A lone British violinist atop a tank in the First World War, c. unknown

"British violinist Albert Sammons atop a tank in Trafalgar Square, with St Martin-in-the-Fields in the background. 1916."

"The 20th Deccan Horse, part of the 2nd Indian Cavalry Division, in Carnoy Valley shortly before their unsuccessful attack at High Wood during the Somme Offensive on the evening of 14 July 1916. Together with the British 7th Dragoon Guards, they suffered 102 casualties and lost 130 horses."

A letter written by Lieutenant Ernest Emanuel Polack, 4th Gloucesters, to his parents three weeks before his death in July 1916 at age 23. His father was schoolmaster of Jewish House, Clifton College and his brother, Benjamin James, was killed in April 1916, in Mesopotamia.

My dear Mother & Father,

This is not an easy letter to write, and I have long refrained from writing it; but now that the Advance seems more than a remote possibility, and is in fact due to start to-morrow, I had better realise at once that I may not get through it. In fact, I consider it very unlikely that I shall get through it whole. Death has no terrors for me in itself, for (like Cleopatra) “I have immortal longings in me.” The prospect of pain naturally appals me somewhat, and I am taking morphia in with me to battle.

We are in Corps Reserve behind Hebuterne, and, should all go well, will not be called upon until the second night and then shall probably be resisting a German counter-attack somewhere near Beaumont-Hamel. But our services may be required at any moment.

I have little to leave except my Love and Gratitude….

For the rest - “If ‘tis not now, ‘twill be to come.” Our cause is a good one and I believe I am doing right in fighting. To you - Mother and Father - I owe all. The thought of you two - and of my brothers - will inspire me to the end. I often wish Albert was with me and miss him dreadfully.


If we shall meet again, why then we’ll smile; If not - why then this parting was well made.” (Julius Caesar).

The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. (written in Hebrew)

Your loving son,


I will ask Mr. Ramsay (our Chaplain) to send you this if I fall.

"The Battle of Flers Courcelette 15 -22 September: A long line of British reserve troops standing silhouetted against the dawn near Thiepval."