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Monthly Archives: September 2014

30 September 1914 – Ted to Gertrude

S. S. Concordia
Red Sea
30.9.14

Dear Mother

Here we are, well on our way to heaven knows where! All sorts of rumours where we are going to land of course, England, Southampton, Marseilles, Boulogne, everywhere in fact one can think of, but no one knows at all, it’s being kept an absolute secret. My last letter was from Karachi I think, when I told you I had met Ben, & she wrote and told you I expect, & you must have got those letters by now. We had awful fun there, she & I, as we were in dock for about 4 days before we sailed. I used to be fairly busy all day on the ship, but always managed to get off in the evening & go up & have dinner on the Dilwara & sit & talk to Ben till far into the night. Well, one day we got orders to leave the wharf, & next day, the 21st Sept, we sailed, so I have’nt seen Ben since then.

This is a huge convoy of transports, 4 – in all, & we have cruisers & battleships escorting us.  The old Dilwara used to be just alongside of us, but too far off to distinguish people. But ½ way across the Indian ocean she went gadding off on her own, with a small cruiser as escort, most exciting for Ben, was’nt it. She went on to land troops at Aden, & pick up some fresh ones, & this morning I can see the old Dilwara tearing along to catch us up. You see the Konigsberg, that small German cruiser, is still knocking about in these waters somewhere, hence the elaborate precaution of escorts.

Well, we ought to reach Suez in a day or two, but we shall take about 3 days getting through the canal at least, with all these ships, so I don’t suppose we shall leave Port Said till about 4th or 5th October, & then perhaps we may know more where we are going. The Dilwara I know is going to Southampton, & should arrive there I should think – this is only my own idea – about 25th Oct, but no doubt Ben has told you something more definite than this. I expect you could find out from the India office when she is expected if you want to run down and meet old Ben- of course there is just a chance that we may stay a day or two at Suez or Port Said, waiting while we all get through the Canal, in which case I may be able to get over to pay the Dilwara a visit, I hope so. What fun it wd be if Paul & the Gloucester were at Port Said too, & were part of our escort through the Mediterranean, & then we’d be quite a family party on the high seas. We met a small 4-funneled cruiser last night, but could’nt make her out, & I was wondering if she was the Gloucester ordered off East somewhere. Ainsly Talbot was on board the Dilwara, but has been landed at Aden. But Ben will have told you all the Dilwara news I expect.

It was a rough-ish, choppy sort of weather for the first 3 days out of Karachi, & I expect old Ben had to stick to her cabin. Our men, who of course have never seen a ship or a sheet of water bigger than a bucket before, were fearfully ill poor devils, but are much better now. Since the first 3 days we have had a gorgeous voyage, sea like glass, & cool breeze. The first day in the red sea was hottish, but since then it’s been lovely; hot of course, but a good strong head wind to keep us cool. I want to see Ben at P. Said or Suez to see how she stood the voyage so far.

Field lantern with talc sidesBy the way, I want you do to something for me, I want a camp lantern, to take candles, something after this style. If talc sides not procurable, glass will do, but I’d rather have talc if you can get em. You can get them at the [Army Navy] Stores or Harrods or any stores like that I think. They are generally made of black tin, with talc sides which slide in & out, & weigh about 1 lb. If possible I should like a folding one, but never mind if it does’nt fold up, an ordinary one will do. But it should be square shape, as above, & please send out one or two extra talc slides with it to replace hem if they get broken. Anyhow the A & N stores camp furniture dept: would know the thing exactly if you ask them, as I know they keep them, but I expect there’s been a run on them lately. Anyhow, have a shot will you at getting one, p’raps some military stores in Aldershot wd have one. Well, having got it please pack it up ready to send it to me when I can give you an address- of course wherever we land we are bound to sit down for a week or two to get men & animals fit after this long voyage, as we shall all be pretty soft, so we shant go gadding off at once, & there will be lots of time to send it to me. P’raps the India office will publish an address, but if they don’t & if we’re not allowed to tell you where we are (quite possible, this, as they keep things so secret) then you might ask the India office what address to send things to. But they are sure to let you know some address.

The sea here in the Red Sea is a most gorgeous colour, deep blue, & a gorgeous wind blowing. I am feeling most awful fit & well, & so much better than I ever did or do in Lansdowne. I can see the old Dilwara just off our starboard quarter, fearfully nautical these days, but its too far off to distinguish people easily, even with [field] glasses. Funny to think how hot we are now, & in about a weeks time we shall be shivering with cold I expect. We’ve only got think khaki drill kit, so lets hope they give us some warm clothes before we start. I’ve got lots of warm cardigans etc, but our kit is limited to 35 lbs!! So we can’t take much. Ben gave me a lovely Cashmere cardigan jersey, a blue one. I thought my yellow one was too good for this show, so Ben has got it & I’ll wear it all right after it’s all over. She tells me she got the lovely purple scarf you sent, & is very envious, but she’s going to keep that too for me. Thanks awfully for it, I’m simply longing to get hold of it & wear it, as I love those scarves. It arrived after I’d left Lansdowne. I hope you are all fit & well at home. we have’nt heard much war news, just a few spasmodic wireless messages; but what we have heard seems favourable; I wonder what the situation will be when we get there. I will stop this letter for a bit now, & finish it off later, when we reach Suez or P. Said.


Suez

3rd Oct.

Am sending this home by Ben. I believe we are going to Marseilles, but dont know for certain. Awful hurry. Tons of love from

Ted


Note – the first part of this was written entirely as one paragraph, though presumably on several pages of note-paper.  It has been split into paragraphs to make it more legible.

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25 September 1914 – Paul to Gertrude

25th Sept.

Dear Mother.

V. many thanks for your last letter (6th Sept) – You must have had one or two more letters from me by now I expect. A mail apparently takes about a fortnight to get here, as the last papers we have are the 12th.

So Ted is going to have a look in – He must be pleased – but it will be ages before you hear where he has gone- He may be in Egypt- Yes poor Ben! She must feel a little lonely- suddenly being left – but what a good thing Dick is fairly close.

More news of disaster in the North Sea – CressyAboukir & Hogue – Big ships too – but we have no details as yet- what really happened.

I know quite a lot of officers in the casualty list- I noticed Lawrence – there’s that Henstock boy who used to be at Irving’s with me & 4 or 5 others I know.

No. You need’nt send those pillow slips now- thank you very much though, but they might so easily get lost.

We have had heaps of woollen things sent to us already from the Navy League. I had a special one from Joy Dolphin – who was asked to send it to someone she knows from the ladies of Cheltenham League or something like that – I could’nt quite understand who – but at present it’s miles too hot even to look at anything woolly out here-

I hope you are all well at home- I am in blooming health. I had a letter from Jim the other day- he seems very sick at being stuck in Porto.

My very best love to you all.

Your ever loving son Paul.


Jim Berryman lived in Portugal and worked in the wine trade there.

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21 September 1914 – Richard to Gertrude

Lahoal
21.9.14.

My dear Mother.

Very many thanks for your letter. The mails are taking a month now instead of 3 weeks, but we are getting them every week now as usual only a bit late.

I am glad Paul is all right, but I suppose you are fussed about Ted now.

The tie arrived all right from Dreda, I am awfully pleased with it.

So cold this morning, I fancy the hot weather must be over!

Ben hoped to sail on the 18th, I fancy she & Ted must have run up against each ether in Karachi. I have a line from her from Lahore. She found it a bit hot there.

I have not heard when the doctor man is coming out, when he does arrive I don’t quite know what I am going to do. I rather fancy joining a man in Calcutta for a few months, but I doubt if I shall like it. I suppose something will turn up.

Yes you told me the bowl had arrived. I expect by this time you’ve heard Ted is going to Europe or somewhere, & I suppose you are having more fits, I can imagine how anxious everyone is about their relations & friends.

Where’s George? He must have gone, no one has said anything about him.

Must stop. Best love to all.

Yr loving son

Richard.

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20 September 1914 – Benedicta to Gertrude

S.S. Dilwara Karachi

Tuesday Sept 20th

we ought to arrive about Oct 15
or thereabouts but I don’t know.

 

Dear Mother

A very few minutes to write to you in, just to tell you that we sail tomorrow after all. Go out into the sea to wait in a few hours, tossed about all night I suppose.

Ted’s ship went out this morning early, there will be about 40 of us all together in three clumps, divided by our cruiser escort. I’m sure there’ll be a good old muddle as these ships so very unused to going at close quarters.

Very uncomfortable on this old barge, full of babies who scream all day- Look here I’ve no time for much of a letter, they are taking the letters ashore. Write me when you get this C/o Cox Agent Passenger S.S. DILWARA, Southampton. Wait arrival. & I shall get it when I land, it will only be a few days after this.

I am dreading this voyage, because it’s sure to be rough & very hot. I got your mail letter but have no time to answer, I only knew today there was a chance of getting the mail next week.

I’ve seen quite a lot of Ted’s & the others’ & we shall see the 39th Gs’ ship all the way along, because it is in the same block as ours. I must end & post this.

Tons of love to everyone

Your loving Ben

I shall be very much on the lookout for the dear Gloucester all the way home.

dreading the next 3 weeks.

Ainley Talbot is with the Lancashire Fusiliers on board, we’ve had an FF. Also Capt Farmer who lived up the Avenue.

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18 September 1914 – Paul to Gertrude

Sept. 18th

Dear Mother.

Thanks ever so much for your last two letters dated 23rd & 30th August- I expect by now you have had one or two more letters from me – as any merchant ship that we board, I generally drop you a line in pencil & ask them to post it “WHEN” they get home.

All those papers vastly exaggerated our small fight with the “Breslau” – it was’nt the “Goeben”, although she was there – & of course it makes us fearfully annoyed on board here to read all the absolute tosh that is written about us. We did have a fight true – but where people get hold of all the damage we did I dont know-

We get news fairly regularly now & it seems as if our army & the allies are doing ever so well – good for them. I am glad to hear Guildford is doing well in the recruit line.

Not a bad paper to take is the “Naval & Military Record” – price 2d – weekly – it summarizes the news very well & has more naval news than most-.

My very best love to you all & I hope you are all well – Your ever loving son

Paul.

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17 September 1914 – Ted to Gertrude

We sail on 18th or 19th I think

BRITISH INDIA STEAM NAVIGATION CO., LD.

S.S. Coconada

Karachi Sept 17 1914

Dear Mother

I wrote you a line last week to say Ben might come down & sail with us, & sure enough she has! I’ve seen her, & had all my meals on her boat since we embarked yesterday. It is ripping seeing her again, but so odd somehow, as I left Lansdowne a month ago, & here we are still in India, & Ben stays on for a long time after we’ve gone, & comes home in the same convoy! The Dilwara on which she is is taking home all the wives & sisters etc of us going on this expeditionary force, so is coming home under the same escort of cruisers etc as us. We have H.M.S Dartmouth here, & some more are coming later. As Ben says it only wants Paul on the Gloucester to meet us at Port Said to complete it! Imagine Paul’s face when he saw us!! Quite possible and very likely the Gloucester will be our escort after the canal. Ben ought to be home in about a month’s time now, about the middle of October. She seems awfully fit & well & it’s gorgeous seeing her again. I’m just off to have lunch on the Dilwara, & after that we leave the docks & go out into the Stream about 4 p.m. so I shan’t get another chance of seeing her I dont expect. We might meet if we go ashore at Aden or anywhere.

Very hot down here in docks & I’m afraid Ben will have a hottish voyage, but only during the first part. Anyhow, she’s having quite an experience & her visit to India has ended somewhat differently to what she expected. I hear they are sending more troops from India after we’ve gone. It will be awful being on the sea for such a long time & getting no news. I wonder what will have happened to the war by then.  Good news so far, is’nt it, but at tremendous sacrifice on the part of the British troops, who seem to have done wonders.

I will write again soon as I can- I expect this will miss the mail & reach you a week after Ben’s letter tellng you we have met. “Hanging on an’ all” as Ben says!

Must go and have lunch with her now.

Love to all

Yr Loving son

Ted.

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16 September 1914 – Benedicta to Gertrude

Wednesday evening    Sept 16th 1914

Karachi

Dear Mother

Well we arrived this morning after the most impossible journey; I’ve never been so dirty, one large mass of dust. Archie Mankelow & we had breakfast on this ship, the City of Lahore; the “Dilwara” isn’t in yet so we are messing on here at present.

Look here, after all you will not have had a cable because it’s not much point; I can’t tell you the date we leave or anything because cables are so heavely censored, so you’ll get this before I do arrive as we are sailing either 18th or 19th Sept see. I shall be home in about a month or 5 weeks I suppose, so any day after you get this you can expect a wire from me saying I’ve landed, that’s all I can do coming officially like this. Everything is very strict & NO information can be given outside without trouble.

Ted came along for a few minutes at lunch time, his ship is also in the docks here but they can’t get off much. He is looking most awfully well & very cheery. Such heaps of troopers here, the dock is full and we have three or four Cruisers to escort us. We are hoping that one may be the Gloucester as then perhaps we should see Paul. It does seem funny going really with the expeditionary force. We go in the Dilwara from here with the Lancashire Fusiliers, as far as Aden & then the Irish Rifles go to England with us from Aden.

I dare not think of the heat, it will be dreadfull; here it is too awfull. The state everyone in it, dripping wet & outside there is a plague of locusts, a mass all flying in the air. It seems now an order came into that people belonging to the expeditionary force, families I mean who had P. & O. tickets could use them & get the money refunded by government, but of course I haven’t done this as I’d already got this passage. It seems it’s jolly hard to get your P. & O. refunded but I must when I get back, anyway some of it, & I’ve had a free railway journey which has saved at least £10 allready.

We embark tonight, I see the Dilwara has just come in. Alix & I have a cabin together, that we do know so we do hope it’s a 2 berth one. It does seem funny that I’m really starting home; they say we are not in for a bad voyage, bar the heat, as the monsoon is over. We all go two by two with certain spaces between, in among the war at all should you say.

Well there’s no more I can tell you at present so I will stop. You won’t hear again till you get my wire. I don’t know if I shall see Ted after we once sail, because I don’t suppose we land at many ports en route but we hope to see something of them.

Tell the girls I’m longing to see them again & you all. I can’t sort of realize that I’ve been here a year in this country. Just had a wire from Dick, I must write to him tomorrow. He says “What about being alone in India” but he’ll be home soon I feel sure. Too hot to write anymore. How cold I shall be when I get back, I shall sit in the kitchen all day. I don’t suppose there will be much in the fire line will there.  Heaps of love

Your loving daughter

Ben

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15 September 1914 – Richard to Gertrude

Sept 15th.

My dear Mother.

Very many thanks for your letter. You had not got our mail then? Yours was late and I suppose there will not be one tomorrow, we shall have to wait a day or two.

According to the papers we seem to be doing a bit better nowadays, anyhow the Germans seem to be retreating. You, I suppose, when you wrote had no idea who had gone on that Expeditionary Force or you would have said so. Your letter was dated Aug 13 & they had gone by then. By the time you write again lots more will have gone I expect.

Ted must be getting somewhere near there by this time. Ben & I wire & write to each other fairly regularly, she may be off by this trooper on the 18th, but it will be a most fearful squash I should fancy, they will take crowds I suppose. She is quite safe anyhow where she is, but I am sorry I shall miss her. May possibly go to Shillong for a day or so, but the “Pugahs” we meant to go to will be a very tame after (affair?) now. Only two days racing. I hope my pony wins this time.

I am glad Paul is safe. You all seem to be hard at work nowadays dusting & cleaning. I wonder if you will do any cooking. Yes I should fancy Maud will find it rough.

Well I hope to hear from you this week sometime & I hope you are getting my letters. Many thanks for Pelicans etc. Any picture papers acceptable. Daily Sketch etc.

Best love to all

yr loving son

Richard

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15 September 1914 – Benedicta to Gertrude

On the way to Karachi

Tuesday Sept 15th 1914

Dear Mother

I must just send you a line now in case I don’t get time before we sail. Alix & I are on our way to Karachi, we’ve got passages in the Dilwara (you will have had my cable which I am sending before I sail) & you will also have had my mail letters, telling you I had a good chance of a passage. We had a dreadfull rush, only 12 hrs’ notice & everything to pack & see to, goodness I don’t know how we did it. Mr Fox ran all the travelling part you see, it isn’t quite like starting from Guildford; we were 30 miles from a station! and coolies carry your luggage down, we had 20!

Alix & I are awfully lucky to get these passages & together too, we are the only two from Lansdowne this time; the others have to wait till end of Oct. Now we go along with the 7th Division under the same escort, so shall be more or less with the 39th till they get to France, an historical voyage anyway. We travel with warrants marked “War 1914” in red ink, everything free, so I’ve saved £10 or more in railway fares & it wasn’t right to spend about £30 or more to get to Dick for a month, as he is giving up Lahoal then, so I’m very lucky.

I shall get my P. & O. refunded when I get back, no time this end and I can never discribe this journey; it is dreadfull frantic heat, well over 100 in our carriage & we are crossing the Sind desert, & the whole carriage is really inches in dust & we ourselves are absolutely black & pour with perspiration the entire day.

Well it’s good training for the red sea, which will be alarming, & we are only going 8 knots an hour all the voyage, it will take us nearly 5 or 6 weeks, so I am sending this by the mail this week, which will overtake us but I shan’t be far behind. I’ll wire the day I land & come along. I’ve got tons of luggage, 3 packing cases – I’ve brought all the china Ted & I had back, rather a nice dinner service & tea set, & all his books.

The discomfort of this journey is beyond discription, but I shall be glad to get home so I don’t mind. Ted will be glad to know I’m safe & on my way back before he sails too, & don’t think he quite like leaving me stranded you see, four days’ journey which one can’t do alone, from Dick makes one rather alone. I don’t suppose I shall see Ted as they have embarked but he will know I’m there, but I hope I may get a glimpse if we stay a few days before sailing, I expect we shall.

Yesterday we spent at Lahore, you have 22 hours’ wait! & you sleep in the waiting room, goodness it was a nightmare, so hot & mosquitoes, flying ants all over the place. My mosquito bites swell up to an enormous size, I suppose my blood isn’t in a brilliant state. This journey & voyage won’t do me much good, I look like nothing on earth but a few days at home will put that allright.

Really the war news is better isn’t it, how thankfull I am, & I hope & pray the fighting won’t be so fierce; by the time our lot get there it will take another 6 weeks, & lots of things can happen in that time. I do hope Willie & George are safe, I don’t know for certain if Willie has gone. I’m afraid such a heap of our friends must have been killed, it’s too dreadfull.

It would be nice if the Gloucester formed part of our escort, I hope we go to Malta; we shall I expect. This train is full of “families” of the Expeditionary force, going into the Dilwara, but Alix & I with our usual luck have a carriage (2 berths) to ourselves. We were packed in last night all under one punka in the waiting room, your nightdress was the only thing you could face near you!

The Dilwara is either a hospital ship, or we are going with some of the Rifle Brigade or Lancashire Fusiliers. I may be able to tell you later, anyway it’s not a pack of females as was expected. There are three troopers with females in.

Poor Ted is very much fed they’ve been kept so long waiting, & are in a very dirty camp. They are longing to get off, he tells me he’s very fit tho’ & looks so well everyone remarks. In Lansdowne he looks dreadfull, so white & pasty.

I really must thank you most awfully for the gorgeous box of things I just got before I came away, they are all too ripping & so much what I wanted. Please tell the girls how much I loved their little contributions, all so dainty & all but they’ll all be useful at home & NO waste; I shall want no overclothes, bar a rough skirt, the dress is sweet & fits beautifully & the little ninon coat I can’t get over at all, I’m dotty on all the things.

You have been ripping sending me all the things I’ve wanted out here, everyone has spoilt me, the family I mean. Ted & Dick I can never thank enough; they vow they can never thank me enough for coming, but that’s rot, I’ve loved it. I’m so longing to see you all again, & I’d so hate to be so far away with Ted in the show.

It seems as if I was sort of rushing home but I find there’s not more than a month before my original time of sailing in November, I’d add more if I’d time. I must try & collect a few presents at Port Said!! I’m living on Ted’s pay at present!! Dick wired did I want money, so I wired back No I’ve got heaps!! So he wired back if you are so rich I’ll be on the borrow.

Rather sickening for Alix, she was out here for another year but she wants to get back before Nobbie Clarke or her brother get to France. She will come to Delaford soon. I feel sorry for her, she & Nobbie were only engaged a week before he went, & being only 22 & 23 they take it rather hardly.

Your loving

Ben

Heaps of love to everyone.

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15 September 1914 – Ted to Gertrude

ERPB Letterhead 10th Sept

SIND CLUB,

KARACHI

Sept 15th.

Dear Mother

Still here! we are however embarking tomorrow and sail probably on the 18th or 19th, but our destination is unknown at present, but, as you must have seen in the papers, is somewhere in Europe. Ben is supposed to have got a passage in a trooper called the Dilawara, at least she told me her name had gone in for that boat, & Mankelow, Alix’s brother, wrote to me from the docs on Saturday (today is Tuesday) to say they (Ben & Alix) had got passages on the Dilwara, & he had wired to them to start on Sunday, that wd land them here tomorrow. But I have had no wire or anything from Ben & so I don’t know if she’s coming or not! Anyhow as we embark on our boat tomorrow, & Ben probably only arrives tomorrow, it’s extremely unlikely we shall meet! However you’ll probably hear from her too, as to whether she is coming on the Dilwara or not. If she does, she comes with our convoy of ships taking the 7th Division, so we shall more or less be coming home together. Rather less than more with me at present I’m afraid! But I’ll get 10 days leave & come over & see you all from Berlin some day! If Ben gets the Dilwara she ought to be home about middle or third week in October, if not she’ll probably be coming home in the officers’ families’ boat leaving India about Oct 18, which would land her home about Nov 20th or so I suppose. In any case she’ll be all right as its a Govt: boat, & she’ll come under escort if necessary, but I should hardly think it would be.

Better news today, & I see the Germans are retreating hard, but there’s a lot to be done yet before we’ve finished them off. There’s no doubt, however Brutal it sounds, that they must be wiped out & sat on once & for all; they are only savages apparently, & as such have no place in Europe.

Still very hot here, but I’m very fit & well. I’ll try & write & let you know where we are going, as soon as we know ourselves!! Love to all

yr loving son

Ted.

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