Monthly Archives: December 2016

30 December 1916 – Paul to Gertrude


c/o G.P.O.

30 Dec. 1916


My dear Mother-

Very many thanks for your letter. I’ve only just got it to-day. It has taken a whole week-! But the mails are bound to be a bit adrift these days I suppose – and the parcels!! heaps of people have not got things sent off at least a month ago! For instance I was sent some things for our show on Nov 4th! & I have never got them yet!

So Jim has gone – I could’nt have known before I suppose – because he was at the end of a wire to leave I suppose. Poor Sheina! but it will be ripping for her if she goes out later when Jim sees what it is like. So glad you had all the girls home for Christmas and it must have been ripping for those soldiers on Christmas day having such a good time.

I had quite a cheery Christmas, Tommy Drew & I have been dining together & one thing and another – there are 2 or 3 old Gloucester fellows quite close.

How simply lovely for Topher to have been transferred to Dick’s Regt – I bet he is pleased – in fact a good thing for both of them – is Topher going to get a commission soon.

I was thinking of all of you and opening the Dudmans’ presents! Rather a nice medal really – but I laughed of course – it’s a sort of memorial medal – bronze looking thing.

You seem to have had some pretty rotten weather down south by all accounts – up here it is lovely for this time of year – in fact to-day is the first rough day for a week or two.

I love that calendar you sent me – thank you awfully. With best love to you all – & happiest days in 1917-

Your ever loving son


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Posted by on 30 December, '16 in About, HMS Malaya, Rosyth


30 December 1916 – Ted to Gertrude

Dec 30/16


Dear Mother

Very many thanks for your letter last week, which I got sometime ago, & I’m afraid I’ve been sometime answering. However I hear the mail leaves later this week so I can – officially – catch it by posting tonight, but they seem to be so erratic that it really does’nt matter when one posts letters this end.

I have’nt done much this week. I had a very homely Christmas with a family called France; he used to be our bandmaster, but got a commission when the war began; very nice & Christmassy & I quite enjoyed myself. I have also had Frederic Villiers, the war correspondent, to dinner, since I last wrote; he was giving a war lecture here, & happened to mention the regiment in the course of it, so I thought I would ask him to dinner.

After many adventures, thanks to a hired chauffeur, who deposited us in the hedge amongst other things, we eventually managed to get here, ½ an hour late! However he was fortunately used to these little contretemps, and I think he quite enjoyed his dinner, as we were all in mess kit, and he was in a regular star-turn war correspondent lecturing kit, khaki & a loose cloak & field glasses etc, just like he is in his pictures. It was’nt a bad lecture, but like all war-correspondents he was a bit of a liar, for he described several incidents that I knew from personal experience, & his facts were’nt quite accurate. However, of course that’s part of his business, & he was very interesting to talk to.

The Somme films have been here this week too, & I went to them one night. I think they are rather too good, & recalled horrors that one has so far managed to forget; but otherwise they were splendid. I arranged a special matinée for our men one day & they thoroughly enjoyed it. Last night I dined with Ricketts (you remember him in the Hockey XI at Sandhurst I expect) and went on to a concert given by the Wiltshires next door here, quite a good show. Today the Wilts have had their sports, & I have just come back from them; quite amusing.

Your letter was chiefly about your will; and I quite agree that it is much better to face these things out & discuss them from a family point of view.

First of all let me tell you that I quite agree with the principle you are working on, that the girls should be provided for first, & if investments have fallen in value, I don’t see why the girls should suffer. I think it’s best to tabulate my reasons:-

  1. The Boys are all provided for, except perhaps Topher; but the rest have all got jobs etc which at anyrate can keep them going.
  2. In educating us boys – thereby enabling us to get a start in life & to fend for ourselves – a great deal of money must have been spent. This initial outlay would correspond to any income the girls will get, on whom so much money has not been spent originally. I think you follow me – provision for the girls is the same as money spent on the boys in fitting them for a career & finding that career for them – e.g. Dick’s medical fees, which must have been considerable, & my R.M.C fees ditto.
  3. All girls can’t get married, & one simply must take that into consideration. A spinster with – say – £120 a year can at anyrate live by herself or with another friend and a girl with £120 a year if she gets married at least has some income to help things along.
  4. If you provided more for the boys, it would mean less for the girls of course, & that would mean someone would have to give them a home, if they did’nt marry. So – to take an extreme case – if you gave the girls less each, in order to give the boys more, & if none of them married, it would mean that one of us would have to give them a home, & would therefore spend the little extra – so very little – we got, by their having less, in keeping them. So why not let them have it straight away? Don’t think I’m hard or cruel, as I know any of us would be only too delighted to keep any of our priceless sisters, besides it would be our duty, but what I say is, let the girls be provided for first, & then let the boys have anything that’s over, which, after all, is what you suggest yourself.

So if it means selling Holmwood, well I say sell it, because I do think the girls have first claim, for the reasons I have given; the boys are all well started, & it is up to us now to see we make the most of the start we have got. I’m not sure about Topher, he is the only difficulty I can see. I rather think he ought to have some capital reserved for him, so as he can start a show of his own when opportunity offers, even if it means cutting the other 4 boys down. As I say, after all we have all had a good start, & it’s our job now to watch our own interests.

Them’s my sentiments, but my dear mother please don’t think of dying yet! You have lots of years before you I hope and we can ill spare you just now. But if you frame your will on these lines, I at anyrate shall be fearfully satisfied. Must write Ben now. Lots of love & wishes for 1917 – will it see the end I wonder? –

Yr loving son


Topher was younger than the others and hadn’t established himself in a career at the start of the war but Ted’s letter may reveal a deeper concern. Topher was not as well equiped to deal with the world as his dashing and heroic brothers. His school reports reveal he was always at the bottom of the class, his one surviving letter is simple and almost child-like compared with those of his brothers, and he didn’t get a Comission. He had bad headaches as a child so he may have missed a lot of schooling, he may have had a difficulty such as dyslexia, he may just have not been very bright.

Days of Glory; the sketch book of a veteran correspondent at the front (1920)

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Posted by on 30 December, '16 in About


28 December 1916 – Richard to Gertrude



Dear Mother       Many thanks for your letter & that calendar. Such a nice one. I am awaiting the iron jelloids & wool, but I now find you can get the wool here but iron jelloids are not sold in France! You could have said anything you liked about the lace, I’d liked them to have seen it & envied it. Yes they are silver with moonstones those rings, I only said platinum & pearls for a rag.

Think I can borrow Gerrard Thomas’s car when I’m at home. Must have one. I’ll look out for the Gabbs pictures.

Your dining room stunt sounds as if it was most popular. Don’t fag too much about the flag, I don’t see why you should have to pay for it.

I am hoping to see Topher any day.

Best love to all

Yr loving son


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Posted by on 28 December, '16 in About


23 December 1916 – Richard to Gertrude



Dear Mother.   Thank you most awfully for that hamper, it arrived yesterday; so exciting opening it and all, but we’ve eaten nearly all already as it’s hard to get things else than bully.

I’ve heard from Topher, I am glad to hear to expect him to come soon & so he won’t have to do that awful transport job again. I’m afraid he’ll find it a great change as there won’t be half so much to do. I dunno’ whether to have him as my servant or not. He’d have to clean my boots & call me in the morning & cook my dinner! of course we could go for rides together & have some fun.

Many thanks also for the Christmas Card. Please thank Dreda for the silk handkerchief & Ruth for her card.

Best love to all

Yr loving son


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Posted by on 23 December, '16 in About


22 December 1916 – Ted to Gertrude

Dec 22/16


Dear Mother

I have two letters of yours to answer this mail, as I got one via Lansdowne as usual on Monday & yesterday I got another directed straight to Delhi. The first one was dated 17th Nov: & the other 23rd. Thanks most awfully for them. I think I must have told you in the ‘Arabia’ mail to address my letters c/o Cox & Co Bombay, as one’s address is so likely to change suddenly these days and I think it’s safer to have some permanent address. You see I can always keep Cox acquainted with my movements much quicker than I can you, so I think it would be best if you did that in future. Of course Delhi is good enough for the present, but in case of a move it would mean telling all the offices here which I should probably forget to do, & I’m sure a lot of letters would go astray.

Christmas is on us now & it is bitterly cold here now. There is a fair amount going on in the Christmas week, a travelling company is here for 2 nights, there is a dance at the Club, and a variety Entertainment, and some regimental sports, so the time will pass pleasantly enough I expect.

Yesterday I went to the Sergeants’ dance of the Wiltshire Rgt next door here; rather fun, but I had had enough when I came away at half time. I dined with Ricketts & his wife, you remember him in the hockey team at Sandhurst I expect. He has a staff job here & I see a good deal of him, & his wife I met for the first time last night, she seems awfully nice & I have a standing invitation for any meal anytime there, rather nice. Ricketts & I had great talks over old R.M.C times, & a good many laughs. He has a whole heap of photographs & cuttings about most of the matches we played in.

What fun Dick & Topher meeting in France. Yes poor Topher must find it very rough as a Tommy & I expect he would like a bit of a change now and get a commission & perhaps it would be better for him in the end. I expect they are getting a rum lot in the ranks now & I expect all his pals are scattered about for various reasons.

Very many thanks for suggesting a book for Christmas; I shall love to have one.

I hear from Ben fairly regularly & she seems much better. I try & get letters off to her most mails but I’m afraid I miss one or two. I have been out shooting all this afternoon, to try & bag a peacock for Christmas, but it was a complete dud as far as they were concerned for I never saw any. I only got a hare & a partridge, but I had a day in the country which is always pleasant. Nothing very definite about Jim’s Portugal job is there, though I should have thought they would’nt have hesitated as he knows the language & people so well.

What a splendid speech Lloyd George made did’nt he, & he certainly put it pretty plainly before the public that things can’t be as comfortable next year as they have been. But as he rightly says if everyone is ready to make some form of sacrifice things won’t be so hard but everyone will be alike & it will be much better for the country and for all concerned. I wonder if your home made bread shop will come off. I should think it would be styled a luxury & Lloyd George would probably be after you! But I bet it would be very popular & pay well.

The sword has’nt turned up yet, but I told you the B. Warm had did’nt I & it’s much admired & envied.

Your other letter I got yesterday & it was written from the Kitchen Club and you were having a lovely dinner of coffee & sandwiches, which sounds most attractive, especially as I am very hungry now after my afternoon out & have had no tea. However, the 1st Mess bugle has just gone so I shan’t have long to wait now. I have 2 guests dining with me tonight, two fellows who were attached to the rgt: in France & are here on job posts. What a huge crowd they are, like Hay or Guildford; lucky you could say you could’nt have any. I remember we billeted the C.O. of the 14th Northumberland Fusiliers was it? & great preparations were made in that top room for his comfort, & then Alec Black came round next day to pay you!

I hope the plum pudding turns up eventually; it will be equally welcome whenever it does; I’ll warn people about the 6d ! So glad you like the Carpet & that it reached home safely; do use it on the floor; it’s what it’s meant for after all! I have 6 more of those felt rugs awaiting despatch to you. I will finish this after dinner.


I’ve been much later than I thought & here it is ½ past 11 and my two guests only just gone! and I have to be up at 5.30 tomorrow for parade, as we are parading 5 miles off, and have to be there by 9, which means leaving here at 7.

Yes, is’nt the Xmas no. of Punch good; I have just flipped through it, but have’nt really had a good look at it yet. What a narrow escape Harry Yeatman had, but then all flying must be one perpetual narrow escape I think.

It’s so late & I must write a line to Nell, & then I’ve got to walk nearly ½ a mile to the post to post this so as to catch the 5.45 tomorrow morning.

Lots of love to all

Yr loving son


Lloyd George’s speech & response from Asquith and others

14th Northumberland Fusiliers

Possible Yeatman – Percy, but his father was Harry Percy

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Posted by on 22 December, '16 in About



21 December 1916 – Paul to Gertrude


c/o G.P.O.

Dec. 21st


My dear Mother-

Ever so many thanks for your letter – & also thank you all awfully for the cake – lovely it is – and we had it for tea to-day.

So glad you liked the photographs – rather amusing are’nt they- Both Mr Lyon & Tommy Drew said I was like Jane when I came on the stage.

How ripping the dining room being so popular- I must really try & send you off some more papers- I seem to be so busy lately over various things – rather a good idea taking the piano in there for them to play.

I had a lot of Christmas letters this morning – & of course 2 people to whom I forgot to send cards – & I have none left now. One from Rosamond written with her left hand – jolly good – I am sorry to hear about her thumb. Also one from Willie Perkins – There seems to be a chance we MIGHT be on leave together.!

Jolly good of Joe to let you buy a turkey. I remembered him all right with a card.

I was awfully sorry to worry you over asking you to buy the girls their presents from me – but I thought you would know ever so much better what they want – If you have’nt given them by the time you get this, I enclose 5 tally’s to put on them when you put them on their plates-

with my bestest love to you all & heaps of wishes of happiness etc for Xmas –

Your ever loving son




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Posted by on 21 December, '16 in About, HMS Malaya, Rosyth


20 December 1916 – Richard to Gertrude



Dear Mother     Many thanks for your letter & that pack of cards. Most useful as the ones I had off last year’s Xmas tree are very dirty. I want Lesley & Roberts to have the leather buttons, never mind about the tabs.

So glad the keys arrived at last. I managed to wake them up at Marseilles. I suppose Eric Robyns has got a Military X by now. Fancy having 20 soldiers to tea, what a business. Get the photographs in the camera developed for me. Do you want any more money?

The new Government seem to be going to do things alright.

Best love to all

Yr loving son


Captain Eric George Hugh Robyns

Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regt) (no MC)




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Posted by on 20 December, '16 in About


19 December 1916 – Paul to Gertrude


c/o G.P.O.

Dec 19th.


Dearest Mother –

Just a line to wish you the happiest Christmas & heaps of good wishes – and of course my very bestest love to you all

from your ever loving son


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Posted by on 19 December, '16 in About, HMS Malaya, Rosyth


16 December 1916 – Ted to Gertrude

Dec 16/16


Dear Mother

No mail in yet, & it won’t be in till 3 or 4 days yet I hear, which will make us a whole fortnight without one. We have been very strenuous these last 4 days. We had 4 days bivouacing & battle fighting, all day & all night. A whole brigade of 4 regiments is out in training about 4 miles from here & we had to take out 500 men to do enemy to them, so you can imagine we had lots to do. However it was a very pleasant outing, but as I say very strenuous. Our first two camps were in a ripping place, by the banks of a canal, just where it leaves the Juna river, & the canal man has built a bungalow there and has made the place awfully pretty and homelike. I took some photographs there which I hope to send along next week. I enclose some herewith, not very good but I think the films were duds.

Life is still very ordinary here, & next week a great many people are off on Xmas leave. I can’t get away as the C.O. is going, & I have to stay behind; but I don’t mind very much. I am acting as 2nd in command now, being the next senior left in the rgt: to the C.O but I am still doing adjutant as well. My time as adjutant is up next March, so I may as well carry on till then. I met Col Boileau on these manoeuvres & he was extremely pleasant, as usual. Also Alec Dallas Smith whom I had’nt met since Sandhurst days; you remember him & his brother Teddy I expect at Camberley.

And also I have met one of the Metcalfes from Cordwalles, the youngest Aubrey by name. I knew he was out here but had never met him before. He is in the Indian Civil & is asst private sec: to the Viceroy & rather a nut in his way. I had seen him lots of times at the Club & he had seen me, but we never recognised each other till we were introduced. The last time I saw him was singing a duet with him at Cordwalles, & Mrs Mason drew me with my coat tails flying! You remember that picture I expect in Mr Hunt’s dining room. He asked after Dick & Jim, & we had a great Cordwalles buck.

And the coat has arrived all safe & sound, yesterday; thanks ever so much, it is most welcome, also the scarf, I am so glad to have them both. What about the new Cabinet & the peace proposals! Just in time to reject them, heaven knows what that old Juggins Asquith would have done. But the Cabinet seems a good strong one & things should go well now.

Love to all

Yr loving son



Probable canal from Juna (Yamuna)

Photo of Col Boileau with dead tiger

Cpt. Alexander Charles Dallas-Smith, 2nd Gurkha Rifles – died March 1942 after capture by Japanese,%20ALEXANDER%20CHARLES

Sir Herbert Aubrey Francis Metcalfe, 1883-1943

German peace offer, 5/12/16

Official communications and speeches relating to peace proposals 1916-1917 (1917)

Lloyd George’s memo (link on right)

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Posted by on 16 December, '16 in About


15 December 1916 – Richard to Gertrude

Dear Mother    Just got 2 letters from you. My second address had nothing to do with the XX (which is right, & X seems to have worked alright on one of your letters). The second time I left out the Div, which one is supposed not to put in.

Have you mixed Topher’s & my feast up. ‘Cos we are’nt together yet! I’ve no idea if he will be transferred over or not. I shall probably be alone for Christmas, & if he’s near I’ll try & get him allowed over & he can mess with me.

I am so glad the men like the dining room. I’ve written to Jane to buy me a saddle, that bit I wrote about is’nt there after all I think. But there may be another, very rusty when I saw it last, it’s a curb & snaffle combined, please get that out somehow if it’s there, but you say nothing about my things or keys. Have they come yet. I’ve written to Marseilles about them to see if they ever started.

I’ve just remembered! What flowers grow between now & March or April? I’d like to plant some around my hospital & make the place look nice. Don’t sunflowers grow nowadays. I’d like the place to look nice later on. Also I wondered if any of these working parties of lovely ladies would like to make a red cross flag for me. Any size, bigger the better. You might send along seeds or bulbs or whatever it is grows during the next few months. No desperate hurry. You know the woollie has’nt arrived yet.

I do hope Lloyd George will put things a bit.

The rather nice parcel has’nt come yet. I expect parcels this time of year take ages.

Best love to all

Yr loving son


In one of the boxes you’ll find a tunic with dark leather buttons on, & two little brass buttons on the black tabs. Please take them out & send them to Lesley & Roberts, 16 George Street Hanover Sq.

A letter from Pitney that went to India just came.


Curb, Snaffle & Spur – 1894 book on training cavalry horses


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Posted by on 15 December, '16 in About