A small envelope contains a letter from Joe Shields to his mother, his birth certificate and a letter from his mother to Mrs (or Miss) Wilson, his friend. Joe's letter is dated 17 August 1916 and is sent from B Company, 9th Bedfordshire Regiment, stationed at Sittingbourne, and it's about the food he is looking forward to enjoying on a short leave:
His mother was Emily Julia Shields, née Mullen, and Joe was born in Stockton:
In July 1918 Mrs Shields wrote to a Mrs (or Miss, the title is altered in pencil) Wilson at Leigh-on-Sea, Essex. The letter was forwarded to the Victoria Naval Hospital, Southend:
Sadly, there was to be no good news. Joseph was killed in action on 24 May 1918; his grave is at Pozieres Memorial Cemetery.
It seems likely that the Mrs or Miss Wilson to whom Mrs Shields wrote this touching letter is the Miss Elizabeth Ann Wilson named as an executor of his Will. She kept the boarding house in which he lived in Leigh-on-Sea.
His last address as a civilian (and the address given in the National Probate Calendar) was 19
So it seems probable that Mrs Shields is addressing this Elizabeth Ann Wilson when she writes
I always felt my Dear Son had a good friend in you which I can assure you has taken a load off my mind. I shall always count you as one of my dearest friends always write to me dear it will be such a consolation to me
If there are any members of Joe's family out there who would like this letter, do please contact me ...