Monthly Archives: May 2016

12 May 1916 – Ted to Gertrude

May 12/16


Dear Mother

As I told you before I think we got another mail yesterday, making 2 again this week. Are’nt they erratic. Yes, Nell said my letters were very late that week & she did’nt get them till Monday. I heard from her yesterday of course & she was delighted at the prospect of going to stay at Delaford, but how awfully short. But of course that can’t be helped as she works at the old hospital 3 times a week. I’m longing to hear how she got on, from both you and her. I hope she was nice and behaved herself! I wish I could have been there.

Quite a large week end party you must have had; what awful bad luck on Topher not being able to get home. I do think it’s rotten, especially as it was all a scare apparently, as as far as one can see there has been no pressing urgency on the British Front to warrant the stopping of all leave. Poor boy, I do hope he gets his leave soonish as he must be wanting some badly.

Fearful rain yesterday, but I think it did a lot of good, though perhaps it’s too late now to do any real permanent good. Anyhow it’s made the place gorgeously cool and clean, as we have had a lot of dust storms lately which simply coat the place in dust and are very unpleasant. Last night, just at dinner time there was a tremendous thunderstorm with brilliant lightning & very heavy rain; a wonderful sight the lightning, it seemed to be all colours, blue, purple & mauve. But it did clear the air anyhow and this morning (I am writing this at 6.30 a.m. before parade) it is simply gorgeous, cold, clean, & clear. The weather before the rain made one feel horribly sick, but it’s much better now.

I am sorry about old Lewis’ son. Yes Rather I remember the old man well, at anyrate by name, & I’ve often heard of the flying son, both in France & at Delaford. I know he had done awfully well out there and it does seem a shame he should have been killed. He’s been right through the war so far, has’nt he. Was’nt his daughter-in-law a friend of Spider’s? I remember meeting her there, & I think you said she had been to call on you the other day; rather a nice person I thought; anyhow she had heard of the Garhwalis I know, because her brother is in the 2/Leicesters who were brigaded with us in France.

The new arrangement upstairs sounds an improvement. In any case the view out over the lawn is much nicer than the other I think, and anyhow a change is always attractive. What about that old ceiling in the front room d’you think? Is it quite safe, though I don’t suppose it matters much if it does come down now. Yes, do go on sending the pink papers, we don’t get them & they are much appreciated. They have one or two very good war articles too. If you ever buy a “Saturday review” or a “Spectator” I should’nt mind that; one gets rather out of things here. The weekly times now rolls up direct; I could’nt get on without that.

Asquith has indeed stultified himself before the nation : it absolutely beats me how government hangs on; it’s only the loyalty of the people that prevents them getting up and having the whole lot out of it for a set of incompetent muddle-headed curs; I suppose the public realise this is a very critical time of the war, & not the time to swap horses while crossing the stream. How Germany must laugh at us, & what a show we are making before the allies who are putting every man into the field with not the slightest hesitation. What a terrible show that Irish business was; why can’t they hang that beast Casement straight off for high treason; surely a trial in the case of a man like that is a mere farce & quite unnecessary. He’s a self-proved traitor, caught absolutely red handed, & should be shot or hanged without ceremony. If he’s let off with a sentence of penal servitude I fancy the public will have something to say to it.


Gorgeous & fresh on parade this morning & there is a lovely clear view of the Snows today, a thing we have’nt seen since we’ve been back as it’s been too hazy.

I got a Cordwalles Chronicle yesterday, I must say old Vowles has got it up awfully well, & exactly the same as the old numbers. I must write and thank him as I think it’s awful good of him to take all that trouble with old boys.

Must end up now

Best love to all

yr loving son


Donald Swain Lewis

(Sir) Roger Casement

Painting by Lavery



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Posted by on 12 May, '16 in About


11 May 1916 – Ted to Gertrude

May 11/16


Dear Mother

Very many thanks for your letter which I got 2 days ago. How erratic the mails are these days to be sure, as after going a fortnight without one we get 2 again this week, another being due today. I suppose the boats get held up at Marseilles or Malta or somewhere, & then the next week’s mail nearly catches the other one up.

I had some nice long letters from Nell, who seems very fit & is working hard at the Gloucester VAD hospital 3 days a week; a very good thing too I think, & I’m most awfully glad she’s doing it. I wonder if she’ll be able to get up to Guildford for a spell. I think Bunchie was the other person to whom I wanted you to send a photograph. I must send you the money for the other ½ doz I asked you to get last week. I hope to hear today that Topher managed to get his leave all right, though I should think it was rather hard to get just now. He deserves a whack of leave if any one does.

Thank goodness we had some rain yesterday, badly needed but really too late to do any good. But it has washed the place down well, and made it nice & cool; it was very oppressive before & made one feel awful slack. I had a nice longer letter from Ben last mail, asking for Zoo tickets; rather funny, because the mail after she wrote she must have got some, because I sent some off to her a long time ago. She said the East called her a lot these days & seemed to be getting on well in her job of adding by machinery!

Yes it’s a sad place now in Lansdowne, a shadow of its former cheery self. So many gaps, & so many new faces, which one almost resents, they almost seem to be trespassing. The sadness is tempered somewhat by pride in having given so many of our best & bravest from so small a community, for indeed a heavy toll has been taken of our tiny population. Things are settling down more or less now, & I’ve not quite so much work, still I’m always pretty doggo by the end of the day.

Do go on sending pink papers, because we don’t get them in the mess, & they are much appreciated.

Yes do send old Nance a photograph, all the same I’m sure she’s had one since Sandhurst days. How ripping of old Vowles to send you a Cordwalles Chronicle; I shall love to get one, & I hope it turns up today. You might offer him our back numbers on loan, as he said he had no records of Cordwalles, & wanted to compile some, and I think it’s almost a public duty to supply them if we can. I have a vague remembrance of promising to send them.

No, so far – tap wood!- I think we’ve been lucky, only the Sussex mails lost. I hope you are getting mine regularly. Poor Willie’s gramophone records. Yes was’nt that Wittenberg camp awful? I’m glad to see they’ve rewarded those splendid doctors. The Boche is only piling on the agony for himself after the war now, & I don’t think even the most conscientious objector (what about specs these days of compulsion?) could stand by & watch much more of that sort of thing.

Best love to all

yr loving son


Very fit & well

If “Nance” is Nancy Swan who got engaged to Paul early in 1917, then she would have been about 21 at the time of Ted’s letter and about eight when Ted was at the Royal Military College in Sandhurst in 1903. She came from a military family with a long-term friendship with the Berrymans so it could be Nancy Swan, it could be another Nance, or “Sandhurst days” could refer to when the family lived in Camberley, we just don’t know.

Gloucester VAD

Wittenberg camp

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Posted by on 11 May, '16 in About


5 May 1916 – Richard to Gertrude

C/o Cox & Co


May 5.


Dear Mother.

The mails seem all upset, as there’s been none in since I wrote you last. We expect one next week sometime then, I suppose we’ll get 2 at once or something silly. Nothing doing much here.

Tell Jim I’ve met Seymour, his Bognor friend of many years ago. He’s in the 2/9 Gurkas. How or why I don’t know. He’s pretty ugly is’nt he & wears glasses. I dunno’ what he’s doing down here either. Has Ben ever sent me Ted’s camera. I asked ages ago for it & have put off buying one as I expect it every mail.

The Boots have come.

Well Best love to all. Nothing exciting doing.

Yr loving son


I’m getting so good at tennis.

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Posted by on 5 May, '16 in About


5 May 1916 – Paul to Gertrude


c/o G.P.O.

May 5th 1916.


My dear Mother.  V. many thanks for your letter – yes they are rather depressing times just at present are’nt they – & the casualty lists seem to be so big too.

Awfully glad to hear Topher will be home soon- hope he won’t be disappointed again. I had a letter from Jim telling me he was off to France sometime – and was awfully glad – as he has had enough messing about as he called it.

I did’nt know you had taken the garden in front – you never told me for certain – you were only thinking about it –

Poor Mrs Perkins – she seems to have had a pretty rotten time at Lowestoft – I wonder they had time to get anywhere – dreadful for them it must have been.

We are still having jolly good weather too thank goodness – it does buck one up so during these monotonous days.

I’ve seen Mr Drew a good deal lately – he & I have been dining with each other – simply lovely it was seeing each other again – & how we talked.

Jane seems fairly busy these days – had a lovely long letter from her to-day.

There is really not much news – I am very fit-

with very best love to you all

Your ever loving son


There’s very little garden in the front of Delaford (assuming that it’s Delaford which Paul is writing about) but in a later letter Richard refers to the garden as being “opposite” the house. The house is now a business centre, the space in front is a car park and the building opposite it is a hotel. 

Delaford, Guildford

Delaford, Guildford

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Posted by on 5 May, '16 in HMS Malaya, Rosyth