Monthly Archives: June 2016

9 June 1916 – Richard to Gertrude


Friday 9th.

Yes see about Miss Sparrow.


Dear Mother.

Many thanks for your letter May 17. That man has never sent my watch yet. Hope he has’nt run away with it! Trust he has only forgotten. I am glad you like the photographs. Who I wonder told you about a doctor in No 1. G.H, I much prefer the men in it to the fellows in ours. I hear from Evelyn that she had been down to tea on a Sunday. I am so glad you like her. Rather nice for you being at Aldershot.

I got the two letters all right; many thanks. One of them very welcome, about some money that was owed to me. It’s dreadful about Kitchener. We heard the day after, I wonder what everyone thinks at home about it.

Just at present it’s very very hot here. Always is they say before the Monsoon breaks. Ted says he may be able to get down here next month. I’ve told him we’ll be delighted to see him, but he may find it a bit hot. Anyway it will be cooler than it is now.

I’ve just had most awful bad (not really as bad as some) prickly heat. Such a nuisance, & I’m so angry, as it’s just like a beginner I say, not like an old Anglo-Indian like I am.

Fancy seeing Dumps Morse again. I have’nt seen her for years! You might send me (don’t get excited or flurried about it) my ventriloquist doll, as there are crowds of kids here and I’d like to amuse ’em one afternoon. Stick him in a strongish box & send it by the mail. I expect the man in that Express luggage shop near the station will tell you the best way, or write to the Eastern Express Co (can’t find address) they are as good as anyone & they have a depot in Karachi. Put in the box too, some of those white shirts of mine with R.B on the front and also my blue uniform.

Ask Jane to send me some new songs if there are any. There is some money of mine still knocking about. She has some anyhow.

I am putting in some photographs which Trel took the other day, funny I should meet him, is’nt it! Did Evelyn sing the other Sunday, does’nt she sing well? She liked you awfully.

I must stop & catch the mail. Best love to all.

Yr loving son


I see the Malaya arrived in time to do some fighting, how pleased Paul must be.

While all the boys asked their long-suffering mother to send them things, Richard’s requests were always more extreme and more frequent than Paul’s or Ted’s. It seems typical of Richard, the convivial party-goer, that he should have a ventriloquist’s doll but it’s verging on the ungrateful that his long-suffering mother would make a fuss about sending it to India. 

The fighting the Malaya had been in was the battle of Jutland.


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Posted by on 9 June, '16 in About


8 June 1916 – Ted to Gertrude

June 8th/16

Dear Mother

I got your letter today dated          Please excuse a rotten letter, but we have just heard of the terrible tragedy of Kitchener’s death in the Hampshire with the whole of his staff. It seems to have completely knocked us all over here; personally I feel very much the same as I did when I first heard about the “Titanic”. Is’nt it ghastly? The one bright figure, the one proved patriot, gone. The creator of England’s mighty army now in the field that has done & is going to do so much; the wonderful organising brain, & the man who never for one moment lost the confidence of the whole Empire. Why could’nt he live just long enough to see his life’s work – for so I think we may call K 1 & K 2 & all the rest of them, however many there may be – crowned with success. But we must’nt be too depressed about it, though it’s hard not to be. And there are so many we could spare, & none to take his place!

What a full week this has been. The big naval fight of course occupied all our thoughts at the beginning of the week; [Ted is referring to the battle of Jutland] a magnificent show was’nt it, despite our heavy losses, for it seems we fought against tremendous odds at first. I can’t quite make out how long the Malaya was there or when she came up into the fight. At anyrate she seems to have had her baptism of fire & I do hope old Paul’s all right; but I don’t suppose you’ve been able to get much news out of him.

I had a long letter from Dick today, he wants me to go down & stay there sometime & I expect I’ll be able to go next month perhaps. He seems very fit & well.

I tore a small muscle in my left leg playing footer last week, & I am rather a crock now, & very lame. But I can manage to hobble about to work, though it’s very painful but will heal up in time I suppose. But it wants rather more rest than I can afford to give it to heal up quickly; but it’s nothing very exciting, quite a minor thing & will be all right in no time.

Nell sent me her photographs today, very good one or two of them; one of the side face ones is exactly like Dreda I think. She was awfully pleased with her stay in Guildford, & wrote glowing accounts of it.

I was so sorry to see the death of Mr Kirwan’s brother in the paper a day or two ago. Please tell him how sorry I am; I will try & write next mail. But I seem all knocked silly by the news today & I can’t help thinking about it.

Please thank Dreda & Jane awfully for their letters, I’ll try and answer them next week.

Best love to all

from your loving son


The original of this letter is in the Archive of the the Imperial War Museum: Private Papers of Lieutenant Colonel E R P Berryman DSO – 

Ted was right to be concerned about Paul: here is an account of the Malaya at Jutland

Death of Kitchener,6051,126462,00.html

Kitchener’s Army

Rev R.M. Kirwan

The Kitchener Memorial, Orkney

The Kitchener Memorial, Orkney

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Posted by on 8 June, '16 in About


2 June 1916 – Richard to Gertrude

C/o Cox & Co


June 2.

Dear Mother

I think that man must have run off with my watch! Has’nt it turned up yet? Many thanks for your letter (May 11.) Who do you think I met the other day. Trelawney! Turned up here from Mesopotamia, he’s S & T & was buying stores. He could’nt imagine I was Dick, he thought I must be Paul & he swears if I am Dick, I’ve grown younger! Nice eh? He has much improved & really quite nice looking in his old age.

What a shame it is that Topher does’nt get leave, I hope he’s had it by this time. Bad luck on Ben not being able to get away, now Wiggs is at home.

Yes I do hope they hurry up & shoot Casement. Many thanks for the Bystander, but you’ll know by now I’d like an overseas Daily Mirror or Sketch the best.

So Maggie Davids is engaged to Desmond, was’nt he the one who was out here with Harold somewhere.

Many thanks for the message from Susan. June sends hers to all.

I enclose some for my book photographs. Trelawney had lunch here yesterday & we had a huge buck over old times in the club bar till about 2 o’clock the other night. He seemed most keen about Dreda’s welfare. He sent his love to everyone.

So hot & dusty wind today. Rotten- Must stop as I’m sweating so.

Love to all

yr loving son                Richard.


S & T was “Supply and Transport” – 

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Posted by on 2 June, '16 in About, Ivan Bennett, Wiggs


2 June 1916 – Ted to Gertrude

June 2nd/16


Dear Mother

Very many thanks for your letter yesterday, of May 10th. I have told Cox Bombay to send you £4 for all the odds & ends you sent, many thanks for all the trouble you took, & I hope the money turns up in due course. How sporting of old Fielding to send you a cask of cider; I expect they’ll be asking you to go down and stay there before long; & I hope you will be able to manage it.

I have’nt heard from Dick for a long time, but I wrote yesterday. I was thinking of getting a few days’ leave & going to stay there but I don’t know whether I shall or not. Yes I certainly said he could have the camera; I have got a little vest pocket Kodak which does me quite well, only I must say that little one of mine takes the most splendid photographs.

We had some very welcome rain this week, which has made all the difference to this place. It’s much cooler & cleaner now, and I fancy the real rains will break pretty soon now; this year has been exceptionally hot & dry, and we could do with heaps more rain yet.

Poor old Topher, I do hope he’s got a bit of leave by now. Yes Jim certainly might keep you informed of his movements; I wonder if he’s gone yet, as he has been more or less on the point of going these last few days has’nt he. So glad old Wiggs managed to get home; awful glad for Ben’s sake; she said his nerves were all wrong, so I’ve no doubt a few days at home did him no end of good.

Yes of course I had heard about Maggie & Desmond, but I hadn’t heard it was formally announced before. How exciting. Nice little thing Maggie, but (how critical I am) there is’nt very much in her is there; I should think Lily & Babs were the pick of that lot easily! I suppose Miss Bradley is going about the place beaming. Please give Maggie my best love & congratulations & wish her all luck.

So you’re saving daylight! Splendid I think & thoroughly practical; I wonder if it will carry on after the war. I don’t fancy India will worry its head much about that sort of thing.

I always wanted to see “romance”, as it always sounded so fascinating. Doris Keane is very sweet is’nt she, she certainly looks it in her photographs. 17 the Arcade certainly seems a tremendous rendezvous these days.

I have’nt heard from Paul for a long time; I suppose he is pretty busy these days & of course can’t say very much. Yes Ben told me Mrs P. has given vivid descriptions of the bombardment of Lowestoft. It sounded most thrilling.

What’s Specs doing these days! Has he been roped in as a conscript at last, or did he fail his medical? Quite likely I should think. I do hope you managed to get away for your week end with Mr Hunt; I shall be very anxious to hear how you got on, & how he is these days. The garden’s in great form evidently, & ever so much more convenient than the Waterden road one is’nt it.

Must end up nnow

Love to all

from your loving son



Summer Time Act 1916

Doris Keane, star of ‘Romance’ (a play at the time)

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Posted by on 2 June, '16 in About


21 June 1916 – Paul to Ted

HMS Warspite and HMS Malaya during the Battle of Jutland (Wikimedia Commons)

HMS Warspite and HMS Malaya during the Battle of Jutland (Wikimedia Commons)



c/o G.P.O.

21st June 1916


Dear Ted-

I have been trying to get a letter off to you for ages now- but have never succeeded somehow- but I am going to settle down to it now. It was damned good of you to send me that cable – in fact I was more pleased with that than anything else- really – ‘cos the amount of bluddy boofaced pessimists there were knocking about after our stunt simply made me sick. God! they were awful. You know what the B.P. are & the damn press criticising the various officers an all. What the hell does a bloke fugging in an office know about tactics & things like that – yet they sit down & write a lot of bosh which of course is read by the B.P. I’ll just give you an extract from the Aberdeen Free Press-

– owing to the undoubted crushing defeat which the Navy has suffered off the coast of Jutland – our faith in the British Navy – “as the sure shield and defence of our Empire”- has been shattered once & for all to dust and ashes-

Can you imagine anyone writing like that. This fellow as a matter of fact was arrested shortly afterwards- but let off- I should have tortured him.

Daily News. –    Defeat in the Jutland engagement must be admitted——But in face of yesterday’s news the demand for the return of Lord Fisher to effective control of the Navy must again become insistent-

The only paper who really did well was the Morning Post- which I am sending to you- priceless it was- especially the leading articles. S’matter of fact they were hard to buy during the day which is something in the BP’s favour- I am also sending you some other papers- & enclosed is off the back of the Daily Mail. Just like those bluddy Yanks.

About the action. Somehow when we were out units like myself had no idea the Huns were out at all – thought it was an ordinary “strafe” as we call it- we were doing what is known as a “dummy run” on our own Battle Cruisers- you know just training & laying the gun etc- when I suddenly saw them open fire & then splashes falling round them-

Coo! I said – we’re off- and in the next five minutes my turret was firing on the Huns. It put the fear of God into you at first to see these bluddy great shells falling all around- & the light was so bad for us- you could only see them very indistinctly- but still we all blazed away merrily & one could see hits on them now and again- The bluddy awful sight was seeing our ships going up & steaming over the place about 5 mins afterwards- & seeing “nothing”- but after bits of wreckage and a man or two- poor devils –

We were well in the thick of it for about 2 or 2½ hours & giving just as much as we took – and we were at a devil of a disadvantage on account of the light. Then the Hun B.C’s took us into the High Sea Fleet [ie the German Fleet] & then there was trouble- but then shooting got frightfully erratic & they must have wasted 1000’s of rounds – there was a bluddy tornado of splashes all round us.

I should think at least 5 or 6 Huns were concentrating- still we were’nt hit more than 8 times- of course all this time no Jellicoe as yet- until I had it passed through to my turret- “The Grand Fleet [ie the British Fleet] is deploying into action”- God- you can imagine the relief!- The most priceless sight I’ve ever seen- then they opened fire- only for about 20 mins though- & the Huns got cold feet- then firing went to Hell & they turned & off out of it- with the whole of us after ’em.

Then it became mistier and dark- time about 11 p.m- & I never want to go through a night like that again. The most ghastly scene, you can imagine those destroyer attacks- our destroyers on their fleet; but it was so damn hard to tell what was happening- except you could see these frightful flashes & noise going on & then a whole ship go    -.

They were bluddy fine our TBD’s that night- we did’nt fire at all. It is not a thing that is encouraged- i.e. big ship actions at night- the reason being obvious- and next morning we somehow lost touch with them- they had gone in – because they had’nt very far to go- and naturally they know where their minefields are more accurately than we do- so we steamed up and down over the scene of action for about 7 or 8 hours- but nothing more was seen- I dare’nt tell you any details- because I am certain they will all be censored- but I can tell you it’s practically certain that we got 5 of their capital ships- i.e. 3 battleships & 2 B.C’s – at least ½ a dozen light cruisers – & they have’nt many of them either & 20 Destroyers. Then there are several who must be badly damaged – we could see that for ourselves.

The great thing seems to be that the Huns obviously get cold feet when they are fired at- or else they had no ammuunition left- & they don’t seem to have the guts either- And- the opinion seems to be that they could come out again in a hurry- I don’t think they expected anything that time – but they were caught.

Of course I’ve lost heaps of pals – but that’s how they say they all wanted to die- so-! It was a nasty jar about K- [Kitchener, who drowned a few days after the battle when his ship sank off Orkney] & of course there are heaps of rumours about spies etc. but I think that’s impossible- besides it was much too rough for a submarine- even her destroyer escort had to go back on account of the weather. That little fellow Stewart who was in the Gloucester with me was in the Hampshire- he was the navigator.

Comic things happened when the sailors of different ships went on leave after the action. In several places they got boo-ed and at a certain place the soldiers turned their backs on them- in fact there were damn near some riots- and it is supposed to be a fact and I quite believe it- that two men- the pink-faced pessimist type – have been killed by bluejackets ashore – just taken aside & flopped out. When we went on leave on the following Monday- there were boofaces down to about Edinburgh – & then things began to liven up a bit. It’s awfully hard to say whether Balfour was right in publishing what he did so early – but then until Jellicoe had seen everybody – Destroyer Captains etc – he could’nt possibly tell how many had gone- & then the B.P. are always asking for the Truth about our losses- & they were told straight out. The Huns were bluddy marvellous- they had our losses – naming the ships too in their papers on Thursday evening. God knows how they knew – They had the Warspite wrong though.

Well they gave us some leave. I got 4 whole days at home – too damn short really- but I managed to see most people I think, making Jane’s shop & the Club my HQ’s. I went home on the Monday night to dinner & went to town next day till Thursday night. I saw all the 5 super-priceless sisters- & on Thursday night we had the usual family party at a Box – Mr Manhattan this time – 5 sisters- Tim- myself- James- Chubbie & Sheina Nellie – of whom you have doubtless heard. The missing link was Nancy, & no one can make out why she was not there. I lived at the rate of about £2000 a year during that time and Stilwell had to come up to the scratch again- which he did very nobly- but I find it damn hard to save any money you know. I do save some- but then I blow it and more during any leave I get. Naturally I have nothing to show for it – but I would’nt stint myself for the world- taking any of those sisters out anywhere & giving them a good time- & Chubbie & the like. I met heaps of pals too- survivors from various ships- whose yarns are most interesting.

Everyone at home was awfully fit & well- & it was marvellous how they all gathered together from their different jobs. Jane & Chubbie are doing damn well at that shop- & it is a topping little place & a regular rendez-vous for the Wouff Wouffs- It seemed to be packed all the time I was on leave, & they both enjoy themselves thoroughly- going out to dinner & dances an’ all. Jim was very fit too – & very keen to get out to France- he seems to be fed up with this knocking about at home doing nothing – so I should imagine. Mother was as young as ever and working as hard as ever. You might just notice a few more grey hairs – but nothing else. & of “mud” there was none.

I should have liked to have seen Nell but I had’nt a chance. We had a slight F.F some time back – correspondence F.F. and an exchange of photographs. That is a topping one of her- the side face one. She also wrote to me after the stunt too. ‘Corse I had masses of letters- but have managed to square ’em all off now- thank goodness-

A damn good stunt the other day- H.M. suddenly blew up north and came aboard us to inspect the damage an’ all. We being the first ship to which he came – so naturally he was more interested- absolutely informal, no blazing of bugles or anything- just a good look round. ½ our ship’s company were on leave too- so they never saw him. He shook hands with us all & spoke a few kind words- then we yanked him into the Ward Room & he signed the mess photograph- quickly taken out of its frame for the purpose. ‘Corse we are fearfully proud of ourselves- particularly as being the first ship for him to see after the action. We got knocked about a bit you know.

Drew is up here fairly close – and we have been interdining a good deal lately- He asked after you & sent his Chinchins next time I wrote – so here they are. I am having quite a good time where we are now. There are some damn fine tennis courts here presented to the Fleet by Lady Jellicoe’s father- old Cayzer – & I play there most days. One Hillyard of tennis fame- is a Lt-Comdr stationed here & I somehow get mixed up in setts with him- Coo!- but it’s encouraging. Then there are several people whom I have known knocking around – chiefly N.O’s wives- and one gets asked out to dinner etc. What sort of time are you having at Lansdowne- rather dull I should imagine- what are the prospects? I thought I should have seen Topher when I was on leave- but his leave seems to be so inconsistent- he keeps saying different dates. Dreda has got a bumper purse for him when he gets back so he ought to thoroughly enjoy himself.

Well I must go and have a drink after this epistle – cheerioh cockie and damn good luck to you.



The original of this letter is in the Archive of the Imperial War Museum: Private Papers of Captain P F P Berryman RN

This was written three weeks after the battle, but it describes it so vividly that I am publishing it early. 

The relaxed tone and open emotion in this letter Paul wrote to his soldier brother shows how much he self-censors in his other surviving letters to his mother. In a later letter he comments that the report into the battle had not been published and therefore he could not tell Ted as much as he wanted to. This letter is interesting because of his descriptions of the maneuvers and of the battle at night. It also provides strong descriptions of the unpopularity of the Navy after the battle. More detailed descriptions of the Malaya’s action are listed below. 



Posted by on 1 June, '16 in HMS Malaya, Jutland, Rosyth