THE Family Budget
1914 – 1919
A remarkable collection of letters written by seven Elmhirst brothers and their sister during the First World War
It is not easy to put this remarkable collection of letters, written during the First World War, into a single category. From war and travel to social commentary and family dynamics; it covers all of these and more besides. The eight short biographies that make up the final section of this book range from the illustrious to the mundane, but they all contain interesting references, some humorous, some moving and some quirky.
The Family Budget was the chosen name (taken from a Gaullish definition of ‘budget’ meaning a bag and its contents) for the round robin correspondence conducted by seven Elmhirst brothers and their sister between 1914 and 1919 when they found themselves separated by war and circumstance. They wrote their intimate and often entertaining letters from the family home in Barnsley, from Cambridge, The Somme, Gallipoli, Mesopotamia, India, HMS Indomitable, Winchester College, Rugby School and elsewhere. Even the deaths of brother William on the Somme and brother Christie at Gallipoli did not end the travels of The Family Budget.
The letters touch on a myriad of subjects, for example: Turkish shells whistling overhead, a beating at school, duck shooting on Anglesey with a Lewis machine gun, rook pie, a sketch for the soldiers (in drag), “Ee, Sir made a champion lass”, just clearing the cliffs of Antrim to crash land an air ship in a field of cows, a young brother’s warning to an older brother at Gallipoli, “mind you get slightly wounded, whatever you do don’t get nipped by a fast one”, or perhaps their sister’s prowess at over arm bowling and the dismissal of a rival school team for no runs.