A CHRISTMAS missive sent home from the Western Front in 1918 has recently been unearthed by Bob Preston of Lansdowne Square, Weymouth.

The card and other wartime memorabilia tell of the experience of his father, Herbert Preston, in France in the First World War and the enduring love of his parents.

Inside the Christmas card, Herbert Preston listed, in 1918, what he called The long trail to happiness,' namely the places where he had fought between 1916 and 1918.

The journey took him all over the battlefields on the Western Front from Somme, to Ancre, Bethune, Vimy, Nieuport, Arras, back to Bethune, and, finally, to whence he started in Somme.

He writes to Rae' - Rachel Alice Duckworth - the girl who would become his wife and Bob's mother: Blighty & happiness 1919. The happy days are drawing near that you and I have held so dear.' After wishing her a Merry Christmas' and a Happy Prosperous New Year' Herbert signs off in his beautiful, looped writing.

The front of the card shows the logo of the XIII Corps Cyclist Battalion with a soldier on a bicycle inside a badge in the shape of a bicycle wheel.

"It's hilarious when you think about the mud in Flanders," Bob said of the bikes.

"I think later on it became known as the Royal Army Cyclist Corps."

Bob also brought in a photograph of the No 6 Platoon of XIII Army Corps and pointed out his father, who is second right on the third row down.

"He rose to the heights of Lance Corporal," said Bob.

Herbert Preston, who was enlisted on November 30, 1914, for the Manchester Regiment, was transferred to the Cyclists in 1915.

"The photograph, I think, was taken somewhere in France because that was where he was made Lance Corporal," said Bob.

Bob also brought in a Certificate of Transfer to Reserve on Demobilization and a Unit Register Card, which records movements to the embarkation camp.

"I presume the whole corps was moved from this camp to an embarkation camp from where they would either sail to England or France," said Bob.

The embarkation camp registered is Havre, referring to Le Havre, a city in Normandy on the English Channel at the mouth of the Seine.

The relationship between Bob's parents survived the horrors of the war and the pair got married when Herbert returned.

"At a guess it would probably be 1920 or 1921," said Bob.

Herbert Preston went on to live to his 90s, but his memories from the trenches were not something he shared with his son.

"He did not talk about it much," said Bob. "I do not know how he came through it."