The Queen has swapped letters with a schoolgirl in Australia who wrote to her about her family’s involvement in World War One. And the exchange of correspondence comes almost a hundred years on since the letter from The Queen’s grandfather, George V, which inspired ten-year-old Holli Nipperess to write to Buckingham Palace in the first place.
Holli sent her missive to The Queen after discovering that her own great, great grandfather had received a note from George V in 1918 after he was discharged from service. The letter to Charles Frederick Bullen came with good wishes from the King and his consort, Queen Mary. They wished him ‘Godspeed, a safe return to the happiness and joy of home life with an early restoration to health.’ It ended with the words ‘A grateful Mother Country thanks you for faithful services’.
Reading those lines inspired Holli to get in touch with the Queen and tell her ‘my Nanny’s grandfather received a letter from your grandfather when he fought in World War One’. She also sent a copy of the letter. Holli had become interested in her family’s involvement in the conflict through a school project where pupils began learning about Gallipoli as the centenary of the start of that campaign is marked this April.
Speaking to Australian newspaper The Courier, Holli’s mum said that another letter to the family from Buckingham Palace came as a very pleasant surprise. ‘It only took about six weeks to receive a reply,’ Kerry Nipperess said adding that the correspondence from The Queen’s lady in waiting was much appreciated.
Kerry and her family have been keen to preserve the wartime possessions of their ancestor known to his friends and family as Fred. He was 21 years old when he enlisted to fight in the Great War in 1917. Gassed in the trenches and shot several times, when he returned to Australia he still needed treatment for the injuries he sustained while fighting. His descendants say they keep his wartime letters and photos, in particular, to help young people understand the sacrifices of those who fought in the Great War.
And it’s made a big impression on Holli who, after reading that first set of letters from her family and Buckingham Palace, has been inspired to learn even more about World War One. She is already planning to make a trip to Canberra where she will see some of the boats that went ashore at Gallipoli. And she, like her great great grandfather, will treasure a letter sent to her from Buckingham Palace because of World War One.
Photo credit: Royal Navy Media Archive via Flickr