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25 February 1917 – Paul to Gertrude

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

Sunday. 25th

 

My dear Mother-

I arrived safely onboard yesterday – after a rotten journey – because I was feeling just like “flue” and had a very sore throat – so when I got on board they sent me to bed – that’s where I am now & how I hate it – because I am feeling fit enough except for a “fierce” looking throat – as the doc calls it. He says I must stay in bed to-day.

It was a gorgeous surprise finding Dick at the shop when Nance & I got back to Town on Thursday – Coo! I could hardly realize it a bit – It was too sickening he could’nt have got his leave before – still we must be thankful that we met each other at all. I thought he looked most awfully well and fit, and I liked his moustache- I hope he kept it on till he got home-

This must go to catch the post- It was lovely being home again and I am so happy- Take great care of my Nance won’t you while I am away- My bestest love to you all – from

your ever loving son

Paul

 
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Posted by on 25 February, '17 in About

 

25 February 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

Continued from the previous day

Feb 25.

A gorgeous morning and the muggy heat of last week has gone thank goodness. It’s lovely now, cool & clear, but I’m afraid the Indian spring is a short-lived one, though while it lasts it is perfect; and by the middle of March it will have begun to get unpleasant. All the little seedlings we planted last November are now in full flower, so our “carriage-drive” is looking really quite smart.

The dinner last night was quite a success; the Chief is a genial old bird, & quite human; he has an aggressive chin which means business I think. There is another mail in tomorrow, & it was only last night that I got the tail end of last mail, a shower of ‘Sketches’ & John Bulls, and also Fragments from France Part 3, which has kept the mess in roars of laughter as the saying is! Thanks awfully for them; but I’m not sure that Bairnsfather is’nt a wee bit put to it now to find a funny subject, & I think he’ll have to take care not to overdo it & fall flat in consequence. He really is good when he is good, & wonderfully true to life, & I think it would be a pity to spoil him.

I am so awfully glad to hear good news of Ben. She wrote me a long letter last mail & I’m afraid I’ve been very remiss in writing letters lately; but truth to tell this mobilisation has kept me fairly busy, & one has a certain amount of friends, old & new, after a rather trying 8 or 9 months in Lansdowne, & I’m sure it’s done me good. Dryden seems very hard worked at the Bank; I wish she could see her way to chucking it.

Lloyd George I see has been making another speech, the tone of which does not seem to be in keeping with the general air of optimism that is about now at home. P’raps he thought that it is not a good thing to get too optimistic & so exaggerated the position with a definite object. What about ploughing up all England & sowing spring wheat & barley? It seems to me an excellent thing to do; for heaven’s sake let’s go all out to win the war, & then resume the daily round again.

So glad Dick & Topher have joined up, but I cannot quite grasp what Topher’s position is in a native cavalry regiment. I suppose you say you have three sons in the Indian Army now!

I am being innoculated against cholera today, I hear it’s a good thing to have done to one; but they say there is no reaction, which is comforting, as you know what I’m like after innoculation don’t you! No further news of our move, but I suppose we shall be sailing about the middle of March. I think the best address is Capt B.

2/39 Garhwal Rifles
Mesopotamia Expeditionary Force
c/o India Office,

but meantime stick to Cox till I tell you different – as we have’nt gone yet!

Best love to all

Yr loving son

Ted

Fancy old Hall joining up! Yes, of course I know him well; he must be 150 at least!


The Bystander’s Fragments from France (compiled)

https://archive.org/stream/bystandersfragme00bair#page/n5/mode/2up

Lloyd George’s speech on restriction of imports

http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1917/feb/23/restriction-of-imports

Report on it in Sydney Morning Herald

http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/15732639

 
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Posted by on 25 February, '17 in About

 

24 February 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

Feb 24/17

 

Dear Mother

Very many thanks for a much belated mail, which arrived on Wednesday 21st and we had had none for 16 days, & then 2 arrived together. And tonight a whole lot of papers etc have just come in; gorgeous, & thanks awfully for them.

I am still a busy man all day, but I manage to get out of an evening generally. I dined with the Bingleys last Monday, Mrs Moss was there, and wanted to be remembered to you as also did Mrs Bingley. They had an amusing book there called the Hospital A.B.C, published by John Lane. I expect you’ve seen it long ago; really the pictures are most awfully well done; get one & send it to old Nell if you can, it will amuse her. Some of the V.A.D. people drawn in it are, we came to the conclusion, exactly like Maggie Davids, as of course Mrs Bingley & Mrs Moss know them too.

Otherwise I had a quietish week. I played tennis with Barbara Bingley on Tuesday, but it was frightfully hot, & we have had a shower of rain since, which has improved matters considerably & it is quite nice & cool now. But the Indian spring is a short one & soon it will be getting unpleasantly hot.

The commander in chief is coming to dine in the mess tonight, so we shall all be on our best behaviour. My bath an’ all is just ready now, so I shall have to finish this later, but I can spare a minute or two yet. I went for a very cheery drive with the Ricketts last Sunday, all along by the canal here, nice & cool & Englishy. They have been most awfully good to me I must say. There are some Red X delegates in Delhi now, Swiss people, who are touring all the allied countries looking at prisoners’ camps. One of our fellows, Patrick by name, is looking after them & trotting them round Delhi, & he brought them to dine the other night. They talk English & I did’nt air my French on them, though some of us tried! Also the Russian Consul in India, one Tomanoffski, also came to dinner. He was all through the big Russian retreat at the beginning of the war, in Poland, & was very interesting to talk to; he speaks English fluently.

I see two ‘daily Sketches’ have arrived today; thanks awfully. I should like the “Saturday Review” sent each week in Mespot – could you fix this up for me, & let me know what a year’s sub: is & I’ll send it along. I really must change now. Good night, & I hope the chief will enjoy his dinner here!

Ted continued the letter the next day


Our Hospital ABC

Review from the BJN jpg in this folder. Edith Cavell mentioned

Review in Burlington Magazine (bottom right)

Sir Charles Munro, 1st Bt, C-in-C in India

 
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Posted by on 24 February, '17 in About

 

18 February 1917 – Ted to Gertrude

Feb 18/17

 

Dear Mother

Very many thanks for your letter of Jan 11 which I got a fortnight ago, & since then we have had no mails, though there are rumours of one arriving tomorrow. So Jim has really sailed, & Hong Kong is quite a good place I believe, & I have always heard fellows say they like it. A new part of the world for him anyway. I can’t quite understand how Topher has managed to get a job with Dick, but I suppose many things are possible now that one never thought of before.

Please apologise to the family for my not having written much, but I have been frighfully busy these last few days. I have managed to get out for a few games of tennis & have been out to dinner once or twice, on Sunday picnics with the Ricketts, but otherwise I have been pretty hard at work.

I am under orders for Mesopotamia, & we shall probably start about the middle of next month, but of course we don’t know yet. But please don’t worry, mother, I’ll be all right & will take great care of myself. Conditions out there have improved out of all knowledge, & now ice & electric fans & magnificently equipped hospitals are the order of the day, & they are sparing no money or trouble to make no mistakes this time. It is a picnic compared to what it was, & though I expect there are many discomforts still, & there simply must be on a campaign like this, yet it’s ever so much better than it was and not a bad place at all.

Of course I’m awfully excited & pleased at the prospect, & I do hope it won’t add too much to your anxieties, which must be heavy enough. Don’t worry to send me anything, as things must be hard enough to get at home. A few sort of lemon drops are good things to suck when one is thirsty I’m told, & water sterilising tablets might be useful, & possibly a little eau-de-cologne with menthol in it to make it cool. Ever so many thanks for getting Nell her gloves; I haven’t heard from her about them yet but I ought to hear next mail.

Today the Ricketts took me out to tea & a joy ride in their car; awful nice of them and it’s ripping having such good friends as that, & they have been awfully good to me. The news from Mesopotamia continues good, and I suppose there will be big things doing in Europe soon now. This submarine campaign seems to be the chief danger at present, but even that they seem confident of breaking down within the next few weeks. I hope it’s not making things too unpleassant for you at home, but from all accounts it’s quite hard enough.

Yes, my sword has arrived, but I have’nt retrieved it from the rly: station yet, & now we are just off, I suppose I shan’t need it after all.

Better stick to Cox for an address, as I don’t know what Brigade or division we’ll be in, but I’ll let you know as soon as I can. Address letters very carefully, as I hear they still go astray a lot out there. Lots to read will be welcome I should think. And will you tell them to send me “the Saturday Review” every week; let me know what the subscription is, for one year would do I should think, & I’ll tell Cox to pay you. I don’t know that it’s a particularly good weekly, but one wants a paper like that just to help one keep up to date with current ideas, & we take in the Spectator in the Mess, so I thought the Saturday Review would be a good paper to take in on my own.

Must run over & post this now, as the mail goes at 5.45 tomorrow morning. It’s been much warmer here these last 2 or 3 days. P’raps a little asperin or quinine would’nt be out of place in Mespot if you are thinking of sending anything along, but please don’t worry to send parcels, as I ‘spect we’ll get all we want out there under the improved conditions.

Best love to all & wish me luck

ever yr loving son

Ted.


This letter is endearing with its mixture of excitment and concern, and the comic-timing of the simultanious arrival of his orders and his dress sword is perfect.

Ted last saw action when he had been wounded in May 1915 and had spent most of 1916 in India, latterly as part of the Viceroy’s escort in Delhi.The army was his career, and he was frustrated when the chance for action went to volunteers who got promotions in months that he had worked years for. He also missed friends who had been killed and found it hard not to resent their bright-eyed replacements, and this fed into his survivor’s guilt. So he was pleased that his time on the side-lines was soon to be over. 

The seige of Kut had been brutal, and the Arabian pensinsula was important not only because it protected the sea routes to India, but also because oil was now the life-blood of the Royal Navy since Churchill had shifted the ships from coal.

 
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Posted by on 18 February, '17 in About

 

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14 Feb 1917 – The Gallant Middlesex

THE GALLANT MIDDLESEX

Published in Cape Town in the ‘Cape Argus’ on 12 February 1917

The Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment, which narrowly escaped going down in the Steamer Tyndareus off this Coast last week, awoke this morning to find itself famous.

The Middlesex Regiment, needless to state, has a great tradition behind it. It has distinguished itself in many heroic campaigns, but nothing in its Annals resounds more to its credit than the behaviour of officers and men on the occasion signalled by the King’s message of congratulation.

The Steamer Tyndareus was about to call at Table Bay for fuel and supplies. The weather was fine and the majority of the soldiers were watching another transport which was coming along behind, when suddenly a terrific shock was felt and the boat began to fill with water at a great rate. It was a critical moment for everyone on board. Panic or confusion would have resulted in a terrible disaster. But the men, from the highest to the lowest, behaved like heroes. All must have realised their danger. Indeed, they could not fail to do so, for the steamer could be seen to be going down by the head and threatening to take the final plunge at any moment.

The men responded to the commands of their officers as briskly and orderly as on parade and quietly turned up – with death apparently staring them in the face, they burst into song and cheered each other by joining in popular tunes. Boats were lowered quietly and carefully, and with the arrival of assistance all were got off, down to the favourite dogs. It was a magnificent exhibition of coolness, and worthy of the highest traditions, not merely of the British Army, but also of the British maritime service, for it must not be overlooked that the Captain, Officers and seamen of the Steamer displayed equal coolness and were under equally fine discipline.

His Majesty King George, in his message of congratulation to the gallant Middlesex, compares the Officers’ and men’s conduct on board the Tyndareus after the accident, with the behaviour of the heroes of the Birkenhead, whose exceptional coolness and bravery aroused the enthusiasm of the whole civilised world, and caused the King of Prussia to have an account of the incident read to his troops on parade as an example of splendid discipline and courage.

The Birkenhead was also rounding this coast and was in the proximity of Cape L’Agulhas, when she struck a reef. At once the ship began to fill with water. The soldiers and sailors, taken by surprise, and realising the danger facing them, sprang to attention at the word of command as though on land and in safety. There was no confusion, no panic – the Birkenhead, with the Tyndareus, went down at the head, and a well-known picture painted from fact supplied by an eye-witness, shows her with her stern high out of the water just as the Tyndareus is reported to have been at one time.

The great and gratifying difference between the two disasters was that those on the Tyndareus were saved, and the ship was towed into port in a sinking condition, whilst the majority on board the Birkenhead were drowned. They stood to attention to the last, some say, watching with a grim smile the sharks swimming around, and met their death like the brave men they were, without flinching. The loss of life was heavy, the Military loss being 358, and the Naval loss 87, but the story of that tragedy stands today as one of the grandest examples of bravery on record, and it is held in honour by the Navy as well as the Army of Great Britain.

And the coolness and discipline displayed by the officers and men of the Tyndareus have shown that the spirit which held the men of the Birkenhead together, still survives.

A fact which adds lustre to the incident is that the men of the Middlesex Battalion were not old and seasoned soldiers, they were many of them, at all events, young men fresh from civilian life. That they should have so quickly become impregnated with the highest traditions of the British Army and of the distinguished regiment to which they belong, is a wonderful proof of the great qualities of the British race.


My mother quotes this in her book of the letters, but frustratingly does not say which paper it was from. However, Nick Metcalfe told me it was the Cape Argus of 12 Feb 1917. Nick’s family is even more extensive than the Berrymans and he is researching the lives and military service of the 365 men buried in the United States who are commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves. Commission

The evacuation of the troopship SS 'Tyndareus', which struck a mine off Cape Agulhas, South Africa, on 6 February 1917. Oil on board by Stanley Llewellyn Wood (1866-1928), 1917 (c).

The evacuation of the troopship SS ‘Tyndareus’.
Stanley Llewellyn Wood

 
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Posted by on 14 February, '17 in About

 

13 February 1917 – Richard to Gertrude

13.2.17.

 

Dear Mother.   Many thanks for the 2 parcels you sent us the other day. I would have written before only of course I imagined I was coming on leave, so I thought I’d be able to let you know we had got them. I am sick about being stopped, but I hope to be able to get away any day, one never knows. I believe the cold weather is over at last. Anyhow it did’nt freeze so much last night. I am glad you recovered my blue coat. What luck eh?

Many thanks for the daily Sketch, and please thank Dreda for “the Stage”. Topher seems keen on getting a commission, dunno’ quite how he is going to wangle it, we must see what we can do.

I sent you a wire yesterday saying leave was stopped for a bit. I do hope Paul is not home yet. Dreda wrote Topher on the 5th that Paul hoped to be home in 14 days so that makes 19th & I might possibly get home about then! I see Ben has a munition job.

I heard news of Jane & Chubbie from a friend who called there.

Best love to all

Yr loving son

Richard.

 
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Posted by on 13 February, '17 in About

 

12 Feb 1917 – News story: Cape Argus

The evacuation of the troopship SS 'Tyndareus', which struck a mine off Cape Agulhas, South Africa, on 6 February 1917. Oil on board by Stanley Llewellyn Wood (1866-1928), 1917 (c).

The evacuation of the troopship SS ‘Tyndareus’.
Stanley Llewellyn Wood.

Jim Berryman was sailing with the Middlesex Regiment to Hong Kong on the SS Tyndareus.

THE TYNDAREUS

Splendid Heroism of British Troops

KING’S MESSAGE

One of the most glorious episodes of the war, away from the actual fighting fronts, has just been revealed by the publication through Reuter’s Agency of the following telegram, which passed between the Naval Commander-in-Chief, Simon’s Town and the Admiralty, on the occasion of the accident to the transport Tyndareus, off Cape Agulhas last Tuesday evening, when the Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment displayed heroism equal to that of the men on the Birkenhead in the same spot, sixty-five years ago.

The message referred to were as follows:-

From the Naval Commander-in-Chief, Simon’s Town, to the Admiralty:-

“The behaviour of the Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment, on board the steamship Tyndareus after the accident to that ship, there being a large quantity of water on board, and the ship apparently sinking by the head in a heavy swell, was most praiseworthy, and equal to the Birkenhead tradition of the British Army in the same spot. It was only due to this that no lives were lost in the boats. The ship was saved by the coolness and perserverance of the Captain, Officers, Engineers and Engine Room Staff.”

The following message has been received from His Majesty the King:-

“Please express to the Officers Commanding the Middlesex Regiment, my admiration of the conduct displayed by all ranks on the occasion of the accident to the Tyndareus. In their discipline and courage, they worthily upheld the splendid tradition of the Birkenhead, ever cherished in the annals of the British Army.”

George R.I.

Cape Argus, Monday February 12th 1917.

 
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Posted by on 12 February, '17 in About