War letters unearthed in Belfast 181018 PA Images
WWI

WWI Letters Tell The Story From The Western Front

Over 180 letters were discovered, revealing what life was like on the Western Front during the First World War.

War letters unearthed in Belfast 181018 PA Images

War letters unearthed in Belfast (Picture: PA).

More than 180 letters written by a young Irishman serving on the Western Front during World War One have been discovered in Belfast. 

They tell the story of an Irish Officer's life during the First World War.

Patrick Dixon was a medical student during WW1, having volunteered to serve just after the 1916 Easter Rising when Republicans attempted to overthrow British rule in Ireland.

His letters were discovered in an old suitcase at the historic Clifton House by staff at the Belfast Charitable Society.

One of the letters is dated 11 November 1918, to the family home in Grosvenor Road in Dublin 4.

Mr Dixon refers to the beauty of the surrounding countryside and how interesting his work is before mentioning the famous armistice which ended the war.

"Of course today we are all rather excited over the armistice," he wrote.

"Nevertheless the 'war' will carry on just the same for a bit, except that there will be no firing."

Aaron McIntyre, archive and heritage officer for Belfast Charitable Society, said Mr Dixon's assessment seems to have been correct as he was not demobilised until June 1919.

"He was actually right, he isn't demobilised until June the next year, which is of great frustration to him, and his last letters show that frustration quite plainly."

He said Mr Dixon's letters reveal that he was "not your average Tommy".

He was vague when talking about his own military service, writing in one of his letters to his mother in September 1918: "We are fairly busy at present but (it) is quite an interesting war. I got a most beautiful pair of Goertz (field) glass (es) yesterday, also a very nice automatic."

"So we are not too sure exactly what he was doing. If you read between the lines you get a feel for the type of life he was living."

Other highlights from the collection include a soldier's pantomime programme for January 1919, emergency issue French francs, a German Disabled War Veteran Fund ticket picked up at the front, and photographs of the front.

It is not clear how the collection of letters came to be in storage at Clifton House.