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Monthly Archives: October 2014

14 October 1914 – Ted to Gertrude

This letter was written just outside Marseilles on some scrappy paper.

Oct 14th

Dear Mother

Just a line to say we’ve landed in France – not allowed to say where! – and am absolutely all right. We disembarked 2 days ago; marched out 10 miles to camp (no joke after a month on board ship!) and got to camp at 12.30 at night, & to bed by 3 am, when it began to rain, & it’s been raining ever since! We are camped in some meadows, rather swampy, so you can imagine the state of the ground. However we are all in high spirits & it would take a lot to damp them. Excuse a scrawl, but am writing in my tent on the floor. We have all our kit – such as it is – at present, but we shall soon have to be on 35 lbs only; The A.S.C. are feeding us like fighting cocks here.

How splendid Jim enlisting, what a sportsman; I expect we shall meet some day, hope so. I got lots of letters from you Jane & Dryden, all the ones you posted to India office. Thanks awfully for them. Very busy, as I have to get acquainted with all the thousand and one orders of the force. So glad to hear you are all right at home. Please send me a khaki muffler, lightweight but warm. Tell Ben the blue jersey is the warmest thing in Europe & the buzz of the force; really, no rotting. Past 10 o’clock, so I must go to sleep. Still raining hard. Not very cold here, but damp and miserable, very muddy & dirty-

I got another letter from Jane today, I must try & answer them all tomorrow. I wonder if old Ben’s arrived home yet. She’ll tell you all my news. I posted a letter in a french post office to you, but now I hear they will not be forwarded. I also want some thick pants, to the knee, but not too solid, light but warm style if obtainable. I would’nt mind some cigarettes & baccy occasionally- I am going to try & keep a diary through the war, but I expect it will be a pretty scrappy one when once we get to the mysterious “front”! We get a few papers occasionally, & I see Antwerp has fallen; I wonder what their game is.

By the way, send along a few picture papers occasionally Daily Sketches etc, they all help to amuse us. And I want a pair of thick gloves, 8’s, leather lined wool or something warm; and a folding lantern, for candles, with talc sides; you can buy them at the Stores I think. Old Ben will tell you all about our escapades at P. Said, I would’nt have missed that day for worlds. All our letters are censored, so I can tell you nothing, not even where we are or where we are going; don’t worry we’ll be all right, but wont it be cold! Ugh.. When you write, enclose a card, or p.c. then I can write back at once; or enclose an envelope, anything so as I can get some news back to you soon, as these things are always handy.


This letter was continued on the 17th October.

The rain seemed to annoy Drake-Brockman more than it annoyed Ted.

The route lay for a part of the way through Marseilles town, and the inhabitants, notwithstanding the lateness of the hour, opened their windows and clapped and cheered us all the way. The journey was mostly uphill, and the cobbled streets made one’s feet rather tired towards the end of the march. Camp was reached at midnight. After some difficulty our exact part was located, camp pitched and kits sorted out, and such arrangements made as were possible in the darkness. Luckily, though it was rather threatening, it did not rain on the way, but at 5.30 a.m. it began to come down and rained heavily, with the result that the camp, which was situated a bit low in some meadows soon got terribly muddy. It was wet and miserable all next day, the 14th, and the day after. An intermittent drizzle made it very cold and damp.

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11 October 1914 – Richard to Gertrude

Oct 11th.

My dear Mother.

Very many thanks for your letter. Things don’t seem to be improving much. We have just heard out here that Antwerp has fallen.

I was surprised to hear Jim has come home to volunteer. I hope to hear in your next letter what he intends doing. I somehow feel I ought to come back & help, & when this man turns up if I don’t get a decent job I shall come home & think. I suppose a doctor is sure to be wanted. It’s anxious time for everyone, the Gabbs must be on tenderhooks. I am wondering if Ben has left for England yet. She was waiting in Karachi when last she wrote, & I’ve not heard since.

We’ve practically done with the hot weather now thank goodness, and you could not want for better climate.

I was away in Shillong & I think the change did me good. I got back here to find a fair amount of cholera about, but thank goodness it’s better now, and not so many coolies are dying.

I had a long letter from Winnie Johnson. You remember she lives near Topher. She says his stammering is still bad, I always thought he had got rid of the habit.

I am going to sing one of the songs Jane sent at a concert next week for the war fund. Have you any money nowadays? I am afraid people are very hard up who depend on dividends eh?

Well I must stop.

Best love to all

your loving son Richard.

(on back of envelope)
Yes that must be Killby’s father.


And again we have the casual racism that shows how long ago it was. It is unclear whether or not the ‘coolies’ who were dying of cholera while Richard was at the races were Chinese.  Wikipedia says the word may have originated in India and that it was a generic term for asian agricultural workers, but then discusses indentured workers shipped from China to work elsewhere. Richard worked in Assam, a tea-growing region at the eastern edge of India near to south western China, so perhaps they were using Chinese labour.

Jim (James) and Topher (Christopher) were his brothers, neither of whom was involved in the War at this time.

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11 October 1914 – Ted to Gertrude

off Sardinia. 11.Oct 14

Dear Mother

I don’t know quite when this letter will reach you. I sent one home to you by Ben which I gave her at P. Said to take home to you, but whether this letter or she will get home first I don’t know. Well, here we are, on our way to Marseilles, where we arrive tomorrow & where I hope I shall be able to post this. I don’t quite know what we do or where we go when we land, but in any case we’ll have to keep quiet for a bit, as we’ve been a month on this voyage and of course men and animals are very soft in consequence. You will have seen by the papers that some Indian troops have already landed in France, but that was the 3rd divn, & I was wondering if you thought by any chance that we were with that lot. Ben will explain when she get s home exactly how things are, & to what Brigade & Division we belong, so I won’t go into any elaborate explanations now. We have had quite a good voyage from P. Said, 18 transports escorted by the French Battleship “Jaure Guiberry” awful name is’nt it.

Ben & I had most awful fun at Port Said, & sent you some p.c’s from there which I expect you have got by now. I went & got her off the Dilwara, & we went ashore & made a whole lot of purchases, & wandered about seeing sights generally. And it was a sight! Nothing but officers in uniform and crowds of them, also hundreds of French sailors all waving little union Jacks. Ben & I kept on saying “vive l’entente” to them, & they were fearfully pleased always. There were 2 French battleships at P. Said, & two or three British cruisers & torpedo boats, but the old Gloucester was’nt there; I wonder where she is. After we had walked all over the place, we foregathered with Alix & some pals & had a tremendous dinner at the hotel, where we met everyone we’d ever met in India, & I kept on introducing Ben to officers who had just rejoined from leave, & I think she’s met everyone in the regiment now, we had quite a good dinner, with a little French tricolour stuck in the flower pot on the table. I had to be back by 10, so we wandered off, & rowed back & then sent old Ben off to the Dilwara. It was a gorgeous day & I can’t remember having enjoyed anything so much for years.

It has got much colder of course since we started, & today there is really a biting wind, & we are all fugged* up in the saloon, and the deck is quite deserted.
*”cubbed” is the word I was trying to think of, Ben always uses it.

We get scraps of war news by wireless occasionally, & today we hear about the Zeppelin being burnt by our navy airmen, & the siege of Antwerp. There is of course much speculation as to where we are going. At last after many guesses, rumours, & hopes & fears, we know we are going to Marseilies; then we go to a concentration camp near Paris, and after that, heaven knows where they will send us, where we are most wanted. It will be pretty cold on the continent this time of year, so could you send me along a khaki muffler some time, a nice soft light but warm one if you can get one, also a pair of warm gloves leather lined wool sound all right, size 8. Ben has got my address, but I’ll give it you again, unless of course you’ve had any other address given by the India or War office.

CAPT E.R.P. BERRYMAN
2/39 GARHWAL RIFLES
20th INDIAN INFANTRY BRIGADE
MEERUT DIVISION
I.E.F. “A”
FRANCE

You see I’m not allowed by regulations to tell you where I am, or mention any towns etc, only just the barest items of news can be sent, otherwise one’s letters are liable to censorship and much delay, & very often destruction. But of course you can send me what you like to the address above, & say what you like in your letters, as they are not censored.

I have got a lovely Jersey Ben gave me in Lansdowne which is ripping & warm, tell her it is the buzz of the ship, and I get thoroughly ragged about it, as it’s a most gorgeous blue colour, & everyone else has khaki ones! By the way, can you send me 2 pairs of warm drawers, not too thick, but thick-ish, short ones reaching to the knee, as I know it will be most infernally cold all the winter. But don’t send too many things, as one’s kit is limited in weight of course, and I’ve got as much warm kit as I can carry almost. Doubtless a little baccy & cigarettes would not be out of place sometimes. But I leave it all to you. I expect everyone is making clothes etc for the troops, & so we should be plentifully supplied if only the things roll up.

Well, we live in stirring times, so don’t expect to hear from me again till you do hear from me: the Indian troops should be a good deal in the limelight, so you will probably see references to their doings in the papers occasionally. So wish me luck, & dont worry about me. Best love to all the family; I have’nt had any letters for ages! Ben will tell you a lot of my news first hand, I would’nt have missed that day at Port Said for Worlds! I wonder if she’s got home yet.

Tons of love from your loving son

Ted


Again, this was written as one long paragraph and has been split into several to make it easier to read.

 

6 October 1914 – Richard to Gertrude

6/10/14

My dear Mother.

Very many thanks for your letters. So sorry I never wrote last mail but I was away in Shillong & missed the day. I had quite a nice time there only things were very quiet of course on account of the war.

Ben wrote me that she is still stuck at Karachi but I expect by this time she has started. She will be glad when she is once at home as I fancy the journey will be fairly uncomfortable.

I must catch the post. I only arrived back yesterday. I hope Sonnie Gabb will be all right.

Best love to all

yr loving son Richard.

Please thank Jane for the songs & her letter.

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5 October 1914 – Paul to Gertrude

October 5th

Dear Mother.

V. many thanks for your two letters- 16th & 21st- they arrived together 2 days ago. I am glad to hear Jim has come home & enlisted – the last letter I had from him, he was fearfully keen. Ted by now I suppose must be well up at the front.

I can’t quite make out why you have’nt got many of my letters – I’ve sent a good few off – but they may have been censored. I wrote you a fairly long account of our little scrap with the “Breslau” – but you have never told me whether you got it – so I suppose that one was anyhow. We have had some cuttings sent us from various papers re our show – truly amusing – The “Morning Post” one was quite the best – did you see it.

We have also had heaps of scarves etc from the Navy League – they seem to be doing a great deal in that line, but I can quite see that it can be overdone.

One thing about this war – anyhow from our point of view is that we can save a lot of money – you see I have’nt been ashore now for 8 weeks – so we have only our food onboard to pay for; so if you want some money (cash) – I can send you a remittance thro’ the Admiralty for £5 or so which might help along the larder for a week or so – now mind you let me know.

There seems to be a certain amount of stagnation in the war now – anyhow where our fellows are fighting- This 23 days’ battle seems to get no further either way – how fearfully exhausted they all must be.

Yes I see that Lawrence Russel is killed now – also George Moodie wounded – how I should have loved to have been in that charge the Scots Greys did.

Jane tells me you are trying to get a Belgian lady (refugee) to stay!

Well I can’t think of any more news-

I am quite well- & I hope all of you are too.

Very best love from

Your ever loving son Paul


It’s frustrating that Paul’s letter about the Gloucester’s encounter with the Breslau is lost. Chapter 7 of Geoffrey Miller’s book “Superior Force” describes the encounter.

£15 in 1915 converts to £215 in 2005 values.

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4 October 1914 – Ted to Gertrude

Postcard from Port Said

Quite a family meeting. Both fearfully fit. Just off to dinner. So long.

Ben & I having a great time here! Don’t tell me it’s a strange place to meet. We go on tomorrow I expect.

Ted.

PC Port Said 14 10 14 Address

PC Port Said 14 10 14 Picture


In his diary he said:

Went straight through to Suez, through the canal and coaled at Port Said – here I met Ben again, & we had a most cheery time, & bought half the place & finally had dinner at the great Eastern Hotel with Alix M, Nobbie Clarke & Archie M. great rag.

According to Drake-Brockman, they were at Port Said on the 4th October. Archie Mankelow and Nobbie Clarke were fellow officers in the Garhwalis, Nobbie was to marry Archie’s sister Alix.

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4 October 1914 – Benedicta to Gertrude

Suez Canal.

Posted Port Said

Nov 4th 1914

Dear Mother.

We get to Port Said today sometime I believe so I am going to post this, as the mail will get home before we do I fancy, if we hang about as we are now.

I hope I may see Ted at Port Said, after that I think we may leave the convoy & go on, on our own. Anyway I hope so because it seems to be endless this voyage, I’m dreading the part after this too because it’s all the worst; I was ill the 1st go off tho’ it wasn’t really rough, & in the Red Sea we had it like a mill pond.

At Aden Alix & I went ashore but it was boiling hot; now at last it is cooler, & soon we shall feel it awfully not being used to it. We are about 50 transport going along together, we have been quite near Ted’s ship once or twice & at Suez yesterday, we were in harbour together but no one was alowed off. After Port Said we get to Malta & then Gib, they say we shan’t be back till almost the end of the month but you can expect me any time after this.

We’ve heard very little news but I see in one list of casualties that Laurence Russell is wounded. I did not find anyone else I knew, but that was some time ago of course. I want to get back quickly now, once we leave the convoy as they will be in France fairly soon. I don’t suppose our people will go straight into it, they are sure to let them climatize at first. I shall hear from Ted at Port Said anyway even if I don’t see him.

The Irish Rifles are an awfully nice lot, Alix & I are having a very good time; they have a band too on board which plays twice a day, & we dance in the evenings. The Irish Rifles are only going home to get some warm clothes & then straight to France, so of course they are in good spirits. There was a Tommies concert last last night, there was quite a good deal of talent.

This is my last time of peace I fear, for the Mediterranean is so rough, Alix had a bad go of fever after we left Karachi. Our cabin was a sort of hospital, but everyone was awfully kind.   I had my rotten Lansdowne inside once again to add to the comfort of things, & I lived on Alen & Hanberries food for 3 days but have been eating again now, tho’ the food is frightfull & not getable mostly as they have so few waiters, but we are all getting used to the discomfort & are more or less cheerfull, under all the hopeless circumstances. I really wonder that we are, because of course there’s not one single person on this ship who has not a husband at the war, bar Alix & I & we’ve brothers & her fiancé.

I’m going through the canal, it’s so peacefull;  I hope we are able to land at Port Said. I want to get one or two things there, though now we are to pay for our messing & they are keeping us so long on this voyage. I shall have to be carefull with my money

I do hope you are allright. I’m longing to get back to you again. I hope you are doing that press clipping scheme for Ted. I live in hopes of seeing the Gloucester somewhere, there may be a chance perhaps.

Did I tell you in my other letter which I think will arrive the same mail as this, to post me a letter when you get this c/o Cox Southampton S.S. Dilwara to wait arrival. I shall get it allright I expect when I arrive. Heaps of love to all

Your loving

Ben


Although this is dated November,we know that Ben was in Port Said in October, she must have got the date wrong when writing her letter.

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