Reporter 405, 30 June 1997


Letters written by a war hero delivered eighty years later

A collection of moving and illuminating letters written by a Leeds captain who lost his life in the First World War have been donated to the University's Liddle Collection.

Captain Philip Hirsch VC was born in Leeds in 1896 and killed in action at Wancourt in France on 23 April 1917. He joined the Leeds University Officer Training Corps early in the war, and was commissioned into the Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards). He took part in the battle of the Somme, for which he was mentioned in dispatches and promoted. He won the Victoria Cross "for most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty in attack."

The collection of around 200 letters has been deposited in the Liddle Collection by his niece, Mrs Dorothy Kilpin, after months of negotiations to ensure that the archive returned to the city of Captain Hirsch's birth. The letters are addressed to his parents and brother, and are of extraordinary warmth and personal detail, shedding much light on the character of the man and his experiences as an officer. Publicity about the donation has led to the deposit of another three important sets of First World War letters.

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