darling wife’ and daughter Elsie would look after themselves. He wishes them and everyone else a merry Christmas.
Three days later Thomas was dead.
Elsie was nine at the time of her father’s death and she died in 1974. Her mother later re-married.
The letter is very moving and I found it a great privilege to read it.
Thomas’s grandson, Michael Richardson, lives with wife Barbara at Milton where they have both lived for most of their lives.