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25 May 1917 – Richard to Gertrude

Dear Mother

Many thanks for those S.B. bands. If some day you see in the paper I have the D.S.O. you’ll know it’s for the smart appearance of the Stretcher bearers, & I’ll give you a bit of it.

Please send me another pair of shorts. I’ll probably be sending some thick clothes home for you to keep safely!

Tell Ben I dined with the nice looking Stephens last night. “Dined” sounds grand but I wish you could see the conditions. The radishes are coming up.

Love to all

yr loving son

Richard

Topher is clearing away breakfast & sends his love.

You need’nt send any more porridge.


Richard’s teasing can fall a little flat when you read it, but it suggests he was fun and funny in person.

When I commented to my mother how much nicer Paul seemed than Richard, based on these letters, she responded rather tartly that it was the other way round in real life.

I suspect Richard may have had deployed that deliberate charm which is so bewitching when it’s focused on you, and so devastating when it’s withdrawn. 

 
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Posted by on 25 May, '17 in About

 

23 May 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

H.M.S. MALAYA.
c/o G.P.O.

Wednesday. 23rd

 

My dear Mother,

V. many thanks for your letter. I heard from Ted & Jim too last week – Ted had just heard about my engagement- but Jim had’nt had any mails since he left – so he would’nt have known.

Some Rhubarb would be awfully nice to have – we don’t get much fresh green stuff up here – and I am so fond of it – lettuces – or anything like that.

Oh yes I remember the Ramseys – Mr Ramsey anyway – he had a beard did’nt he. No I won’t say anything about it – It does’nt seem necessary either-

Did’nt I tell you Nance was coming to Aldershot in my last letter – I thought I had – She’d simply love to come over to Guidlford-

Such a lovely hot day to-day no wind (for a change) & a broiling sun – & we are playing a soccer match too-!!!-

Tonight I am dining with the Captain – a slight Royal dinner party – P.A. [Prince Albert, the future George VI] & his “bear leader” myself and a Captain from another ship-!!

Awfully sorry to hear about Harrow – she must be fairly old by now – as you say. Have you still got that black kitten that you found – must have one to keep Blanco company-

Beginning to collect a few clothes for my men’s theatricals now – I want some Fancy Dresses – periods – & such like – for both sexes – we’ve got heaps have’nt we – could I have some – Would you ask Specs if he can let me have a mufti suit or two – he’s sure to have some he does’nt want – For a female – I want a black blouse and skirt – and any spare shoes the girls may not want any more – any luck?-. I hope to give my show at the end of next month – I do hope it will be good.

My very best love to you all from

Your ever loving son

Paul.


Prince Albert was the younger brother of the glamorous Prince of Wales and wasn’t expected to inherit the Crown, but he became George VI after Edward VIII’s abdication. When he became King he wrote nostalgic letters to old friends about their time in the Navy which had shaped so much of his character and his view of the world. Few of these friendships continued after he married Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in 1923, and fewer still survived his accession to the throne in 1936. But letters from Prince Albert / George VI and Berryman family stories attest to his friendship with Paul during and after their service on the Malaya.

Paul’s letters to his mother show patience, courtesy, tact and discretion. Paul was some seven years older than the Prince, but he had a younger younger brother, Topher, who also stammered and was easily intimidated or overwhelmed. So perhaps Paul brought a degree of insight and kindness to his interactions with the young Prince as well as his unquestionable loyalty, masculinity and sportiness. Certainly, Albert was to write to him with genuine fondness in later years.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_VI

JG Cliff-McCulloch with Prince Albert (supposedly on HMS Malaya)

JG Cliff-McCulloch with Prince Albert (L)(supposedly on HMS Malaya)

George VI on HMS Malaya, 1942

George VI on HMS Malaya, 1942. © IWM (A 18624)

 
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Posted by on 23 May, '17 in About

 

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23 May 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

May 23/17

 

Dear Mother

Very many thanks for your letter dated April 11th which I got today. Also the Pink Papers & the Sat: R which I have’nt had time to read yet. No news from here. We are still sitting here & have had no further word about our going on. It’s not unpleasant, hottish at midday, but we keep to our tents & so manage to keep coolish, but I should think the troops who have been fighting in all this heat of late with no shade & very little water must have had a very hard time & it makes their performance all the more wonderful.

Yes, bad luck old Nell could’nt manage to get up to Guildford for Easter; she was awful disappointed herself, but I hope she’ll manage to get up later. She writes this week to say that she’s free  from measles.

Yes, I’m afraid I don’t profit much by the accelerated promotion in the I.A., as I don’t get 15 years in till August 1919! So unless the war goes on till then I can’t score by it, as it only lasts for the duration of the war; and I sincerely trust the war will be over long before then.

Dick & Topher seem to have had a hardish time lately, & I’m glad they are back in rest for a bit. I had a line from Jim at Singapore yesterday; he did’nt say much, but seemed quite pleased with the place. I think he always hankered after the East a bit.

The land krewst you say has come to nothing; I’m very sorry, as I’m sure it would do Dreda all the good in the world to get out of that old bank.

I dined with our new general last night. He has just come down from commanding his regiment in all their recent fighting, & has been promoted General to command our brigade. He was very pleasant & put one quite at ease in conversation, a thing some generals have’nt got the knack of at all.

Some of us – all officers from various regiments here – are getting up a pierrot troupe to give concerts to the various hospitals & depots here. We have been busily rehearsing today & hope to open on Monday this being Wednesday. We have rather fun, & some of the troupe are really 1st Class, especially the pianist who can play any blessed thing under the sun. They have made me stage manager, as I’m the senior in the troupe; you can imagine our difficulties, as we have very little music & each has to sort of dip into the past & rake up some songs he knew years ago, hum the tune over to the pianist, & then sing it!

We are going to be black & white pierrots; another difficulty there, as the arab tailors in the bazaar here are hardly up to making pierrot costumes unless one of us sits over them & watches every stitch! However I expect it will be all right on the night. If you could send me one or two George Robey albums, or those 1/- albums of the latest songs occasionally it might be useful, though heaven knows where we shall be when they come out, & by that time the troupe will be much scattered I expect, but we may have another one going.

Must catch the mail. I’m sure I’ve got some more letters to come, but our Brigade post office has only just arrived up here from Basrah so I expect things are a bit higgledy-piggledy at the present.

Love to all

yr loving son

Ted


Krewst was family slang for a jaunt or adventure

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Robey

 
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Posted by on 23 May, '17 in About

 

9 May 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

May 9th/17         Wednesday         Amara.

 

Dear Mother

I wrote you a hurried scrawl on Saturday – in bed I think- hoping to catch the mail in time to tell you of our move up here, but whether the special messenger I despatched arrived in time or not I cannot say. Anyhow we were ordered to move up here at very short notice, 24 hours, and some of us have already arrived as you see, & the rest of the regiment is arriving in bits later on.

We embarked on a river steamer at 8 o’clock on Sunday morning & the trip upstream was most awfully pleasant. We went about 40 miles upstream to a place called KURNAH where the Tigris & Euphrates join. All the way up on either side were date palms with occasional glimpses of desert & marsh through the gaps in the various palm groves. It was beautifully cool and there was a nice breeze all the time.

We reached Kurnah at 2 o’clock where we got off the boat and waited till 9 o’clock when we came on here by train. Kurnah of course is the traditional site of the Garden of Eden, and I fancy all the authorities of any importance have come to the conclusion that it was there or thereabouts that Adam & Eve were domiciled. Certainly to the weary traveller from the desert Kurnah must indeed seem a garden, for there are numerous palm groves there, & pomegranate trees, & a kind of willow growing along the river bank, and the whole place all round is green with marsh and reed-beds which makes things very restful for the eyes after the glare of the sun in the desert.

The Euphrates is a nice clean blue-water river, while the Tigris comes down in a very strong current of horribly muddy water, completely overwhelming the poor little Euphrates and discolouring the rest of the river on its way to the sea. The whole scene was most awfully pretty in the evening light as I saw it and a worthy setting for the Biblical romance.

As you may imagine, Eve’s tree is still shown to the traveller, or at anyrate a tree that satisfies his curiosity sufficiently to say he has seen the Tree of knowledge of good and evil. That it is not an apple, nor anything like it, matters not; it is enough to have seen it, & to imagine that the translators of the bible could get no nearer than “apple” to the particular fruit mentioned in Genesis. In any case, I picked some leaves off it, (I am told this is quite the thing to do!) & am sending them along herewith; they are at least interesting, even if they cannot claim to be genuine. You can at anyrate shew them to your more credulous friends as the real thing, & leave the sceptics to draw their own conclusions. All I can guarantee is that they do come from the tree that rightly or wrongly is known as Eve’s.

We strolled around Kurnah, meeting various people, & then I went & had dinner with a railway man who runs the railway there. After dinner we all climbed into open trucks & started off for this spot at about 9 p.m. It was awfully cold in the train, open trucks an’ all, & at 4 a.m. next morning when we got up I had to put on your Shetland woolly to keep warm! Fancy Mespot on the 6th of May, & Shetland woollies! Not the usual kit you acquaint with this country at this time of year; it’s a fact all the same, & you see your little gift has already come in useful. However it was hot enough in the daytime, it’s just the nights & early mornings that can be so cold here.

We had some breakfast by the side of the line, there are no stations of course yet, as the line has only just been finished, & marched out to camp here. We have quite a nice camp on the banks of the Tigris, & this is a very pretty place & such a pleasant change after Basrah. I have no notion how long we shall be here, perhaps a month, perhaps two or more, or we may be here for only a week or so; I am rather inclined to think it will be longer, more like a month or so. Anyhow it’s a step in the right direction.

This place is very much like Basrah, & I fancy is typical of all towns in the country. Very pretty surroundings, it couldn’t be otherwise with a great broad river & palm-lined banks, but the town is rather dirty & squalid, with the usual narrow bazaars, which are fascinating in their own peculiar way. The river-scene is just as busy a one as at Basrah & innumerable boats & craft of every kind are constantly moving up & down, from monitors flying the white ensign & fresh from the fighting up Baghdad way down to a frail cockleshell of a canoe which some picturesque arab laboriously paddles across the stream, dodging motor boats & steam launches & battling doggedly against the swift current.

Amongst other things, Amarah is noted for a special kind of silver work, on which they engrave pictures of the river front, boats & scenes from Arab life. They make coffee pots with fascinating long spouts, napkin rings, buttons & all sorts of jewellery and I must try & get you some as it’s most awfully nice work, though I believe the men who make it are few while the demand is enormous.

I have met several pals here, & in particular one Lloyd whom I knew in India some years ago. He was a schoolmaster in Allahabad & joined up for the war, & now is doing A.D.C. to the General commanding the Tigris defences, with whom (thanks to Lloyd) I have been lunching today. It is hot here in the day & just “tops the century” in our tents at midday; but this is only to be expected & is nothing to worry about; we shall have it much worse than that later on. For the present we have no complaints however.

There is a club here, & of course a pretty big permanent garrison, being one of the big places on the lines of communcation. Hospitals & store depôts of all kinds abound, & so in some respects it resembles a station in peace time. Hence they have tennis & golf here, & I expect boating parties & picnics, to which the river particularly lends itself.

I am very fit & well; the C.O. is still away & is I hear going to India, but I think I told you this last week. The mail goes out tomorrow, but I am writing this today to ensure catching it. I don’t know when the next mail reaches us here, but I expect in a day or so. I am seriously thinking of studying Arabic while out here; one feels so handicapped not being able to speak to the inhabitants, even to swear at them, though possibly this can be done equally effectively in English. Tea time so will close down.

Best love to all

ever your loving son

Ted


 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Qurnah

http://metro.co.uk/2009/03/17/iraqs-garden-of-eden-springing-to-life-546739/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amarah

Silverware towards bottom of page

http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/201205/little.thimble.big.journey.htm

 

 

 
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Posted by on 9 May, '17 in About

 

6 May 1917 – Richard to Gertrude

6.5.17.

Dear Mother

Many thanks for the parcel porridge cake etc. Most welcome. Put some lux in next time. I am longing to use the Emergency rations. The tent has arrived & is lovely, keeps the rain out too, Topher & I put it up. The watch too has come, Thanks so much for all. I want a pair of Jaeger putties, would you send me some please. Thin sort if possible, don’t know if they make two weights.

I saw Nell’s brother the other day. Fancy meeting him just on the road.

Oh I know what I want, a pair of grey riding breeches in the big black tin box in the lumber room. They are in with that red coat & things I did’nt take to India. They are the same stuff as that suit of mine.

I am sending you £5 to pay postage etc for all these things. I see the cake & porridge always cost ¼ to send.

Send us some penny packets of seeds, mustard & cress, radishes, carrots sweet peas & taters, lettuce, vegetable marrow eh? Scarlet runners.

Best love to all

Yr loving son

Richard

Send me John Bull every week will you?


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puttee

The instance on Jaegar puttees……!

 
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Posted by on 6 May, '17 in About

 

6 May 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

May 6/17

 

Dear Mother

Very many thanks indeed for 3 letters and various papers- including the Saturday review – which I got from you yesterday. I am arranging with Cox to send you £5 to pay for all the various papers you are constantly sending; as you have sent me the weekly times & the pink papers all along so I must owe you a good deal. I find the Saturday Review most refreshing, & it seems a nice straight forward sensible paper.

Your letters were dated March 28th & April 4th, the latter being addressed direct here, c/o India office. I think I have told you since then have’nt I that M.E.F. is sufficient, at least it’s best to put it in full, otherwise it might get mixed up with the Mediterranean E.F.

Many thanks for the Easter Card, and the accounts of the Tyndareus. They behaved magnificently those men did’nt they and you must be proud to have a son in the regiment; all such new soldiers too I suppose, & I think their discipline was wonderful. Fancy Jim going to Singapore after all; praps he’ll wander into India from there, in fact I think it counts as part of India for Garrison duties.

Yes poor old Nell writes to say that Gladys got measles which effectively prevented her from going to you at Easter, but I hope she’s managed to fit in a visit since. Really everyone seems to have measles nowadays and everyone writes & comments on it.

I see in the papers they mention the great scare there was when all those officers were recalled suddenly, & rumours of raids and invasions were rife. It seems that the people in the know are fully alive to the possibilities of an attempt at invasion; not that it would come to anything if they do land, as they would soon be cut off from all supplies, though they might do a certain amount of damage for a short while. But I think you can trust the navy & the East coast defences to see us through all right.

I have’nt much news to tell you; we are still in camp here, and are quite comfy, though it is beginning to warm up a bit now. This year they are taking no risks and they are building lots of huts for troops to live in during the hot weather, and have given us all big tents like we had in Delhi last cold weather, which of course is much more comfortable & healthy, as they are much cooler.

The air is rife with rumours of our marching on to Baghdad soon, but I don’t know how much truth there is in it. I don’t think I’m giving away military information in saying this, as after all we had got Baghdad & there’s precious little elsewhere to go is there! I should like to march up very much, as we should go all over the ground made famous by Townsend & his defence of Kut, and where all the fighting in the attempted relief of Kut last year took place, & where the successful advance by Genl Maude’s army was made quite recently, & it would be most awfully interesting to see all the places one has read so much about.

Many thanks for sending off the parcel you say you have despatched: It has’nt turned up yet but I’m sure it will be most welcome when it does, but I believe parcels always take a long time reaching us out here. The cable I sent you was sent from KIAMARI which is really Karachi, it’s the name by which the docks are known. I sent it just before we sailed on the 23rd, so it took its time about reaching you; what a funny way to send it by post from Gib, but I believe all the cable lines are frightfully blocked nowadays.

Another noticeable thing in all home news nowadays is the severity of the winter. Falls of snow and hard frosts seem to be the order of the day, and Nell writes of some glorious bright winter days down in her part of the world which made me feel very envious. Dot Massy was most amused when I told her you remembered her skirts, & said she remembered them too; she’s very dressy nowadays, a trifle outrée at times I thought, but quite smart.

There seems to be a lot of fighting going on in France nowadays, & especially in the air. Germany is evidently very anxious about the Western Front, & seems to be doing her utmost to keep us from breaking through. The slaughter must be appalling, but we simply must kill them off & so end the war quicker.

I see Prince Albert [the future George VI] has been appointed to the Malaya, so she’s evidently a star turn in the fleet.

Much love to all

Yr loving son

Ted.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_VI
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Vere_Ferrers_Townshend
Unveiling war memorial in 1920 – http://www.britishpathe.com/video/major-general-sir-c-v-f-townshend-of-kut-fame-unve

JG Cliff-McCulloch with Prince Albert (supposedly on HMS Malaya)

JG Cliff-McCulloch with Prince Albert (L)(supposedly on HMS Malaya)

George VI on HMS Malaya, 1942

George VI on HMS Malaya, 1942. © IWM (A 18624)

 
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Posted by on 6 May, '17 in About

 

5 May 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

May 5/17

 

Dear Mother

Just a line to tell you we have got preliminary orders – which will probably hold good – to move up river, starting tomorrow. We move up in 3 parties, as far as Amarah for a start, where we shall stop for a bit I expect & I’ll be able to drop you a line from there I hope, but I’m trying to catch the mail with this letter, a pal of mine is sending it to the Base P.O. by special orderly, as the mail went from here 2 days ago. Whether it will succeed or not of course I can’t say, but it’s worth trying. But I thought I’d try & let you know as if we are on the move it may be difficult to catch mails.

I expect they will pack us into the ‘city of the Caliphs’ from Amarah as soon as they can; at anyrate it is a welcome change & we are all very pleased at the idea of moving. So don’t be surprised if you don’t hear next mail, you’ll know I’m moving or can’t catch the mail for some reason; this is just to let you know of our leaving here.

Lovely day yesterday, cool though a wee bit dusty, but the evening & night might have been spring in England; & this morning – I am writing in bed at 6 a.m. – is simply gorgeous.

Must get up now as we have a busy day.

Love to all

yr loving son

Ted


 

The City of the Caliphs (Cairo) book of 1897

https://archive.org/details/citycaliphsapop00reyngoog

Amarah

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amarah

 

 
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Posted by on 5 May, '17 in About