Letters from Gus Wolff to his family 1915-17

Gus Wolff
Photograph taken at Atelier Joh Hulsen, N.W. Dorotheen Str. 72, Berlin:
‘To James and Winnie wishing them a very Merry Xmas & Prosperous New Year from their affectionate brother Gussie – Xmas 1904’

Hotel Imperial Hythe Kent

27 July 1905

My dear Gus,

Just a short line before you depart for Germany to wish you all success.

I hope you will like your new work and be able, by making full use of all the advantages with which providence has blessed you, to lay a foundation on which you can in the near future build up for yourself prosperity and position among your fellow men.

I need only wish you further, the best of health and happiness: the former rests a good deal in your own hands so take good care of it, when the latter will I think (having in view your general temperament & character) follow closely in its wake

It looks as if you should have an excellent crossing tomorrow as the sea here is as calm as a millpond and the weather magnificent.

So au revoir, mein Sohn, good luck & best wishes from

Your affectionate brother Jim

By the way I fancy I gave you the day basis for the day boat, when you were down here. You want the night boat do you not?

Paris therefore is 8.35 pm (Holborn or Victoria) due Berlin 6.42pm

B.I.R.D. – Bachelor of the Institution of Royal Dodderers

Wolff Family
Wolff Family circa 1916: back row (left to right) Philip, Rudolf, Gus, James and Arthur; front row (left to right) Irma (wife of Philip), Hilda (wife of Rudolf), Mrs Elizabeth Wolff (née Galvin), Winnie (wife of James) and Margaret (wife of Arthur)

1 Jan 1915

Dear Jim and Win,

A Very Happy and Prosperous New Year to all of you and once more many thanks for your kindness to me while on leave and for the parcel which has now turned up alright.

The gloves are fine.

I got back here yesterday evening and saw the New Year in.

To-night am off on a working party.

Please tell Mother am alright.

Love to all,


19 Aug 1915


Dear little Rene and Freda,

Thank you very much for your messages and the pipe case which is most useful.

Love to all,

Uncle Gus

19th Aug 1915

7th Division Base Depôt

My dear Mother,

You will have heard from the others of my movements up to leaving Waterloo.

There were six of us Picton Davies (a regular who had been out before) Bowles who comes from the Argentine (his sister came to see him off) and Owen (son of a Bishop) and Gibbon.

We traveled merrily to Southampton and reported. We then had dinner and went to the local music hall where we had a box. About 10pm we went on board and sailed very comfortably to France, where we landed and reported. We are in the base camp and of course miles away from the front. We may stop here any time from a day to six weeks. Meantime we are not overworked.

The camp is a model one with gardens, flowers etc and the country looks very pretty.

I only arrived here last night but got two letters that had been forwarded from Litherland. One from James and the other from Mackenzie.

I can’t mention names of places, numbers of troops etc because we are on oath not to.

My address is as follows

2nd Lieut G. F. Wolff
Roy Welsh Fus
7th Division Base Depôt

Don’t put 3rd R.W.F. as I shall be posted probably to the 1st or the 2nd.

Love to all

Your affectionate son



22 Aug 1915


My dear Mother,

Just this moment I received your letter of the 21st and glad all are well. It was very nice of Miss Dixon.

Glad my things turned up alright.

We have been having a very merry time here so far and to-day we got our marching orders. Five of us are attached to our 4th battalion and we leave here to-night. I must not say where for but it is not yet for the trenches. I now find I may tell you it is Rouen, which is a base.

It is rather disappointing not being attached to our 1st or 2nd batt. but it can’t be helped.

Yesterday I took 100 men to a Baby Fatigue.

Thursday, Friday and Sat evenings we went in Havre for dinner.

Friday afternoon we bathed.

This morning I marched our divisional Church Parade to the place where the open air service was held. It was very impressive and the chaplain gave a good sermon. He was in uniform and preached with his hat on.

My address will be

2nd Lt. G F. Wolff
4th Roy Welsh Fus

With love to all

Your affectionate son


4th Royal Welsh Fus. B.E.F. France

26 Aug 1915

My dear Mother,

I confirm my last letter, written I think in Havre, which we left Sunday evening. We travelled all night to Rouen where we reported on Monday morning. We went into town and had a look round and a good lunch at the Hotel de la Poste. I think I told you that only five of us went to Rouen, Bowles was left at Havre.

Tuesday at lunchtime we got our marching orders for the front and left Rouen at 5.30 pm. In the stations there are coffee shops where one can get meals and provisions at cost price. They are run by English ladies and are splendid places. Besides our rations we bought hard-boiled eggs and, rolls and butter, potted meats and perrier water, so were well provisioned. We were only three in a carriage so we slept pretty well and arrived at our destination early Wednesday morning. There we found a small cart and five chargers to ride part of the way to the trenches. It was a beautiful day and the country was quite pretty, so I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. They gave me the trickiest horse as they thought I would be the best rider. They were good horses. Everything we passed was military and every now and then we heard the guns firing. Finally we came within range and left our horses. We had a wash and shave and tea and then went on in the small cart leaving our valises behind. It was a long ride and finally we came to a village full of shell holes where we left the cart and walked up into the trenches. We reported to our C.O. who seems a decent old chap and had lunch.

Our part of the line is quite quiet and some way from the Germans, about 375 yards, so we are spared the bomb throwing. Occasionally shells whistle over our heads and the trench mortars and howitzers exchange bombs. Bullets whistle over from the Germans and hit the parapet with a sharp smack. The weather is lovely tho’ hot. I have already been on duty three times. During the day, you use periscopes but at night you look over the top. You also do at times during the day. I share a dugout with Davis and we are pretty comfortable in there. Cool by day and warm by night. Last night a man got a bullet thro’ his hat, also a piece of shell dropped quite near us. Last night the Germans shouted at us but we stopped the men shouting back.

Will you please send me a simple briar pipe and ½ lb of Garrick tobacco.

With love to all,

Your affectionate son


One of the sights of these trenches are a dead German’s feet and another’s skull sticking out of the walls of one of our caps. They must have been buried head to feet.

4th Royal Welsh Fus. B.E.F. France

29 Aug 1915 Sunday

My dear Mother,

Many thanks for your letter of the 24th.

Gladstone Bag Yes. It has been a good one and traveled thousands of miles. Papa bought it a Baker’s and gave it me in 1901 I think. It was then confiscated because I got a bad report and afterwards given back to me. I think it cost 27/6.

Yes, I certainly believe in prayer and do not forget mine. There are moments out here that make you think of God and as the Padre (clergyman) said in his sermon, many men have learnt to pray again at the front.

After I had been in the firing line 2 days and nights the battalion moved back and we have split up. Personally I am in command of a small fort. As a matter of fact it was quieter in the front line as we get shelled here every day. We have had no casualties. The dugouts are very good.

I must say it is unpleasant being shelled, even with only shrapnel. You hear the bang of the gun and the shriek of the shell coming nearer and nearer. You count three and then the shell bursts. It just gives you time to dive under cover. The dugouts here are splendid tho’ slightly damp. My bed consists of a waterproof sheet and a few empty sand bags.

We are well fed and can get fresh eggs. The men are a very cheery crowd and lots have been out since November.

Please enclose a packet of pipe cleaners in your next letter.

With love to all,

Your affectionate son


This morning we did not get a “morning hate”, as we call the shelling.

4th Royal Welsh Fus.


My dear Rudolf,

I was very sorry to hear that your heart is not quite as it should be and hope you will look after it and get it right.

It was some disappointment not to be attached to our 1st or 2nd (i.e. regular) battalion and secondly to be turned into a pioneer battalion but I have no doubt it will all be for the best and there are several advantages.

The officers are very decent chaps indeed and we get on awfully well. Our Colonel is a splendid fellow: - Pereira C.M.G. D.S.O. etc. He is a guardsman and has two strings of ribbons (our former colonel was killed in the last attack). In spite of a game leg due to a hunting accident he seems indefatigable. He seems to know no fear and inspires confidence by his calmness and nonchalance. On night working parties he walks about in the open with bullets buzzing about and seems to like being where there is most danger.

My first impression of him was standing up on the parapet, back towards the Germans admiring the sunset. He was certainly a long way from the German front line, but it was a place they shelled and where the bullets were coming over.

I see in his bearing what is required of an officer in the presence of his subordinates. Unfortunately he leaves us very soon to take command of a brigade, which I should think he justly deserves.

Our battalion has been extremely lucky so far and we have had very few casualties, tho’ I am sorry to say most of them have been deaths.

I have been fairly near John Johnsons – I think the morale effect is the worst tho’ the pieces fly hundreds of yards they are apparently horrible.

Our chaps call our big ones “Lloyds Georges”. Thank Goodness we have plenty of them.

Going along roads that are being shelled is unpleasant. I was brining home a party the other day and we saw the shells (very big ones) dropping on the road ahead. I got within a hundred and fifty yards of the place and took cover. Fortunately at that moment they stopped and I rushed the mess by in small parties. The next day they nearly blew the place to bits and caught several men. I had to take up some stores that evening and as I drove by the poor “stiff ’uns” did not look nice in the moonlight. Later on I cam back alone and was glad the place had been cleared up.

Please thank Philip very much for his long letter. I wish I could have gone to Hastings with them, I would love to see the olds place again, the last time I was there was in 1902 or 1903 for a weekend when you and Hilda were there, so it is not true I was there with a girl. The Plummers evidently referred to Madge and Arthur. What does Philip mean he says he saw yours, his, James’s and Irma’s names carved there in 1890. What does it all mean.

I think some of my happiest recollections are of those holidays spent all together at Hastings. The place is full of memories. How we used to look forward to it, bagging the box seat and carriers in the railway carriage months before. I don’t think one enthuses so much when grown up as when a child. The only thing I can think of to which one looks forward keenly is a homecoming after a long while abroad.

I have written to Mlle in answer to hers, she writes a most amusing letter with English words intermingled.

Please give my love to Hilda and the children.

Your affectionate bro.


4th Royal Welsh Fus.

1 Nov 1915

My dear Mother,

Thank you very much indeed for your letter of 28 Oct and parcel contents of which I was delighted to receive. Everything seems splendid but so far we have not sampled all the contents as it only arrived today.

Will you please send the following things:

1 dry battery for my lamp to be ordered as follows:

    S. Smith & Son Ltd
    Trafalgar Square or 68 Piccadilly W
    “Battery 205”

They would send it direct.

Please also send a small handy writing block and envelopes, but something small and handy.

The chocolate biscuits were very nice but went too quickly last time.

We have been having a fairly good time lately tho’ the weather is not too good.

I was chosen to command a platoon of a representative company from the battalion to attend the King’s review but at the last moment the orders were changed and only 20 men were sent. It was the day the King met with an accident.

Our adjutant is a very amusing chap. He said to the officer who had charge of the party, “Now for heaven’s sake, Eric, do look interested when the King comes past”.

Please thank James, Arthur and little Jack and Betty for their letters.

Can you tell me de Buriathe’s address out here.

With love to all,

Your affectionate son


4th Royal Welsh Fus.

8 Oct 1915

My dear Phil,

Thanks very much for your various letters.

Last night I received letters from Rudolf (a long one), Mother and Mlle for which many thanks.

We have had some strenuous and exciting times since the 15th September and I can assure you a pioneer battalion is not all beer and billets. Our last jobs have of course been consolidating positions won from the Hun, this usually means working in the open about 80 yards from the Germans. It is very nervy work as they send up lights continually and the bullets are buzzing about.

Some time ago we had one very thrilling night in Loos when we were to dig trenches abut seventy yards away from the Germans. Rapid fire was opened on us and we lay down in a road littered with dead bodies. Fortunately we had nobody hit but we had to retire. Our Colonel found and had carried in several wounded who had been out in “no man’s land” for three days. They were grateful. Sometimes we don’t even know if we or the enemy hold certain trenches, where there is a regular network, and that makes it particularly exciting.

We still have our old Colonel with us and he is a splendid fellow absolutely without fear for himself.

We had a very lively time on the Hohenzollern Redoubt. Bullets and pieces of shell were dropping all around us. One officer was hit in the thigh and one in my company got a bullet thro’ the head poor fellow. These were the only casualties, which was very lucky as we were all out in the open.

With love to all,

Your affectionate bro.


4th Royal Welsh Fus.


My dear Winnie and Jimmie,

Just a line to wish you Very Many Happy Returns of the Day.

We are getting on alright here and are fairly comfortable. I live now in a cellar which is warmer than the trenches.

We are behind the firing line some way but they occasionally drop shells too near us to be pleasant tho’ they have left us alone lately.

We have quite a good time in our cellar and take turns to go out to the front by night to work.

I was out last night and we had quite a quiet night with only a few bullets flying about. It was so dark that I lost the way for a bit and took some time finding it again. Those who are in usually play bridge.

Did you see in Sr. J. French’s dispatch how he praised the 47th Division? That is ours!!!

Thank you very much for your various letters and the Weekly Times.

Please tell Mrs. Brinsmead that now the cold weather has come her knitted wrapper is simply splendid, also the mittens you gave me.

Rene’s cuffs I am keeping in reserve.

With love to all,

Your affectionate bro.



My dear Mother,

Thanks very much for your letter of the 8 Nov. Also for the following:

Laura 14 Nov
Beth 7 Nov
Arthur 15 Nov
Jack 8 Nov
James 12 Nov
Winnie 9 Nov

Thanks very much for your last parcel. It had been rather squashed and the Fuller’s cake had suffered rather. Otherwise alright.

The weather was very bad and the trenches in a dreadful state. I was very glad we were in cellars during the day. Some of the nights were awful and we got wet thro’.

One day some of the officers, including myself, went to Matins and Communion. A day or so after a “Jack Johnson” [shell] landed in the garden of the house next door to where the service was held.

Last Saturday we came down to a Divisional Rest. It ought to last about a month. It seems too good to be true. We are in a nice part of the country and away from the guns and shells. We are in comfortable billets.

On Monday, Owen, Bowles and I rode into Bethune and had dinner. We had champagne and oysters and rode home about 10.30. It was a clear, frosty night.

Today I went for a ride with another fellow.

James and Win sent me a parcel of all sorts of useful things.

Love to all,

Your affectionate son



My dear Jim,

Thanks very much for yours of the 8th and the parcel you are sending me, it is really very good of you and Win and I hope it turns up soon as I am getting a bit short and we are going up to the front again very shortly. You se the tinned things will come in very useful.

What a coincidence about the gloves! They ought to be very useful.

Enlistment noted with interest. I will certainly put in a word for you to Johnnie or Herbert if necessary. I should think there would be no trouble about getting a commission.

According to the official list I am due to start as I said [for leave] but these things sometimes get postponed.

With love to all,

Your affectionate bro.


4th Royal Welsh Fus.


My dear Win and Jim,

Thanks very much indeed for your letters of the 9th and 12th inst and for the parcel which arrived to-day in good condition. It is really too good of you.

Dry Battery – in good order Paper, etc., Case ) Simply splendid and Patent Lighter ) most useful.

If the lighter keeps in good order it will be an absolute boon.

Spirit Lamp ) I am keeping Cocoa & Coffee ) for the trenches.

We are at rest now.

Cake, Shortbread and Bull’s Eyes are fine.

Chocolate – always most useful and any amount consumed here.

Handkerchiefs – very nice indeed and necessary.

Apples – not included but we can get them here.

Everything was splendidly packed.

Last Saturday we came down into Divisional Rest.

What a relief to be away from the sound of the guns and the sight of the Verey lights.

The country is rather pretty here and we shall probably be here for about a month. It seems too good to be true.

Of course we have parades and route marches, etc., but it is a real rest for the nerves.

With love to all,

Your affectionate bro.


10 Jan 1916

My dear James,

On returning from a bombing course I found several parcels awaiting me, one containing the boots we bought together at Hopes at Xmas. You will remember the day before I returned from leave and Mother posted them to me in France the next day.

I need these boots very much now in the trenches and have waited impatiently for their arrival. I am therefore disgusted to find that Hopes have sent me a damaged pair. Not only have the boots been worn before, as one can see from the scratch on the soles under the nails but the canvas preparation of the left boot is worn thro’ about the shin. On looking at the boots it is obvious that they have been a long time in stock.

I am willing to accept another pair of the same size from Hopes sent out to me by them or the money returned.

It is sickening to think that owing to being at the front and not wishing to waste a short leave on shopping one should be put to so much inconvenience to avoid bad goods being palmed off on one.

I am returning the boots to you today and should be very grateful if you or Win would take the mater up with Hopes. I believe Mother has the receipted bill.

With love to all,

Your affectionate brother



Dear Jim,

Would you take up the boot question with Hopes. It is very annoying. I am back with the battalion now. We have moved to a different part.

Love to all,

In haste



My dear Mother,

Thank you very much for your letter of the 19th. Yes the ’kerchiefs were a little small but will do alright. The parcel has of course not turned up yet. Please give the enclosed cheque to James for my a/c. We are down at rest now.

Saturday seven of us rode into Bethune for dinner. Sunday I rode in the afternoon and in the evening went into Lillers on horseback.

With love to all,

Your affectionate son



My dear Mother,

The tobacco arrived alright last night from James for which many thanks.

The weather has been very cold lately with a lot of snow, in fact it is snowing now.

Last night Bowles and I received orders from G.H.Q. to leave this battalion and join the 2nd as soon as possible. We are only waiting for news as to its whereabouts. Everyone seems genuinely sorry we are going and people said all sorts of nice things to me. Even my servant expressed a desire to go with me, but of course he can’t.

Well, I have been very happy in this battalion and made some good friends. Of course the 2nd batt. are regulars and very swagger. It is really an honour to go to them.

Please note my address will be:

Lt. G.F. Wolff 2nd Roy. Welsh Fus. B.E.F. France

With love to all,

Your affect. son


Postcard Postcard


My dear Mother,

Just a line to say I am well and have joined my new battalion.

Last night I dined with some of the officers of the 4th.

The weather keeps cold but it is a little better.

Would you ask James to send me out a pair of straps to go round the heel and over the in-step of my trench boots as per drawing on the other side. My old servant lost mine.

With love to all,

Your affectionate son



Dear Jim,

Thanks for yours of the 24th enclosing letter from Rene, please thank her for me. Your letter must have crossed mine telling you I wrote the O.C. 3rd battalion the lines you suggested and acknowledging the straps. Since then the two tins tobacco turned up alright.

I gave the C.O. your address and he may write you direct or he may answer me. If the latter I will let you know at once. There ought to be an answer very soon. His name is

Lt. Col. Jones-Williams O.C. 3rd R.W. Fus. The Huts Litherland Nr Liverpool (not Wrexham)

Please place the enclosed cheque to my credit.

We go into the trenches again this afternoon.

What about the envelopes?

Please thank Mother for her last letter.

Love to all,



Dear Jim,

Many thanks for your letters 12th and 15th April.

You say the interview with “Bloody Bill” was rather disappointing but I don’t see what more he could have done. I am glad he seemed well disposed to you. Don’t you think anything will come of it?

If you should be gazetted don’t buy a sword as you can use mine. Don’t get a greatcoat but a British Warm, or even a Waterproof with Fleece lining instead. A haversack that goes on a Sam Browne belt is rather useful. I can let you have a water bottle (it is at home) later on. You get Tommies webbing equipment issued to you.

Love to all,


We go up again to-night.

21 April 16

Dear Winnie and Jimmy,

Your parcel arrived last night (Maundy Thursday) in perfect condition and everything is simply splendid down to the Easter egg which is unbroken. Thank you both very much indeed.

The weather here is very changeable but to-day it is lovely.

I have had some good rides lately. I am sending the children by this post a photo of myself on our Transport Officer’s charger. He is rather a clumsy brute and prefers going round the jumps to going over.

Thanks very much for the Weekly Times, which arrive regularly.

Very little news.

Love to all,

Your affectionate bro.




My dear Mother,

Many thanks for your letter of the 11th. Very sorry Winnie is bad and hope she is already better.

I also had the enclosed letter from Philip.

To-day we go into the trenches again after a very nice rest.

My Company Commander has gone home to be invested by the King and I have been given command of the Coy. temporarily. Incidentally, this is over the head of the 2nd in command, who is also a Captain!!!*

With love to all,

Your affectionate son


*He has been put on another job!

To: 2Lt. J.D. Wolff, Asst Adjt, R.G.A. Cadet School, Trowbridge


My dear Jim and Win,

I am afraid that I haven’t written for some time but have written regularly to the mater. Thank goodness she is better.

We have moved out of rest again and are quite near the line, in fact within two miles. Strange to say there is a new restaurant where we can get a splendid dinner or lunch.

Where we were in training the country was splendid for riding and we had great times.

When we marched up to the line I was busy billeting and had plenty of riding to do.

My horse when alone is very shy and I have regular fights to get her past some things.

Hearty congrats. on your job of Asst. Adjt.

With love to you and the children,

Your affectionate brother


Group Photo of Machine Gun Corps Officers - Gus Wolff centre
Group Photo of Machine Gun Corps Officers - Gus Wolff centre

To Jim, 56 Bradley Road, Trowbridge, Wiltshire


My dear Jim,

Thanks very much for your letter of the 27th.

You mentioned the tie Win sent me some time ago. Did you not get my letter acknowledging it and thanking her for same?

Your parcel turned up in splendid condition and everything was fine. As to the Devonshire Cream that was a brain-wave. It was splendid and a vote of thanks was passed me by the mess. It is one of the things we can’t get out here anywhere, or any substitute for it.

We have been up near the line but not in it, and are now back again.

Since my return to France I have hardly been in a trench. What luck eh?

Please give love to Win and the youngsters.

Your affectionate brother,



My dear Mother,

I received your letter of the 22nd just as I was going into the trenches and did not have time to read it till after the attack had been made, when I read it in the Railway Cutting waiting for orders.

Thank God I got thro’ alright and we had very few casualties in the battalion. I was busy in the front trench and we were fairly heavily shelled. My men were splendid. I think the assault was very successful. I hope to tell you more of this at a later date.

Yes, please send a bottle of Horlick’s Malted Milk Tabloids (one small one), with the next parcel! Also a small nail brush like the one in my dressing case.

With love to all,

Your affectionate son


Please thank Rene and Freda for their letters.

Christmas Card 1917-18

Christmas Card

Good Luck Comes To Those Who Look For It

To all at Trowbridge from Gus 25th Division

With Best Wishes for Christmas and the New Year

It ain’t the guns nor armament,
The funds that they can pay,
But the close co-operation,
That makes them win the day.
It ain’t the individual, nor
The Army as a whole,
But the everlasting team work
Of every bloomin’ soul.

Christmas Card

Letter from Lieutenant Jack Sangster, M.G.C., to Mrs. Elizabeth Wolff – 27th March 1918

C. 22 Mess
Harrowby Camp

27th March 1918

Dear Mrs. Wolff,

I was dismayed to see in the papers today, that your son is lost to us, all his splendid work ended in this terrific death struggle. I feel I have not a friend left, and that it is only a question of weeks when I obey the call to follow on. Back here, right on the scene of the happy days and evenings we spend so closely together eighteen months ago, his death hits me so hard, that I am venturing, out of my own sorrow, to send you a word of sympathy in your far greater grief. He was my great friend – loved by all who came in contact with him, and I recall many times, when I was proud indeed to share his work and play, and confidence. I have hardly a friend remaining, and now all the best are taken, I feel careless about any future that means such desolation. He took the noble part, and did so well – was fortunate too, until this hopeless outnumbering crushed our hopes. One can say nothing of any use or comfort. I like to think that his sterling worth, and big-hearted strength goes on to some better world and work, where we may find him again. It does not make our mourning any less, and I do not try to say anything to you, for whom there can be no comfort. Only out of loyalty and gratitude to my old friend, I reach out a hand in sympathy to his Mother.

Yours very sincerely,

Jack Sangster Lt M.G.C.

Letter from Lieutenant-Colonel J.D. Deane-Drummond, M.G.C., to Mrs. Elizabeth Wolff – 29th March 1918

No 25 Battalion


Dear Mrs Wolff,

I am writing to offer you all my sympathy in your very heavy loss of your son.

His Company with the 74th Bde had to go up to hold the Corps’s line, the Boche having broken through the front of the Division holding the line, he took 8 of his guns up and got them into position, and then returned to report same to Brigade H.Q. He went just outside the Bde Headquarters to see if he could see anything, when he was killed by Shrapnel.

He was one of the best and bravest Officers I had and will not only be a very heavy loss to the Battalion but also to the British Army.

He was buried near BEUGNY which is now in the hands of the Boche.

I shall be glad to give you any further information that I possibly can on hearing from you. Again I must offer all my sympathy.

Yours sincerely,

J.D. Deane-Drummond Lt. Col.

Red Cross Corner Cemetery, Beugny, France

Letter from Lance-Corporal J. B. Butler to Mrs. Elizabeth Wolff – 9th May 1918

Lce. Cpl. J. B. Butler
0.Co. Sect. 2.
61st Machine Gun Corps.
(late of 25th)

May 9th 1918

Mrs Wolff,


For some time I have been anxious to write you, but have only just been able to get your address. Feeling sure you would like to know how our esteemed Captain spent his last moments I am prompted to write you. For over eight months it had been my duty to accompany Captain Wolff on his rounds as orderly, and I think in that time we got to know each other well, and naturally I got very attached to him, and sincerely regretted losing him on the 21st March. It was about midday when we moved forward to support the 51st Div. At a certain road we had to approach the Boche were shelling heavily: the driver of our transport got a trifle nervous and your gallant son at once volunteered to ride this pair of mules through, sending the section round by track. He got the wagon to its destination quite safely – a brave act that has gone unnoticed – I was then ordered back to bring up the two remaining sections and meet the Captain with them at a certain spot. At this spot we done our best for a poor wounded Scotchman, who had been carried by his comrade for over two kilometres: the Captain gave the lad some water from my bottle, which he was craving for. We then made our way to the Brigade Headquarters across a field that was being badly shelled. Several times the Captain jokingly remarked, “That’s a near one, Butler”. On the way we ran across a little lad who was struggling with ammunition. Captain Wolff asked him if he was dead beat and the lad said he was. Although the Captain and myself were laden with equipment we relieved the lad of most of his load. It was this action madam that cost your dear son his life, for had we not stopped we would have cleared the shell which killed the Captain and the little lad and wounded myself. I was shook up somewhat and I turned round to say, “Are you allright, Sir” and to my great grief the Captain had breathed his last. He was wounded in the head and death was instantaneous. I called for help and we carried the mortal remains to the top of the Brigade Headquarters: the Padre then took charge of the body of a gallant soldier. More I am unable to tell you, as I was ordered to the dressing station. It is really a miracle that I escaped death, and I am gratified to the Ruler of all things. I trust madam that it will be a soothing consolation to you to know that your son’s last three actions were those of self-sacrifice and Greater Love hath no man than this that he lay down his life for his friends – which he truly did – I am positive it would have been the Captain’s wish that I wrote you for I know how much he appreciated your kind thoughtfulness by the regular parcels he received from you.

I have the honour, madam, to remain,

Yours very respectfully,

Lce. Cpl. J. B. Butler
0.Co. Sect. 2.
61st Batt. M.G.C.

I was unable to return to my old Company: only one officer is left.

Gus Wolff’s Grave - Red Cross Corner Cemetery, Beugny