Monthly Archives: February 2015

27 February 1915 – Ted to Jane

27th Feb

Dear Jinny

Very many thanks for your letter which I got yesterday. Yes please send along more hair wash, it will make my hair grow I’m sure.

It is bitterly cold nowadays, but I keep nice & warm & have heaps of warm things, thanks to your efforts; & the men have all they want so we are all quite happy; in fact we could’nt wear or carry any more in our kit even if we wanted to.

I hope your concert is a success; it’s coming off today is’nt it. Have you got when we wind up the watch on the Rhine yet. I’m sure that you appeal to tommy audiences; send me a copy when it comes out. Guy Mainwairing and I have just been bawling it out in the 1st Bn: mess (an old ruined pub!) I should think the Germans must have heard us! Yesterday afternoon they shelled us for an hour, most uncomfortable I assure you, but they did’nt do much damage. And they’ve begun again this morning & are at it now.

Yesterday was a simply gorgeous day, ripping & cold & clear. Four of our aeroplanes were up all day practically, & all the morning the Germans were firing at them & it got quite cloudy with the smoke from bursting shells up in the sky. One feller flew round & round, & each time he went over the German lines he got about 50 shells at him, to say nothing of rifles & maxims. But he was’nt hit at all, & after a bit the Germans stopped firing altogether, they either got fed up, or had no ammunition left. It was a wonderful sight. I tried to take some photographs of it but I don’t suppose they will come out. I have sent my other ones to Calais to be developed, & will send them along when they are done. By the way please send me 3 more packs of films will you, I’ll tell you the size etc etc in a minute-

It is colder than ever today, a very cold wind in addition- We are going back for a bit of a rest tomorrow, about time too as we have been in the trenches or in reserve continually since Jan 20th, & one must have a few days off occasionally. Up here one has to be either in the trenches, or just behind in constant readiness in case of necessity. I hear the Guards are relieving us, so I suppose all the Lords & Dukes will be paying us a call soon.

You seem to have had great times on your birthday- Glad Babs liked my messages, give ‘em to her again will you & I hope she’s all right again. So the Saxon story is the buzz is’nt it. I’m afraid I haven’t got any more to tell you. The Saxons are still opposite us here I think, & occasionally yell out good morning & things like that.

I am sending you a receipt for some insurance money; you might ask mother to keep it will you; thanks.

So glad you went and called on the Holdens; that ought to make the car a snip whenever you want it.

I’m sorry this is such a dull letter but there is absolutely no news to tell you. Things are fairly quiet here, bar the shelling which is very unpleasant while it lasts; they’ve stopped now, but will begin again I expect about tea time; they generally do. Tons of love



Drake-Brockman’s narration of where they were is a little confused at the end of February. It seems that they “occupied some houses behind [the line] in the Rue de l’Epinette as reserve for three days” but it’s not clear either which three days, probably the 25th to the 28th, or indeed which Rue de L’Epinette, I have assumed it’s the one near Festubert.

When We Wind Up The Watch On The Rhine (including links to audio):


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Posted by on 27 February, '15 in About


27 February 1915 – Ted to Gertrude

Feb 27th

Dear Mother

Very many thanks for your letter of 22, which I got yesterday. Yes rather I got the cake all right, with a tin of sweets & 2 little packets of chocolate inside & it was very much appreciated. I can’t help thinking the cake before must have been stolen, as I think one is missing. So glad Jim is getting his commission soon, I think it’s better on the whole; what about Topher? Has he managed anything yet?

About those waders; thanks awfully for suggesting them, & I should love a pair. But I’m afraid it’s a bit late in the day now, and conditions in most of the trenches have much improved, though they are by no means dry. But I fancy now, between you & me, we shan’t be doing much more trench work, so I don’t think it would be worthwhile sending them; I wish we could have had them before Christmas, but I don’t think they were invented then.

We are being relieved tomorrow & go back for a short rest. We’ve done 6 weeks in reserve & trenches & have been hard at it more or less ever since I came out from leave, so I think we deserve a bit of a rest don’t you. But I don’t fancy it will be for long.

Awfully cold up here for now, much colder than it has been before I think, but we all have lots of warm things, and the men have more than they can do with, so we are all right. My fur line scutum is a great success & keeps me rippingly dry & warm. We’ve had a little snow, but it has all gone now, & it freezes every night.

Sorry Ruth has been seedy & I trust she is better. My cold is much better, but has’nt quite gone yet, but I’m feeling as fit as a fiddle. I’m afraid there is’nt much news- We get shelled every day in the village here where we are  in reserve, which is trying, to say the least of it; we do our turn in the trenches & all the usual things, & nothing very exciting has happened. Lots of love to all

yr loving son


Drake-Brockman’s narration of where they were is a little confused at the end of February. It seems that they “occupied some houses behind [the line] in the Rue de l’Epinette as reserve for three days” but it’s not clear either which three days, probably the 25th to the 28th, or indeed which Rue de L’Epinette, I have assumed it’s the one near Festubert.

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Posted by on 27 February, '15 in About


23 February 1915 – Ted to Gertrude

Feb 23/15

Dear Mother

very many thanks for the Cake which arrived today and is much appreciated by the mess. We are out in the trenches again now, we came out on the 21st, & I believe we stay in 1 or 2 more days, but it’s not quite certain.

Things are fairly quiet here, though the Germans shell us a good deal, without however having done much damage so far. There was a good deal of rifle fire today, & Major Mac & I were caught right out in the open, on our way up to the front trenches! It was fearfully muddy & heavy going up so we could’nt go very fast. They were’nt shooting at us actually, as I don’t think they could see us, but at our front trenches, & all the bullets missing them of course came on to us! However nothing happened, but it was’nt exactly pleasant. You get an awfully good view of the German trenches from ours, & the country all round is in a mess, mud everywhere, trenches, ditches, barbed wire, parapets, ruined houses & other awful things all over the place. And I suppose we’ve got to advance over all this some day soon!

It’s been very cold & foggy these last 2 days, but there are signs of spring everywhere. Is’nt it splendid Lumb & Lane getting the Military Cross? Ben will be awfully bucked about Fred Lumb. He’s home in England now sick with a knee; tell Ben to write to the Willows, Marsham, Norfolk. Best love to all. Ask Jane to send another bottle of hair wash please.

Your loving son  Ted

Many thanks for Tatler, send another-

British Listed Buildings – The Willows, Marsham, Norfolk

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Posted by on 23 February, '15 in About


Tuesday early 1915 – Rosamund to Gertrude

S. Ursula’s
Brooke St.


(Lunchtime at 8 Warwick Mansions)

Dearest Mother.

Thank you for your letter. That job is quite off now – as Lady Henry has found someone older, who will be quite better able to look after the women there. I am sorry as I had quite made up my mind to have a try, but as you say I may have better luck next time.

I had a card from Ben this morning, she is coming up to London on Saturday so I shall meet her- Emily Grant wrote to me the other day & asked me to let her have her Veil by Friday, so I am having to work hard to get it finished. I expect it sounds as if I have been ages over it but I had to work a very small coat of arms on the Veil & I could not see to do it by gas light, had to wait for Saturday. It looks rather sweet now I have finished, but I am sure she will never think what a bother it has been!!

Thank you so much for telling Mr Kirwan about my money. I quite believe if he had had the paying to do I should have had it ages ago!

I wonder if you have heard from Ted since you wrote. I am afraid they have been having rather a hard fight the last day or two. It is a very anxious time & I am afraid you must be very worried.

I have bought Topher’s watch in a shop in Kensington, it cost me 30/-. It is a very nice one & I am wearing it for a bit to see how it goes, & then I will give it to Ben to bring home on Saturday, as that is better than sending it by post.

I have finished my first sock. How is yours progressing. The Hyacinth is coming out beautifully, it is such a pretty one. I must not stop to write any more now. Let me know when you have news of Ted.

Best love from your loving daughter


How sweet of you to say you will send me some stuff for a curtain. I shall love it. I should want a yard of 52 in wide stuff. I should like some sort of fairly thin stuff.

Rosamund was 23 years old, and my mother said that when the war started she was doing church needlework in an Anglican convent. Like her mother, she was passionate in her Christian faith, and the needlework would have been a devotional act in its own right. However, it sounds as if she may have been sewing veils for brides or possibly for aristocratic nuns. Later in the war Rosamund worked on a farm in Kent where she met the man she was to marry.

I’ve not been able to find the convent. The Englishwoman’s Yearbook 1899 lists St Ursula’s Home, 25 Brooke Street, Holborn as a lodging house for “Lady clerks, typewriters, governesses, etc., members of Church of England. Age limit, 16 to 26”. The building still provides accomodation for the vulnerable and now it houses long-term rough sleepers rather than young single women.

8 Warwick Mansions is the address given for Miss H Harvey in a 1911 book of Church Embroidery; she embroidered some Banners and the Bishop of London’s Cope: Rosamund wasn’t with people who were churning out kneelers by the dozen. Spending her days in Warwick Mansions must have been awkward for her though: Gertrude was such a staunch royalist that she would refuse to let taxi drivers go down the Cromwell Road and it’s almost impossible to get to Warwick Mansions without going via the Cromwell Road.

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Posted by on 23 February, '15 in About


21 Feb 1915 – Drake-Brockman

Drake-Brockman described the “Indian Village” near Vielle Chapelle. There may have been more than one, the one I have located was near Festubert.

At Vielle Chapelle, like Lillers, there were Corps baths in a brewery, where the men went by detachments for a clean up and issue of clean underclothing. …. The Battalion relieved the Highland Light Infantry in the trenches on the evening of the 21st February and occupied the trenches in front of a village, which had been given the name of “Indian Village,” in the deep bend where the line curved round to Festubert southwards.  A portion of the line here consisted also of isolated piquets in small separate breast-works which were styled “butts”, as they were like grouse butts. They were eventually linked together. ….

The so-called “Indian Village” was in a dirty condition, the ruined houses, such as they were, having been used by some unit, or units, as latrines, in default of a more suitable place. This was a legacy left for us to see to, so I had all the battalion sweepers, and applied for a lot of others, which were sent to me from the Division, and had the whole place cleaned.

We improved very considerably the breastwork and defences of this part of the line while we were in occupation. We endured some heavy shelling while we were here.

… We were relieved by our 1st Battalion in the front line and occupied some houses behind the Rue de l’Epinette as reserve for three days when we were relieved by the Scots Guards, whose Commanding Officer was good enough to say the billets we handed over to him were the cleanest that he had ever taken over. Sometimes units were not always as particular as they might have been in unoccupied houses and did not always leave them clean on their departure.

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Posted by on 21 February, '15 in About


21 February 1915 – Paul to Gertrude

H.M.S. Gloucester

21st Feb.

Dear Mother. V. many thanks for your letter – we have been at sea ever since last Sunday & only arrived in yesterday- so news is particularly scarce this week.

Not a very cheery time at sea either – beastly weather & we did not get any scrapping. I’ve never seen such enormous flakes of snow as we had to-day- huge they were. I all but thought of going ashore for a walk – but I am glad I did’nt now.

I’ve got that silly rheumatism again across my shoulders- but 10 grains of aspirin has sent it away for the time being. I do hope I shan’t have a miserable night – where you can’t move hand or foot.

I am glad you enjoyed your midweek holiday in Town. We can never get you to go away for a really good change & a rest – but even a few days like that I expect did you a lot of good.

I expect you will receive a bag of some of my clothes soon. I don’t think there is much in there that’s of any use to anybody. Would Capon like the grey suit. I rather love it though & would like to wear it again – which I hope I shall before I finally discard it. Oh – and sometime or other a huge sea chest ought to arrive, with various things I landed at Malta – pictures – greatcoats etc – but I should think that would be sometime yet.

I am miles behind in my correspondence being at sea all last week- has thoroughly done me down & I have got heaps of letters to write.

Willie Perkins seems to have got into the thick of it fairly soon does’nt he.

Well I must off to bed. If anyone is thinking of making a cake, will they make me one at the same time and send it along. I should love it.

Goodnight. With ever so much love to you all-

from ever your loving son


HMS Gloucester Log – 21 February 1915
Scapa Flow
Lat 58.9, Long -3.1
2.0pm Landed CPOs on Flotta Is

4caf86d4cadfd34197017ec0: (

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Posted by on 21 February, '15 in H M S Gloucester


20 February 1915 – Ted to Gertrude

Feb 20th

Dear Mother

Just a line to say I’m quite well & have entirely recovered from my cold. We go into the trenches tomorrow for a few days. Weather is pretty rotten here, bar one or two lovely days, quite spring like. Awful luck yesterday, Major Mac & I were walking along a road up by the trenches when suddenly a shell came from nowhere apparently & burst just behind, about 10-15 yards off. However it fell in some soft mud & went off with an awful bang & threw mud all over the place & didn’t touch us! Lucky it fell in the mud, and I expect it went pretty deep & exploded well underground.

No news here. We got a mail today, so the German blockade has not yet stopped the mails. Have Jim & Topher managed to get their commissions yet? I trust so. I got a bystander from Rosamund today, but have’nt had any letters lately. I got some cigarettes from Dryden, but the regular supply has’nt started yet, but I have plenty to go on with now. Excuse a dull letter. Love to all

yr loving son


oh by the way I am sending home one khaki jacket & 1 pair breeches, as we have to cut our kit down & this is the only way I can do it. Please keep em, & I’ll write for em when I want ‘em.

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Posted by on 20 February, '15 in About


Undated 1915 – Jim to Gertrude



Dear Mother

I think I am pretty well certain to get my commission shortly- I have been recommended from Oporto & now it is only a question of a week or two- I am so pleased about it.

The enclosed “Blue Form” is for you to get Mr Kirwan to sign & send back as soon as possible– I don’t know whether he will be willing to sign the Education one. I should think he could, if not will you send it to Mr Hunt & get him to do it. I must have it back as soon as possible.

I’m quite alright again, I wasn’t at all fit after the second dose of inoculation – I stayed up in Town all the time & didn’t feel inclined to do anything much.

I expect I’ll be home next weekend but I am not sure yet. Thanks for the letters you forwarded on to me – quite a bunch of ‘em!

It’s been raining cats & dogs all day today & the mud is worse than ever.

Love to all

Yr loving son


This is effectively undated, since there is no indication on which Wednesday Jim wrote it.

Jim seems to need references to get his Commission. Charles Kirwan was vicar of Camberley after their father, and remained a family friend after Charles died. He was a bachelor and allowed Gertrude and her family to stay in the Vicarage, but when he moved to Guildford she had to leave Camberley. Since she was used to his churchmanship she decided to follow him to Guildford. 

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Posted by on 17 February, '15 in About


16 February 1915 – Ted to Jane

Feb. 16.
Shrove Tuesday, ha ha
how did I know that!

Dear Jinny

Very many thanks for your nice long letter today. Also an enorm parcel of anti cough & cold mixtures rolled up, a lovely lot of things. The only objection being of course that my cold has now completely gone; I cough once a day now and snivvle hardly at all. Never mind, the things are most acceptable, and I am now sitting in draughts & discarding underclothes with a view to catching a cold so as to make use of all the lovely things you sent. No rotting, the parcel is most acceptable, & will sure to come in useful if not for me then certainly for some other snuffler.

Cigarettes most welcome, as none have turned up yet from Jim’s patent man, but don’t worry as I have heaps now. C (Ben knows who C is; a man, how dull!) sent me 100 this morning, awfully nice of him I think.

No news here; we are still in reserve, but things are quietish just at present. We go up again for a bout in a fortnight soon I believe, more mud & trenches; what a life!

I am ragged about my hair nowadays my dear! They say it’s much thinner tho of course I swear it’s growing like hell, & so it is. No, my big toes are still dead, at least the top half is; never mind, does’nt matter a dam.

A simply gorgeous day today, lovely blue sky, & about 4 thousand and twelve aeroplanes up, lucky devils. One huge biplane that would carry a regiment I should think, & flying quite low. I have 2 lots of films to send you for developing, but I don’t quite know when I’ll be able to send em quite; I’ve clean forgotten what I’ve taken!!

F.F’s with the Davids indeed. Well, give my love to them all, especially Babs who was a great friend of mine- I shall want another bottle of hair wash I expect. I enclose £1 for Ben for those watches she got me. Please give it to her, & say I’ll write soon. Long letter form Mary today, please thank her for it orfly,  & say I’m writing as soon as I find time.

Been for a walk with Major Mac today, just strolling round enjoying the ripping weather. But you should have seen the last 2 days, howling wind & sleet and bitterly cold. Had a bath yesterday in a beer vat, & am feeling awful clean today.

Such a dull letter this is’nt it, but we are’nt doing much. Some of the aeroplanes were fired at today, awful pretty, but those high explosive shells make the most appalling noise in the air, & bits of em come careering about all over the place. They say the aviators themselves can’t hear the bang because the propeller makes such a noise; they certainly behave as if nothing was happening, & take not the slightest notice of shells or anything else.

Here’s a true yarn; a Saxon regiment a day or two ago just opposite some regiment or other, I don’t know which, kept on shouting out & yelling, & finally climbed out of their trenches & baleing water out. Our chaps didn’t fire, much too cold-blooded a job, but told ‘em to clear off or they would fire. However the Saxons said no, they wanted to be friendly etc etc & loathed war etc etc.

Finally the General commanding that brigade came down, went over to the Saxons, & said look here, I’ll give you 6 hours to dig yourself some more trenches, as your present ones are flooded, & after that I’ll have to open fire on any one outside”. So the jolly old Saxons started digging like blazes & got some sort of cover in the six hours & disappeared behind it; & as the 6 hours was up, they hoisted a huge notice board up in their trenches with this written on it “Don’t shoot us & we won’t shoot you; keep your bullets for the blankety blank Prussians, who relieve us tonight”.

That’s an absolutely true yarn, I had heard rumours of it before, & last night I got it from a feller who was there and saw it all.

Is’nt it weird, of course those were Saxons who F.F’d with us on Christmas day, & they are really quite good chaps, & it’s the pure Prussian who is such a blighter.

Dinner time. Keep smiling lots of love from


Before and After using Savages

Before using Savages   Botanic Extract                                                      After ditto!

FF was family slang for a Fast Friendship, one that wouldn’t necessarily last but which was brought about by circumstances such as a sea voyage. 

The Saxons story was picked up by the papers:


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Posted by on 16 February, '15 in About


Gertrude to General Stopford (Draft)

Dear General Stopford

My son Jim is desirous of getting a temporary commission in the Army. Since September he has been in the Public Schools Battalion of the Middlesex Regt so has done a certain amount of training. I wonder if you could help him in any way. I believe the War Office are badly in need of Officers.

Unfortunately this draft isn’t dated. After this time, it’s impossible to know why the General might have helped Jim get a commission. Maybe he was a family friend. Jim was settled in the wine trade in Oporto in Portugal, and it must have been disruptive to his employers or business partners having him up and off to the War like that.

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Posted by on 16 February, '15 in About, Jim Berryman