Letter to a POW from Buckingham Palace, 1918

Photo of Alfred Langrish, c 1919 | From the Letter in the Attic collection
Photo of Alfred Langrish, c 1919
From the Letter in the Attic collection
Letter to Alfred Langrish from Buckingham Palace, 1918. Click on the photo to see it fullsize. | From the Letter in the Attic collection
Letter to Alfred Langrish from Buckingham Palace, 1918. Click on the photo to see it fullsize.
From the Letter in the Attic collection

Alfred Langrish was born on 18th October 1886 at 2 Middle Street, Portslade, Sussex. When war broke out in 1914, Alf was in his late twenties. He served in the Gallipoli campaign as a Lewis Gunner and fought in the French trenches where he was wounded and taken prisoner in 1918.

Sent to Langensalza POW camp

He was sent to Langensalza POW camp in Germany (the location is now called Bad Langensalza), where he recovered from his wound in the camp hospital. Many of the camp prisoners worked in the local salt mines.

Alf wrote home from the POW camp to his wife Florrie and four children Alfred aged 9, Ivy 7 and George 5. Only two letters survive. It seems that the letters are the final ones in a sequence, but this is not certain. The letters have been shared with the Letter in the Attic project.

A letter from Buckingham Palace

After 10 months in the POW camp, the war ended and Alf returned home. He received a letter from Buckingham Palace wishing him well on his release.

“The Queen joins me in welcoming you on your release from the miseries and hardships, which you have endured with so much patience and courage.

During these many months of the trial, the early rescue of our gallant officers and men from the cruelties of their captivity has been uppermost in our thoughts.

We are thankful that this longed for day has arrived, and that back in the old Country you will be able once more to enjoyed the happiness of a home and to seek good days among those who anxiously look for your return.

George R.I.”

After the war

After the war Alf worked at the engineering firm CVA in Portland Road Hove until he retired. He died aged 76 three years after Florrie, and is buried in Portslade Cemetery. George, his son, remained in the house at 55, Church Road, Portslade, after Alfred’s death, and the letters were found when George died in 2003 and passed into the possession of Jan Hamblett, who was Alf’s grand-daughter.

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Comments about this page

  • My GrandUncle, Charles Bushby was also a POW in the Langensalza camp in WW1. He was born in Brighton in 1890. I wonder whether they met each other?

    By David (10/09/2008)
  • I came across this letter because some of my family immigrated to the United States in the 1800s from this part of Germany. I am working on my family tree. You have a wonderful site and I am so glad to see you are saving this history for future generations.

    By Barbara (12/03/2010)
  • My father, yes my father (I came late in his life, 1895-1982), was a POW having been wounded and captured at the Battle of Arras 28/4/17. He always said he was initially held at Dulmen before transit to East Prussia to work on a farm. However, a letter dated 7/6/17 places him at Langensalza. Another letter dated 4/7/17, only recently found in the loft, places him at “Dulmen, Germany, having been transferred from Gefangenenlager, Langensalza”.  He could not have been long at the latter. All these places are a long way apart so he seems to have been moved around quite a lot. The letter from Buckingham Palace, whilst greatly valued, is clearly a good quality print otherwise King George V would still be writing them today! My father received one and it is exactly the same in every detail as the one sent to Alfred Langrish but with his name and number added in the top left corner. My father was also at Gallipoli where he was wounded. Thence to the Somme and Arras. He was in the Royal Marines Light Infantry. I would very much appreciate any information or photographs of these camps.

    By David (25/09/2012)

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