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Last chance to view World War One exhibition at Leeds museum

Letter sent home by Leonard Wragby

By Sam Brooksbank

Poignant Christmas items from soldiers serving in the First World War are on show this festive season at a Leeds museum.

Leeds City Museum is urging people to visit the In Their Footsteps exhibition before it ends next month.

Items include letters sent from a First World War soldier about coming home for Christmas, Christmas ‘cards’ made out of trench biscuits given to soldiers as part of their rations, and a chocolate tin given to all soldiers for Christmas 1914.

Christmas chocolate tin given to soldiers in 1914

The exhibition was set up in July by the Preservative Party, a group of young history enthusiasts based in Leeds, who curated exhibits exploring how the lives of people from the region were affected during the First World War.

A highlight has been letters donated by the West Yorkshire Archive written by Leeds soldier Leonard Wragby from the battlefields, which were later sent home.

Ruth Martin, exhibitions curator at the museum, said: “The letters are really touching and really personal. He’s more concerned about day to day things at home despite what was happening to him during the war.”

She added: “He mentions Christmas in some of these letters saying that he would be home for Christmas.”

Leonard wrote:

I wrote a letter to Nottingham yesterday and told them if anyone would like to send a parcel it would be very acceptable for Xmas. I also wrote to [Houssell?] so they might be sending me one. Time is getting on now dear Xmas will be on top of us before we know where we are. But if we are not home for this Xmas. I shall certainly be home before next with god help.”

Trench biscuit message

Leonard never saw his family again as he died in 1917.

The museum was given the letters from the West Yorkshire Archive, which in turn received them from a friend of Leonard’s daughter.

Ruth added that members of the Preservative Party had now joined the museum group on a full time basis.

The exhibition ends on January 8.

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