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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Amazing Junk Shop Find to West Riding Regiment


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I just had to share with you all, people who can appreciate items as this, my remarkably lucky find.

Last week I managed to obtain an absolutely fantastic collection of WW1 letters from a junk shop a few miles from where I live.

I had previously popped in to inquire whether he had any militaria etc, which he didn’t. However he did say somewhere he had what he thought were a group of WW1 letters. Intrigued I promised to return to take them off his hands.

I returned to his shop and we got talking. He asked me to wait whilst he went upstairs. He then cam down with a very old whicker towel/laundry basket and said to me to take a look………….

I looked at them and saw various bits of paperwork, some quite badly damaged with mold and damp. However there were a large amount of items, including some cards and letters from the 60’s. I offered the seller some cash and he said to me that I looked honest and that I could take them away and when I was next passing to give him some money!

He said that he had them for a few years and just couldn’t bring himself to throw them away. Anyway I took them away to sort out.

I got them home and started sorting through the pile. I soon found that the letters belonged to 3071, later 265941 L/Cpl Arnold Foster Armstrong of the 2/6th Bn West Riding Regiment (The only regiment I now really research and get involved with), which I was delighted about. I sorted the letters out into years and they cover 1914 to 1919 in Germany. There must be around 250- 300 letters, YMCA headed, DOW headed, plain letters, plus a section photograph, various memorials cards, pamphlets, concert programs etc. A whole host of different items. I could not believe my luck!

Included were even the letters his sweetheat (Edith Hughes, later Edith Atkinson) wrote, so in many cases I have both sides of correspondence. Many of the letters were even in their original envelopes. Absolutely untouched since the 60’s when Edith died and all the items were dumped into the basket.

The first thing was to conserve them. So I dehumidified them and then I ordered some plastic sleeves and to date have filed 1914 and 1915 in chronological order after wiping off excess mold from the pages. They number approx 140 double sided sheets. For the really delicate letters which are in bits and in poor condition, I have put these into a thick semi rigid sleeves to hold the integrity of the letter together. Most letters are written on both sides, therefore they have a single sleeve per page and another for the envelope.

I have still to sort through and file 1916 to 1919. However they have been written from various camps after he was mobilised in Oct 1914 and to date make for very interesting reading. He married his sweetheart in 1915 which is why he did not volunteer for service with the 1/6th Bn.

I have found that 265941 L/Cpl Arnold Atkinson (later full Corporal) was in the 2/6th Bn and served later with the 2/4th Bn, probably when the 2/6th was disbanded in early 1918. He was awarded the MSM in June 1919. I have CPGW,& West Riding Territorials in the Great War to help in my research amongst other things.

I have been contemplating writing a book about the 9th Battalion for some time now, However because of the uniqueness of this collection I am going to transcribe it and fill in the blanks with regards to locations and service and try to put together a book on this man and his service. I think it is a massive undertaking, but I am sure it will be well worth it. I still cannot believe it! For me this is unbelievable!

I am just so pleased I managed to buy this collection and potentially save it from the mold, damp and possible tip. I thinks its fascinating and amazing, however my other half is not overly impressed with the amount of work involved!

I just thought I would share it with you. I will post an image or 2 of the collection on its first sort.

It just goes to show that even now, 90 years on, these things can still be found.

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Well done!

I'm glad they found their way into your hands.


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Congratulations on your find and at least they have went to some one who will look after them with respect and care a true Custodian of History. Wish my find was as good as them but I settle for what I can get . My find was to a civilan interned in germany just a few cards and a letter.


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An excellent find Cooper! And it seems uncanny that the letters fell into the person's hands who can do them the best justice. Again a great find and can't wait to hear more.

Best Pat

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Well done Cooper,delighted for you.That's the kind of thing i hope to find,and have had lent, a number of photos + one interesting letter that i may post when get owners permission.

I can imagine how you felt when it was finally yours.

Again well done and may you (and i) find many more.

I put a small advert in a small local mag' and it has delivered,recommend others do because most people are glad to have these things (gathering dust) given some meaning.

Cheers Mike.

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Hello Cooper,

Congratulations from me to, I'm certain that you are the man to do the Regiment,the man and his family justice.

Nice find, well done sir!


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Hi, Cooper:

Great to hear of your good fortune, and your efforts to preserve what is indeed a piece of history. There are those of us on this side of the Atlantic as well, that still maintain a great interest in the West Ridings.

Always happy to hear someone who has found something to do with the 2/4th as well.


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For many years I have justified WWI purchases with the comment - "Well it might have fallen into the wrong hands". Clearly I have been correct. Well done

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Absolutely brilliant Cooper.

I have a copy of Capt E C Gregory's book on the 2/6 and will always be happy to look anything up in that if you don't have access to one. I don't want to scan the book because it would damage the spine, but I can manage some photographic images with a little effort if needs be.


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What a marvellous find! It's great to know that these precious documents will be preserved and appreciated.

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Thanks to everyone for your kind words. I really do appreciate all the help and support you have offered. I will keep you all posted.

I must say this Forum is great! Chatting to and meeting people who share the same passion, therefore can appreciate what it means when something happens like this. Thanks guys.

Keith, I appreciate the offer and I might take you up on that at some point. Ady, many thanks for all your help previously and putting me in touch with Dave. We talk and exchange info quite regularly, he is a great guy, thanks again.

A few of you have suggested that it was ment to be, well, that was what the seller said to me also. I am keeping in touch with him, just in case he comes accross any more items.

Anyway, please see the attached image of prior to filing and conservation. The letters are folded very tightly and some (especially written from France) are written on paper which is very thin. There is much more than what there appears to be in this picture.



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Another image.............

and again................

Nearly last one.......




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Please see the other images.

Unfortunately the postcard is a little damaged.

In fact I read the letter which goes with the postcard only yesterday. It is from November 1914 when they first issued with their uniforms and is a picture with his section. The week before he was acting as Orderly Sgt. Some of the guys are missing capbadges. Arnold is the only Lance Corporal in the picture, top row, third from the right.


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Congratulations on your find. In the vintage car world,just when you feel that they've all been found,somebody pulls a Vauxhall 30/98 out of a barn where its been since 1948. There must be attics,too,with boxes of memorobilia still waiting!

You were meant to discover this hoard. Phil.

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