20 October 1918 – Richard to Gertrude



My dear Mother. Very many thanks for your letters, the referees & D. Sketch with Jane’s photograph in it & the Barts Journal. Fancy finding these papers at last, but there are 2 more like it somewhere. Anyhow I can claim some part of the money with these. The letters no 3 & 4 both arrived here by the same mail. You see I am using the block & pencil, both most welcome. I sent you a cable today saying “Quite Well” & I hope you’ve got my letter telling you what it means, otherwise you’ll be wondering.

Goodness knows when I shall be off, soon I hope. But after all winter at home won’t be so bad now that the war seems more or less “finish” & I expect there’ll be plenty of coal & light about.

I wonder if Topher has arrived in the country yet. I expect he was stopped when all our successes were known & there won’t be much doing out here now. Anyhow I suppose he will write me directly he arrives. I remember so well about Turner’s ponds seeming so small, but I should have thought Rosamond would have had a fairly accurate idea of the size of the drawing room at the Vicarage. Yet really I suppose she was quite a kid when we left.

I hope you went and saw “Seven days leave”, most exciting play I expect. I always meant to see it in London. How soon Topher got in the Gazette. I hope you find some more eyeglasses. I have now got a big pair of tortoiseshell spectacles like you. Lovely are’nt they? So light. We don’t give 6/- a gallon, but they say that’s what it costs to bring it up all that way in a pipe.

Wish I could have been there that week end when everyone was at home. I am so glad Evelyn came over. So glad your nose is alright. I expect Murray has been home by this time. You will be lucky if you are allowed 7 tons of coal won’t you, but if the war ends you won’t have to bother, we shall get it for nothing shan’t we?

I wangled a day’s leave the other day & went down to Jerusalem. No good being out here without going there is it? Most interesting, but it seems such a pity to build over all those sacred spots like cavalry & the Manger. I quite long to go to church again some Christmas time at home & sing “Hark the herald angels”, and “there’s a Greenhill”, & “while shepherds watch their sheep”.

The hill is’nt green, & there are a lot of houses built in the field where the shepherds were, but I’ll be able to think to myself I’ve seen them. There’s the place where Solomon’s Temple was originally built, & the only thing remaining there is a huge rock with a hole in it where the sacrifices were offered, & the blood & ashes all used to run through this hole into a tank beneath & so out. There’s a lovely view from the mount of Olives.

I went there about 7 in the morning, so as to get out to Bethlehem & back in time. It’s curious too, that the Holy sepulchre & the place where the Cross was, are only about 20 yards apart. Both quite close in the same church. I always imagined the sepulchre was a long way away.

I have sent to you a little mother of pearl cross & a Star of Bethlehem and a book marker from Bethlehem. Goodness knows when they will arrive. It is difficult to get anything useful. Anyhow you can wear the Cross sometimes & use the book marker, & look at the Star. The mother of pearl comes from the Red Sea & the people in Bethlehem make all these things. I wish you could see it all. Mr Kirwan has been out here has’nt he?

I got a letter from Jane & one from Dreda which I will answer soon. Please thank them. I expect you are all most awfully relieved that the news is so  good. I am sending some little napkin rings made out of olive wood from Jerusalem, & you can use them, also some beads made out of Mecca fruit, they call it, & olive wood. You have a bead necklace for a muff chain which you’ll promptly break on your bicycle handle! & the girls can have the others. I’ll try & say who is to have them when I write again.

I hope I shall meet old Topher. I can borrow some money perhaps.

Best love to all

yr loving son


There is a green hill far away

Vegetable ivory – erstwhile “Mecca fruit”

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Posted by on 20 October, '18 in About


17 October 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

Oct 17/18


Dear Mother, very many thanks for two letters from you which I got 2 days ago, also several papers and things- The letters were dated 28th & 21st August, so I think there must be still one mail to come – These two I got were addressed direct 34th Bde- By the way while I’m on the subject, please address as under



or “Bde Major” instead of “H.Q.”



Don’t put the regiment & don’t put “Brigade-Major E.R.P.B.” It’s not done! I know my cable gave you that idea, I meant you to put Brigade-Major after my name: that’s all right, anything but “Brigade-Major Berryman”,  I got an awful shock when I saw your letters!

Some more papers have just come in from Cox, about mid-August, but no more letters yet- I wonder what’s happened to them, & I’ve got none from Nell at all, either today or with yours 2 days ago! I suppose she’s come a fearful toss over the address, & put the regiment, Cox, and 34th Bde on the envelope, so no wonder the post office is a wee bit confused.

I had rather a krewst 2 nights ago- I suddenly got a wire from Jim to say he was dining with Col Lumb in the 1st Bn! & would I go down & stay the night. Of course I had’nt the vaguest idea where anyone lived or was in camp, as they are nothing to do with us, but after much telephoning & enquiry I found out where they were & wangled a car, stuck a bed & some bedding & kit into it & dashed off.

I found them eventually after wading through seas and fogs of dust and we had a very cheery evening. I stayed the night with Lumb as he had more room in his tent than Jim had, Jim being in a little tiny thing as wide as Dick’s motor bike garage & about half as high! I saw Jim for a few minutes next morning, but he was rather busy & I had to get back to camp, so we did’nt have much time. He was looking very fit & well & seemed very happy. He said I was looking ever so much fitter than when he last saw me in June I think, & I certainly feel much fitter in myself.

It’s still unusually hot for some unknown reason, 96° or so by day – much cooler of course than it has been, but it should’nt be by rights even as warm as this-

The news continues wonderfully good, & we are all wondering of course what will be the outcome of all this peace talk. It seems we are going to be firm, & accept nothing but complete & absolute surrender, backed by guarantees that Germany will be powerless to continue hostilities. In either case it seems Turkey is likely to chuck up the sponge soon, & Austria evidently longs to end the struggle- So much will have happened by the time you get this that it seems idle to speculate, but it seems more than probable that Turkey & Austria will be out of it & Germany still fighting- She’s doing her cause no good is she, by such crimes as sinking the Leinster & by the wanton way she is destroying the fair land of France as she retires.

I did send a line to say you could get that watch that Aunt Edward’s left me, a most legal document, I remember writing it in Baghdad – However it may have been sunk, so I’ll send you another-

I know Nepean quite well, an awful nice fellow & got a D.S.O on the field for gallantry at Ramadie, badly wounded & stuck to his job like a man. But I think he’s laying it on a bit thick about me, & I don’t think you ought to have told me all that! However, no harm done, as most of it or all of it if you like is I’m sure quite untrue- At anyrate it’s nice to know people say they appreciate you, anyhow.

No, I never got your cable, I got one from Nell, (addressed Cox & Co & it came on from them by post!) but yours has never arrived.

I’m most awfully glad Topher has passed out & done so well, & I hope he’ll get a good job somewhere now. He seemed to be on the verge of going to Egypt in your letter.

I’m sure I paid Hacker’s Bill, I distinctly remember asking Cox to send him £3/3s, you might ask. I am sending along £1-7-6 for Savage; so sorry you’ve been worried with these Bills- Hacker’s is for a pair of riding breeches I lost with all my kit at sea, so I don’t score much there! Thanks awfully for the new woolly which you say you are sending, if it’s anything like as useful as the last one it will be tremendously so. Best love to all

Yr loving son               Ted

I think my legal wording of the enclosed document is rather good don’t you- I hope the solicitors don’t think I’m ragging them, tho’ of course I am really!


I, Edward Rolleston Palmer Berryman, Major, of His Majesty’s Indian Army, do hereby authorise my mother, Mrs C.P. Berryman, of Delaford, Guildford, in the county of Surrey, to receive on my behalf one WATCH, which I am informed was bequeathed to me by the late Mrs Edward Gibbs, of 25 Old Gravel Lane, London E, in her will-

Dated this seventeenth day of October, nineteen hundred and eighteen.

E.R.P. Berryman


Col Herbert DHY Nepean

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Posted by on 17 October, '18 in About


10 October 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

Oct 10/18


Dear Mother

Very many thanks for an unexpected letter from you yesterday dated July 23, it seems to have come a long way round somehow & been considerably delayed as I have letters up to Aug 12th from you & Nell. I got 2 letters from Nell yesterday too, & a London Magazine from you for which many thanks, most welcome.

So glad your rest and change at Totland were so pleasing & good for you, I knew they would be and you wanted and deserved a few days off- Coo – as Nell says – what would’nt I give for even one day’s real loaf on the sands. However that’ll all come someday, & meanwhile I suppose we must all get down to it & finish off this little matter we’ve got in hand. Not that we seem to be doing nuch towards it out here! But we are ordered to be here, so that’s that.

Meanwhile what wonderful things the Allies are doing in France, truly marvellous performances which we read of with tremendous admiration and envy out here. The troops are magnificent are’nt they and no obstacle seems to stop them. And now the Boche is beginning to squeal & this peace offensive is a sign of the times. Of course by the time you get this it will be a thing of the past – one way or the other. It sounds attractive in its way, but somehow I feel sure the allies will have nothing to do with it. Wilson is the big man now on the allies’ side, & he is all out to have the Hun out of France & Belgium by force of arms, & I don’t think he will listen to any peace proposals till the Allies are in a position to dictate terms.

And we can do that, true at the cost of more lives and money and still greater sacrifices than we have made already, but it’s worth it, & besides I’m sure it’s our duty to ourselves, to the world, & to posterity to finish this thing off for once & for all and not give the Hun a loop-hole or a chance to set the world ablaze again, and to make such an example of him that no nation will ever attempt world conquest again-

Wilson says you can’t trust the Boche, and he’s quite right too. Look how the exchange of prisoners fell through because the Boche did’nt fulfil his part of the bargain so the French dropped the negotiations at once. You simply cannot put any faith in his spoken & written word. It’s his own fault, & he must stand or fall by what his enemies think of him, opinions formed on his behaviour in this war, where he has shown such utter disregard for what we call “playing the game” for want of a better expression – and so my contention is don’t let’s listen to any of these specious proposals for peace conferences etc- Let’s go on till we can say what we want & with the power & victory behind us to enforce our wishes.

After all we’ve made tremendous sacrifices to get thus far, and we have got on so magnificently lately and really turned the corner at last, that it would be wrong I feel sure to stop now. It means more sorrow, more sadness I know to go on, but as I say I think it’s our duty to go on & finish the thing off properly- otherwise it only means a repetition of it all someday, and a thousand times more sorrow and sadness and sacrifice then than a completion of the job now will involve-

What a dissertation! But I do feel so strongly on these points, & I’m sure everyone feels the same. I say you got at Teddy Darwen all right, & quite right too I think – unless he can produce good sound reasons I don’t see why he should’nt shoulder a gun & go to the wars- And fancy not wanting to do something for old England, instead of making cardboard or something! However, p’raps he’s gone now. Anyway you are indeed in a position to criticise- Talk about your sons, my dear mother, you are doing splendid war work yourself, and anything we do or achieve we owe to you & you only just because you are our Mother-

The news is so consistently good nowadays that the crowd round Reuters’ daily wire & the war map in the mess is huge daily here! I’m afraid it’s costing us a lot, as you can’t break through these highly organised defences for nothing.

I am writing this before breakfast, a lovely fresh morning, & thank heavens the hot weather is done now. It hung on & hung on all through September in a most trying way, just at a time when you begin to think it’s all over & every extra hot day makes you feel more weary & faded than ever.

Best love to all

yr loving son


Ye gods, the irony. Of all Ted’s letters, this passage is probably the most painful to read 100 years on: 

“I’m sure it’s our duty to ourselves, to the world, & to posterity to finish this thing off for once & for all and not give the Hun a loop-hole or a chance to set the world ablaze again”

The Treaty of Versailles – so vindictive and punitive – gave us an even greater conflagration in WW2, whereas the Paris Peace Treaties of 1947 have given us over 70 years of peace in Europe. Yalta, of course, was another matter.

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Posted by on 10 October, '18 in About


7 October 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

Oct 7/14


Dear Mother

Very many thanks for a letter dated 7th Aug which arrived yesterday, quite quick considering it came via Cox Bombay.

I don’t think I’ve much news for you- We are of course all sharing the good news from France & Palestine, & how little we are doing out here to help. There is nothing to do, & one feels somehow there is lots going on that one ought to be giving a hand in – Bulgaria’s surrender & the Turkish defeat in Palestine must sooner or later materially affect our little corner of the stage-

Thank heavens September is over. It was a fearfully hot month, well over 100 every day, & for a fortnight or so in the middle was up to 112° or so daily [45 C]. Last year in September it was a good 10 degrees cooler. Even now it’s up to 99° & 100° in the day, covering everything in a thick layer & making everyone look like Pierrots! However the weather must change soon, & then it is not far off to the cold weather, the only possible time in this country.

I say what fearful lumbago you had- I am sorry, & I do hope it’s all right again. It sounds most alarming. I’ve had twinges at times but nothing so bad as you describe.

I had a line from Dick too. You seem to have been a long time without mails, but I fancy you must have got one soon after you wrote (Aug 6) as Nell said she had got some about the 10th or 12th, her last letter to me is dated 12th. I may be busy these next 2 weeks or so, so may not find much time or opportunity to write.

I had to take a letter for the Turkish C-in-C yesterday under a flag of truce- Awful squeamish marching boldly out beyond our outposts waving a towel on the end of a light tent pole, & hoping no one will have a shot at you! However all passed off well & a Turkish officer came out & I gave him the letter & then came home safely.

I’ve lost my British Warm, my Burberry, a pr boots & about 10 or 12 tins of baccy, & a waterproof sheet & a waterproof cape -! that’s a good bit is’nt it! They were all in a kit bag & somehow or other got mislaid on my way up here; sickening- I hope I’ll be getting a trench coat out soonish, I asked Ben to see about one, but it does take such ages to get things out from home-

Best love to all

yr loving son


Squeamish-making indeed


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Posted by on 7 October, '18 in About


6 October 1918 – Richard to Gertrude



Dear Mother

I must soon be sending a cable. Quite well. No good sending it now as I don’t think you will know what it means as you won’t have got my letter yet explaining.

Many thanks for your no 1 letter. I’ve forgotten to put the number on mine, but anyhow I can always tell if I get yours.

I enclose a cheque for £10 to pay all those bills.

It’s a pity you cannot find those papers. I can’t think where they can have got to. Please look in a leather pocket book of mine & send me the address of that firm of coffee growers in the Nilgiri Hills. You’ll see a price list of theirs in there.

I’ve written to Dreda this mail too. Nothing special in way of news.

Best love to all

yr loving son


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Posted by on 6 October, '18 in About


3 October 1918 – Richard to Gertrude


c/o Cox & Co



Dear Mother,

Many thanks for your letter written just before my buffday. I hear today I shall be off to India in time to get there by Nov 23rd, and I hope by then the war will be nearly over. Anyhow it’s done with here I think. I shall send you the cable later on, if I send it now, I doubt if you’d understand what it means. I must give you time to get my letter.

What a fine old muddle they seem to have made over the War Hospital, I wonder what they will do in the end.

I had a line from Topher. I am glad he has got his commission at last. I don’t suppose he will come out here, as I doubt if they’ll keep even the people they have got.

The bath room sounds lovely nowadays, I wonder what you are going to do with those two nice pictures up by the gas jet.

Sorry to hear Mrs Houghton is so ill.

I hope Paul haas been home & enjoyed his leave.

I’ve got no mufti if I do go to India!

Best love to all

yr loving son



That little chess board you sent me has been useful lately, I happen to have it with me & I’ve played such a lot in my spare time

Possible hospital in question

Five days earlier

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Posted by on 3 October, '18 in About


29 September 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

Sept 29/18


Dear Mother

A mail arrived 2 days ago, with 3 letters from you, very many thanks for them. They are dated 6th July (2) & 15th. There is another mail due in I believe today & yet another with letters up to Aug 13th very shortly. After that I ought to be getting letters addressed direct here- I got letters from Nell of July 23, a week later than yours – I wonder how. It was officially announced I see that mails for us, between June 19th-26th I think it was, had been lost, but everyone seems to have got them all the same!

Not much news here. September – always a bad month east of Suez – has been particularly rotten, very hot, with an average of well over 110° daily [43° C] for the first 3 weeks, & a slight improvement now. October really should be cooler & I have no doubt it will be. This time last year we were scrapping at Ramadi & I’m sure it was’nt as hot as this-

The news is good is’nt it. What a sweeping success from Palestine, it simply must affect the situation here sooner or later, as the entire Turkish army seems to have been utterly routed and rounded up for the chief part & they must be completely disorganised & have lost all their guns. Salonika too sends out refreshingly good communiqués almost daily. If I had stayed with the rgt – and I would have if they had treated me fairly (I mean the authorities, not the rgt!) – I should be on the way to S. now. So they ought to be well in it as there’s lots to do there yet.

I had a line from Dick in Egypt: he seemed very happy and not over keen on getting back to the rgt- I wonder if he did, because I expect they were in the last round up all right.

What an extraordinary epidemic of flu there has been at home- of course we all say it’s good old sand fly fever same as everyone gets out here; it sounds just the same- it seems most likely does’nt it that that is what stopped the Boche offensive in the end, either that or some epidemic. You were writing just at the time of the big lull when everyone was just waiting for the Boche to begin again, but he never did and our & the French extraordinary run of successes began soon after.

How cheering and refreshing your next letters ought to be after the depressing months of March up to July. But one simply can’t help thinking we really have turned the corner now, and that things will go in our favour on the whole. I like the way the Allies are donning all peace feelers and are out for a complete & lasting victory-

So glad you were able to get away to Totland Bay for a bit of a rest and change; the Morses seem so remote these days though of course I remember ‘Dumps’ as well as anything, and ‘young Morse’ as Paul called him one day years ago in Camberley – enormously tall is’nt he, so I don’t see how he could help being wounded sooner or later. I hope he’s allright-

I got a lovely bit of seaweed in your last letter, it smells gorgeously of the sea and sand and beach. Yes of course I remember Janet Ryder as a kid – red hair I remember well, probably very pretty too- and of course Mrs Ryder with specs & lots to say always          Wish I could put in a fortnight at Totland Bay with the Darwens. The house you got for them sounds lovely and I’d just love to sit on a beach again & throw stones into the sea and eat buns covered in sand!

A whole big bunch of fellows have been given leave home to England suddenly, even fellows right down low on the list who never expected to have a dog’s chance. If I had been on the list I should have been offered a chance I think, but of course I could’nt have taken it, as I have only just taken over this job & my general would hardly send me off on leave at once. However he has promised to help me all he can next year, all being well, & if leave continues on this liberal scale I really think there is a good chance- But don’t count on it at all please– Meanwhile I’m going to apply so as to get on the leave list & my general will add that I can’t be spared yet awhile- Besides I don’t think one ought to go away just now when there is a chance of things happening, & also going home now means coming out just in time for the hot weather again – and after all that’s one of the chief things to dodge.

I know there’s Nell waiting the other end, bravely as ever poor dear child, and some people may think I ought to get home just as soon as ever I can. I know there is that point of view and I’m dreadfully sorry about the whole thing, but she & I have exchanged long correspondence about it all, & if we are both worth the other’s waiting for – in our own opinion I mean! – (and we’ve come to the conclusion we are, you’ll be glad to hear!) – well we must just wait till the Empire can spare us, that’s all- And it certainly does look more hopeful all round now.

I’m writing this before breakfast so I must get up now-

Best love to all

yr loving son


There is so much that is interesting in this letter: the sense of momentum towards a conclusion (coloured with our hindsight, of course), the foreshadowing of the post-war ‘flu epidemic which killed more people than the war itself, the hints of regret at taking the staff job and missing out on another “show” in Salonika, and the real regret on missing the chance of leave to go home and marry Nell. By September 1918 they had not seen each other for almost three years; they met early in September 1915, got engaged  in late October, and Ted had to leave a month later at the end of November 1915. An extraordinary relationship, maintained entirely by letter, where a letter posted in July would be replied to in September and that reply presumably not received until November. How do you maintain a conversation like that?

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Posted by on 29 September, '18 in About


25 September 1918 – Richard to Gertrude

25.9.18                Field.


My dear Mother

I’ve just got a letter from XX D.H. also Ben’s. Yours had a lot of lavender in it. Cox sent me a letter for Ted too, awaiting his arrival. Pathetic eh. I’ve sent it on. If I cable my quite well stunt would you please post enclosed. I am communicating with Assam & hear there are plenty of jobs.

I got a letter from Jane written 26th August. Please thank her. I shall be sorry if I go & miss Topher. I must write to Mrs Tudor, I’ve been saving some stamps for her, but they are very common Egyptian ones.

Best love to all

yr loving son



If I cable please send this letter. If no cable don’t send it, tear it up

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Posted by on 25 September, '18 in About


21 September 1918 – Richard to Gertrude

21.9.18                Field E.E.F.


My dear Mother

Many thanks for your letters. A magazine “Lloyds”, so welcome & also a letter in another envelope forwarded from S. America. I wrote you a letter in answer to one from you when you were with the Morses. I find I never posted it! Of course all our success in the last few days will be stale news by the time you get this, what will happen will have happened, however we seem to have got Johnny Turk on the run. I of course am moved off, and am with a Field Amb

What a nuisance you cannot find those papers. I have asked for some more. Fancy you going over to Hartley Row, however I suppose you go sometimes to have a look around.

Ted is doing well then is’nt he. A Brigade Major now. How pleased Nell must be. I saw Swan very often before I came away. He’s such a nice man. I hope Paul & Nancy enjoy their leave & come home to see you. I never got Paul’s letter.

I am seriously thinking of going back to Assam if I can get away in November. Things must be nearly over here & if I stay on I’ll only be mucking about in India, nothing to do with the war, & I shall get stuck for another year for certain. After all I’ve done 4 years now, & there are plenty of black doctors to do my job. I will cable you where to write. This is what I will say so don’t lose this & I will keep a copy.

QUITE WELL = c/o Messrs Cox & Co Calcutta

So if you get a cable saying “quite well” you will know where to write, put “to be called for” on top. And will you write to Cox & Co (Ind dep) 16 Charing Cross & tell them to address letters there in future, at the same time asking them to send £50 to my account with their Calcutta agents. I am writing Cox London to that effect.

Still frightfully hot here & where I am now there’s no bathing & not even much water.

Ben seems very happy at Wimbledon. I don’t expect I’ll have time to write again for a bit. I’ve just seized this opportunity

Best love to all

yr loving son


Richard does have to say “black doctors” not “other doctors” doesn’t he. “Johnny Turk” sounds almost comedic, possibly because it is impossible to imagine anyone saying it now. 

It’s interesting that both Richard and Ted have a sense of the tide turning and increasing success if not imminent victory.

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Posted by on 21 September, '18 in About


15 September 1918 – Richard to Gertrude


My dear Mother

Very many thanks for your letter & that lavender. The first letters direct here, & today I am off (he’s bringing some ink) on some other stunt! Go on addressing here though, they will roll up some old time. It’s a nuisance being pushed off, as I am quite happy here, however “c’est la guerre”. How sad about E Hatch’s brother, he was such a nice boy I remember him (here’s the ink) quite well. I hope you don’t get another
attack of lumbago. Aspirin is the stuff to take.

What a pity they are turning Ruth’s hospital into a malaria place. Nothing else to do but give quinine. No dressings or anything. Did’nt she ever write about a transfer to Marseilles. I wrote to her when I was there, she never said anything & cannot have got my letter. The news is good nowadays, I only hope it’s a beginning of an end.

It’s a pity I have to leave the garden I started. Some seeds are coming up, but they appear to find some difficulty in the sand.

I have an amusing cameleon who is a great friend, & is great at catchng flies. Huge long tongues they have, that flips out in an extraordinary way & nab the fly. It’s no good giving you any other address, I don’t think.

Best love to all

yr loving son


I see quite a lot of Swan

Edgar Francis Hatch of Great Bookham,
Surrey, 28

Does Richard sound almost relaxed for once? The comment about the cameleon is charming. It’s also interesting that he has planted a second garden in Egypt after leaving his previous garden in France. None of the others mention gardens at all – Paul was too busy with sports and theatricals and Ted too busy with his men or writing to Nell, poor Topher was too busy fighting, and who knows what Jim was doing. 

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Posted by on 15 September, '18 in About