22 July 1918 – Richard to Gertrude

Richard Berryman, sketch by Vall

Richard Berryman, sketch by Vall

July 22.


Dear Mother.

Many thanks for your letter written June 24th, which Cox sent on to me here. The silly fools have’nt sent the original letters yet, they must be wandering about somewhere & will turn up in the end I suppose. I am with No 39 Indian General Hospital, so you can write to here, but I don’t know how long I shall be here, one gets moved about a bit in this country I fancy.

So Ted never got home after all. How disappointing for Nell. He seems a great swell in Baghdad & must be nice for Jim & he to be together.

We are in tents on the sea shore. A nice breeze during the day. c We’ve got a tennis court of sorts made in the sand, but it’s very difficult to get anything hard here. All the paths are made of wire netting put on top of the sand, & the old original wire netting road by which all the troops marched up to Gaza, runs through our camp. Imagine the miles & miles of wire netting there is down.

I must send you some photographs as soon as I get them developed but they may be failures like that last lot of films. Everyone gets sand fly fever in Baghdad. I had it in Assam. Srotten.

I never forget “Cookoo pin”, of course everyone in church knew you had remembered something when they saw you tying a knot in your handkerchief.

I hope I don’t get sent back to the regiment. I’ve avoided it so far.

Would you get that caricature of me printed. It may cost a good bit, £5 or so, but I shall get heaps for that. I don’t know who would be the best printer for that sort of thing.

Best of love to all

Yr loving son



Did you ever find those papers of mine. I want.

  1. That yellow return ticket
  2. (a) One paper giving me 6 weeks’ leave

(b) another paper granting me 4 weeks’ leave.

a & b were in duplicate so will you send them in separate envelopes by different mails in case they get sunk.

On reflection, it’s unlikely that Richard is referring to this pastel sketch of him, but of all the brothers he would be the one I would expect to sit for a humorous sketch in a tourist destination. Any other sketch of him hasn’t survived. though. 

Route of road to Gaza

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Posted by on 22 July, '18 in About


20 July 1918 – Richard to Gertrude

Just to say I have arrived in case I have’nt time later on to write. Hope to get letters, riding crop etc

Love from




XX D.H [20th Deccan Horse]

Egyptian Ex Force

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Posted by on 20 July, '18 in About


16 July 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

July 16/18

Dear Mother

I have two letters of yours to answer, dated May 7 & 14th, both forwarded from Cox Bombay. As you know by now I was all too foolishly optimistic about my leave, & it was refused. I thought it best not to wire but just to let you know in the ordinary way by post. Of course I still have a chance, but not for some time yet I’m afraid & in any case I’m not going to be so foolish as to even hint at an off chance next time, & I shan’t say a word till I’m really on the way!

Very many thanks for your letters. In May 7th one you were waiting for letters from me. You had got Jim & my cable, sent from here in May sometime. I’m so glad it turned up safely. Yes indeed we have had some good old talks, & since then I have been up to stay with him for 2 days & found him fit & well & flourishing. I wonder if Dick will go to India or Egypt. If I was he I would choose Egypt, but I know how much he likes India.

No luck with the bees yet you say. I quite agree, I can’t think why honey should be so dear. I suppose there are less people to keep & look after bees now, & also less flowers to gather honey from, everything being vegetables nowadays! I should think lobbing – or is it bobbing? – the hair would suit Rosamond admirably, just the type of face for it (this will make her hoot, I know! My love to her; & I must write.) As you say, I doubt if it wd suit Ruth so well.

You had just got 3 letters from me in yours dated May 14th you say; I got it 2 days ago, from Cox, so you see it has taken just 2 months to reach me. You are still waiting anxiously for my wire, juggins that I was! Yes, old Ben very kindly offered to look after old Nell & some of her trousseau for me, but I’m afraid that’s all no good now. I do wish they’d give Topher a commission. Could’nt Dick go over & see the C.O. & root round a bit. It’s a shame as you say to expect the poor boy to go back to the ranks after all he’s done.

We are getting rather good fruit now, lovely cool juicy water melons, & grapes, & plums, the latter not quite ripe yet. I see a lady writing from home in an Indian paper seems to make a little go a very long way, & made some lovely sounding meals out of nothing very much apparently; she was writing to say we were’nt to worry, & things were all right really – just the same as you always write in your wonderfully cheery way.

I see that the American Admiral Sims says submarines are practically so well in hand now as we can almost say we have done them in. If so, it is wonderfully good news; and it does’nt seem likely that anyone wd be allowed to make a public statement like that unless there was good solid foundation of fact for it nowadays. What wonderful people the navy are, & news like that coming on the top of Zeebrugge & Ostend ought to buck the British public up no end & answer all those silly fat-headed carping arm-chair critics who are continually asking what is the navy doing.

You will have got my letter by now saying the F & M. boxes turned up quite safely after all & were, I hear, very much appreciated. How did you find Camberley I wonder? Much the same as ever I suppose. How amusing old Smith being the only one able to mend your bicycle!

Artie Wooldridge a Major! I don’t want to sneer at the new army & there are hundreds & thousands of thundering good fellows in it I know, but still – they do get on quickly don’t they. Here I am with 14 years’ service next month, & only a captain still! Brevets are’nt much good I’m afraid. Oh well, I can’t grouse, I’m still alive and whole, which is better than fifty million promotions is’nt it. There’s only one souvenir I want after this war & that’s

Your loving son


Rosamund seems to be thinking of cutting her hair in a bob – interesting because we associate the hairstyle with the 1920s not the war years.

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Posted by on 16 July, '18 in About


11 July 1918 – Richard to Gertrude

11th July


My dear Mother.

Have’nt had a letter from you for ages. I expect you have written to Alex, but I have’nt managed to get hold of them yet. I am now with 39 Indian General Hospital E.E.F. but I expect by the time you get this & write to this address I shall be moved on, they seem to have a knack of shifting one about in this country.

I am quite happy here on the sea shore, & lovely bathing, but nothing much else to do. It’s very hot of course & there’s no shade except a few date trees. Tons of figs though, & I am longing for them to get ripe.

We were nearly torpedoed on the way out. The torpedoe got within a few feet of the ship, but we were swinging round & just swung in time. Most exciting, & we finished up by the torpedoe & the ship going along side by side.


(drawing of incident)


I wonder if Ted is home & married. I saw George at Alex & he said he imagined Ted was expected any moment when he left. I have quite a good job here, registrar they call it. I wonder if Ruth is in Marseilles yet.

Best love to all

yr loving son


Wait…? What….? Ruth is going to Marseilles? It is frustrating to get such slight glimpses of what the sisters are doing. 

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Posted by on 11 July, '18 in About


10 July 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

July 10/18


Dear Mother

No mail forwarded from Cox yet, though the direct mail reached here 4 days ago. Perhaps you marked yours “to await arrival” & they are keeping them, but I have wired them now to forward all letters marked or otherwise. I got the Weekly times & other papers directed straight to M.E.F, so I hope the rest of my mail will turn up sometime, possibly this evening.

School began again two days ago, & we are living the strenuous life again. Not quite so strenuous as last time, as it is too hot, so we are taking things a wee bit easier, but still we are quite busy. During our week between courses I went off to stay with Jim for 2 days. I drove up in a car, a 3 hour journey from here; I started at 5 a.m. so as to have a cool journey. I found Jim very fit & happy in his new regiment & he seems to have had quite a good time while I was there, did’nt do much except a good deal of talking. It was fairly cool too, as there was a pleasant breeze blowing and that made a lot of difference, but Jim said it had been very hot in that hot spell we had a few days ago. I met many old friends in the regiments there, & altogether thoroughly enjoyed my time & I think the change did me good.

The hot spell is over for the present & we are having really quite respectable weather, round about 105º-110º or so with a breeze, which has risen to a wind today, with lots of dust.

I’ve got no news. I may be leaving this instructor’s job at the end of this class, but I don’t know for certain. They are going to change us all anyway sometime soon, as we are all rather weary with teaching at this high pressure in this weather, but they don’t want to change us all together, so someone has to stay on for another course, but I hope to get away early.

Best love to all

yr loving son


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Posted by on 10 July, '18 in About


2 July 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

July 2/18


Dear Mother

No mail in yet but one is expected on July 4th or so, but I expect you have started sending your letters c/o Cox now, so mine will probably be a bit later.

It’s warmed up now all right, 115º in the shade [46º C] and no breeze to speak of yet. Lucky we are to have fans and things. Our 2nd course is over now, & the new one begins next Monday (this is Tuesday). Col Keen & the other instructors have gone away for a change, the latter is coming back tomorrow, & then I’m thinking of running up to see Jim for a couple of days: he’s about 3 hours or so off in a car. One of the officers in his regiment was here on the last course & I sent him some odds & ends of soap & writing paper etc which he asked me to get him, & I’ll take some more up with me.

They are changing all of us instructors gradually, as we had all got a bit stale & faded working at this pressure in this climate. So I am only staying one more course, & a new man comes instead of me, & a week or two later one of the others will be changed, the idea being not to change us all at once so as not to have an entirely new instructional staff all together. That’s the present arrangement, but of course it may be changed. I shan’t be sorry to leave, though I must say I have learnt a lot & met very many good fellows, and I think it’s done me a lot of good on the whole.

Very little war news from France nowadays: I wonder what’s happening. The Italian news is good, & let’s hope a nasty knock like that for Austria will have far-reaching effects.

By the way did I say put “to await arrival” on letters sent to Cox? I believe I did, as I’m afraid I was a wee bit too optimistic about my leave then. Anyhow don’t put it on any more, as he may keep them unnecessarily long. Go on sending them c/o him, as my movements are uncertain.

Best love to all

yr loving son


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Posted by on 2 July, '18 in About


22 June 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

June 22/18


Dear Mother

I can’t remember if I’ve written to you lately, I know I’ve been most frightfully busy with this old school and have’nt had much time. My diary says I had 2 letters from you on 4th & one again on the 19th but I think I must have answered the 4th ones.      the one that arrived 19th was dated             & very many thanks for it.

It has got a lot hotter since I last wrote anyhow, & the last week or so has not been very pleasant. We had it 110° in the shade [43° C] 2 days ago & it’s usually 105 or 106. However living in a house with Electric fans makes a lot of difference. We still lead a very strenuous life here, up at 4 & work outdoors 5-8, & lectures etc 9.30-1 & afternoon work as well & we generally go to bed tiredish. The course ends next week & then we have a week off, & the next one begins.

I hear from Jim very often. He wants me to get him a lot of things like hair oil & writing paper. There is an officer from his rgt: on the course so I’ll get him to take a box up to Jim for me, though I may be able to manage a visit myself in the “holidays” but I don’t know yet. He seems very fit & enthusiastic.

Col Hogg has I hear gone to hospital with a pain inside but I don’t know how bad he is or whether he will have to go on sick leave or anything. We had a great dinner party 2 nights ago, about 60 people dining here, & a concert afterwards, rather a late night but we persuaded the colonel to let us get up an hour later next morning which was’nt much, but still it was a little better than usual.

Sam Orton has gone home on a special mission, fearfully secret and all. He went at 2 days’ notice so I did’nt have much time to see him. He took a wee present for Nell home with him, very kindly, so I did’nt like to load him up too much otherwise I might have sent you something along.

Your letter of April 16th said no mail had come in. I had a line from Nell dated 22nd April & she had had some letters from me, so I expect yours rolled up all right. I’m afraid I was rather optimistic & hopeful about leave then. But if there was a chance at all I simply had to sort of warn Nell did’nt I, and I’m afraid I raised the poor child’s hopes too much. I feel rather angry with myself for ever having done so, & there still seems practically no chance of my getting home this year.

I am sorry to hear about Major Thornton. I know how much Rosamond liked him. I wrote to Rosamond some time ago asking her seriously about the farm, & if there was any chance of my joining as a partner etc after the war, but I’m afraid she never got the letter as I never heard anything from her about it. And now I suppose things are all changed, so I hope she won’t bother about it. From Ben’s description of the place when she stayed there it sounded most fascinating, & she wrote & told me how suitable she thought it was for me, as apparently a good bailiff is the chief necessity & I suppose one would manage to learn the difference between a plum and an apple oneself in time.

I had a line from Dryden & she & Sheima seemed mightily pleased with their Pitney visit. I met Cocks Cowland- Cicely’s brother- here the other day & we dined & yarned over old times together : sounds rather spinky does’nt it. There is one Major Radwell of the Hants rgt here on this course who used to go to old Quentin’s place at Liphook & play raquets with him in the old days; the place was burnt down you remember & Bunchie often used to go & stay there, but neither he nor I can remember the name of it.

So you’re going to keep a bee. Good, only do mind he does’nt sting you. I always have a horror of them as you know, but I must say honey is good- “and is there honey still for tea” as Rupert Brook says. I am glad to see Lloyd George & Geddes & everyone saying definitely that we have got the submarine situation well in hand now, & also the food man says that you won’t be asked to go through such rotten times as you have been – most cheering news, and I think nowadays they are very careful when they make public statements to tell the truth.

I have a lecture now so I will end up. I see letters from London up to mid May about have arrived in Bombay so I suppose we expect them here in 10 days or so.

Best love to all

Yr loving son


Noel Thornton was married, so his friendship with Rosamund was not a romance. However, the context implies that Rosamund’s plans after the war depended on Major Thornton surving it, and that Ted might buy into a venture with Rosamund. Perhaps she was considering becoming a tenant farmer. 

Major Noel Shipley Thornton, 7th Rifle Brigade

His father died 4 weeks later

Betchworth memorial

Auckland Geddes

Honey still for tea

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Posted by on 22 June, '18 in About


21 June 1918 – Richard to Gertrude (second letter)



My dear Mother

I’ve already sent you a letter & a telegram today. I forgot to ask you to send any eyeglasses you have of mine. Have’nt you got some or did you give them to me? If you have please send them along to where the stick & things are

Best love to all

yr loving son


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Posted by on 21 June, '18 in About


21 June 1918 – Richard to Gertrude



Dear Mother

I am sending you a telegram this morning “send my watch”

It’s a nuisance, but I could not wangle the exchange, but I might possibly get back if I still want to from the other end

Love to all

Yr loving son


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Posted by on 21 June, '18 in About


16 June 1918 – Richard to Gertrude



Dear Mother those books and the shoes arrived this morning, thank you very much. I was reading that Windsor you sent me; you did’nt, but one of the others may have read the story where the people motored from London to Guildford over the Hog’s Back! and eventually turned up Waterdene Rd? To Newlands corner, & looked at the silent pool, & then walked from Goshall to Shere. Is that why you sent it? Silly mistake though saying you go over the hog’s back before you get to Guildford.

Rain today for a change, it lays the dust which is an advantage.

No more news of going, suppose it will be sudden.

Best love to all

yr loving son


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Posted by on 16 June, '18 in About