Monthly Archives: August 2015

31 August 1915 – Paul to Gertrude

H.M.S. Gloucester

Tuesday. 31st


My dear Mother –

V. many thanks for your letter. Did you get a letter from me a little while ago with some certificates of mine in it – because you never said whether you got it or not. I rather want to know – as they are rather important things to keep- Thank you for Ted’s address-

No I don’t remember Fizzle hizzle at all – can’t think what it is. I had a letter from Stephane – an awfully nice one – they don’t yet seem to have heard anything official about Donald, so agonizing for them I think, and Mrs Black must be in such a state.

Sorry to hear about Jane’s job – she told me she was’nt very pleased at the way they went on in the P.O. and I quite see her point really – must be very hard for her

We went to sea the other day – quite a change – but we did’nt stay very long, worst luck – wish we could do a bit more- Beastly nuisance these coal strikes are – some very strong hand ought to settle them all for good and all I consider.

Slight improvement in the weather lately – really we’ve had some quite hot days.

Very best love to everybody – & let me know about those certificates won’t you.

Your ever loving son


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Posted by on 31 August, '15 in H M S Gloucester


30 August 1915 – Ted to Gertrude

Aug 30 1915

Malvern Wells.


Dear Mother

I arrived here yesterday to help in an exam for N.C.O’s for promotion. I had a ripping weekend with Kathleen, we went to a theatre on Saturday & went down to Bath on Sunday. She is a dear, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself there. I went down on the bike & had a ripping run, & no excitements. I only left Bristol at 12 on Monday, intending to be back in time for lunch, but owing to various troubles, engine & petrol etc etc (I am really picking up any amount of miscellaneous information about mo bikes) I took 4 hours to come the 35 miles!

Arriving at Gloucester I found orders waiting for me to come on here, to take this exam today. So I just stopped in camp & had tea & then came on here on the bike, a most gorgeous ride through lovely country, very hilly but most glorious views. It’s about 20 miles from Gloucester, so I had quite a good day on the bike, & came from Gloucester here without any troubles. I am living with the 8th Worcesters; they have their mess in the Gloucester Golf Club house, & this camp is all over the links. How you would all laugh, I am doing the musketry part of the exam with Lord Deerhurst, whoever he may be; never heard of him before. Anyhow he is a cheery old colonel, with a nice round red face, he stands me drinks when we are not on parade-

I expect I shall go back to Gloucester on Thursday, & I am going down to Bristol again for the weekend & am going to try & get Monday off as well this time.

Very hot here today, but it seems to be a lovely place & there are a whole load of troops there. We have been hard at it all day, very tiring, & I am writing this in the Y.M.C.A tent while the men are having a written exam. Lord D’s chauffeur is cleaning my bike now; I hope the old boy does’nt find out, as I collared him on the sly to do it.

Love to all   yr loving son


He was to visit Gloucester frequently that autumn. My mother took up the story when she edited the letters in the 1980s:

John Fielding, a director of a large Gloucester engineering firm, lived in a big house on the hill above the camp and, like everyone else in England, offered hospitality to the officers in the neighbourhood. The Fieldings were not a large family by Berryman standards – five girls and a boy – and only four of them were at home just then. Jack, due to go up to Cambridge to read engineering, was training instead with the Royal Artillery, and Marjorie, one of the three eldest girls, was on tour, having embarked on the theatrical career she was shortly to abandon for the duration of the war to work as a personnel officer in a munitions factory in Woolwich. Gladys and Louie were involved with Red Cross work and Nell, the fourth daughter, was about to begin a shorthand and typing course with the idea of going into ‘the Works’ – the family firm. Isabel (Bellows), the youngest, was still at school. Gladys, Louie, Nell and Bellows who were invited to tea in the camp by an officer returning hospitality who asked Ted to come along to help him entertain them.

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Posted by on 30 August, '15 in About


25 August 1915 – Ted to Gertrude

Ted with his motorcycleTHE GLOUCESTER CLUB,



Dear Mother

Very many thanks for your letter. Glad you got to Pitney safely; it seems to have been a trying journey.

Just been over to Cheltenham in a side car to try & look up Muriel Neill, Jane’s friend, but they were out. My bike is temporarily in hospital, but nothing serious & I hope it will be all right again tomorrow.

Gorgeous weather now. All blankets coats warm etc have turned up but the nights are lovely & warm just at present.

Best love from your loving son


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Posted by on 25 August, '15 in About


1915 – Richard to Gertrude



My dear Mother. I expect you’ve heard of Ted’s & my trip to see Mrs Hughes Hewett. We enjoyed it awfully & it was a pity Ted had to come away so soon. He missed so much of the motor part. It was so nice seeing Blanche again, & Diana is a dear little girl.

I motored back here & found nothing doing. No wounded & the place empty. I wonder whatever they will do with us. I must try & get up to see you all again soon. I miss Ben, she has not written yet, but I suspect she is busy with her new job. Please tell her I have been to Swanage today. Quite a nice little place & such a good tea. Honey – cream – lovely bread & butter & gorgeous cakes! I took Miss Twining.

I am wiring to Jim tonight to get him over for a dance tomorrow. He’s been here on Sunday. Lovely weather nowadays. I bathed today and enjoyed it.

Best love to all

Yr loving son


Another letter from Richard that’s almost impossible to date, though it’s after Ben gets the job mentioned by Paul on the 10th August. 

Here they are straight out of Betjeman, motoring to Swanage, awfully enjoying trips to see Mrs Hughes Hewett, and having honey still for tea. When I posted this as a sample letter, I was contacted as follows:

Mrs Hughes Hewitt was Louisa (nee Whitmore) Mrs Stanley Hughes Hewitt. Blanche (nee Quentin) was her daughter in law, wife to Frederick Whitmore Hewitt and Diana was their daughter who was born in 1912 so was probably a delightful toddler at the time!

The connection to your family is likely to be through Frederick. He was “clerk in holy orders” in 1911, and was later an army chaplain. He died at Vermelle on 27 September 1915, aged 35.

Frederick Hewett was indeed the connection and Paul mentions his death to Gertrude on the 9th October. Originally, I thought that Richard and Ted may have been paying their condolences to the young widow on the 13th October. However the mention of Jim’s dance and bathing in “lovely weather” suggests it was earlier. I’ve therefore moved it to the 25th August based on the date of Jim’s dance, the mention of Ben’s job and the weather that month.

It’s interesting that the Indian Hospital in the Mont Dore at Bournemouth was almost empty at the end of August 1915, though Richard mentions it being empty in his other letter from this summer, which I have tentatively scheduled on the 3rd July.

Weather on the South Coast, Wednesday 25th Aug 1915

Weather on the South Coast, Wednesday 25th Aug 1915

Notes on weather about 24th Aug 1915

Notes on weather about Tuesday 24th Aug 1915

7am Weds 25th Aug 1915

Weather map, 7am Wednesday 25th Aug 1915


Posted by on 25 August, '15 in About


24 August 1915 – Paul to Gertrude

H.M.S. Gloucester

Tuesday. 24th


Dear Mother.

Very many thanks for your letter – Well you do seem to have lived in a rush last week- & what a ripping time all the girls must have had with Willie – I bet he thoroughly enjoyed himself –

Rather amusing about Dick & Jim looking for dress suits – how they must have all laughed- Just like Jim that, not turning up again for a day or two. Never met such a wanderer-

So Ted is at Gloucester – you never sent me his address- will you? Because I want to write to him.

Thank you for Stephane’s- rather difficult to write a letter when it seems uncertain.

Bee Dudman sent me heaps more Jam the other day – so good it is- She told me you were going to stay down there sometime – now do have a good rest when you are there Mother – and stay there a good long time-

What a Black week that was last week was’nt it – but what glorious news yesterday- I do hope things have started to move now. We still seem to be waiting – I get ashore & play a good deal of football and am keeping awfully fit. I hope to go out to dinner this evening, with another Essex pal of mine. I had a letter from Rosamond the other day – she seems to enjoy her fruit picking.

Well there is no more news – Hope everybody is very well-

Best love to you all from

ever your loving son


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Posted by on 22 August, '15 in H M S Gloucester


20 August 1915 – Ted to Gertrude



Dear Mother

Thanks awfully for your letter, written in the train en route for Camberley. I got a note from Ben, saying my bedding has been sent, so I will go in & call for it tomorrow.

Lovely here, & life not very strenuous at present. Very hot and a lot of wasps, so you can imagine what a funk I’m in.

Awful nice to see Kathleen Bowhill again, I was awful pleased, & am going there on Sunday. I thought she had changed a bit, I mean I would’nt have known her just meeting casual (it’s 13 years I think since we last met) but she has one or two funny little mannerisms which are unmistakable, a funny jerky way she moves her head about.

I hope Jane has written to the Neills, as Cheltenham is so absurdly close & I could get over there any day.

Hope the change to Camberley did you good; I’m sure it’s time you had one.

I’m afraid it’s much too far to think of weekends from here; but I can always manage to find something to do I expect of a weekend.

I don’t think I’m going to be very hard worked, nothing very strenuous so far anyhow.

My servant’s name is Griffiths, same as Jim’s; I was going to have one called Nation, but I changed him.

Dinner time

So long    love to all

Yr loving son


Ted’s turn of phrase about his servants shows how much has changed in the last 100 years, or I assume it does. There’s no explanation of why Ted chose Griffiths rather than Nation; did Nation drink, did he answer back, was there a great big problem or almost none at all? More to the point, did this blight Nation’s chances of future work?  I find this one of the more disconcerting comments in the letters, possibly because Ted is my grandfather and I take his few lapses rather personally. It’s so fleeting that it shows how carefully one must read the letters.

What Ted found to do at the weekends was spend them with a local family, the Fieldings, who comprised five sisters and a brother. They were slightly younger than the Berrymans, ranging in age from their late teens to their early twenties. It’s tricky to tell from the letters exactly when in the summer or autumn of 1915 he first met them, but they were to be important to his future happiness.

Jane either moved down to Cheltenham or stayed for a while with the Neills because she was certainly there for a while when Ted was in Gloucester.

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Posted by on 20 August, '15 in About


17 August 1915 – Ted to Gertrude

DIDCOT.    !!

Aug 17th/15


Dear Mother

Really, I’ve never known anything like this show! I left Salisbury today at 2.20, arrived Churn about 5, walked into the H.Q. office there to find Jos Lane of my regiment sitting there!! He came home from France some time ago, sick, & is doing light duty at home, and is doing staff officer to this division, the South Midland Divn..We had a long talk, & he said he was sorry he could’nt keep me, but he had orders to send me on to join the 3 Bn: of the 5th Gloucesters, at Gloucester!

There was absolutely no accommodation at Churn, so I came on as far as this tonight, & am going on to Gloucester tomorrow. I believe the Rgt: is out in camp, so I have got to chase them still further. I believe they are the very worst of bad terriers, who know absolutely nothing, & my services have been placed at their disposal. Heaven knows what I’m going to teach them! Let’s hope they believe everything I tell them.

I don’t know what my address will be; I get to Gloucester about midday, & will write from there. Tell Jane to write to Kathleen Bowhill, & say I’m near her, & please send me her address. A letter addressed to me attd3/5 Gloucesters, The Drill Hall, Gloucester will find me pro tem, but I’ll send another address later. Touring the southern counties at all! My light duty only seems to consist in careering about England.

Love to all

yr loving son


Site of the military camp at Churn, 2015

Site of the military camp at Churn, 2015

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Posted by on 17 August, '15 in About


17 August 1915 – Paul to Gertrude

H.M.S. Gloucester

Aug. 17th


Dear Mother.

V. many thanks for your letter. I am awfully pleased to hear Ted has got a job – & how topping for him being down at Salisbury with Jim & Topher. I wonder what sort of job he will have – kind of adjudancy I expect.

No- the weather is still awful up here – everyday it still rains & thunders.

Yes I saw about Donald Black, awfully sad I think and was that Geoffrey or Desmond Gabb who was killed? I can’t remember whether he is out there or not. Will you send me the Blacks’ address- because I should like to write to Stephane.

Heaps of fellows I know in the Naval despatches in to-day’s paper. We’ve had one or two letters from fellows out there – and they say it’s perfectly ghastly the fighting, & the ships – especially the destroyers are in action of some sort, practically every day. I always wish we could have started out there now & had some fighting – everyone is getting so fed up with this waiting game here.- but somehow we keep remarkably well & cheery-

There now I nearly forgot- tho’ I remembered it & had been thinking about it when I started this letter. Your birthday on Thursday – so I wish you very many happy returns of the day – & may God keep you for many many more birthdays.

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


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Posted by on 17 August, '15 in H M S Gloucester


17 August 1915 – Ted to Gertrude – Postcard

17 Aug 19

Many happy returns of the 17th
Just off to Churn

Love from Ted

According to Wikipedia,

Churn railway station was a station on the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway in England…. It was built as a temporary stop to accommodate a competition held by the National Rifle Association in 1888.

However, from 1889 military summer camps were established near to the station which required the use of the halt as the only access to the site. Timetables provided that trains would not call at Churn unless prior notice had been given to the Stationmaster at Didcot.”

The railway line it was on crosses the Ridgeway near the A34, and the line can be reached on foot, though the site of the site of the station and camps cannot.

Site of Churn Station from the Ridgeway, 2015

Site of Churn Halt from the Ridgeway, 2015

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Posted by on 17 August, '15 in About


16 August 1915 – Ted to Gertrude

18th Bn. (PIONEERS).


Perham Down

Dear Mother

I got to Salisbury all right today, & reported myself as ordered. They gave me orders to report to the H.Q. of the South Midland Division at Churn in Berkshire, about 10 miles from Newbury I think it is; never heard of it; have you? So I am off there tomorrow. Meanwhile I have come on to see Jim & Topher and am staying the night here with Jim. I have’nt seen Topher yet but I believe he is coming along soon.

I can’t give you any address yet, as when I get to Churn I shall get more orders to go somewhere else, & till I know exactly where I’m going it’s no good saying anything. Fancy government paying 10/- to get me to Salisbury, & about £1 to Churn perhaps, & a few more odd expenses, when a penny stamp would have told the Southern Command that I was available for duty, & another one would have told me to go to Churn instead of dragging me all down here & swanking all the way back to Churn! Absurd is’nt it! Thanks awfully for bringing that letter down to the station this morning- Jim seems very fit.

I’ll write again tomorrow & let you know my final destination. I’m afraid you won’t get this till late, as the posts out from here are a bit erratic.

Love to all

yr loving son



Ted had been granted extended sick leave until 16th August when he was ordered to report for light duties at home until fit for active service. In practice this was to mean training new recruits and Territorial soldiers at Gloucester, though as we shall see, he toured Southern England to get there. He probably travelled by train though he did acquire a motorcycle later in the summer.

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Posted by on 16 August, '15 in About