The John Welch Collection

We are delighted to announce a new resource: the digitised collection of wartime letters of John Welch to his family, available over Special Collections at Lancaster University.

The original letters have been made available by John Welch’s son Dr John Philip Lane Welch and John’s granddaughter, Catharine Margaret Gill, née Welch. Catharine transcribed the letters with great faithfulness to the original, and those transcriptions are provided through the catalogue entry so that they can be viewed alongside the digitised original letters.

John Welch was a Lancaster solicitor who joined the Officer Training Corps in January 1915 and was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant 4th (T.) Battalion King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment on 13 June 1915, and promoted to captain in July 1917.  He served in France from January to August 1916, and was wounded during the Battle of the Somme on 8 August 1916. He returned to France from May 1917 to April 1919.

After the war, he returned to being a solicitor but retired early to pursue his community interests and became a county councillor. His commitment to education is marked by the room named after him at Lancaster University.

The letters from John to various members of his family trace his experiences in the war from training in Britain to serving in France, the injuries he sustained when shelled in 1917 and his subsequent hospitalisation and operation, followed by John’s return to active service. The letters offer a powerful insight into the frustrations and pleasures of John’s life as he encounters wartime bureaucracy, manages the Mess with detailed descriptions of food, passes on news of acquaintances and friends, and reflects on the war itself.

You can view further papers from John Welch’s possession in the Archive of Captain John Welch through the King’s Own Royal Regiment website,  which also holds some of his receipted bills.