LETTERS penned from the First World War battlefields have resurfaced ahead of Remembrance Sunday.

From the cheery birdsong of larks as the bombs dropped or dreaded roll-call of names after an attack, Percival Edgar Argyle documented life on the front line in hair-raising detail.

The journalist, of East St Helen Street in Abingdon, served in the East Lancashire Regiment of the Army and became a lieutenant.

Two letters were found in archives at Abingdon Library, addressed to the North Berks Herald - since renamed the Abingdon Herald, sister title of the Oxford Mail.

One extract dated August 12, 1916, reads: “I am quite enjoying the life here.

“Certainly there is plenty of excitement and danger, but we keep smiling. We find something humorous in the worst things that happen.

“The mail has arrived and brought letters from mothers inquiring after missing sons. This is heartbreaking business – breaking the news of sons who have fallen.”

Genealogy fan Jenni Ellaway found the letters while looking at a friend’s ancestry.

She sent them to the Royal British Legion ahead of the centenary of Armistice Day, which will be marked across Oxfordshire tomorrow.

Lt Argyle served with three brothers and was the only one not to return home.

The soldier wrote that he had been struck by the ‘singing of the larks during bombardment’ and the ‘cheerfulness and bravery of the men’.

He served from June 1915 until he was killed in battle on April 9, 1917, aged 27.

Months before his death, he wrote of the waterlogged trenches: “We often glance over those irregular lines of soil and sandbags, watching for some movement.

“They are nasty places to wander about at night.

“It does my heart good to see the men so thankful for the little things - they are so cheerful amongst all the discomforts.”

Lt Argyle was killed in France in bloodshed now known as the Battle of Arras.

His name is among those etched on the Abingdon War Memorial.