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Monthly Archives: October 2014

30 October – Ted’s Diary

How amusing the people were in the train coming up from Marseilles and from Orleans too. They crowded round the carriages at every halt, and gave us all cigarettes, nuts, etc etc. In return they asked for souveniers in the shape of buttons and badges. One fair damsel I saw [was] wearing the badges of every regiment and corps in the division  She must have made herself very nice to everyone, but I did not make her acquaintance.

Well the morning of the 29th we left Calonne and marched about 8 miles and halted, about 11 o’clock. At 6 we moved again, the weather being bitterly cold, and found we had orders to relieve the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in the trenches that night… We got to the trenches at midnight and, after having them explained and receiving a few final words of advice from the officer, we entered into the war proper. We had hardly settled down, in fact had not finished taking over the trenches, than the enemy began his favourite night attacks. Whether he came on in force or not I don’t know, but we opened a heavy fire on him, which lasted about 1/2 an hour  and then all was quiet again. I know I was just taking a company to man a little shallow trench when it began, so we lay down and opened fire/. But there were very few – if any! – Germans in front of us, so I think it really was a false alarm, though they certainly fired back at us from the trenches with rifle and maximum gunfire.

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30 October 1914 – Paul to Gertrude

H. M. S. Glos’ter

Dear Mother –

Just received your letter dated the 11th – quite a large mail we got this time – up to the 17th. We are also having lovely weather out our way, we could very nearly go into whites again- Thanks very much for the pillow slips – they have just arrived & Jane’s scarf too – a beauty, but at present makes me hot to look at it – but I’ve no doubt I shall want it soon.

Re – Ben & Mr Bennett – as you say a rather difficult question – and I must say that I should rather be inclined to let him come back to Delaford, because they will be bound to meet elsewhere & that sort of deception from your point of view I’m sure you dont like. Much better let them more or less carry on openly. It sounds ridiculous I know Wiggie 22 & Ben 28 or whatever her age is, but these days nature does funny things – & I also don’t think Wiggie is worthy of Ben, her due is someone much more perfect- In any case now they won’t have heaps of chances of meeting – I wonder what you have done, because I expect Ben is home by now anyhow! I hope she has arrived safely & is well-

Most people seem to be housing soldiers now- what are they ordinary Tommies or University fellows or what. Nancy seems burdened with 6 of them-.

We are buying a gramaphone for the Mess now- just to brighten up the entente- Hope we shall exist for some time yet to get some benefit out of it.

We are just off to coal.-

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

Please thank Jane for the scarf & her letter.


This is the first mention of Ivan Bennet also known as Wiggs or Wiggie. He’s several years younger than Ben and as we can see, Paul doesn’t think much of him. It seems likely Ben was encouraged to go to India, or sent there, to prevent a romance blossoming between them.

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26 October 1914 – Richard to Gertrude

Oct 26th

My dear Mother.

Many thanks for your letter. Poor George, I am sorry. I hope he’s not badly wounded. And all those others, how dreadful their being killed and hurt. Is Charlie Anderson out there.

I wonder if Ben is home by now. I wish I’d told her to cable me. She ought to be with you by now. I hope she gets out of having to pay for her messing. No I suppose you haven’t much to say about the war, but what I really wanted to know was about our friends out there, & now you have told me. so I am quite satisfied.

Jim wrote to me & I have written to him. He seems very happy. Craigie has been down this way lately & we’ve had long talks over everything.

The Germans are cruel. It’s awful. Jim’s address certainly is a bit long. Fancy having all those men like the Drews have. Do they allow you any money for keeping them? Jim must have been pleased with his meat pies. Rather, I know yours & hope to be able to eat ’em again some day.

I dunno’ what I am going to do yet when this man comes out. So far I don’t even know when he arrives. I shall be sorry to leave here, & yet I feel I ought to come & help, no one dependant on me or anything. Most suitable.

I sang one of Jane’s songs at a War fund concert the other night. Quite good the song is. Old Craigie was singing too.

Well I must stop. Am looking forward to your letter tomorrow.

Your loving son

Richard.

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24 October 1914 – Ted to Gertrude

24th

Not had a chance to go on with this till tonight, We got here at 10.30 one morning & marched straight out to camp, almost as muddy as the other, but mud of quite a different kind, sort of sticks to your boots. However we are very comfy, & are getting some more equipment etc before we go on. I sent you a p.c. yesterday to say I was all right. We went for a route march this morning, through most lovely lanes etc & gorgeous trees, poplars, & vineyards, all the autumn tints were lovely, & coming up in the train too the country was gorgeous

Thanks awfully for all the things you are sending out, they sound gorgeous & I am daily expecting the parcel. Everyone very fit here & all in high spirits. I have’nt had a chance to go into the town, & all yesterday I was as busy as I could be in office; but I hope once we leave here there won’t be quite so much head work, though the physical exertion will be much greater I expect.

By the way, what’s wrong with an air pillow, a small one, it seems to be the thing to have; so light & convenient, & I’ve had to bang a pillow out of my 35 lbs kit – tell Ben this! – so sleep on clothes & any old bundle, but I have one of the khaki pillow cases Ben made me, which I stuff with grass etc when I can, so manage to be fairly comfortable; anyhow I sleep all right. And there’s some stuff called CREX for tired feet which our Colonel has & says is v. good to put in water when washing; tabloids I think, could you send some along, or any similar stuff. The great thing is small parcels, & by letter post if possible, to ensure quicker & more certain delivery-

Well, my old horse had to go to hospital as I told you, but they are so short of gees, that, though we want 8 for officers, they have only given us one, for our interpreter who has never ridden a horse in his life, so I shall be able to have his. Poor old Araby, I wish he had kept fit; Ben will be awfully sorry. I imagine Ben is arriving about today; how the house will buzz with talk; I wish I could be there to join in it all. I heard from Paul yesterday, just a scrawl wishing me luck. Not so busy today, & I think we’ll be moving on in a day or so.

Must, end up & have this censored. Tons of love to all. Yr loving son

Ted

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23 October 1914 – Paul to Gertrude

HMS Gloucester

Oct. 23rd

Dear Mother –

We have’nt had any mails for ages now – so no letter from you – but we expect them tomorrow – somehow we never send our mails after we get one – but just the day before.

Done nothing since I last wrote – no excitements at all.

I hope Ben has arrived home safely & is very well. I am still in the best of health-

With ever so much love to you all

Your loving son

Paul

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23 October 1914 – Ted to Gertrude – Letter

Oct 23

Dear Mother

Just got another letter from you in answer to one I wrote from Marseilles. At least I wrote it on board and posted it when we landed, by the pilot. Then orders came out that all letters posted in French post offices wd be destroyed, so we fondly imagined those wd never roll up. Anyhow, I wrote to you again from camp, so I expect that’s rolled up too now. I had had lots of letters from you all since landing, including some forwarded from India, in which you say you expect I wish I was in the show! It seems so funny reading them. Also a whole lot of letters have arrived here for Ben, c/o me, so I will forward them on as soon as I can. I suppose we must stick to orders, & refer mysteriously to “this place” & “that place”, & mention no names, silly as it seems.

Anyhow, we left the last place I wrote from – give you one guess! on the 18th, & came by train here, by a most roundabout way, arriving on the 21st. The camp there was in an awful state, feet deep in mud, & we had persistent rain for 6 days. Imagine the state of our kit, and ourselves. We got orders on the morning of the 18th to entrain at 2 o’clock that night, or next morning rather. There was an awful muddle of transport, & owing to the mud, well, I never saw such a mess! To cap it all it poured in torrents from 2 to 4 & made things 50 times worse of course. However it’s all part of the days work I suppose, & we kept smiling through it all. Eventually we got the transport off, & marched off at 8 p.m. arriving at the station at 12.30. We loaded up the train, & started off at 6 a.m. next morning. We had had no sleep of course for 24 hours, & had been working hard all the time, so were of course rather tired. We had been soaked through & had got more or less dry again marching, but none of us had our clothes or boots off for more than 36 hours; this I know is nothing to what others have-been doing up at the front, or to what we shall doubtless be going through in a day or two now, but it just shows how one can be quite decently uncomfortable miles away from the war really. None of us are any the worse for our wetting, & when I did finally manage to get a change all the clothes socks etc I was wearing were quite dry!

Such fun in the train; every station crowds of people, stare stare, & shouting & waving. All the girls asking for souvenirs, & almost tearing buttons & badges off one’s uniform. However I managed to hang on to all of mine, as I could’nt spare any, though I gave away one or two odd stars – interrupted here by ten million orders etc coming in – sorry.


This letter is from that clichéd address “somewhere in France”.  According to Drake-Brockman, they had in fact arrived in Orleans on the 21st October.  Ted continued this letter on the 24th October.

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Ted’s letter had been opened by a censor after being sealed; this was unusual and was a check on how effective the censorship was rather than a check on the contents of the letter itself

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Posted by on 23 October, '14 in France, Orleans

 

23 October 1914 – Ted to Gertrude

I am quite well. I have received your letter. Letter follows at first opportunity.

I am quite well. I have received your letter. Letter follows at first opportunity.

 
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Posted by on 23 October, '14 in About

 

18 October 1914 – Richard to Gertrude

Sunday Oct 18th 1914.

Lahoal

My dear Mother.

Very many thanks for your letter. It seems so funny that you do not realize Ben is on her way home, but I daresay if I get a letter on Tuesday you will say something about it. We have during the last few days heard of the fall of Antwerp. I wonder what everyone thinks of that at home. We also hear of awful cruelty to Nurses, cutting their hands off & poking their eyes out. Funny Jim meeting Cyril Manders, I expect he will be quite happy in that Corps amongst decent men. May see Craigie this week, I must tell him. Your apples and pears sound lovely, we can get them from orchards in the hills out here, but they are not up to much. I am getting quite interested in my kitchen garden here. Now is the time we plant out our seeds and the vegetables grow very well, the soil in this garden is good. Of course the drawback is I do not reap the benefit of it as by the time the things are ready to eat I shall have gone. I can’t say definitely what I am going to do. I may possibly join the army! On the other hand I may go to Calcutta & join a man in practice there. I have not heard yet when this other man is coming out, I hope he writes next mail. I have two ponies down here now and am trying to sell them, but no one seems inclined to buy a racehorse nowadays!

Its quite cold in the mornings now and one is glad of a blanket at night, so nice, I think I will start a fire tonight.

Well I hope everyone is fit. Best love to all. Go on writing here, the letters will be forwarded.

Yr loving son

Richard

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17 October 1914 – Ted to Gertrude

Oct 17.

I couldn’t send off the letter I began yesterday or when-ever it was as I’ve been too busy. And the weather! Well, it’s been raining hard for 3 days & nights, so you can imagine the state of our camp. Feet, simply feet deep in mud, and all our kit wet & horrible; rather a nuisance this, before we have actually started. I sent you one of those p.c.’s a day or 2 ago, saying I was all right. I fancy we leave the place in a day or two – so silly it seems not being able to say where we are; but I don’t suppose it will tax your guessing powers much to find out! Anyhow we are off somewhere I know but when and where I don’t know.

We had all our photographs taken this morning and I’ll try and send you a copy if they come in time. I have lost my reserve supply of Colgates tooth paste, 2 tubes, I can’t think what’s happened to it; so you might send me a tube about once every 3 weeks or month or so. Everyone seems to be sending us warm kit etc, but as our kit is only 35 lbs I don’t know how we are going to carry it all unless we wear it. One can get precious little into 35 lbs, it’s a choice between warmth & dirt, i.e. whether to take more blankets etc, or a good supply of soap etc. Of course everyone goes for warmth, as it’s impossible to keep really clean once we’ve really started.

We have two French interpreters attached to us, each regiment has, as our French is very rocky, but we ought to be quite good after this show. All the letters have to be censored, hence my lack of news, not that I’ve got much to tell you anyhow. Today is a ripping day & quite a hot sun, which is a good thing & gives the kit a chance to dry. We get French papers & the Paris daily mail here, but there is precious little news in them. Send along a picture paper occasionally will you, a daily sketch or something, they are always amusing.

I have’nt been back into the town since we came out here to camp, but the people were very enthusiastic when we marched through the other night, little boys & girls darted up & seized your hand saying goodnight, & cheering & shouting; most amusing.

I wonder if old Ben has rolled up, I hear she had a nasty toss down companion on the Dilwara, but is quite all right. She can tell you all my news I think. I have got 2 or 3 letters from you all at home, & you must excuse my not answering them all. I’m awfully fit & feeling as well as well. My poor pony got “laminitis”, a foot disease, on board & had to go to a vet: hosp: here, so I’ll never see him again. However govt is buying all our horses, & I shall get a remount as soon as I can. No more just now

Yr loving son

Ted


This is a continuation of the letter Ted started on the 14th October, 1914.

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16 October 1914 – Ted to Gertrude

I am quite well. I have received your letter. Letter follows at first opportunity.

I am quite well. I have received your letter. Letter follows at first opportunity.

 
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Posted by on 16 October, '14 in WWI