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Monthly Archives: August 2014

31 August 1914 – Paul to Gertrude

Aug. 31st

My dear Mother.

I am afraid I have no news for you, except that I am still quite well. We’ve done no more fighting as yet, and we get scattered news of what is going on at home – most of them rumours, so we don’t really know what is happening.

I do hope everybody is quite well at home- the last mail I had was Aug 4th, but we really are expecting one from Malta in a day or two.

With v. much love to you all
from your ever loving son
Paul

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28 August 1914 – Ted to Gertrude

Camp

Aug 28th

Dear Mother

Just a line this week. We left Lansdowne a week ago, & have been sitting here at this railway ever since waiting to entrain. We go to Karachi, & embark there for an unknown destination, most people have their own ideas as to where we are going, but no one knows really I think. It’s awful hot & stuffy waiting here, but I hope we shall move off tomorrow, or next day at the latest. Of course we have had lots of rain here & one or two uncomfortable nights, and we are thoroughly sick of waiting & inaction.

Stirring times these are’nt they & very anxious ones, I wonder what will have happened by the time you get this. I’m afraid my letters will be erratic after this, as I don’t know where we are going or when I’ll be able to write next. So don’t worry about me, I’ll write whenever I get ½ a chance. Ben is applying for a free passage home, as I have been ordered off, & should easily get it, also a free rly fare from Lansdowne to Bombay. I have fixed her up all right, & she ought to be home soon. I expect she has told you all about it. Excuse a short scrawl, but I’m fairly busy & its fearfully hot

Love to all yr loving son

Ted


D H Drake-Brockman, Ted’s commanding officer who wrote a history of the Garhwal Rifles’ experiences during the Great War, was splendidly furious about the delay:

This delay at Kotdwara in the middle of the hot season and rains was unfortunate and quite unnecessary. It was a malarious place, and at this time of the year alive with mosquitos… Altogether we were nine days in this delightful spot and, considering the further long wait we had at Karachi, it was quite unnecessary for us to have been sent out of Lansdowne till practically three weeks later if just a little forethought and common sense had only been exercised by the authorities in Simla…. Why the authorities at Simla were in such a great hurry to get us out of Lansdowne it is difficult to imagine. One would have thought that nothing would have been easier for them than to have enquired first whether the transports were ready for us or not, and then sent us off just in time to embark on them and so avoided these long waits in tents during the monsoon. … At Karachi we were once again detained for fifteen days in camp, so there could not have been any real urgency to get us out of our station in such haste. We could have remained comfortably and with considerable advantage.

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25 August 1914 – Benedicta to Gertrude

Lansdowne U.P.

Aug 25th 1914

Dear Mother

I must be getting a letter off to you today, to be sure to catch the mail. It seems since Ted went off on Friday, I haven’t had a moment; there have been such tons of things to see to, packing away everything of his. We are now left destitute, the station seems saddest place & of course the regiments absolutely made the place, there are no civilians there at all you see.

Ted went off in very good spirits on Friday, seeing the regiment off was rather a struggle as all that cheering & band playing is unhinging enough at any time. When the 39th went off I didn’t go off to the parade beforehand but Alix & I went down the road & saw them all pass. Ted marches at the head of the regiment with the Col: all the officers fell out as they passed, and we wished them luck. I did feel so dreadfully sorry for the poor wives, especially the several brides but I must say they all kept wonderfully brave.

At present the three regiments are no further than Kotdwara, the base of the hill here waiting to entrain for Karachi. It is sickening for them being kept down there because it’s frightfully hot & unhealthy but we can send them things & hear from them, in spite of the fearfull discomfort they seem fairly cheery. At present, the idea of Egypt is very much to the fore, I only hope & pray it is true and for the moment they will be more or less safe there.

I may be home now earlier as I’ve chance of a free passage, journey from there to the port as well, in the trooper they are chartering for families of officers gone on service. I’ve been thinking things out & if I get a passage it’s well worth it. I can get a third of my P&O passage back, about £12 & the tips in a P&O come to well over £5 extra & on a trooper very little. Also I shall have no railway fare – the thing is I shan’t get to Assam or see Dick again out here, but originally I was not going to Assam at all after here. It was only when Ted could get leave & go too that it was to have been so ripping, so under the circumstances I think I may as well come home a month sooner, & save about £30 or so more. My journey to Assam would be at least £12, as I should have to go right up to Dilmgarh now, as Uncle James is under orders to move from Shillong; and then all that journey for only about a month, as I want to get back in November anyway, especially if Dick doesn’t get another job. That staying about with people costs no end of money.

So if I get the passage, I will cable you the date of sailing & ship & you must then find out the sort of time I may arrive in England. You may not see it in the paper, but I suppose from the war office one would get news. This was all decided yesterday when we got the application forms. All the families of the two divisions have a claim. It will be a funny voyage, all women & children – anyway I shall be more or less sure of getting home by the trooper but in a P&O one may be held up for weeks at Gib[raltar] & places, we shall be under escort if necessary. If I do get the passage it will probably be end of Sept or some time in Oct, the latter I should imagine as at present all available ships are being taken for these troops.

Go on addressing my letters here after all, until I do sail earlier I shall hardly get an answer to this – our mails take 3 weeks to go & come. But you will get a cable if one can be got through, otherwise I may sort of suddenly turn up but not before end of Oct some time. I don’t think I’ve explained this at length so that you understand.

Alix will come home too. We are allright up here tho: it seems very lonely & deserted without any of our men kind. Alix is engaged to Nobbie Clarke in the 39th. It is rather dreadful for her his going off, but he is very lucky because he is only 22 & so will see some service early in his career. We’ve got 11 dogs with us, (how you’d enjoy them!) 4 of mine, 4 of Alix’s, 2 of Nobbie’s, 1 of Molly O’s, so you can imagine the pack they are. We have to be fearfully careful after tea because the panthers swarm here, now the place is empty; this sounds alarming but they wouldn’t hurt us really, but they take the dogs before you know where you are.

Phyllis Moss’s birthday today, we are going to dine with her; she was to have given a dance but of course that’s out of the question now. We are very lucky to have Mr Fox at the 39th Depot, he is looking after me very well as he never minds being worried over anything. On your own like this, one has to have a head of sorts & you know how good I am at money matters at any time & when it’s not English money, I’m more of a fool than ever. You needn’t worry about money for me because I can draw on Ted’s pay, but with this trooper business I shan’t want any hardly as Alix & I will stay on here till we sail, & living up here as we do doesn’t come to very much; anyway I’ve got it all fixed up & Ted made every arrangement necessary.

I wonder how you all are, the papers say that England is very peacefull, but the expeditionary force going off must have made things seem very close. How splendid all that arrangement was; the staff out here ought to take a lesson, for they are making such muddles & cancel orders 12 hrs after they’ve made them. I hear from Ted that he is very fit, he may write to you this mail.

I must go and make some more cakes, & some famous cheese biscuits he likes to send down tomorrow, one of the dogs ate all the ones I made yesterday, I was sick.

I daren’t think of the packing I shall have to do, because I’ll bring home lots of Ted’s boxes & things & we have collected such a lot of odds & ends somehow. They give you such short notice with these troopers too, but this one will be different I expect & it is just for the families & no one else, they won’t send us either till it’s quite safe from these dreadfull mines.

I suppose you’ve no news of Paul. No mail to answer, we expect one on Sunday. I am longing to hear again, I do so hate the mail going wrong. I shall be able to tell you more re my passage in the next mail or two. I must try and write to the girls tomorrow. Heaps of love

Your loving daughter

Ben

There’s no news from here, we do nothing these days there being nothing to do, & the rain still persists.

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24 August 1914 – Richard to Gertrude

August 24th.

My dear Mother.

Very many thanks for your letter. Even in yours (July 31) you did not say much about the war, and of course no one out here really knows what people at home think or do nowadays.

We don’t know what regiments have gone on that Expeditionary force & of course there must be tons of people we know.

We get absolutely no news here nowadays, every bit of news is always about Germany’s losses and we cannot imagine that they are always getting beaten. Ben will be coming down to me shortly. She will tell you she is just staying up there a bit longer. Ted does seem glad to have had her with him, & so nice he says for someone of the family to see him off. I suppose he is frightfully pleased at going & Paul too at the idea of getting some fighting, so, far from being sorry they are both enveigled (sic) I am rather pleased.

Those people have at last sent that cup then, I am glad you think it a nice one. I hope Ben’s fur will not cost too much to make up.

You seem to have had a nice motor drive in the Holdens’ car. Fancy pickling 425 walnuts, whatever can you do with them all, I think you had better give them to Kitchener for the troops! I love ’em with cold beef or mutton but you never get such luxuries out here except in the cold weather, you see meat goes bad so soon.

I suppose I shall have to go & meet Ben somewhere, but whether we shall go to Shillong as arranged I don’t know. “Nous verrons”.

People here imagine there may be all sorts of excitements amongst the natives & so on, but it’s only the light headed fools & I don’t suppose there is a quieter place in the face of the earth at the present moment.

Must stop. Best love to all

Your loving son

Richard

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23 August 1914 – Paul to Gertrude

Aug. 23rd

Dear Mother.

Am so sorry I forgot to wish you many happy returns in my last letter – but I do so now.

I am still alive and we have had no excitements for ages out here – The French Fleet seem to be doing all the work – fighting – but we are really doing very strenuous work too -only we have’nt seen our enemy for some time. And No news from home – what is happening there? we get no mails – we are rather expecting one tomorrow from Malta.

As far as I can make out the entire of Europe will be at war soon except Spain & Portugal.

I do hope you are all well – This is a chance letter that I hope will reach you- It being sent by one of our colliers,

heaps of love to you all.
Your ever loving son
Paul

 

19 August 1914 – Benedicta to Gertrude

Lansdowne U.P.

Aug 19th your Birthday

Dear Mother. Thank you ever so much for your letter, I must try and get a letter off to you today, & will you please tell Dreda & Jane that I may not be able to catch the mail this week but they shall hear next; I’ve so little time for writing, there are such heaps of things to do and see to.

Here is all bussell & fuss as the two regiments leave tomorrow & the 2/39th on Friday; they’ve been all ready for some days & very anxious to get off. Alix & I have been awfully busy making & mending, but the little they are allowed to take is awfull I consider, only 60lbs personal kit & the lord knows when they’ll get back.

I’ve got all Ted’s things packed up in tin-lined cases, I wanted to get it done before he left; I’d so hate doing it after. I simply won’t realize that he is going off to war, they all seem to think in time & if it lasts they see some fighting. I am so glad that one of the family is here to see him off. I rather expect our letters will be the first you’ll hear of their going, or the officers on leave who’ve of course been recalled & are to join at the destination (no-one knows where that is), so you may hear through that.

They are to be at Bombay early next week. In the 2 division there will be about 50 regiments & that means about 30 transports. I suppose they’ll use any old ship they can get. We’ve heard very little news, and it seems it’s scarce even in England. In the next few days we shall know more after this big battle, I hope & pray the worst will be well over by the time any of their people there, & then they’ll have had the excitement of going & all & be more or less safe. I suppose such heaps of people we know and hear of are in the expeditionary force & have gone.

I’ve just heard from Dick, I don’t suppose we shall go to Shillong now unless the Pugras are on because it will cost a lot of money so I shall go straight to him as soon as ever it’s cool enough. Anyway I shall go in a month’s time as I can stand a little of the heat & won’t sooner be with him, but we shall fix that all up & I haven’t had time to hear from him since my letter telling him for certain Ted was going. Dick seems very fit again & cheery.

Thanks very much for saying you’ve sent my parcel, it will arrive some time I suppose & I shall be sure to love all the things. Shillong if it is off and all the things I wanted won’t be of very much use if I am buried with Dick at Lahoal, but I shall have them for when I do get home. I’m hoping it won’t be very much later on than November, as most people will be going home then, I mean the wives & families left here.

How expensive for Dreda’s furs really, it doesn’t seem worth getting them out here because in the summer sales you can get a set for £5. I do hope my leopard skins won’t be so much. Thanks so much for seeing about it. I shan’t get my fur coat now, as Fred Lumb has been recalled from his shoot.

Please when you get this address me c/o King Hamilton & Co. Calcutta, letters & everything, as I shall have left here & I’ll keep them up to my movements.

I heard from Paul from Alexandria, it must have been a day or two before they dashed to Malta. I’m dreading a naval battle with the Austrian Fleet.

I must end up now. I’ve got to go through all the accounts & learn something of this rotten money & business matters. Ted is very flourishing, it’s awfully worrying him going but he is dreadfully lucky to get this chance & being Adj: has a responsible position. I’ll be able to write more next week on my hand then. I’m very fit.

Heaps of love

Your loving Ben.

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18 August 1914 – Ted to Gertrude

I’m very busy these days, & have
got my hands full getting
the rgt: ready to get off, &
myself! But Ben is a tremendous
help

18th August/14

Dear Mother

Just a line to catch this mail. We are off somewhere with the other troops from India to help old England. Where we are going I don’t know. They are sending 2 divisions from India, & we are lucky enough to be one of the regiments going. It’s hard to sit at home & wait, for you, I know; but we men have good reason to be proud of our womenfolk on these occasions. So don’t be anxious about me will you, though I know it’s very hard, especially in these days of censorship & lack of news.

I don’t know when we leave here, in a day or two, anyhow before next mail day; so please don’t expect another letter from me till you get one, because I shan’t be able to post it anywhere yet awhile. But I assure you I’ll try & write as often as I get 1/2 a chance, even if it’s only half a line. As regards old Ben. I often wonder how I managed before she came to stay; how really dreary life must have been. She’s a perfect little person, & her staying here has been too charming & delightful for words. She is a great favourite with everyone & has made one or two real friends I think. But to me she has been perfectly sweet, & I can never thank her too much for all she has done for me. It has all been perfect, absolutely, and I can never thank her enough. My only regret is that I could not give her a better time, but amusements here are limited, & I am a busy man. If she has derived one quarter of the pleasure from her visit that I have, well I am more than amply repaid.

I have fixed her up all right after I’ve gone, & I hope she’ll be all right.

Well, goodbye for the present mother. Expect a letter when you get one, I’m afraid I can promise no more than that; wish me luck & a happy return; but remember I am but doing my humble duty like thousands of others. Best love to Dryden & Jane, & Rosamond & Ruth & lots to you mother

ever your loving son

Ted.

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18 August 1914 – Richard to Gertrude

Lahoal

August 18th.

My dear Mother.

Very many thanks for your letter. It seems so funny that although you write on July 24th yet you say nothing about any war. It must have come as suddenly to you as to us of course.

I suppose everyone you know is fussed, and of course you are too. Paul in the Mediterranean and now you will hear Ted is off under sealed orders? Ben of course will be all right as I shall get her down here about the middle of next month, only I am afraid she will be a bit dull in the meantime. I wish I was at home as we get such scrappy news here & nothing seems confirmed. On the other hand you are much nearer. How terrible all the slaughter must be, and how dreadful the north sea being all full of mines, goodness knows when it will be safe to go on board ship again. I cannot understand why those people have not sent the bowl, they knew all about it & said they would send it.

I wonder, Holmwood looking tiny to you. Of course I know it would be to me. I am glad the place looked nice. I wonder if Mrs Goodyear ever let go of your hand. What must Violet Maturin be like & where’s Sybil. I can’t imagine the Lloyds either.

I suppose by now you are back from Selsey. I hope the change did you good, only this war must have worried you all a bit. Things go on very much the same here. Extra recruits are joining the volunteer force, why I am not sure as the Germans can never get here. That little lantern sounds very tricky, Jane tells me of it in her letter too. That’s a nice photograph of her. What huge notes! Yes I can see them quite plainly without my eyeglass. I still religiously practice, but I don’t get on very fast.

Well I must stop. Don’t worry about us, I am sure this is the quietest spot on the earth at the present time.

Best love to all. Yr loving son

Richard.

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15 August 1914 – Paul to Gertrude

H M S Gloucester

15th August

My dear Mother,

Just in the midst of a hurried coaling so xcuse any dirt. I am still safe & sound & so is the Gloucester – but it is a strenuous life this war – & we get very little news out this way.

Hope everybody is very well at home.

It is sickening about the “Goeben” & “Breslau” being sold to the Turks, as we did hope to have another go at them. We heard today that the Breslau has a decided list one way- thro’ her action with Gloster – so we must have hit her a bit.

Terrifically hot out here.- We are away from Malta & no hopes of going back yet awhile. Have had no letters since the 31st July – no mails whatever.

Very best love to all
Your loving son
Paul.

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13 August 1914 – Ted to Gertrude

13 Aug 14

Lansdowne

Dear Mother

Just a line as I am frightfully busy & have’nt a minute to spare. The air is full of rumours, & I don’t know where or when we are going, I expect Ben will have told you all the news. However I’ll fix her up all right before I go, but I’m afraid you won’t hear much of either of us owing to delayed mails etc & censorship.

Anyhow we’ll both be all right so don’t worry. I do hope you’ve not had too much to worry but these are anxious times, but I think England is as good a place to be in as anywhere though I expect you are a bit un-comfortable owing to rising prices. But there is nothing to be frightened of, so don’t let Dreda & Jane get in a panic!!

Love to all

yr loving son

Ted

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