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Monthly Archives: November 2014

25 November 1914 – D H Drake-Brockman Memoirs

D H Drake-Brockman, Ted’s Colonel, mentions him when describing an incident in the official history “With the Royal Garhwal Rifles in the Great War 1914 – 1917”.

The next day, 25th November, we received orders to proceed to Festubert, presumably to relieve the 1st Battalion. We were directed to rendezvous at Gorre Church, where we would get orders. We arrived there at 1.45 p.m., and naturally expected to be met by some staff officer to give us orders. After waiting some time, and no one turning up, I set out with my adjutant, Captain Berryman, to search for the missing staff officer. After inquiries, we eventually ran the Brigadier and his Staff to earth, ensconced in a comfortable brewery with warm fires. Nobody then deigned to take any notice of us, and after waiting some time, we got orders what to do. We then went to the front line to see the situation and arrange matters, leaving the Battalion resting at the rear under cover of a large farm. At dusk we moved up and relieved our 1st Battalion in the same trench that they had recaptured, with three Companies, the fourth Company remaining behind at La Couture, under Major Stewart.

The brewery, the fires and the dinner clearly rankled Drake Brockman who had the line officer’s impatience with the staff officers’ willingness to send others into danger from positions of relative safety and comfort.  Earlier in the book he seethes:

The situation could not have been properly appreciated by the Brigadier of that Brigade …. It is very easy to say that “the trenches must be retaken at all costs,” and that “the attack must be carried out immediately,” and so forth, from a comfortable brewery well in the rear, with warm fires and a good dinner. These were favourite expressions of the Higher Command at that period of the War. A personal reconnaissance by the Brigadier is very necessary, as well as by any Commander, before he launches his troops into an attack. Their strength also has to be considered.

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Posted by on 25 November, '14 in Col Drake Brockman, Festubert, Ted Berryman

 

24 November 1914 – Ted to Gertrude

I am quite well. I have received your letter of 18th Nov. Letter follows at first opportunity.

I am quite well. I have received your letter of 18th Nov. Letter follows at first opportunity.

 
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Posted by on 24 November, '14 in About

 

22 November 1914 – Richard to Gertrude

Nedon’s Hotel

Lahore.

24th Sunday after Trinity.

Dear Mother.

I expect I’ll be busy this week so I will write now. I am on my way to Quetta to report myself! Luckily I reported myself in Calcutta too & they told me of another man going up, so we are going up together. Rather nice. We’ve already had 3 nights in the train from Calcutta & have got one more.

It’s awfully cold here & tonight I am having a fire in my room. A bit different to when Ben was here I expect. I see today a brother officer of Ted’s was wounded, so I am afraid you must be a bit anxious. I think I shall get a lieutenant’s commission in the I.M.S., but I shall not know for certain till I am in Quetta.

I hope you did’nt have a fit when you got my cable, but it’s a waste of time to go on writing.

This should arrive about Christmas so I hope you all have a happy one. Wonder where I shall be!

Well best love to all

ever your loving son

Richard.


Gertrude, a life-long christian and the widow of a clergyman, would know exactly which was the 24th Sunday after Trinity, the date of which changes each year because it’s related to the date of Easter.

I can’t find any reference to Nedon’s Hotel in Lahore, but given Richard’s preference for the finer things in life, it seems likely he was staying at the Nedous Hotel. In between the wars, the Nedous was to have an unexpected association with T E Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia.

The I.M.S. was the Indian Medical Service. Richard spoke at least one and possibly several Indian languages, and as a doctor it made sense for him to put his skills to service in this way.

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22 November 1914 – Ted to Gertrude

Nov 22/1914

Dear Mother

I can now snatch a few minutes to write you a line and tell you all about it. First of all I really must tell you how much I appreciated that ripping parcel you sent. You remember I told you I got it in the trenches a long time ago, but I could’nt open it there, so sent it right back to our kit with the transport miles away. That was nearly 3 weeks ago and I managed to retrieve the parcel on the night of the 17th, when we came out of the trenches. It was a ripping parcel, & full of surprises. The Shetland woolly is topping, & I wear it all day, & could’nt do without it. All the little food things are lovely too, and I have them all carefully tucked away in my haversack to use when occasion demands, as doubtless it will all in good time.

At present we are feeding like fighting cocks so there is no point in using up little things like you sent, which will come in much more useful in an emergency. I like the little writing case awfully too, & have sent you a p.c. out of it, which I hope you got. The lamp has arrived too, & is most useful, in fact I am using it now. Please thank the fairy who knitted the Balaclava cap; it’s lovely, & one wants one badly this weather. Jane’s chocolate was ripping too and the dubbin, & the new batteries for the torch were just in time to replace my last exhausted one. The warm pants I have’nt got into yet, as I still have a pair I bagged from Bobby Reed, but I will be wearing them soon. The pillow I sleep on every night, lovely, & it’s so awfully neat the way it folds up. So you see the parcel was most acceptable, & thanks most awfully for it.

Before I forget, I will note down one or 2 things I want you to get for me; I’m afraid I am asking now for some rather expensive things, but I will arrange with Cox to send you the money if you will let me know what they cost.

(1) A small Flask, metal, curved shape, to carry in pocket to hold Rum etc… I have already asked for this in a p.c.

(2) A light chamois-leather waistcoat, if obtainable, to keep the wind out.

(3) A map case. These are made of leather, & have a talc slide inside through which you can read a map, & a leather cover over the talc slide, otherwise the sun glints on the slide & the enemy shoots you! Obtainable at A[rmy] & N[avy] Stores.

Also some uniform. They are issuing us with thick khaki sometime, but only Tommies coats, so please send me the following:-

2 officers F[ield].S[ervice]. jackets, regulation khaki pattern, Captain’s badges of rank.

1 pair Bedford cord Riding breeks, same colour as jacket.

xxxx

As regards fit: I suppose I’m about the same size as Jim, anyhow I should think you could fairly judge, say 38″ chest & 34 waist, height 5-9, ordinary length of arm; I have put chest & waist measurements on the big side so as to allow

(1) making to fit if necessary

(2) wearing lots of warm clothes underneath,

xxxx

Tell the man to sew no buttons on the jackets, but just to make holes to take moveable buttons, ones you fix in with a split ring & remove for washing, same like we have in our Indian khaki, Ben will know. You see we wear Black buttons, that’s why, & I have the buttons here with me & can stick em in myself. Breeches: I have rather a big calf, somewhere about 15 inches, so tell him to make them that size, with sufficient turn-in to allow to make larger if necessary: also allow to make larger round the knee if necessary. Finally, go to MOSS Covent Garden, he makes coats in 48 hours, & may even have some in stock, & send along 1 coat as soon as ready, & don’t make parcels too big.

Then all around the margin he added:

Tagany & Randall, 10 Simons St, Sloane Square, has my measurements. But do allow for warm clothes to be worn underneath!!! Ask them for my measurements & give them to Moss. Don’t forget to leave lots of room in the uniform for warm clothes; allow for a thick flannel shirt, a cardigan, & a shetland! I wear all 3!!

I’m afraid I’m asking an awful lot, but I’ll try and not ask for so much in future.

The second page of this letter was written on proper writing paper, probably from the writing case in the parcel.

Now for such news as I can give you. We have come out of the trenches after 20 days – just 3 weeks – in them, and quite long enough too. Every day was much the same, perpetually shelling us, and rifle fire all day, Some days they would give us more shelling than others, & some days were comparatively quiet. And how it all used to get on one’s nerves. We had a good many men killed and wounded, and it’s most awfully trying sitting in trenches and being shot at all day, & shooting back of course, but with no known results. Still there are so few troops here that we can only just hang on and not attempt anything else.

One night we sent a party of about 300 men out to try and rush one of the enemy’s trenches; it was a mixed party, some of our men and some of the 3rd Gurkhas. You see all along our front the Germans had sapped up and had trenches only 50 yards off in some places! Imagine it, only 50 yards away, & men sniping at you all day, so that you could’nt put a finger up above the trench without getting a bullet at it. Well, they trled to rush this trench, but the Germans spotted them, & I’m afraid we had very heavy casualties. They got a searchlight on to our position which lighted up the whole place like daylight, & it was impossible to move out into the open, the place simply hummed with bullets- Some of the party managed to get into the trench and accounted for about 30 Germans, but the whole show was very unsatisfactory. But I think it had a good effect on the whole, as the Germans have evidently had the Jabbers ever since, and fire wildly all day & night from that trench, in an awful funk evidently that they are going to be attacked again.

One day, as usual, they started giving us our daily ration of Jack Johnsons & shrapnel, & the shrapnel were bursting all round our headquarters where the Colonel and I were sitting in a little dug-out underground. All the shells burst quite close, & one knocked a huge branch of a tree down right on the top of our dug-out, busting in the roof a bit, and setting fire to a haystack just outside, so we stood a good chance of being roasted alive; so we cleared out into a neighbouring trench, but the poor old farm where we were living was burnt down, and for the next two nights the whole place was lit up, & of course one could’nt move about much then, as it was just like daylight. So we had lots of adventures you see, & no day or even hour passed without an exciting moment.

At last on the 17th we were relieved, and not too soon either. Work in the trenches is most frightfully trying & wearing; one gets little or no sleep, and the continual banging of shells & rifle fire all day gets on your nerves after a bit. On the night we were relieved, while the actual relief was being carried out, I mean while the regiment who was relieveing us were just coming into our trenches, the Germans started an attack, of course! But we were up to all their little games, and nothing much happened, & it did’nt last long, but the bullets were flying about pretty thick. We came out of the trenches weary & worn, & oh so dirty! And the poor men were very tired too, and had done awfully well, & we have been congratulated by 3 generals on our work.

We had a particularly hard section of trenches to defend, as it was very weak, so the Germans paid particular attention to it- But 3 weeks is a lot to do on end; we went back out of the firing line for 2 days, & on the second day we were sent up here in reserve, & have to remain in a “state of constant readiness” to support any part of the line in case of need, so don’t really get any rest now, Last night we got orders to stand by as the Germans were wearily attacking a French Brigade not far off, but we were’nt wanted in the end. However tomorrow we go back about 2 miles for a rest, which we badly need. I will write more fully from there. Meantime send along those things, especially the uniform, & theres something else, but I can’t remember it! I’m awfully well & don’t worry about me. Best love to all your loving son-

Ted

23rd Nov later [at La Couture]

Just posting this. All well. It looks like more snow today.

Ted


‘Jack Johnson’ was slang for artillery shells.

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22 November 1914 – Paul to Gertrude

Sunday 22th Nov

Dear Mother.

You’ll never realize where I’ve been during the last month – right out to Bombay and back & really it was such a rush thro’ – one had no time for writing or anything. I sent you a p.c from Port Said & I wrote a[t] Bombay – but I expect you’ll get this letter first. Well – we went Emden hunting – only to find after about a 4 days look she was finished – we were sick & annoyed – so we went to Bombay & an ill wind sde [said?] we had an excellent 21/2 days there. I met – of course – heaps of people I knew who looked after me very well. Now we are coming back again & hoping we shall be sent out to chase somebody else – who knows. At Aden I heard of Ben & Ted from Ainslie Talbot – he looks just the same & I could’nt fail to recognise him: also I met one of the Lloyd boys. Arthur I think – he’s in the R.A.M.C [Royal Army Medical Corps]. I did’nt know him ‘cept by his name, but of course it all came out fairly soon that he was my god-mother-.[This makes no sense, the original may be illegible.]

We got a vast mail there – first one for a month & I got your two letters of Oct 20th & 25th telling me of Bens safe arrival. I am glad she has got home safely. Ainslie told me she was in an awful ship. My luck is badly out because, I missed somebody by a day at Aden, coming out in a P. & O., a girl I know very well – well of course you know of her – I think she’s been to Delaford. Mona Griffin. She’s going out to India with the “Grotesques” also of course the Percies – Billie Maude & Co. we passed them last night – so if we had only left a day later I might have met them all.

I’ve hardly had time to read all our papers yet – we got such heaps yesterday – but I am glad to see George was mentioned in despatches. I had a Field Service Post card from Ted too which pleased me immensely dated 20th. Yes I saw in the paper about Dr Rayner & am very sorry. He was always so nice to us. So you are housing some officers – I hope you get some nice ones & not as you say some old Colonel fellow.

Can you or any of you enlighten me who this person is, who is thinking of me. I’ve wracked my brains all day to think who it is but I dont know – cant place her or him anyhow – I enclose the card as I got it – I am awfully interested to know.  I dont even know the writing – I dont want it back as I’ve kept a copy.

How you must have laughed over that waistcoat. An “inflated collar” & looks much more simple. Will you send me one I want to see what they are like.

I have got heaps of letters to write – so I must stop. I do hope you are all well. It’s so hot where we are – I am sitting in a vest & trousers under a fan – I like the hot weather tho’.

with very best love to you all
Your ever loving son
Paul.


It’s not clear where Paul and the Gloucester were at this time.

I’m not sure if Billie Maude was one person, or if Billie Percy and Maude Percy were two separate people, presumably a couple. I am also not sure who or what “the Grotesques” were. 

 

21 November 1914 – Ted to Gertrude

Ted and the Garhwalis had been relieved some days before this, and were in billets behind the front line. 

21st Nov/14

I have got your letters and parcels all correct to date. Thanks awfully, the parcel was ripping & full of surprises, and just what I wanted. Am very busy just now, so no time to write, but am writing you a long letter today or tomorrow. Gorgeous weather, heavy snow 2 days ago, and now bright cold days, frost at night. Just like a Christmas card! All well here, & I’m as strong as a horse.

I am writing to ask you for several things today, including a small metal flask to carry rum in, not glass, but quite small to carry in the pocket, a map case, a waistcoat, & something else which I have forgotten, but will let you know in letter. Meanwhile please send flask, & other things when I describe them in more detail. I rather fancy a curved shaped flat flask, the smallest in stock, electro or prince’s plate or anything like that. Best love to all, & will write when I can.

Ted.

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Posted by on 21 November, '14 in Le Touret

 

21 November 1914 – Ted to Gertrude

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

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

 
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Posted by on 21 November, '14 in WWI

 

Wednesday – Jim to Gertrude

Letter from Jim Berryman

Letter from Jim Berryman

Kempton Park

Wednesday (annotated: “Nov? 1914”)

Dear Mother

Thanks for your letter – I also received the sausages which will no doubt be much appreciated by A.27.

We are moving over to the grandstand today & just as we have got everything ready packed up & all, it has started to pour with rain & I’m sitting in the tent on a bundle of blankets writing this.

The cigarette card is quite good – I wonder what relation he was to us –

The C.O. told us last night we should be going out to France in December – the Battalion drank the Canteen nearly dry on the strength of it! We are going to hurry on with the drill next week.

I shan’t be sorry to get out of this old tent, it is a fearful squash & things get so dirty – I hope the grandstand will be more comfortable. I’ll be down on Saturday I expect.

Your loving son

Jim


This letter is a frustratingly scanty glimpse of Jim.  He was billeted at Kempton Park Racecourse waiting for orders for France which suggests that he may have joined the Public Schools Battalion which were based there in the first few months of the War, though later records show him with the Middlesex Regiment.

I don’t know what A.27. refers to, or who was on the cigarette card. Frustratingly, this is the only one of Jim’s letters that has survived possibly because it was filed with the letters from Ben. There is no indication of what happened to the rest of his letters.

Jim is mentioned by the other brothers in their letters. We see him in Richard’s letters in 1915 in England, and at some point he got a commission and served on the Western Front. It would be possible to work out where he was and when, but only via the military records.

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Posted by on 18 November, '14 in Kempton Park

 

17 November 1914 – Richard to Gertrude

En route Calcutta.

Nov 17

My dear Mother.

Many thanks for your letter. Sorry you had had no mail when you wrote. I think I remember the time I missed. I hope you did not have 50 fits when you got the cable I sent yesterday. Such a pity to go on writing when I am not here & I can’t at present give you any other address. I told you last week about the wire I had, well another came yesterday saying “Please proceed forthwith Quetta and report Asst Director Medical Services for duty, pay etc now under reference to Secretary of State”. Result – I am now on my way to Quetta. Far at all? I suppose it means about 10 days journey! Of course I am missing this mail as it arrives at Lahoal today, a nuisance.

I wonder how you are getting on with the two officers, I hope they are nice men & clean. Many thanks for Long way to Tipperary, I think it’s farther to Quetta!

I had intended coming home with Craigie Manders. He leaves shortly & I will write to him & ask him to go and see you. I saw him only 2 days ago & he can tell you the news.

Old Russell his wife & kid arrived the other day. I fancy he was glad to get back. He’s quite a decent sort of man, but rather an old fool & I could not stay in their bungalow for long. I have not sold “Summer” or “Tu-Tu” but they are being looked after for me by 2 men, & should be alright. You see “Summer” being a race ‘oss & there being no races, no one wants her much, she’s worth £100 but I am afraid I shall not get that.

I shall post this in Calcutta when I arrive, I heard from Paul the other day, he says when he saw the Breslau last she had all her funnels!

Are’nt you glad the Emden is caught, everyone here is of course.

Well cheerioh, sorry I can’t tell you what I am going to do exactly.

Yr loving son

Richard.

Oh by the way, I’ve sent my old bicycle home to you, & a big box full of all sorts. They are to go by the cheapest so I expect they will take a longish time.


£100 in 1914 was worth between £8,068 and £9,769 now, depending on the calculator you use.

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16 November 1914 – Paul to Gertrude

Royal Bombay Yacht Club

Royal Bombay Yacht Club

ROYAL BOMBAY YACHT CLUB

Bombay.

Tuesday 16th

Dear Mother,

It’s ages since I wrote & I am sorry – but you see where I am, so you can perhaps realize the wanderings we have done-. I have been here 2 days- two lovely days I’ve had- as I know a soldier & his wife very well here & they have looked after me-

I’ve just missed Ted & Ben coming home at Port Said – Aden side.

We were sent out in search of the “Emden“. but we were forestalled as you have heard. By the time you get this I shall be miles nearer home- In the Mediterranean somewhere tho’.

I do hope you are all well. We have had no mails for a month now.

Gorgeous weather here – I am so burnt – having been on an all day bathing picnic yesterday.

With ever so much love from your ever loving son

Paul


The Royal Bombay Yacht Club still exists, though it moved premises in 1948.

This letter is dated “Tuesday 16th” but the 16th was a Monday. The Imperial War Museum placed this in November 1914 so I am following suit. The mention of the Emden also suggests that this was written in November 1914. The first “Tuesday 16th” of the war was February 1915.

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