RSS

18 December 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

Dec 18/18

 

Dear Mother

Very many thanks for several letters which have arrived from you, one which was dated Oct 16, & which you thought would’nt catch the post but somehow did, though some bright person had scratched out “34th Inf Bde” & put “not known here”! I suppose it got into a Salonika bag or something & there is no 34th Bde there presumably. Anyhow it turned up quite safely. You have the address absolutely right now: I often wonder if M.E.F. is enough or if it’s better to put it out in full. But it seems sufficient-

I got 2 letters from you 3 days ago, one dated 16th Oct again & one of Oct 30th– all letters between these two dates- at any rate from 18th-28th Oct – are missing so far, no one has got any of them, but I imagine they will turn up eventually- I got long letters from Ben & Rosamond this mail, & I owe Jane & Dreda letters too, but I seem to have been so busy lately that I have’nt had much time-

We have had a lot of rain these last few days, & it rained hard all last night. We have rather a good camp here from that point of view, as it dries very quickly and is not muddy. & certainly this rain keeps the dust down. We have only just touched freezing point once so far, & the winter this year has up till now not been anything like so severe as it was when we were up at Ramadi this time last year- Perhaps we’ve got a cold January in store for us.

I am writing this before getting up, as the post goes out at 8, supposed to be an English mail, but I doubt if that really matters very much yet. What about these big aeroplanes cruising about the world now? I did’nt see the one that flew from Cairo to Damascus & then on to Baghdad- A wonderful flight was’nt it- And they say London to Calcutta in 4 days, for the mails, & it can’t be a very far cry from that to passenger carrying. The war has certainly advanced flying beyond all knowledge-

We have not yet heard the election results! And polling day was on Saturday & this is Wednesday! It seems pretty certain that Lloyd George will get in, but we are all wondering with what majority, and how many labour candidates got in and all sorts of things like that. So far Reuter has told us very little, but it seems all the women voted eagerly under the new electoral scheme, many more women than men voted it seems. Also election day seems to have passed off very quietly, it was received almost with apathy, Reuter tells us- P’raps he’ll have something to say this morning-

I don’t seem to have got on with answering your letters much, I’ll tackle them another day- one or two officers have been granted leave home, but only on very urgent grounds- In any case I’d prefer to wait till April or May before starting so as to dodge the hot weather. But so far there is not even a rumour as to what leave will be granted. But one likes to think they will be generous- However, expect me when you see me, & not a minute before- I’m making no rash promises this time!

Must get up & also send this to the post.

Best love to all

yr loving son

Ted


1918 had worst GE turnout for at least the next 97 years, 57%.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 18 December, '18 in About

 

8 December 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

Dec 8/18

 

Dear Mother

Very many thanks for 3 letters from you which I got 3 days ago- They were dated Sept 30, Oct 1st & 9th. You seemed perturbed about the way you had been addressing my letters, about putting the rgt’s name in. I don’t think that matters much though, but it’s better to leave it out. By now of course you will have started addressing me correct, as I hope my letters of last August with the correct address in have arrived safely. The only fly in the ointment now is “Brigade Major ERPB” which still appears, but I have no doubt that will go next mail I get. The main thing is that the letters are arriving safely so nothing else much matters.

We are having cold raw November days now with a good deal of rain. A good opportunity to wear my trench coat, which is the envy of all beholders. We were going to have that big parade I told you of, but rain put that off and it’s taking place next week some time.

No news as to our movements or chances of leave or anything. Even Rumour is silent once more, after being particularly active and unreliable a few days ago. I got a lot of Nell yesterday; she still goes the whole hog, Brigade-Major, the rgt, c/o Cox, Bombay and 34th Bde! so the poor post people must get a bit bewildered at times. However hers always arrive eventually, so it does’nt really matter.

One of your letters had a ripping little calendar in it; thanks awfully, and another a little card with a calendar on it, both most useful and acceptable. Thanks too for sending a few good things to eat as you say you have done: I’m sure we shall thoroughly enjoy them. How hard things seem to get: Nell said the same about some things she tried to get me in Cheltenham.

What awful nuisances these railway strikes at home are- I see the railways have all been nationalised now & yet they are still striking. I suppose there will be no competition on lines now with the government taking them all over, so train services will be a bit different & probably not as convenient-

The war news at the time you wrote was indeed wonderful, especially the triumph in Palestine- But no one in their wildest dreams seem to have dared to put the end of the war bare 6 weeks after that! You all talked of “this ought to make the war end next year” (& so did we!) & all the time Germany was cracking & toppling over with incredible rapidity. How awfully interesting your next lot of letters will be, & the next after that containing the incredible series of events beginning with Turkey’s capitulation on Oct 30th, & ending 11 days later with that of Germany. I’m longing for those mails to come along-

I see all home letters are stamped with “Feed the Guns” & encouraging  to buy war bonds, & really we seem to be raising an extraordinary amount every week. The world’s casualties in the war make dismal reading don’t they- And yet a nation that can make the sacrifices we have in the cause of right has something to be proud of – and so have the allies too. What wonders the French did, & how marvellously they hung on till the end-

I see the world at large seems to demand the trial of the Kaiser & the Crown prince, & of all the generals who sanctioned atrocities & brutal treatment of prisoners. And quite right too I think, if they escape the vengeance of their own countrymen, who seem to be in a chaotic state just at present. It looks as if there would be a revolution in Germany soon, as no order seems to have been established yet, & there’s no stable government to make peace with-

And what terrible things are going on in Russia, far far worse it seems than the French revolution at its height. Truly the world is all at sixes & sevens for the present, but at least we can look forward to permanent & lasting good coming out of it all- Such upheavals are always followed by long periods of world peace & world prosperity- Tennyson was wonderfully right was’nt he, “the old order changeth, yieldeth place to new”. It’s just got to be, & things will adjust themselves in time. But for the present generation it is far from a peaceful existence.

I got the Academy pictures alright: nothing very striking I thought, the one picture everyone commented on – that Tube scene during a raid – is not in the book! There are one or two splendid portraits I think, especially those by John Lavery: of course one does’nt know if they are like the originals, but they look so awful natural.

Yes Jack Fielding was home about the middle of October, I suppose he just got out in time to be in at the death on Nov 11th.

Please don’t worry about the address, it’s perfectly alright & as I say, as long as I get the letters it does’nt much matter.

Ugh, it is cold & raw today, & there’s more rain about I’m thinking. I wonder what’s happened to Jim, I have’nt heard of or from him since he left last week. Letters take a huge long time to arrive anyhow so I expect I’ll hear in a day or two-

Best love to all

Yr loving son

Ted

I sent you a little packet of pictures of Mesopotamia yesterday. They are’nt bad, best by artificial light I think. I like the mosque ones best, & the ones of Hit & Feluya.


Walter Bayes’ The Underworld (Tube painting)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 8 December, '18 in About

 

2 December 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

Dec 2/18

 

Dear Mother

No more mails in since I last wrote, but they say there’s one coming up on the 6th, I hope so anyhow. Since I last wrote we have moved further down the line & are back nearer comparative civilisation again- We are in camp near Tekrit, but I don’t know how long we shall be here- Gorgeous weather now, lovely warm days but quite a cold feeling in the air & nice & chilly at night. We have’nt had any frost yet, though this time last year we had some by this time-

I had Jim to stay a day & a night last week. After many wires (he got most of his after he had met me!) we eventually met at railhead, in fact we arrived there from two different directions at precisely the same time- He as you know of course was on his way to Salonica- He arrived about 10 one day & went about 10 the next. I was most awful pleased to see him looking frightfully fit & well, & full of his experiences in the last show up the Tigris.

We had some good old talks & hoots about everything & generally swapped lies about things in general- I was so glad one of the family has had a chance to meet my present mess-mates- I wish he could have stayed longer, but he had a party of men with him so I don’t quite know how he managed to wangle even a day off! He said I was looking very well, & certainly I am very well, now the reasonable weather has started and we shall be able to live sensibly for a bit.

We are back in the same old camp which we were in before the scrapping the other day. The flies are simply awful, & nearly send one crazy; they crowd round one at meals in an indescribably horrible fashion, literally in millions. I wish a snap of frost would come along and kill ’em off. And to think that one was brought up & taught not to hurt a fly or even kill one!

We are still all ignorant of our fate, but I suppose we can expect nothing definite to be decided just at present- Everyone of course is asking about leave & chances of getting home, and the whole place is a mass of the most impossible rumours. We had some good days’ shooting last week in our last camp, 30 & 50 partridges & suchlike! Ripping it was, & I hope we get some more nice days here. At present we are busy polishing up & practising for a ceremonial parade in a day or two, when the corps commander is presenting some awards given for this last fighting we’ve had-

Jim had his first potatoe for months with us the other night! We had only had them the first time for 6 months the previous day- We gave him a great feed of partridge & mashed potatoes which I think he will remember for many days!

A mail is supposed to go out today for home, but I really don’t know if it will catch anything special. Wonder when they’ll start regular mails from home again.

Best love to all

yr loving son

Ted


It took Jim a long time to become a soldier and it is good to see he finally settled to it. He joined up in September 1914, but didn’t see action until 1918. He didn’t settle well to soldiering, to the point where one senior officer in 1915 asked to have him removed from his command. 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 2 December, '18 in About

 

21 November 1918 – Richard to Gertrude

21.11.18

 

Dear Mother

Just a line to tell you I am leaving Egypt today for Bombay. I have got a nice ship & know the O.C. well & it ought to be a nice voyage. Luckily I have only been kept in Suez a day & much to the disgust of one or two others I am getting away first.

I have’nt heard from Topher once since I left Ludd. Tell Jane I met Slocock in the hotel here today. He came on board to see me this evening & I hope will lunch here tomorrow.

I hope I shall find some letters in Calcutta.

Best love to all

yr loving son

Richard



And so Richard sails off to India to take up his post as a doctor in Assam where later letters refer to him having a menagerie of pets, and where, three years after the war, he got married in Nagpur. Richard was 40 and his bride, Beryl Gladys French was 19 or 20 at the time. There is clearly a story there because they divorced after a few years and she married Edward Poyntz Whitlock Nicholl in 1928 and had Edward’s daughter in 1929. There is a suggestion that Beryl had a career as a Casting Director for the Paramount Film Company which seems improbable, but which I very much want to be true. She died in Chester in England in 1981. 

Richard died in 1936 at Barts Hospital where he had trained as a doctor over thirty years before. He was 56 and probably died of cancer. Richard was the first of the adult Berryman children to die but of all of them, he probably had the most fun. Richard was dashing, flirtatious and full of zest for life. In fairness, he probably had the grimmest war too: the doctors saw horrors every day that the soldiers only saw during and after battles. In his letters he’s impatient, demanding and petulant, but according to my mother he was much nicer in person than he was on the page. I am willing to believe her; he was clearly a charmer but I often feel he might have been a bit of a cad. If you can avoid the dangers, cads are the most tremendous fun. 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 21 November, '18 in About

 

16 November 1918 – Paul to Gertrude

H.M.S. MALAYA.

c/o G.P.O.

Thursday 16th

 

Dearest Mother-

Very many thanks for your two letters – Rather funny as I got the one you wrote later before the first one.! I am pleased to hear about dear old Ted getting a D.S.O. – I have been wondering why he never got some decoration before – for all the things he has done- It is good news – Would you send me his cable address – I mean, how does one address a cable to him – same as a letter or is there anything shorter?

That was a very interesting account of his re the surrendering of the Turkish Army – I am sending it on to Nance.

My cold is much better now – though I am still rather nosy- I went to bed for one day – to see if that would do any good – but I don’t think it did really-

I am awfully sorry to hear about you having all those teeth out – such a blow to suddenly lose them like that – I do hope you won’t be kept long before your new ones are made-

It’s a pity Dreda cannot come up with Nance & stay with us. We are so hoping she would be able to – Nance’s arrangements are rather disjointed at present – but I am earnestly hoping she will be coming up here very soon.

We are giving a small dance on board on Saturday afternoon – it might be quite good fun. I’ve never seen such a place for dancing as Edinburgh – there seems to be one every afternoon and evening – I have only been to one up to date –

A most vile day – very cold & raining hard – a complete change as the last few days have been lovely – with this full moon.

My best love to you all – from your ever loving son

Paul

Don’t forget about Ted’s address – Oh – and thank you muchly for your congratulations-


Ted's Medals - the Humane Society Medal on the left, then the DSO, then his WW1 and WW2 service medals

Ted’s Medals – the Humane Society Medal on the left, then the DSO, then his WW1, inter-war and WW2 service medals

 

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

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 16 November, '18 in About

 

15 November 1918 – Paul to Gertrude

H.M.S. MALAYA.

c/o G.P.O.

Friday- 15th Nov:

 

My dearest Mother-

Very many thanks for your letter – Well things seem more or less settled up now – and I think it is wonderful how we have defeated those beastly Huns – & made them grovel – It has been interesting these last few days – reading about it all – There were some very cheery orations & general flag wavings up here – must have been a wonderful sight in Town – the King & Queen driving through the streets an’ all.

We are still carrying on our war routine – I daresay you read the Admiralty message to the Navy – in the papers – Quite right I think the army should be demobilised first – after all they have had all the fighting and discomfort – so we shan’t be getting any leave yet awhile.

How lovely for Jane Murray having arrived home – I suppose they will start arranging a date for their wedding now.

Nance is back in Edinburgh again now – I think her change did her a lot of good – she is quite fit again & looks ever so much better.

We have had lovely weather up here lately – ever so calm – & lovely moonlight nights – but it always produces a fog & you can only see about 100 yds to-day.

So Dick has gone further afield again – going out to India early. I expect he will get a good job.

With very best love to you all & I hope you are very fit-

Your ever loving son

Paul

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 15 November, '18 in About

 

13 November 1918 – Ted to his mother

Nov 13/18

 

Dear Mother

I’m afraid I’ve got very much behindhand with my correspondence lately, but we’ve been very busy all the last 4 weeks. I hope you got a line or two from me giving an account of our doings lately. Strenuous times indeed they were, 10 days’ hard marching with 3 battles in it, & very difficult country to go over, hills and rocks & ravines so different to the usual Mesopotamian dead-level plains. But it all ended wonderfully successfully, 11,000 Turks surrendered on the morning of Oct 30th, with over 50 guns, & 30 hours later an armistice was signed with Turkey.

So the old & battered Mesopotamia E.F. got in one more good blow before the finish, and I am so glad & proud I was there, & in such a fine brigade too, which did splendid work, & we were “well in at the death”, our regiments being in the front line & receiving the first surrenders. Genl: Wauchope is of course fearfully pleased, & he & I agree that we could’nt have wished for a better ending to our personal share in this great war.

Well, of course, THE only thing now is the wonderful news from Europe. So it’s all over at last. It is all too stupendous for the limited human mind to grasp at first, & it must take time for each and all of us to realise what it all means. We can just realise the one fact that there is peace at last, & happier times are ahead for all the world.

The great point is without any doubt that the anxiety of all you dear people at home is relieved now, after more than 4 years of terrible waiting and wonderful patience, courage, & sacrifice. I can’t tell you, Mother, how glad, supremely glad, I am for that reason only, & I know I am expressing the opinion of every one of us in saying so – it’s all, as I say, too big a subject to write on, but it is enough to know that it is all over now.

And is’nt it gorgeous to be on the winning side! Not that one ever doubted for one minute that it ever be otherwise in the end – but that wonderful end so long expected, & now reached – but there have been anxious moments; hours and days, even minutes when it was just touch and go – Well, we’ve got heaps & heaps to be thankful for, both nationally and individually – and that’s enough for the present.

Meanwhile we are sitting on some mud-flats by the river, in wet & rainy weather, making the best of things- Our recent advance up the Tigris landed us many many miles away from tents and railways & we were on short rations & no tents for nearly a month. Even now the men have no tents, and it’s been raining for four days. I managed to retrieve mine, so am all right. But in an advance like this over very difficult country the difficulties are almost insuperable, roads are either very bad, quite impassable, or non-existent. And such as do exist soon get cut up & churned into feet of dust by constant & heavy traffic. I am glad to say we have come back a bit, about 50 miles from our final battlefield, & right glad I am too, as there is no longer any ‘front’ – thank heavens! to be at, it is best to be back near railways & comparative comfort.

We arrived here 2 days ago, & a mail arrived at the same time. I got a line from you, very many thanks. It was dated Sep. 2nd. Thanks awfully for sending the woollie, but it has’nt arrived yet: tho’ doubtless it will in a day or so. The winter is on us now so it will come in very handy.

You ask about several men in the Queens. Of course I am not with them now, as I’m miles away from my old brigade and the regiment an’ all. In any case the regiment, I mean my rgt – left the country some weeks ago for Salonica I think, I suppose there’s no harm in saying these things now, though the censor may see fit to cross it out. I heard from Capt Fox “at sea” yesterday, & he posted his letter at Aden. But of course they could’nt have possibly arrived anywhere in time for anything, though I have no doubt they left the country with much pleasure – The rest of my old brigade is still in these parts, the Euphrates line somewhere I think, but I have’nt heard from them or of them for a long time- You see this is an entirely different brigade.

Jolly lucky was’nt I to get Bde Maj to this Bde, & see this last jolly good show. I’m most awfully pleased about it & it has more than made up for leaving the regiment. I envied them awfully when I heard they were off, as we thought they wd be sure to have some fun, & at the time it looked as if we should get little or none, but as it happens it has turned out just the reverse.

I wired to you the day after the surrender of old Haqqi and his merry men, but we got news that no cables were being sent ex Mesopotamia unless paid for at a post office. You see formerly you could send a wire to the base & they’d send it for you & deduct the cost from your pay, but they suddenly stopped this one day, so my cable never went. And as we were miles from any post office I could’nt send a wire till yesterday when we got to one – I sent one off to old Nell, & then found I had’nt enough to send one to you! & no one else had any money (just a fluke I had a few rupees) so I added “tell mother” to Nell’s wire which I thought was the best way, otherwise I wd have wired you too – I hope it arrived all right.

So sorry to hear about Cyril Manders, but I suppose he will be sent home soon. I had a wire from Jim saying he was fit & well. I have half an idea his rgt went on to Mosul, but I don’t know- I wish we had gone on, it wd have been an interesting trip & a good place to see-

Of course everyone is wondering “what’s going to happen to us out here!” Everyone’s eyes & thoughts turn towards home, but that’s about as far as it’s got at present. I have no idea what they will do with any or all of us. Someone must remain out here of course, but I should think they would clear as many troops out as they can as soon as they can get shipping- I can give you no idea of when I may expect leave, much less when I shall actually get it. But I shall try & wangle some just as soon as ever I can – I feel I want a rest & change somehow.

In your letter of 13th Aug you were at Lauriston Road with Ben & had had some letters from me. The letters were written when I was staying with Jim last hot weather, years ago it seems now.

Nell was 21 on the 11th, a great day all round was’nt it. Easy enough for me to remember now is’nt it with 2 events, Nell’s birthday & peace! Is’nt the child growing up fast! She was only 18 when I left & I shall be in an awful funk meeting her again! But you all say such gorgeous things about her that I expect it will be all right-

Hooray, here’s the sun, the first time for four days & we may be able to dry some of our very damp kit. Lunchtime too, I get infernally hungry these days. I do hope the food position and the coal one too improve rapidly now. But I fear things will take months to become normal again. But it’s worth it is’nt it. But I do want to come home so much.

Best love to all             yr loving son

Ted

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 13 November, '18 in About

 

11 November 1918 – Armistice

Thank you for following the Berryman brothers for the four long years of the war.

To us, with hindsight, it seems strange that we don’t have a letter dated the 11th November 1918. It was Nell’s 21st birthday and she heard the news while doing the washing up, presumably for the Red Cross, since 11:00am is a strange time to wash up at home. But they were busy men, and it was only one day.

We won’t leave the Berrymans quite yet. 11th November 1918 was a truce and peace wasn’t confirmed until the Treaty of Versailles was agreed in June 1919 so we can follow the brothers’ letters for a few months more and find out a bit about what happens next.

But for now, let us pause and think of the grief of the four years of the war and the decades that followed. Diana Cooper said the longed-for peace came with the shocking realisation that everything wasn’t “all right” because the dead would always be dead, and Harry Smith said that ten year later people “wore their grief like jagged glass”. (@Harryslaststand)

The picture below and the audio which re-creates it illustrate the pivot-point of the 20th century more simply than any artifact I know.

Reproduction of recording tape (from November 11, 1918 @ 11:00 AM) recovered from an American sound ranging apparatus showing 1 minute before and 1 minute after the cease fire ending World War I.

The caption below the image reads: This is the reproduction of a piece of recording tape as it issued from an American sound-ranging apparatus when the hour of 11 o’clock on the morning of November 11, 1918 brought the general order to cease firing, and the great war came to an end. Six seconds of sound recording are shown The broken character of the records on the left indicates great artillery activity: the lack of irregularities on the right indicates almost complete cessation of firing. 

The audio was created by Coda to Coda for the Imperial War Museum

 
2 Comments

Posted by on 11 November, '18 in About

 

23 November 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

This was written a couple of weeks after Armistice day, but is a detailed account of the announcement of the Armistice being shared in the Middle East

For ourselves, I was awakened on a wet miserable night – Nov 11 – by a signaller with a message just saying the Armistice had been signed & hostilities had ceased that morning – I donned a British warm & slippers & went & woke the General up & told him; he grunted, & next morning I apologised for having woken him but excused myself on the grounds that the news was rather epoch-making: & his only reply was “Did you wake me up? I don’t remember it!”


Nov 23/18

 

Dear Mother

A lovely mail turned up 2 days ago, & 3 letters from you came with it. Very many thanks for them, it’s the 2nd mail we’ve had within a week so we have been in luck’s way of late. Your letters were dated 11, 18 & 26th September, & took just 2 months to do the journey you see. I hope they’ll get a bit quicker now & possibly a bit more regular – I see they are starting aerial mails in many places now, but at present I imagine our mails are far too big to expect anything like that from home to here.

Lovely weather now, cold nights & nice warm days. We’ve had some rain & there’s more to come I think, & after that we should get frosty Christmas Card weather. But I’ve got a lovely woolly lined trench coat now, Ben sent it out & it arrived 2 days ago, so I’m quite alright. Fearful extravagance but it should last a lifetime with any luck. We have stopped work on the railway now & are doing “peaceful parades” again.

Turkish prisoners are working on the line, & I’m glad the Brigade has not got to do any more digging, either of trenches or railway embankments. Heaven knows they’ve had enough of both in the last 3 years. I see the King & the Army Council & India Office have all sent us nice messages about these last operations – We are awfully pleased they are so appreciative, & we like to think our little battles out here don’t go quite unnoticed in the welter of fighting on the western front. It was good honest fighting & good hard marching: just the old bullet & bayonet (& the men behind them) no gas or tanks or other modern horrors!

We’ve had two good days out shooting, a party of 6 of us. 30 partridges yesterday. 37 & 16 grouse today. Delightful weather, good sport & cheery company; one would be greedy to ask for more.

I had long letters from Rosamond Jane & Dreda in the mail. It seems you all wrote thinking it was the Christmas mail; apparently the post office advised you to do so. But as you see the letters have arrived in plenty of time. I’m wondering what news you’ve had of me by cable, if any, either official or otherwise. The former is doubtful, but my having had a cable from Nell dated 7th Nov: makes me wonder a bit- There was such a muddle on that day it was difficult to know what to do quite-

You had got my letters of June 10th & 16th, what years ago! Yes, I had a great time with Jim then. I have’nt seen him since our battlefighting – So you had sons advancing up both banks of the old Tigris in that show. I had a line from him a day or two ago telling me his experiences. I’m so glad he got into a fight as he always wanted to “strike a blow for freedom” as he put it. I met some officers of his regiment working on the railway a day or two ago & they said he was going strong. Making roads I think they said.

Delaford seems to have witnessed some cheery weekends of late, & Paul at the top of his form- I suppose he’s busily engaged now in taking over Hun ships – And perhaps the “Great Silent” is a wee bit more talkative now, now that the naval censorship has been removed.

Things seem to be going well all round considering, but I suppose for 6 months or a year yet we must expect muddles and wranglings over extricating them- Elections coming off soon too I see. Presumably Lloyd George & his Coalition party will get in by a largish majority. I hope so, as it means the nation is still determined to pull together in the dangerous & critical years immediately following the war in which it has shown how it can pull together if it likes. Labour looms large on the horizon, though it is a problem & a situation that must be faced someday. They will probably form a powerful & influential party in the next election after this.

From all accounts the wildest scenes took place in London on several successive nights after Peace night, & Reuter gives us glimpses of revels & streets rendered impassable owing to dancers, “many of whom were in fancy dress.” For ourselves, I was awakened on a wet miserable night – Nov 11 – by a signaller with a message just saying the Armistice had been signed & hostilities had ceased that morning – I donned a British warm & slippers & went & woke the General up & told him; he grunted, & next morning I apologised for having woken him but excused myself on the grounds that the news was rather epoch-making: & his only reply was “Did you wake me up? I don’t remember it!”

My cold reception there made me wonder if anyone else would like to hear the news- I decided they would, so slopped off in the mud & rain to the West Kent Rgt next door, & after much difficulty woke their C.O. & 2nd in cmd, who took rather more interest than the General had; they got up & came out of their tents & we watched the next brigade to us- some 2 miles off- entirely losing their heads and sending off Very lights & S-O-S. rockets & various other coloured signals-

Meantime the rain came down harder, & I decided the rest of the brigade must await the news till next morning- I waded back to my tent – wet & muddy & cold, but happy, anyhow! – & wrote out messages for the others & turned in – Next morning at 6 I sent off the messages & a few rounds of cheering told me they had arrived at any rate. We had a bonfire or two that week, & used up all our signal rockets & S-O-S- signals, & since then we have been solemnly digesting the wonderful fact of Peace-

Yes, the coal problem seems critical, & certainly 7 tons does’nt seem a vast amount to last till July! But you were as usual – wonderfully cheery about it & resourceful, & seemed quite content- But as the navy won’t be steaming 8 million miles a month now, p’raps the situation may be eased a bit though it’s bound to be tightish for several months I’m afraid-

In your letter of Sept 11th you say the news is good, & next year will see the end, you really think- It’s incredible to think that that was written just 2 months before the actual end is’nt it. What a rapid finish it was, was’nt it-

So Topher has sailed for Egypt, a good place to winter in anyhow! I’m most awfully glad he got on so well, & all the girls speak so awfully well of him, & they are severe critics enough! What awful bad luck they could’nt go and see him off on account of that rotten strike, so frightfully disappointing all round-

Yes, these last few months fighting in France have recalled many familiar names, Neuve Chapelle & Estaires & Merville & Paradis – I’m so glad we got them all back, as they will ever be associated with the Indian Army, & the inhabitants were always so awfully good to us- Many thanks indeed for the Spectator article on the 39th; I’m longing for it to come. If you can, would you get one or two more copies, I presume from your letter it was in the Spectator of Sep 21st. I should like to send one to the depôt in India for our regimental records, & of course have a copy for myself. I wish it would come along, as I’m longing to read it

I sent you a Christmaas Card a day or two ago. I hope it arrived safely; latish I’m afraid but we only got them a day or two ago. At anyrate it seems as if happier Christmasses & New Year are in store for the world at large- Wonder when I shall be at home for a Christmas day! Remember I left on 24th in 1915 & we had our Christmas at Delaford on 22nd I think- What ages ago!

Best love to all

yr loving son

Ted


Scenes on Armistice day in London & elsewhere

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 10 November, '18 in About

 

10 November 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

Nov 10/18

 

Dear Mother

A lovely parcel arrived from you today, containing a gorgeous new Shetland woollie and some soap & scent & a wee sponge & some baths salts & cocoa & 2 lavender bags- Most acceptable my dear Mother, each and all of them, and very very many thanks indeed. The soap has arrived in the nick of time, and the bath salts & scent are very welcome, as also is the sponge – it’s very cold o’nights nowadays & sleeping in a tent one wants a woollie & really the grey one you sent me before is rather worn out now- I see the note inside is dated Aug 31st, so the parcel’s not been so very long on the road-

A lovely day today. Being so near the river & down rather low we get thick mists each morning with a watery sun trying to shine through- But later in the day it gets really lovely, warm & sunny but thank goodness the real heat is out of the sun for 4 or 5 months at any rate- The general & I have been riding about all the morning looking at people building railways. I met some officers of Jim’s regiment who were at work on the line. He is up the river a bit, making a road they tell me, & is quite fit & well. His regiment came under a good deal of shell fire in this last show it seems, but did not have much actual infantry fighting-

I enclose a key to some photographs I sent Ben- I am sending you the same set, but the censor rules won’t let us send photographs & the key in the same letter. Of course it does’nt matter now I suppose, but no orders have come round relaxing the censor rules so till then I suppose we must stick to them-

I had a cable from Nell, dated Nov 7th, so now I am wondering why she sent it whether (1) My original cables did go after all, (the ones I sent after the battle of 30th Oct & the Turkish surrender saying I was alright & you were not to worry;) or (2) You have some official news of me : very silly of them if they did send you a wire as there was no earthly need to- You see I sent my 2nd cable to Nell long after the 7th (the one telling her I was alright & she was to tell you, as I had no more money left!) so her cable must be in answer to something, mine or official, before that. What a muddle! Anyhow I’m quite alright & fit as a fiddle.

Lots of love & again many thanks for lovely parcel

yr loving son

Ted

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 10 November, '18 in About