1915 – Richard to Gertrude

25 Aug



My dear Mother. I expect you’ve heard of Ted’s & my trip to see Mrs Hughes Hewett. We enjoyed it awfully & it was a pity Ted had to come away so soon. He missed so much of the motor part. It was so nice seeing Blanche again, & Diana is a dear little girl.

I motored back here & found nothing doing. No wounded & the place empty. I wonder whatever they will do with us. I must try & get up to see you all again soon. I miss Ben, she has not written yet, but I suspect she is busy with her new job. Please tell her I have been to Swanage today. Quite a nice little place & such a good tea. Honey – cream – lovely bread & butter & gorgeous cakes! I took Miss Twining.

I am wiring to Jim tonight to get him over for a dance tomorrow. He’s been here on Sunday. Lovely weather nowadays. I bathed today and enjoyed it.

Best love to all

Yr loving son


Another letter from Richard that’s almost impossible to date, though it’s after Ben gets the job mentioned by Paul on the 10th August. 

Here they are straight out of Betjeman, motoring to Swanage, awfully enjoying trips to see Mrs Hughes Hewett, and having honey still for tea. When I posted this as a sample letter, I was contacted as follows:

Mrs Hughes Hewitt was Louisa (nee Whitmore) Mrs Stanley Hughes Hewitt. Blanche (nee Quentin) was her daughter in law, wife to Frederick Whitmore Hewitt and Diana was their daughter who was born in 1912 so was probably a delightful toddler at the time!

The connection to your family is likely to be through Frederick. He was “clerk in holy orders” in 1911, and was later an army chaplain. He died at Vermelle on 27 September 1915, aged 35.

Frederick Hewett was indeed the connection and Paul mentions his death to Gertrude on the 9th October. Originally, I thought that Richard and Ted may have been paying their condolences to the young widow on the 13th October. However the mention of Jim’s dance and bathing in “lovely weather” suggests it was earlier. I’ve therefore moved it to the 25th August based on the date of Jim’s dance, the mention of Ben’s job and the weather that month.

It’s interesting that the Indian Hospital in the Mont Dore at Bournemouth was almost empty at the end of August 1915, though Richard mentions it being empty in his other letter from this summer, which I have tentatively scheduled on the 3rd July.

Weather on the South Coast, Wednesday 25th Aug 1915

Weather on the South Coast, Wednesday 25th Aug 1915

Notes on weather about 24th Aug 1915

Notes on weather about Tuesday 24th Aug 1915

7am Weds 25th Aug 1915

Weather map, 7am Wednesday 25th Aug 1915


Posted by on 25 August, '15 in About


3 responses to “1915 – Richard to Gertrude

  1. Roberta White

    18 October, '15 at 19:21

    I think it’s more likely that, per your last sentence, the visit was in the summer before Frederick Hewett was killed.
    Surely even the self-centered Dick would not have said he had “enjoyed it awfully” if if had been a visit of condolence, and I find it hard to believe the sea was so warm that he could have “bathed today and enjoyed it” in October.
    X-reffing Paul’s letters of 10 Aug “Ben’s job sounds very amusing” and 24 Aug “Rather amusing Dick and Jim looking for dress suits” with Dick’s comments that “I suspect [Ben] is busy with her new job” and “I am wiring to Jim tonight to get him over for a dance tomorrow” I’d say August sounds more likely.

  2. Family Letters

    19 October, '15 at 14:41

    Good thoughts.

    I put it later because of his comments about the hospital in Bournemouth “I motored back here & found nothing doing. No wounded & the place empty. I wonder whatever they will do with us”. The Indian Army wasn’t sent back to India until Kitchener’s Army was well enough trained to replace them; though that could have been in August rather than October. Wikipedia (yes, I know….) says “the infantry divisions were finally withdrawn to Egypt in October 1915, when they were replaced by the new British divisions of Kitchener’s Army”. I guess the question is how many had been sent back to India earlier in the Autumn.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  3. Family Letters

    19 October, '15 at 15:12

    PS – your comment about the weather was interesting.

    Astonishingly, I found weather records for 1915, and the temperatures in the first couple of weeks of October were the 50s to low 60sF. (mid to high teens Centigrade), so I tend to agree, this is not “lovely weather” for someone who had spent a decade in the tropics, and he’d be unlikely to bathe and enjoy it.

    By contrast, Bournemouth had temperatures in the mid 70sF (mid 20sC) late in August, and 74F on Wednesday 24th August. So I will move this post to that date.


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