Miss Monica Katherine Roberts was a prolific letter writer, whose correspondence with soldiers on the Western Front not only offered solace to the men themselves, but also painted a vivid picture of the hardships they endured as a lasting historical legacy.
Monica lived in Stillorgan, Dublin with her father Reverend William Ralph Westropp Roberts, a fellow at Trinity College. In the first years of World War One, Monica started a volunteer group, ‘The Band of Helpers to the Soldiers,’ to send gifts and letters to the soldiers on the front lines. In particular, Roberts sent letters and gifts to the Royal Dublin Fusiliers and the Royal Flying Corps. The letters she received in return give powerful depictions of the conditions on the Western Front. Her daughter Mary Shackleton donated all the letters Roberts had received from the soldiers, totalling 500, to the Dublin City Archives and created the Monica Roberts Collection.
The vast number of letters in the collection reveals the extent of Monica’s devotion to soldiers at the front. Besides letters, she also sent parcels which included items such as leather gloves, handkerchiefs, Vaseline, dried fruits, playing cards and tobacco. Monica Roberts did not receive a medal or official recognition for her efforts on the home front, but she was an everyday hero. Her letters help to raise the morale of soldiers, the gifts she sent gave them little luxuries in appalling conditions in the trenches and for many she was a person they could speak to and unburden themselves about the realities of war.