The following extracts are from letters written by Private 22219 Bert Oakes, KSLI, No 28 Hut 4th Camp, Prees Heath. He writes to his parents Edward and Eliza Oakes of 5 Barber Street, Broseley and describes the daily routine of military training and life in the camp, in 1916.

“We get up at 6 o’clock, dress & make beds then drill from 6.45 to 8 followed by breakfast. Then drill till 12, when dinner takes place, of course we do our own cleaning & washing up. Two o’clock sees us at drill again till 4 or so, then tea & when we have put our beds ready we are allowed out till 9.30. Of course the camp is as large as Ironbridge, Madeley & Broseley all combined, so you may expect we can’t go far. There is a YMCA close to our hut & there we can get this paper, listen to concerts & can get cocoa or coffee & buns or anything else we need as we all go there, of course there are a lot of YMCA huts about the camp but all are full to overflowing during the opening time.

We have two night parades on this week, one a march with full pack & the other laying barbed wire entanglements in the dark. Today we have been trench digging. I will just give you an illustration of a day’s work, this is to days. Six o’clock got out of bed, dress, make bed & tidy room, first parade 6.30 am. Physical training till 7.45 am, breakfast, buttons cleaned, shaving & boots till 8.45am. Bayonet fighting till 10 o’clock. Marching & other drill till 12 pm, rest & dinner till 1.45pm, Musketry till 4.00pm, the trenching digging comes in the drill from 11 till 12, so you see it is a good day. Then some nights we have an hour lecture & others silent marching to the trenches in the dark. Last Thursday night about 12, the bugle went & we all had to turn out of bed as quickly as possible & in whatever we could get into in the dark, for a fire had broken out in one of the Camps. We had to remain shivering on the parade ground in perfect order for about 1 hr. & a half till the fire was put out’ It burned down the officers’ mess & two huts & destroyed everything in them. This is soldiering. “