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31 October 1927 – Paul to Gertrude

HMS Widgeon

Chunking

31st Oct

Dearest Mother

Very many thanks for your letter Sept 19th – quickish these days – when the conditions on the River are none too good – but there are various ways & means of getting mails – if you are lucky. Just at the moment there is another war going on further down the River from here & I quite expect shipping to stop for a while – but I really do hope that this little war is all for the good & help to settle things. I have had one of my gunboats with me up here – for a few days which has cheered things up somewhat – but unfortunately she leaves tomorrow.

Must have been really lovely for you down in Gloucester seeing all your grandchildren together – & they seem to have been all so happy – I do wish I could have been there – Sickening it was such a rainy day for your photograph – I sent a line to Ruth – thanking her for having my kids down there.

I’ve just got a kitten too – my dog “Bonzo” is very intrigued with it – but it is such fun teaching them to be friendly – as they both have to sleep in my cabin & be more or less together all day – I can see them having great fun later on.

What terrific gales you’ve been having last few days – the Wireless Press is full of it –  round Lancashire.

I am wondering awfully what is happening at home about Nance & the kids – I am afraid this is a terrible time for you Mater – I dare’nt tell you how worried I am – & how much trouble is being caused – through it all.

My very best love to you – fr your ever loving son

Paul


All Gertrude’s grandchildren at this point would have been Ted’s two (Martin and Félicité) and Paul’s two (Joan and Paddy). I am not sure when Rosamund’s son Tom was born. 

Félicité retained strong memories of sharing a bedroom with Joan and Paddy as a child, and also memories of an English day nursery shared by herself and her brother with their Indian Ayah, and her boy cousins (Nell’s nephews) and their Armenian(?) nurse maid, both nurses in what the families would have called “native dress”. It produces an extraordinary image of the domestic side of the Empire. 

This is is the first letter where we get a hint of real trouble between Nancy and Paul, and it’s only with hindsight that it tingles off the page. If it was hard for Ted and Nell to build up their relationship with 4- or 6-week mails, how hard it must have been for Paul and Nancy to manage their troubled one. 

 
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Posted by on 21 July, '19 in About

 

26 October 1927 – Paul to Gertrude

HMS Widgeon

Chunking

26th Oct

 

Dearest Mother-

Very little news for you I’m afraid – We have not had a mail for a long time now – but am hopeful – as HMS Teal arrives up here tomorrow – and she may be bringing one.

Seems to be a lot more trouble brewing on the River these days – mines being laid & more battles – The bandits are quiet for a while – but I see they started at Bias Bay again – A dreadful show aboard the Irene & all those wretched people on that Submarine.

I have sent you off a small Christmas present – 2 sort-of table mats – or anything you like to make them into. Hope they arrive safely- I sent Ruth some as well-

Our Rainy Season has started now & we get some every day. No news of us leaving here for a while-

Hope you are all well.

My best love to you from

Your ever loving son

 

Paul

 

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

 
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Posted by on 18 July, '19 in About

 

20 September 1927

This letter picks up almost a year after the last one left off.


H.M.S. WIDGEON

20th Sept.

Chunking

Dearest Mother-

We have arrived up in Chunking again – after a very quiet trip- No shootings. We stayed at Wanhsien for a day- and it being fairly near the anniversary of the bombardment – the people naturally rather resented us being there – but up here everything is very peaceful and quiet- no Avenging Societies – no strikes and we get all we want in the way of food / coal etc. I don’t quite know how long we shall stay – all depends if the British firms run their ships again – which I think it rather doubtful-

I have seen the Chinese Generals up here – so called friends of a year ago – all very affable-

We are very quiet here – as there are only 3 British residents & I hope a few more will return sooner or later.

I shall have to go down to Ichan or Hankow sometime or other because I rather think I am going to one of the new gunboats – Peterel & to do her maiden trip up the River – I am muchly looking forward to it. – sometime next month I expect.

We get very little news up here – but good to-day – I hear there is a mail arriving on Friday for us-

Still very hot out here – & I am rather looking forward to the cooler weather – I simply can’t get rid of my prickly heat-

Hope everyone at home is flourishing – my best love to you all from your ever loving son

Paul

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Peterel_%281927%29

 
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Posted by on 15 July, '19 in About

 

19 November 1926

HMS Widgeon

Chunking.

19th Nov.

Dearest Mother,

Very many thanks for your 2 letters of Sept 26. & Oct 3rd- The mails certainly seem to be getting better – why I don’t know – because there is “supposed” to be a post office strike at Hankow – down the River – and a general strike to take place in a few days’ time! I daresay they will come to nothing-.

We are well into our cold weather now – temperature down to about 46º – not so very cold really – only comparatively – but we have fires going – it is so damp- I have been getting lots of Sunday papers from Ted – very kind of him- I wrote him a long letter the other day – but I fear he will not get it before he sails – to-day is’nt it?

I heard from Nance about the trouble over the house – but by previous letters I was almost certain she had bought “Riversdale” – & consequently I have all my letters there – and have sent one or two Christmas parcels also – now I hear she has not bought it – so don’t know what will happen – or where to send letters again – it is a nuisance.

What a lovely big house full you’ve had – and Topher at home now – am very interested to hear how he is etc.

Your old coal strike still seems to be going on in spite of miners going back – I suppose it will be finished some day- Everything is very quiet up here still – but there is awfully little one can do-

My best love to you all – and a happy New Year

from your ever loving son

Paul


As presented, this is the last of Paul’s letters from 1926 and the next batch start almost a year later. However, his mention of the house that Nancy was trying to buy, “Riversdale”, suggests it may be from the 1927 sequence which also mentions the house purchase. The reason I have left it in the 1926 sequence is that there is a letter which is definitely dated 19 Nov 1927 and he was unlikely to write two on one day.

 
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Posted by on 11 July, '19 in About

 

8 November 1926 – Paul to Getrude

HMS Widgeon

Chunking.

Nov. 8th

Dearest Mother

Many thanks for your letter Sept 19th arrived yesterday.- Mails are getting scarcer – as there are so few ships sailing on the River nowadays.

We are living in a more peaceful atmosphere up here nowadays – but I see they are still fighting the Reds down by Hankow-

I got some Sunday papers from Ted – he addressed them direct to Chunking – which means they come a week sooner. It’s quite safe sending letters direct like that – He also sent me masses of cuttings all about Wanhsien – must have been quite an excitement at home.

I went over to the city of Chunking a few days ago – to do some shopping – most interesting silk shops – but the town itself is absolutely filthy – I was glad to get back onboard.

Nance’s letter says she is longing to get into the new house & get away for a holiday – poor old thing, she must have had an awful time packing up etc- I hope she is allright. I still have’nt had her letters telling me about what the house is like. I only know it’s called ‘Riversdale’.

A new consul has just arrived up here – Am awfully sorry the old one is going – as he knew all about “situations” – “incidents” etc etc & was competing against the Chinese very well-

It has poured with rain the whole of to-day, miserable – I’ve just had a very nice pair of riding boots made but I can’t get into them – the silly ass has made them much too small across the instep – he says he cannot alter them – so he must make a new pair-.

I have to go out to dinner to-night – so must go & wash & brush up now.

My best love to you all from yr ever loving son

Paul

 
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Posted by on 9 July, '19 in About

 

31 October 1926 – Paul to Gertrude

HMS Widgeon

Chunking.

 

Sunday. 31st.

 

Dearest Mother-

Afraid I have’nt very much news for you – since I last wrote – nothing very much has happened. We still have petty & annoying incidents each day – just the same as before the Wahnsien show-

We have papers from home now with various accounts- I have only seen the “Times” – oh- and an awful photograph of me in Daily Sketch – 2 days running- they must be dreadfully hard up! Looks as if it had been taken out of some hockey group.

Suddenly got very hot again for the last 2 or 3 days – temperature about 84 – nearly went back into “All Whites”. I am asking someone to send you some rather pretty table mats & tablecloth for Christmas – I don’t know whether you’ll get them in time – I rather doubt it, however they will arrive in due course. I sent Nance some the other day. They are made in the Chinese Missions at Ichang. Hope you will like them.

Great talk of starting hockey up here – but the ground is simply dreadful – so I am not terribly keen really-

To day I have been playing Badminton! – don’t think I’ve played since Camberley days – one gets plenty of exercise out of it. I have a dog (sic) now – Bonzo – & a spit image of the parents – really rather a comic animal & causes endless amusement. He has no tail at all – it was bitten off short – too short.

Not knowing how or when the mails go nowadays up here – I’ll start calling this my Christmas letter & wish you all a very happy Christmas – are you having a large party? I can imagine Ted & Topher organizing something marvellous-.

My best love to you all

Yr ever loving son

 

Paul


Established this was October 31st 1926 – the day Harry Houdini died, and Jimmy Savile was born.

 
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Posted by on 4 July, '19 in About

 

20 September 1926 – Paul to Gertrude

Via Siberia

H.M.S. WIDGEON

c/o R.N.O. Shanghai.

China

 

20th Sept

 

Dearest Mother-

Just got a letter from you – dated 23rd Aug – marvellously quick – and especially in these times – where we seem to be surrounded by wars etc.

We are still down at Ichang – waiting to go up River again – but there are such a lot of complications etc. I really don’t know when we shall go.- This Bombardment business has created a lot of unpleasant feeling; naturally – and anything may happen-

The Red troops are very busy lower down the River & we are expecting them up here – but who knows-.

I am slowly recovering from my weariness – since the Admiral has arrived up here – a lot of all the work is naturally being done by him-

It was good to hear all your such recent news – So you’ve been down to Southsea – I think I told you – that I had never heard about Joan & Paddy’s operation – don’t know even now what it was – am presuming tonsils & adenoids & now poor wee kids with whooping cough – but Nance says they are wonderfully fit & cheery. Wonder if N has found a house yet.

Fancy old Wooldridge marrying again – he has’nt been long about it – most upsetting for the family, as no one likes him.

You do seem to be in the wars – what with wasps & other animals biting you – I am sorry – the mosquitoes out here – have a great flare for me – fresh blood I suppose.

I never realized Topher had been away for so long – 6½ years – a dreadfully long time to be away from home – and all by oneself out there too, hope he will manage to get home soon.

Thanks so much for those Tatlers – really most enjoyable – I often see one or two people I know – too.

I am still sending my letters for Nance to you – as she must be in some new house by now-

By the way my letters only want 1½ stamp on them-

My best love to you

Your ever loving son

Paul.

 

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

 
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Posted by on 2 July, '19 in About

 

18 September 1926 – Paul to Gertrude

H.M.S. Widgeon

c/o RNO

Shanghai.

Via Siberia

 

18th Sept.

 

Dearest Mother,

I simply really have not had a moment to write any letters for about a fortnight- I expect you have heard all about our Bombardment at Wahnsien and I can’t give you any more news – except that it was a “merry little battle” – & a great tragedy that we lost those officers & men – we did’nt get a single casualty in Widgeon – so all is safe and present – since then I have had a fleet of 5 Gunboats to compete with – masses of reports to write up – & heaven knows what – and I am very weary – but thank goodness the Admiral has arrived up & taken over.

I have had 2 letters from you. 25th July – 1st Aug – and a 16th Aug from Nance – so am fairly up to date – though I never knew Joan & Paddy had an operation – & don’t know what it was – & poor wee kids with whooping cough – but N says they are very cheery in spite of it.

Must send a line to N now – just got a few minutes to spare.

My bestest love to all – & I am quite alright –

from your ever loving son

 

Paul

 
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Posted by on 27 June, '19 in About

 

7 September 1926 – Paul to Gertrude

Sept 7th

 

Widgeon

Dearest Mother.

Daresay there is something in the papers about our show on Sunday – at “Wanhshien” – really a terrific battle – and I am allright – but I fear we had a few unfortunate casualties altogether- My short spell out here has been full of incidents & I have not had a moment’s peace – and am terribly sleepy- so excuse a short letter – which is just to tell you I am fit as a fiddle-

Don’t like this country though-.!!

Hope everyone is well at home.

My bestest love to you all – (must do some more work).

Your ever loving son

Paul


The Wanhsein incident was a messy incident in which Paul’s command, the Widgeon, was an active participant.

Chinese soldiers boarded two British merchant vessels, one of which was the Wahnsein, taking Britons hostage. Two Royal Navy Ships, the Cockchafer and the Widgeon, attempted to regain control of the merchant ships, and there were considerable Chinese casualties. China lodged a formal complaint with the League of Nations and there was a period of anti-foreign agitation and riots across China, accompanied by looting of European businesses and attacks on individuals.

https://www.navyhistory.org.au/commander-frederick-darley-rn-the-wanhsien-incident/

 
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Posted by on 24 June, '19 in About

 

2 September 1926 – Paul to Gertrude

H.M.S. WIDGEON

Chunking

 

2nd Sept

 

Dearest Mother-

I have had a letter from you dated 7th July – & only that one – so all others must have been burned in that ship-

Very bad state of affairs out here I am afraid, & I cannot say how it will end- It is all very warlike and unpleasant – and to add to my difficulties & troubles – I unfortunately ran the Widgeon ashore on a rock – but we got off allright & are safe enough- This river is dreadful – but apparently most people do it sometime or other – so I am not altogether in the best of moods- I am simply hating life at present – but I do hope things will get better – does’nt look like it at present however.

You must excuse a short letter – but I have masses to do & see to.

My very best love to you & everbody & God bless you all

Your ever loving son

 

Paul.

 
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Posted by on 20 June, '19 in About