Monthly Archives: January 2015

30 January 1915 – Ted to Gertrude


Very sorry but I was interrupted yesterday by a job of work so must carry on today. Well those aeroplanes were careering about all the morning, and of course the only anti aircraft gun had been moved away the day before. However he was fairly close by, & had simply heaps of shots at the planes, but never bagged one. It was pretty to watch, as the sky was a gorgeous winter blue, & the hundreds of little white puffs of smoke looked awfully nice against it, & the planes buzzing about, not taking any notice.

None of them were hit, & shortly afterwards some of ours turned up from nowhere apparently and all the Germans cleared off. They evidently found something as that evening they put a lot of shells right into a battery close to us, but I don’t know if they did any damage or not.

We were relieved last night,  & have come about 2 miles back only, in reserve, which is’nt much fun as one has to be constantly ready to go anywhere and do anything. Another gorgeous day, cold, frosty & clear & that lovely blue sky. Aeroplanes are again all over the place, but all ours today, no German ones.

I got chilblains this time in the trenches, but as we were only there 4 days they did’nt get very bad, & are much better today. We had a quietish time, though just south of us all that heavy fighting was going on, and I suppose they were too busy to worry us. There is a huge gun firing quite close to where we are billeted, & every time it fires the whole house shakes. Must finish up now, best love to all from your loving son


The “job of work” that interrupted Ted the day before was being relieved and leaving the trenches at Richebourg St Vaast to march to Vielle Chapelle, according to Drake-Brockman in his book “With the Royal Garhwal Rifles in the Great War 1914-1917”.

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Posted by on 30 January, '15 in About


30 January 1915 – Ted to Jane


Dear Jinny

Thanks most awfully for your letter which I got today. You do indeed seem busy at the hospital, however you are doing your little bit which is tophole. How you stand washing up dirty plates I can’t imagine, as if there’s one thing puts me slick off it – a plate all over butter & Jam; hence you have my sincerest admiration and sympathy.

Many thanks for Marjory’s love; I wrote to her yesterday – ha ha! – and sent her some, but you can give her some more when you see her.

We are out of the trenches for a day or 2, but go back again very soon. Same old story, they said they would keep us out 3 weeks, but they are going to keep us in barely one! Never mind, it’ll all come out in the wash- We had a comparatively easy time this time, very little shooting or excitement. All that heavy fighting you must have read about at La Bassée was next door so to speak & we could hear it all going on, but they contented themselves with opening a very heavy fire on us while that was going on, but did’nt actually attack- Mr Funk had to walk about a road behind the firing line, seeing everyone was ready, but very few bullets were coming our way fortunately, & those were only stray ones. Still it’s their dam stray bullets that do all the harm sometimes.

We had 4 German aeroplanes flying all over us yesterday, doing what they liked. Our anti-aircraft man blazed away at them but though he went pretty near, he never actually bagged one. At last some of ours flew up & they all cleared off & I dunno what happened. It was a lovely bright winter’s day & those air people must have been quite frozen, as it was freezing on earth. Yes send out the hair stuff, & I do hope it will make me ‘air grow. Lovely weather, but this afternoon it has clouded over & looks like snow. But we have been having gorgeous frosty clear weather most days, & I expect we’ll be skating before long.

Our aeroplanes have been buzzing about this morning too, 3 biplanes up together. I  must try & get into the Flying Corps someday. I started chillblains this time in the trenches, but they are better now. Yes, rather the rucksack thing is splendid & exactly the size shape weight colour and material that I should have chosen myself.

TelI Ben the 2 watches arrived safe & are the buzz & go like hell.

Well Jinny I must end up. Tea time, & Genl Joffre & French are coming to tea, I met them on the road this morning & they said they might look in- They asked after you, & said they were glad to hear you were washing your country’s plates.

Send a cake along, the last one was much appreciated.

Tons of love



Drake-Brockman tells us the Garhwarlis marched from Richebourg St Vaast to Vielle Chapelle on the 29th

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Posted by on 30 January, '15 in About


29 January 1915 – Ted to Gertrude

Jan 29th

Dear Mother

Very many thanks for your letter of 25th written from the Parish Room. I got my rucksack yesterday, tell Dryden it is EXACTLY right, & just the buzz of the Field Force.  Must write and thank her.

Gorgeous weather here, clear bright days & a hard frost, but of course it’s bitterly cold, but we manage to keep warm. Yes Dick seems to have spent very little time of his leave at home, but I expect he’ll be up often enough later on.

Today has been quite interesting. Four German aeroplanes were flying about all over our lines-

Continued the next day

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Posted by on 29 January, '15 in About


27 January 1915 – Richard to Gertrude


Jan 27th 1915

My dear mother.

Another man & myself are getting a house here. Do you think it will do. We are to pay £2.5.0 a week, 4 bedrooms a bathroom, & 2 sitting rooms. A fortnight’s notice on either side & I fancy Gas. I’m trying to work it out.

Servant Wge………………….10/-
Charwoman if necessary……3/6 per week
Garage for car………………..5/-

Then there’s the food to be bought & I’ve no idea what that is likely to cost, anyhow I don’t fancy it can cost either of us more than 3 guineas a week. Do you think so?

Write & say what you think as you must have had some experience.

If we take it we shall move in on Monday I fancy.

Many thanks for your letter at the Hospital. I always think old Hill is an old fool, however I will go & see him. Many thanks for the handkerchiefs. I haven’t seen Mrs Rayner yet. It’s quite cold here, in spite of saying Bournemouth is so warm.

Well good bye for the present.

Your loving son


It’s hard comparing money then and now because we can’t compare like for like in terms of skills, manufactured goods or commodities. For example the range of values given on for the £2/5/- rent varies from £157 to £891 if it’s something a private person is buying or even as much as £1211 if it’s income, wealth or investment costs.

This range almost makes these comparisons meaningless, but for interest’s sake this table shows the Real Prices (based on Retail Prices) and the Labour Cost (which uses “the relative wage a worker would use to buy the commodity using one of the wage indexes”). And at least it’s easier to compare the sums against each other when you see them in decimalised currency rather than guineas, pounds, shillings and pence.

Whatever the actual sums, I am astonished at how much he’s spending relatively on rent and on coal. He must be joking about the 3 guineas on food: Richard has a dry sense of humour and it’s sometimes hard to tell when he’s joking but he’s certainly teasing his mother when he says “you must have had some experience”. She’d been a single parent of ten children, after all.

With those caveats, here is how Richard’s budget might look in 2014 money using the calculator at 

Item 1915 2015 “Real Price” 2015 “Labour Cost”
Rent £2/5/0 £157.30 £680.40
Servant Wge 10/- £34.96 £151.20
Charwoman if necessary 3/6 per week £12.24 £52.92
Coal 7/6 £26.22 £113.40
Garage for car 5/- £17.48 £75.60
Food 3/3/- £220.20 £952.60

Here is Richard in his car in the summer of 1915. I am curious to know if he’d already got one so soon after arriving in England or whether the five bob a week for a garage was planning ahead for when the weather was warmer.

Dick Berryman c 1915

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Posted by on 27 January, '15 in About


27 January 1915 – Richard to Gertrude – Postcard

Bournemouth PC 600

Je Suis Arrive

27 Jan 1915

Je suis arrive. But address The Mont Doré

How Bournemouth cared for sick soldiers during the First World War

Bournemouth Echo - Troops at Mount Dore

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Posted by on 27 January, '15 in About


25 January 1915 – Richard to Gertrude – Postcard

Brighton PC 600

Address Mount Dore Hotel - 600

The Mount Dore Hospital cared for Indian troops though it is nowhere near as well known as the hospital for Indian troops in the Brighton Pavillion.

How Bournemouth cared for sick soldiers during the First World War

Bournemouth Echo - Troops at Mount Dore

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Posted by on 25 January, '15 in About


24 January 1915 – Ted to Jane (a verse about his Leave)

(Postmarked 24 Jan 15)

Dear Jinny, I’ve just got your letter
And parcel containing my purse;
Yes, thank you, my cold is much better,
At least it’s not got any worse.

You remark how delightful it was, Jane,
Your Brother from France to see;
Don’t say any more, please; because, Jane,
It was far more delightful for me.

It was ripping to meet you again, dear,
After nearly four years in the East,
Far away from the mud & the rain, dear,
(The water, I mean, – not the beast!)

Far away from alarms & excursions
From a bathless existence of grime,
Thanks to all of your noble exertions
I just had the hell of a time!

I’ve of course often had leave before, dear,
For a month, or a week, or a night;
And it’s sometimes been rather a bore, dear,
And others been fairly all right.

But THIS was a good’un and sweet ’un,
and for solid enjoyment I claim
Those five days can never be beaten,
The crême – so to speak – de la crême!

There’s Jim – now I hadn’t seen Jim for
Twelve years – or was it thirteen?
And I wouldn’t have missed seeing him for
A sum that would ransom a Queen:

Started this when I got back but never finished it! & have’nt got time now. Send along that hair stuff Jinny as I hate being old Baldie! Freezing tonight.

Write soon.

Lots of love from



Posted by on 24 January, '15 in About


20 January 1915 – Richard to Gertrude


Jan 20th 1915.

Dear Mother,

Many thanks for keys etc. I’ve written to George. I am sorry about Charlie. I must write to Chubbie.

I hear we are to go to Bournemouth. I shall be sorry to leave Brighton. It’s nice.

I’ve been singing Sister June till I’m hoarse. We go to the Pantomime every night.

Best love to all,

Yr loving son


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Posted by on 20 January, '15 in About


20 January 1915 – Paul to Gertrude

H.M.S. Gloucester


Dear Mother,

Just got your Sunday’s letter- very many thanks for it. I am so glad you like the gramaphone records. I somehow knew you’d like the organ ones.

It’s most awfully kind of you to say you’ll give me ½ my Burberry- I should like it very much. The Burberry has just arrived – lovely.

So glad to hear Ben is all right again – I had a letter from her yesterday – which I must answer soon.

I went over & saw Digby again yesterday & had a long talk with him, he was ever so interested to hear of all our doings- & he is writing to you.

How sad about Charlie Moodie. I wonder whether he was at the front or not. He was only 24 too. Poor Charlie. I am sorry – always such a great friend of all of us.

Yes. I got Ruth’s sox all right & have written thanking her. I really am fitted out now. So you are all busy doing Hospital work at last-.

How perfectly extraordinary about that servant Beatrice- what a little rotter she must have been- & then bringing back those parcels next day. I can imagine how infused with laughter you must have all been.

Where is Topher stationed – I don’t think you have told me – only his Regt.

We are still waiting – very dull & monotonous it is too – & our spirits not vastly improved by the weather – which is fairly rotten – always blows & rains fat hailstones.

With ever so much love to you all-

from your ever loving son



19 January 1915 – ‘Digby’ to Gertrude

H.M.S. Iron Duke
c/o G.P.O.

19th Jan/15

My dear Mrs Berryman,

Just half an hour ago, I saw over the side a very smart & good looking naval officer. He had come on board about some job, & then looked me up & had a long talk, over all yours & dear old times. The officer was Paul!

He is very fit & keeping cheery & bright, although life here is rather monotonous & decidedly damp & cold. How delightful it was, hearing all the news of your family – it all seems so strange to hear of them grown up, & how very proud you must be to feel that every son of yours is giving his time & work to the country – it’s grand, simply! Paul was telling me that he was the only one missing from a family gathering which has recently occurred. You must have loved that as it is ages since they all got together like that.

I saw something of the Foxes last June & left Weymouth as Col. Fox was dying. They are still there I believe, though Jo is married & living at Southsea & has Dollie staying with her – Vi (my wife) sees them at times as we have a house at Cosham, where I have a wonderful fat chubby son who is celebrating his first anniversary on 29th of this month. I shall look forward to seeing you all again as soon as this terrible strife is over. I promise myself that if I am spared, I will go on a motor tour with Vi for a holiday, willy nilly so will try & reach Guildford.

I am so glad to hear you are so well & as young as ever dear Mrs Berryman, & the memories conjured up by my talk with Paul has made me sit down at once & write to you a few lines of remembrance & with best love to all

Ever yours affectionately


From Wikipedia: Iron Duke and most of the fleet remained in port during the German raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby in December 1914, though the 3rd Battle Squadron was sent to reinforce the British forces in the area. Iron Duke went to sea with the 2nd and 4th Battle Squadrons for gunnery practice north of the Hebrides on 23 and 24 December. The following day, the rest of the fleet joined Iron Duke for a sweep in the North Sea, which concluded on 27 December. Iron Duke and the rest of the fleet conducted gunnery drills on 10–13 January 1915 west of the Orkneys and Shetlands. On the evening of 23 January, the bulk of the Grand Fleet sailed in support of Beatty’s Battlecruiser Fleet, but Iron Duke and the rest of the fleet did not become engaged in the ensuing Battle of Dogger Bank the following day.

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Posted by on 19 January, '15 in Paul Berryman